2011 Hall of Fame Ballot
2011 Hall of Fame Ballot Rankings
- Slam Dunk Hall of Famers | Thoughts on the ballot |
The Nine Coaches
- Hall of
Worthy, But Not Quite | Hall of Maybe |
the Very Good
Follow me ... Follow me to freedom! ...
- Lloyd Carr should be an automatic, slam-dunk
choice to get into the Hall of Fame. His late-career
woes against Ohio State overshadowed a great career.
Remember, he won a national title; Bo didn't.
- Jimmy Johnson belongs in the Hall of Fame ... the
Pro Football Hall of Fame. Remember, as great a
college head coach as Johnson was, he presided over
some of the biggest choke-job teams in the history
of the game. He should've won at least three
national titles with the talent he amassed.
- I know, I know, kickers ... zzzzzzz. However,
Texas A&M's Tony Franklin was one of the biggest
bombers the game has ever known, and Princeton's Charlie Gogolak changed kicking by going to the soccer style. They both belong in.
- I'm not sure what sins Deion Sanders is paying
for, but he's the greatest cover corner of all-time
and among the most dangerous returners. I know what
sins Brian Bosworth is paying for, and he still
deserves to be in just on his on-field play.
- I know, I know, I'm as two-faced as it gets. I
wouldn't vote for McGwire or Sosa.
- Three of the most underappreciated college players
of all-time: NC State RB Ted Brown, Illinois DT Moe
Gardner, and Florida WR Carlos Alvarez. They might
not be seen as legendary, but they were are
productive as any players who ever played their
- Nebraska's Tommie Frazier could be called the
greatest college football quarterback ever, based on
accomplishments, before Tebow, Leinart, Young, and
Newton had something to say in the debate.
- West Virgina's Darryl Talley was a special
linebacker, but he has never been considered in the
same class of other stars in his era. That needs to
This time every year, the list of names on the College Football Hall of Fame ballot are released. It's routine business for the National Football Foundation. For the rest of us, it's a trip down memory lane.
Many of the 79 names are memorable for all kinds of reasons, stirring up all kinds of emotions. Brian Bosworth. Eric Dickerson. Tommie Frazier. Mike Ruth. And Derrick Thomas, to name just a handful. If they were playing in the 1980s or the 1990s, you probably remember them all for one reason or another. Longshot as it might be, I'm pulling for former Arkansas G Brandon Burlsworth to get enshrined and forever be immortalized in South Bend. For walk-ons everywhere, he'd be a shining example of what's possible with hard work, determination, and the right attitude. Burlsworth arrived in Fayetteville without a scholarship, yet went on to start 34 games and earn First Team All-American honors in 1998. Sadly, the popular, bespectacled lineman was killed in an auto accident less than two weeks after being drafted in the third round by the Indianapolis Colts.
Burlsworth isn't the best known among this year's nominees for the Hall. And he certainly didn't produce the most highlight reel plays. However, he might be among the best examples of what it meant to be a complete student-athlete and an inspirational figure, which makes it a little easier to root for him to be selected when all the ballots are finally cast.
The names of those stuck on this list for too long are a Who's Who of college football excellence: Tedy Bruschi, Mark Carrier, Eric Dickerson, D.J. Dozier, Eddie George, Bobby Majors, Russell Maryland, Art Monk, Jonathan Ogden, Matt Stinchcomb, Darryl Talley, just to name a few.
Of the first time candidates, NC State RB Ted Brown, Nebraska QB Tommie Frazier, Bama Linebacker Derrick Thomas and MSU RB Lorenzo White all stand out, as do coaches Lloyd Carr and Jimmy Johnson. But we'll begin our five votes with the creme-de-la-crème and go Frazier, Brown and Johnson.
Tommie Frazier. Nicknamed "the General", Nebraska's Frazier was a four year starter who always played at the highest level, yet still managed to save some of his best performances for the Huskers' biggest game.
He led Nebraska to those back to back national championships during arguably the school's most prolific era. The first of which came against one of the best defense in CFB history (the 1994 Miami team led by, among others, Warren Sapp and Ray Lewis) – and he did that coming off a season which saw him lose playing time to blood clots.
Then in 1995, Nebraska simply dismantled Steve Spurrier and a charging Florida team with a 62-24 Fiesta Bowl victory – capped by what is known in Nebraska lore simply as "The Run".
We're not sure what's more impressive – the touchdown run itself, or the fact that one could play football at a program with the proud legacy of Nebraska and have a play one made known simply as The Run. That pretty much tells you all they you to know about Frazier's place in the order of things.
