Big Ten Football: The Five Most Deserving Hall of Fame Entrants
The College Football Hall of Fame is set to announce its 2012 class of inductees on Tuesday, May 15. Of the 76 players on the 2012 ballot, the Big Ten has an unbelievable 20 up for induction. Yes, technically, only 15 played in the Big Ten at the time, but let's not get bogged down here.
Although all 20 players are among the absolute elite in college football history and all of them deserve the immortality that comes from induction, there are five in particular whose names we'd like to hear called. They are, in no particular order, listed herein.
Oh, and yes, the picture above is a spoiler alert. But c'mon, you had to know he'd be on the list.
Tommie Frazier, Nebraska QB, 1992-1995
Mike Powell/Getty Images
Okay, when I said there was no particular order to these five, I sort of lied. Tommie Frazier is first on the list because he deserves to be in the College Football Hall of Fame and has deserved it for years.
Frazier overcame blood clot problems (the same ones that kept him out of the NFL) to go 33-3 as a starter. He was the MVP of three straight championship games, the last two of which Nebraska won. He crushed Florida's hearts and dreams in the 1997 Fiesta Bowl.
He was the captain and unquestioned leader of the 1996 Huskers, which was probably the best college football team of its era. I'm a Big Ten honk, and I'm still mad he didn't win the 1996 Heisman Trophy while he was part of the hated Big 12.
I'm a pacifist, but if Frazier doesn't get inducted tomorrow, we should riot.
Orlando Pace, Ohio State OT, 1994-1997
Rick Stewart/Getty Images
Even as the left tackle position has gained popularity, offensive linemen have long toiled in relative obscurity, even as they keep defenders from exploding plays before they begin.
Hey, people don't take very many pictures of the first floor of the Empire State Building either, even though it accomplishes a whole lot more than the needle on top. So it goes.
But the flagship left tackle, the player who brought the position to the forefront, was Ohio State mountain-man Orlando Pace. Pace had an otherworldly size and mobility to him, often hustling his 340-pound frame up to 50 yards downfield to continue blocks in high school.
Once at Ohio State, Pace lived up to his outsized reputation, and by his junior year, he had become as close to perfect as a coach could ask for. He didn't allow a sack in his last two years. He was the first and only two-time winner of the Lombardi Award in those years. He was a consensus All-American in those years.
He won the Outland Trophy in 1996. He was named to the Sports Illustrated All-Century team at starting tackle in 1999. He was the first overall pick in the 1997 NFL draft.
He was, in total, as good a left tackle as the sport of college football has ever seen.
Orlando Pace will be in the College Football Hall of Fame, and probably pretty soon. There's no reason why it shouldn't be this year.
Lorenzo White, Michigan State RB, 1984-1987
(photo via MSUSpartans.com)
The Michigan State Spartans were not, in the early '80s, the Spartans we know today. They failed to crack .500 in the five seasons prior to Lorenzo White's arrival in East Lansing, and their last trip to Pasadena came in the 1965 season, when dinosaurs roamed the land.
Lorenzo White was hardly the first workhorse back in college football, but he did it better than anyone in the Big Ten had before him. His 2,066 yards as a sophomore set a Big Ten record at the time and still rank in the top five in conference history, and they still stand as the Michigan State record. He still holds school records in career rushing yards, attempts, touchdowns and 100-yard games.
There aren't many two-time top-five Heisman finalists in all of college football history (White was fourth in 1985 and 1987). There are very, very few who did so and aren't in the Hall of Fame already. Let's get White inducted already.
Tim Krumrie, Wisconsin DT, 1979-1983
(photo via uwbadgers.com)
If Tim Krumrie's lasting legacy is his broken leg in Super Bowl XXIII, that's a shame; Krumrie is one of the biggest defensive line beasts in college football history. He finished with 444 career tackles—still third most in Wisconsin history—and he was named an All-American in 1983.
Now, to get 110 tackles in an 11-game season is a pretty special feat—few players average 10 tackles per game. To average that many tackles for all four years of a collegiate career is rare. To do so from the defensive tackle position is nearly unfathomable.
But that's what Krumrie did, often to little fanfare in the relatively forgotten enclave that was Wisconsin football in the early '80s, and he helped the Badger defense hold 10 opponents to seven points or fewer in his collegiate career.
Erick Anderson, Michigan LB, 1988-1991
(photo via bentley.umich.edu)
The title of "Michigan Man" can seem, at times, ephemeral and subjective. What, aside from being a starter for the Wolverines, would make a player a "Michigan Man"?
Whatever the criteria, one would probably be safe in assuming that "leading the Wolverines in tackles for four straight seasons for the first time in program history" would be way, way high on the list, and that's exactly what Anderson did during his career in Ann Arbor.
His hard-nosed play also led to him winning the program's first Butkus Award in 1991, and he was a consensus All-American that year.