The 2014 College Football Hall of Fame ballot was announced Thursday, and there are a handful of legendary names on the list.
According to a press release from the National Football Foundation, the organization has disseminated a 75-player, six-coach Football Bowl Subdivision ballot and an 87-player, 26-coach ballot from the divisional ranks.
Stars like Brian Bosworth, Derrick Thomas, Tim Couch, Eric Crouch, Eric Dickerson, Keyshawn Johnson, Ray Lewis, Cade McNown, Simeon Rice, Warren Sapp, Sterling Sharpe, LaDainian Tomlinson, Ricky Williams and many more are all vying to be enshrined with the Class of 2014.
It’s going to be tough for the 12,000 NFF members and current Hall members that make up the voting body to narrow down their choices. It will be even harder for the NFF Honors Court to make the final decision on who makes the cut.
There are simply so many worthy players on the ballot that some elite players are inevitably going to be snubbed. However, NFF President and CEO Steven J. Hatchell explained why even being listed on the ballot is a great achievement, via the press release:
It’s an enormous honor to just be on the ballot when you think that more than 4.99 million people have played college football. The Hall’s requirement of being a First-Team All-American creates a much smaller pool of only 1,500 individuals who are even eligible to be on the ballot, so being in today’s elite group means an individual is truly among the greatest to ever have played the game.
With a facility opening in Atlanta later this year, the crop of talent to be enshrined in the shiny new building may be one of the best ever.
Let’s take a look at the every FBS player and coach on the ballot, highlight the complete eligibility requirements and point out what folks around the web are saying about this announcement:
|Dre Bly||DB||North Carolina|
|Bob Breunig||LB||Arizona State|
|Shane Conlan||LB||Penn State|
|Tom Cousineau||LB||Ohio State|
|Bob Crable||LB||Notre Dame|
|Troy Davis||RB||Iowa State|
|D.J. Dozier||RB||Penn State|
|William Fuller||DT||North Carolina|
|Thom Gatewood||WR||Notre Dame|
|Kirk Gibson||WR||Michigan State|
|Joe Hamilton||QB||Georgia Tech|
|Al Harris||DE||Arizona State|
|Raghib Ismail||WR||Notre Dame|
|Ernie Jennings||WR||Air Force|
|Clinton Jones||RB||Michigan State|
|Jesse Lewis||DT||Oregon State|
|Ken Norton Jr||LB||UCLA|
|Jim Otis||FB||Ohio State|
|Antwaan Randle El||QB||Indiana|
|Willie Roaf||OL||Louisiana Tech|
|Mike Ruth||NG||Boston College|
|Sterling Sharpe||WR||South Carolina|
|Zach Thomas||LB||Texas Tech|
|Lorenzo White||RB||Michigan State|
|Clarence Williams||RB||Washington State|
|Steve Wisniewski||OG||Penn State|
National Football Foundation
|Mike Belotti||Chico State, Oregon|
|Jim Carlen||West Virginia, Texas Tech, South Carolina|
|Pete Cawthon||Texas Tech|
|Danny Ford||Clemson, Arkansas|
|Billy Jack Murphy||Memphis|
|Darryl Rogers||Cal State-Hayward, Fresno State, San Jose State, Michigan State, Arizona State|
National Football Foundation
*Complete ballot can be found via the National Football Foundation.
There is an extremely limited amount of players that are even eligible to make the College Football Hall of Fame, largely due to stringent requirements. The NFF press release provides a breakdown:
To be eligible for the ballot, players must have been named a First Team All-American by a major/national selector as recognized and utilized by the NCAA for their consensus All-America teams; played their last year of intercollegiate football at least 10 years prior; played within the last 50 years and cannot be currently playing professional football. Coaches must have coached a minimum of 10 years and 100 games as a head coach; won at least 60 percent of their games; and be retired from coaching for at least three years. If a coach is retired and over the age of 70, there is no waiting period. If he is over the age of 75, he is eligible as an active coach. In both cases, the candidate’s post-football record as a citizen may also be weighed.
