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Biggest Snubs of 2014 College Football Hall of Fame Ballot

Brian LeighFeatured ColumnistMay 22, 2014

Biggest Snubs of 2014 College Football Hall of Fame Ballot

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    LINDA KAYE/Associated Press

    The National Football Foundation announced a list of 16 inductees to the College Football Hall of Fame Thursday afternoon, highlighted by a posthumous induction for longtime snub Derrick Thomas, who won the Butkus Award at Alabama in 1988.

    Other notable inclusions—names who may be familiar to the more casual fan—include former TCU running back LaDainian Tomlinson, former Louisiana Tech offensive tackle Willie Roaf, former South Carolina receiver Sterling Sharpe, former USC offensive tackle Tony Boselli and former Oregon head coach Mike Bellotti.

    But happy as we are for the men whose names were called, this announcement—as is the case with all Hall of Fame announcements, in every sport—was also notable for the men whose names were not.

    Because the College Football Hall of Fame is so particular with unwritten rules, these snubs are not unfamiliar. Someone like former Nebraska quarterback Eric Crouch, for example, was eligible and won a Heisman Trophy in 2001, but because Tommie Frazier was inducted from the same school (and position) in the class of 2013, he never stood a realistic chance of getting in this year.

    The NFF prefers to make players wait, which is frustrating at times, but it typically amends itself in the long run. Still, some players met the requirements of NFF and had storied college careers, which makes their omission curious. They are legends of the game who should be recognized for their achievements.

    Here are six guys still left knocking on the door.

LB Brian Bosworth, Oklahoma

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    Getty Images/Getty Images

    Brian Bosworth was an icon at Oklahoma.

    He is easily one of the most memorable college football players of the past 30 years, a face that comes to mind immediately when you're asked to think about the sport.

    But it wasn't just his larger-than-life persona that made Bosworth great. He was an All-American in 1985 and 1986, winning the Butkus Award as the nation's top linebacker in both of those years.

    It is curious but not unforeseen that "The Boz" has still not heard his name called. He was a bad boy of the highest order and associated with drug use and other off-field issues during his college career.

    Like Matt Smith of Southern Pigskin speculates, that seems to be the only conceivable reason for his continued absence.

S Mark Carrier, USC

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Former USC safety Mark Carrier—along with one other member of this list—was among the four players I considered a lock for induction when the ballots were released in early March.

    The Hall of Fame process is difficult to predict, so I am not necessarily surprised by Carrier's absence, but I am still a bit disappointed.

    Carrier was an All-American in 1988 and 1989, leading the Pac-10 with seven interceptions and winning the Thorpe Award as the nation's top defensive back in the second of those years. He is the only player in USC's esteemed history to ever win the Thorpe.

    I understood his exclusion in 2013, one year after the Hall of Fame inducted former USC tight end Hal Bledsoe, but now it is a little more curious.

RB Troy Davis, Iowa State

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Troy Davis is a name most younger fans don't know.

    His NFL career was short after being drafted in the third round by the New Orleans Saints in 1997, leading him to do most of his professional work up in Canada. But before he forewent his senior year at Iowa State and disappointed at the next level, Davis was one of the best college running backs ever.

    He was an All-American in 1995 and 1996, becoming the first player in NCAA history to rush for 2,000 yards more than once, and he was twice nominated a finalist for the Heisman Trophy.

    Davis' loss to Danny Wuerffel in the 1996 Heisman race was among the most contentious ever. He won three voting regions that year but was badly beaten in the South. Wuerffel, of course, played at Florida.

RB Eric Dickerson, SMU

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    David Breslauer/Associated Press

    This was the most obvious snub on the list. If the NFF wanted Eric Dickerson in the Hall of Fame, he would have been elected by now.

    Still, a list of snubs would be remiss not to mention Dickerson, who dominated at SMU during the early 1980s. If the process was about talent and production—and nothing else—he would be in.

    However, there is more to Dickerson's story. He will not admit it to this day, but it is widely speculated that he was part of the recruiting scandal that eventually led to SMU's "death penalty" in the late 1980s. The famous gold Trans-Am he was seen driving while he attended the school remains a source of ridicule, and Bryan Fischer of NFL.com was not above taking a jab after the announcement.

    You can understand why the NFF wants to disassociate itself from this scandal, which is among the ugliest in NCAA history.

WR Raghib "Rocket" Ismail

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    Mark Elias/Associated Press

    The other member of my "locks" list in March, it befuddles to think that Rocket Ismail is still not in the Hall of Fame.

    The 1990 Heisman Trophy runner-up, Ismail is considered by many the best kick returner in college football history, leading the Irish on both special teams and offense during his time with the program.

    He was an All-American in 1989 and 1990 and arguably the most exciting player in the country during both of those years. He also helped lead Notre Dame to the national championship in 1988 and back-to-back Orange Bowls the two seasons after.

    Ismail combined individual success with team success, and his name endures to this day. He'll make it in eventually—just not in 2014.

RB Ricky Williams, Texas

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    Like Eric Crouch and the trio of former Miami players on the ballot—Ray Lewis, Warren Sapp and Jerome Brown—Ricky Williams knew not to get his hopes up because a player from his university, defensive back Jerry Gray, was elected in 2013.

    Still, because he was such an icon, some had hoped Williams would be able to circumvent the NFF's unwritten rule—alluded to here by Ivan Maisel of ESPN.com—about not electing players from the same school in consecutive years.

    Williams won the Heisman Trophy in 1998, winning the second of his back-to-back FBS rushing titles that season. He left Texas the all-time leading rusher in FBS history, and although Wisconsin's Ron Dayne broke that record in short order, Williams' pursuit of Tony Dorsett's mark during the '98 season is etched into the annals of college football history.

    What's the point of making Ricky wait?

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