i liked one of the articles that was linked in that one a lot as well. Ole Miss' Hardy goes his own mysterious way
It has been that kind of year for Hardy, a preseason All-Southeastern Conference selection. He missed the first three games because of the surgery and, with one notable exception, has been ineffective for much of the fall. That lone exception? His performance during Ole Miss' 31-30 victory over Florida, a tour de force (21/2 tackles for loss, 11/2 sacks) that landed him on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
But Hugh Freeze, the former Ole Miss assistant who coached him at Briarcrest Christian and now is the head coach at Lambuth University, also remembers the day he found Hardy dozing in the bathroom at Briarcrest. He remembers those afternoons when Hardy would never show for practice, opting instead to shoot hoops at the rec center or swim at the pool.
He would have every intention of going to practice, Freeze said. He would be dressed in his pads and en route to the field and ready to go, then the plan would crumble like a sugar cookie. Maybe a friend would stop him for a ride home, or a pretty girl would ask him to go to the mall.
"And he'd do it in a heartbeat because, at that moment, it was more important to him," Freeze said. "His challenge is to sustain his concentration. That's his challenge. It's not a talent challenge. The kid is super talented. He struggles to maintain a level of competitiveness that you need to excel at this level."
"He'll play on a bum leg, he'll play on a bum knee," said John Harrington, Briarcrest's basketball coach. "He's a competitor."
Well, at least some of the time, for some coaches. He clashed with former Ole Miss coach Ed Orgeron, who suspended Hardy for two games last season for missing team meetings and training sessions. Orgeron was abrasive and demanding. Hardy was inconsistent and sensitive. It was a recipe for disaster.
Harrington knew not to yell at him, because Hardy would shut down. He took criticism as a personal affront.
"There's no point in screaming at him, 'BOX OUT! BOX OUT!'" Harrington said. "What I'd have to do is pull him aside, away from his teammates, and quietly say, 'Get your butt down there and box out.' You'd get so much more out of him from doing that."
Harrington said Hardy struck him as a young boy stuck in a grown man's body. There was a disconnect between his physical stature and his emotional development. As a senior, he appeared to feel more comfortable hanging around with freshmen and sophomores.
Jake McCrary, a freshman wide receiver at Yale who was a sophomore at Briarcrest in 2005, remembers walking into the locker room with his teammates about an hour before they were scheduled to leave for a game at McCallie. They planned to watch game film. Hardy was already there. There remains some debate about whether Hardy was watching cartoons or Jerry Springer. Either way, there was no film session that afternoon.
"Nobody was about to tell him to change the channel," McCrary said. "You know, he didn't really play that much that year, and I'm not sure why. We didn't really use him as much as we should have. I think he butted heads with the head coach."