The NFF noted that just .0002 percent of those that have played college football in the last 145 years have been inducted into the Hall of Fame, a mere 934 out of the 4.99 million players to have ever played in college.
While the club is exclusive, some supremely talented collegiate stars have been barred from entrance.
Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com pointed out that Joe Montana would never be a Hall of Famer unless the requirements change:
The NFF election process is arcane and confusing. Based on current rules, Notre Dame's Joe Montana will never be in the College Football Hall of Fame. He was never an All-American on a team recognized by the NCAA. If that sounds outrageous, consider that at one time hall of famers had to actually graduate.
Regardless, there are a ton of great candidates to choose from this year, and the 2014 Class should be one of the Hall’s best yet. Let’s take a look at some of the top-tier talent up for enshrinement.
Eric Dickerson, RB, SMU
Dickerson put together a special career during his time at Southern Methodist University.
He was a unanimous First-Team All-American and came in third during the Heisman Trophy voting in 1982, was the SWC Player of the Year on two occasions and holds numerous Mustangs records that still stand today, including most career rushing yards with 4,450.
Dickerson’s junior and senior seasons were two of the most memorable in college history. He rushed for 1,428 yards and 19 touchdowns in 1981 (his junior year) and followed that up with a 1,617-yard, 17-score outing in his final SMU campaign.
Matt Park said that Dickerson, who went on to have an immensely successful professional career, has to be a shoo-in to make the 2014 Class:
NFF announces its CFB HOF ballot. Eric Dickerson, Raghib Ismail, Warren Sapp, Ricky Williams have to be locks. No Cuse candidates this year.— Matt Park (@MattPark1) March 6, 2014
Due to his incredible body of work with the Mustangs, it’s hard to picture a College Football Hall of Fame without the Sealy, Texas, native.
Derrick Thomas, LB, Alabama
Thomas was an absolute nightmare for offensive coordinators to deal with during his time with the Alabama Crimson Tide.
The star linebacker was a unanimous First-Team All-American in 1988 and also won the Butkus Award and was named the SEC’s Defensive Player of the Year during the same season.
He helped the Tide roll to four straight bowl appearances and set the NCAA career sack record with 52. His total of 74 tackles for loss also ranks amongst the top in that statistical category.
It shocked Andy Staples of Sports Illustrated when he saw Thomas’ name on the ballot, as he figured that the superstar would have already been enshrined:
The College Football Hall of Fame just released a 75-name ballot. Derrick Thomas is on it. Crazy he's not already in.— Andy Staples (@Andy_Staples) March 6, 2014
Regardless, it is better late than never for D.T. The Miami native was a clear standout during his time in Tuscaloosa and he should be forever remembered within the hallowed grounds of the College Football Hall of Fame.
Brian Bosworth, LB, Oklahoma
Bosworth had to wait 14 long years since the time he was eligible to finally get put on the ballot. It’s been a long time coming, but that has not diminished the superstar linebacker’s collegiate achievements one bit.
The Sooners product was a two-time consensus All-American in 1985 and 1986, also winning the Butkus Award in each of those seasons. His defensive prowess helped Oklahoma to three straight Orange Bowl appearances and the 1985 national championship.
Bosworth holds the Sooner record for most tackles in a game with 22 and led the team in that category from 1984 through 1986.
Will Bosworth make the Hall of Fame this year?
Don’t expect “The Boz” to be too excited about this, however, as he told Dodd he didn’t want to be part of the Hall of Fame back in 2012: "I don't need to be part of some club. To me, the last thing I want to do is be reminded I'm not playing anymore. It crushes me."
Regardless, voters should still elect to enshrine Bosworth to the Hall of Fame. He’s as worthy a candidate as any of the 75 on the ballot, and his tenure with Oklahoma was historically memorable.