When I was in high school back in the mid 1970’s, I scraped up enough money to buy a subscription to Sports Illustrated. For me now, the magazine is kind of irrelevant, but back then it was incredible and part of what helped me get through a somewhat unhappy childhood.
Sports Illustrated was almost like receiving sports information from God. I could hardly wait until the day my dad brought my new magazine home in the mail. I read it from cover to cover even though I was mostly interested in football and basketball. Always the sports nerd, the magazine brought me great thrills of the most recent news.
The internet kind of eliminated the need for magazines and where do you keep all of your old copies of magazines. I’m not a hoarder and they tend to pile up and I have tons of them in storage in old plastic
boxes. Okay, so I am something of a hoarder. But, just a little.
The writing in Sports Illustrated was outstanding, and so was the photography.
As for top writers, my vote goes to Jerry Kirshenbaum who I thought was the best of the best and he wrote for them for decades. He’s probably still even there. As an avid reader, I wish he had written a few books preferably about college football.
On April 29th, 1974 the cover of Sports Illustrated had All American Boy Bruce Hardy on the cover.
Inside, was an excellent article by Jerry Kirshenbaum about an incredible athlete growing up in the small Utah town of Bingham.
Bruce Hardy was indeed the All American Boy.
Standing 6-5, 210 in high school, Hardy was All State in three sports. In baseball, he led his team to state titles as a junior and a senior. He was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles, but he was more interested in finding out what he could do in football as a Quarterback. He was concerned about getting lost in minor league baseball and the money back then isn’t what it is today.
Basketball was also his game and he also helped his team to two state championships.
Football was another story with little talent surrounding him. In spite of the lack of talent, Hardy made the best of it and passed for over 1,400 yards as a junior. His numbers went down as a senior, but he did run a lot.
He was obviously still heavily recruited and it seemed he was interested in staying somewhat close to home in the then Western Athletic Conference.
In the end, Hardy decided to play football for Frank Kush at Arizona State. Frank Kush Arizona State
Arizona State had future Dallas Cowboy Danny White at Quarterback in 1973 and Frank Kush sold
Hardy on the dream of going to Arizona State and having a shot at replacing White which would mean starting as a true freshman.
You know how those recruiting lines go and Hardy wasn’t quite there as a Quarterback as a freshman.
The Arizona State recruiting class in 1974 was special with Hardy and Wide Receiver John Jefferson from Dallas, Texas. Jefferson was one of the very best prospects from Texas that year and a blue chipper.
There wasn’t a Rivals.com, or any other real recruiting services back then, but Jefferson was a legend in the city of Dallas.
Hardy did play as a freshman, but behind another freshman named Dennis Sproul and Ray Alexander.
By now, Hardy was about 6-5, 235 and against his will, Frank Kush wanted Hardy at Tight End for the Sun Devils. No Quarterback really ever wants to change positions and especially one as highly regarded as Bruce Hardy.
But, it was the right thing to do and there were not a lot of giant Quarterbacks at 235 pounds back in those years.
Instead of throwing passes to John Jefferson as had been planned, Hardy joined him as a receiver and he joined his Offensive Linemen as a blocker.
Bruce Hardy was not the only one disappointed with 1974. He didn’t play that much and the team dipped from a really nice 11-1 record in 1973 with Danny White to a rather pedestrian 7-5 record in 1974.
With Sproul and Fred Mortensen sharing Quarterback duties and Jefferson hauling in 52 passes the Devils went undefeated in 1975. They ran the table.
Hardy was at Tight End and caught only 10 passes, but no doubt he was an effective blocker as Freddie Williams ran for over 1,400 yards.
Arizona State beat Nebraska in the Fiesta Bowl, but they could do no better than #2 in the final coaches
Poll with once beaten Oklahoma taking the championship.
Things really fell apart for Arizona State in 1975 and they only won 4 games, but they bounced back in 1976 to win 9.
Jefferson was a 1st round pick by the San Diego Chargers in the 1978 draft and he had a nice 8 year NFL career.
Bruce Hardy was picked by the Miami Dolphins in the same draft, but not until the 9th round. One could say that Hardy actually had the better pro career than Jefferson since he played 12 seasons in Miami and in 2 Super Bowls.
I feel certain that Hardy felt his Arizona State playing days were not up to standard. However, he truly did become an All American boy, but by now a man, with his playing days in Miami.
His best years there came after the arrival of Hall of Fame Quarterback Dan Marino and Hardy hauled in 54 passes in 1986.
The All American Boy got into coaching after his playing days were over with former Miami Quarterback Don Strock and with former Dallas Cowboys Quarterback Danny White. But, that was in Arena League football.
Bruce Hardy didn’t ever become another Johnny Unitas, or Joe Montana because he switched positions. But, in Bingham, Utah he will always be a legend, a golden boy, or an All American Boy. He won’t make it to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but they will always talk about him in a small town in Utah. He will also always be in my mind ‘the All American Boy’.
Thanks Jerry Kirshenbaum and Sports Illustrated.
Now, if somebody can help get into my overpacked storage unit and find me that copy of that particular Sports Illustrated. If only I was a more organized hoarder.