The College Football Hall of Fame announced its 2013 class on Tuesday, and after being inexplicably snubbed for years, Nebraska great Tommie Frazier is finally in. The college version of the hall of fame receives far less attention than its NFL counterpart, but people have been howling about Frazier for years, and his induction is long, long overdue.
With Frazier now in the hall, the conversation now turns to deciding who are the biggest snubs remaining on the outside looking in. However, the peculiar rules involved in deciding which players and coaches are even eligible for induction bear discussion first.
For a player to be eligible for the College Football Hall of Fame, he must:
Be 10 years removed from his final college season, but no longer than 50 years
Be voted a first team All American at least once
Finish his professional career
Be deemed a "good citizen," whatever that means
For a coach to be eligible for the College Football Hall of Fame, he must:
Have a career winning percentage of .600 or higher
Have been a college head coach for at least 10 seasons
Be retired for at least three years, but can be eligible immediately if over the age of 70. Active coaches older than 75 are eligible.
Again, be a "good citizen"
It makes perfect sense to have a hard and fast set of rules determining eligibility, but I would argue that these rules are overly restrictive and dismiss deserving candidates out of hand.
For instance, Drew Brees and Joe Montana were exceptional college football players, and it's tough to strongly argue that they aren't deserving of recognition. However, by no fault of their own, they were never First Team All Americans. Unless the rules change, they will never get in. Brees is also still an active professional, but he will satisfy that rule eventually. What a player's pro career has to do with his college football career, though, and how exactly it relates to his hall of fame eligibility, remains a mystery.
Howard Schnellenberger won a national championship at the University of Miami after basically building the program from scratch. He went on to coach a previously moribund Louisville program, and went on to win the Fiesta Bowl. He finished his career by starting the Florida Atlantic program, and taking them from I-AA to the top level. Schnellenberger made a career of being an exceptional rebuild artist, but his career winning percentage falls short of the .600 cutoff as a result.
Erk Russell went 83-22-1 in eight seasons as head coach at Georgia Southern, and won three I-AA national championships after restarting the football program. Before that, he was an exceptional defensive coordinator at Georgia for 17 years under Hall of Famer Vince Dooley. However, he wasn't a head coach for 10 seasons, so he can never get in.
Moving on to players that actually fit the selection criteria, it's tough to find a snub bigger than Alabama linebacker Derrick Thomas. Thomas is tied for the career sack record in college, and the person he's tied with, Arizona's Tedy Bruschi, was just elected. SMU's Eric Dickerson rushed for 4,450 yards and 47 touchdowns, and he's not in. Penn State guard Steve Wisniewski is a two-time All American and won a national championship in 1986, and he's not in.
I don't think any of these players are as big of a snub as Frazier, but at a certain point, a deserving player is deserving, regardless of context.
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