A tough, straightforward, take-no-prisoners way of carrying oneself. Hard-nosed people may not be sensitive or tactful, but they are gritty and tackle problems head-on.
Person 1: Heard about some guy named Collin Klein today, apparently he's in the Heisman race..?
Person 2: Yeah bro, he's the quarterback for K-state. That kid plays old school hard-nosed football.
Marine 1: You hear about the gunny sarge? He took a bullet to the leg and didn't even notice. Wiped out the whole sniper nest by himself.
Marine 2: That hard-nosed SOB.