Ted Brown. You remember the last time the Wolfpack was truly great? You do if you remember Ted Brown. Phillip Rivers may have helped NC State earn some publicity and a step back to respectability, but it was Brown who set the gold standard for those classic Raleigh teams of the 1970s (a foundation initially laid firm by a young Louis Leo Holtz).
He was only ACC player ever selected to four All-ACC First Teams, and 30+ years later, the 1978 All-America remains the ACC's all-time career rushing leader with 4,602 yards.
(Though don't look over your shoulder, Mr. Brown, or you just might see BC's Montel Harris. If the senior-to-be can bounce back from a late season knee injury, he stands a good chance of catching you next year, as he finished his junior campaign at 3,600.)
Jimmy Johnson. All you haters say what you will, but Johnson did it in two conferences, he did it well, and he did it often.
Johnson led Miami to that 1987 national championship with a perfect 12-0 record. Some argue he underachieved given the Canes finished in the top two in three of his five seasons. But it was Johnson's recruiting and coaching that built this dynasty in the first place.
Along the way, Jimmy posted four 10-win seasons and five consecutive top shelf bowl games. He was also the Big Eight Coach of the Year at Oklahoma State.
Ok, send the heat – Brian Bosworth should be in the college football Hall of Fame. Yes, the star Oklahoma-Linebacker may have been banned at the end of his college career for using steroids. And yes, his fashion sense was off like yesterday's milk (thinking headbands, haircuts and N.C.A.A. t-shirts).
But his performance on the field was unmatched for his era – an era that saw many a player use a needle. And this dominance was never more apparent than in his biggest games.
He was a two-time consensus First Team All-America selection (1985-86), and led the Sooners to three straight Orange Bowl victories, one of them a national championship (1985). He was also named the first Butkus Award winner in 1985, won it again the following year, and remains the only player to ever win the award twice.
Deion Sanders. Are you kidding me? How is this man not already in? Sanders revolutionized his position to a degree just shy of what North Carolina's Lawrence Taylor did. After Sanders, it wasn't enough to lock down half the field, you had to return kicks like a gazelle, and do it with flair!
The stats you likely already know: a two-time unanimous First Team All-America (1987, '88), a Jim Thorpe Award winner, and a shut down corner par excellence. But it was more than that.
As one of the flashiest/successful kick returners of all time, Sanders holds season and career FSU records for most punt return yards. But it was more even than that.
Whether you liked him or wanted to hold him down in front of traffic, Primetime was good for college football. Casual football fans tuned in to watch his next amazing feat of athletic ability – or showmanship. But along with the FSU/Miami/Florida rivalries he helped flame, the sport we love was materially better for his having played in it.
How this man isn't already in the Hall is at best an oversight and at worst, a disgrace.
By Matt Zemek
1) Tommie Frazier, Nebraska – Arguably the greatest quarterback in college football history, Frazier called upon many different skills to lead a proud program to its proudest moments on the gridiron. That's saying something for a school that brought Johnny Rodgers, Mike Rozier, and Turner Gill to the forefront of the sport's consciousness in prior decades. Frazier was a Jay Barker-like leader, a blood-and-guts football soldier, but he wasn't just the proverbial "plucky quarterback" who found a way to win (though that was certainly a big part of his identity). Frazier was a legitimately elusive runner who also managed to pass the ball well enough to make Nebraska's ground game that much more effective. Frazier was the multi-talented threat who finally played the quarterback position with enough dexterity and diversity to make the Huskers' offense sing at the highest levels of competition. He is the most obvious slam-dunk choice on this whole ballot, relative to his accomplishments on the field.2) Russell Maryland, Miami – When you think of the Baltimore Ravens' defense, you think of Miami product Ray Lewis. When you think of Miami's elite defenses of its late-1980s glory years, you think of Russell Maryland before anyone else, correct? ‘Nuff said.
3) Tony Franklin, Texas A&M – One of the more dependable kickers in NFL history showed the college football world how great he could be with his Sun Bowl-record boot in the 1977 game against Florida. Kickers in general might not merit that much love, but Tony Franklin certainly deserves to be on the short list of the sport's greatest upright-splitting studs.
4) Deion Sanders, Florida State – His tackling skills were never prominent even before he hit the NFL, but Neon Deion simply made plays, as cliché as that might sound. You don't have to act or hit like Tommy Nobis to be considered a real football player. The same thing goes for College Football Hall of Fame inductees.
5) Jonathan Ogden, UCLA – A lockdown offensive tackle who operated at the very peak of his powers over four seasons of pure dominance – seasons that helped Terry Donahue make one last Rose Bowl in Westwood – should certainly bring Ogden an immediate ticket to the College Football Hall. Really, why and how are some of these guys still not enshrined in the sport's Valley of the Gods? You can't spell Ogden, after all, without "God."