If you've ventured to other corners of Blogfrica in recent days, you might have already seen some discussion about something called the SB Nation College Football Hall of Fame. In case you haven't, here's the rundown, courtesy of Team Speed Kills:
We are allowed to nominate five players or coaches from 10 categories: QB, RB, WR, TE, OL, DL, LB, DB, ST, Coach. No more than one nominee can come from each category. We're also strongly encouraged to have at least one of our nominees come from a non-AQ team, and four come from the SEC (natch).
Eligibility: For players or inactive coaches, the nominee should have been out of college for four full years. So the first class would cover 1962 to players and coaches who finished their career by 2007 (bowls of January 2008). The other option for active coaches OR coaches who haven't been inactive for four years is that they were at their current position for at least five seasons. (Position, NOT school.) We're also asking that each player be initially nominated by someone who saw them play or coach, either in person or on television.
The offseason is a long slog and even though we're under 100 days until real live football makes its glorious return to our lives, there's still a long way to go. Plus, the real College Football Hall of Fame is hamstrung by all kinds of arcane rules, like the one about having to be a consensus All-American, which is keeping Drew Brees out of consideration. As much as it pains us to say something nice about a player for Our Most Hated Rival, that's absurd -- Brees was an unbelievable college quarterback and one of the key figures in the transformation of college offenses in the '90s and '00s. So let's hop in our WABAC Machines and discuss some past Iowa football players (or coaches) who are worthy of being nominated for inclusion. (And we're going to ignore the request to look at nominees from non-AQ teams; SBN has a very good MAC blog already and frankly they know far more about MAC players than me. I suppose we could do UNI, a longtime FCS power, but screw UNI.)
I'll get the ball rolling with a few suggestions, but feel free to add your own in the comments.
Hayden Fry, head coach (1979-1998): Does this really need much explanation? He's (rightly) in the real College Football Hall of Fame and he's one of the best -- and most influential -- coaches in the history of the sport. He helped integrate the Southwest Conference while at SMU. He transformed North Texas into a consistent winner. He radically changed the football culture at Iowa (for the better) and introduced several things that are still a staple of the program today: the tigerhawk, the Steelers-inspired uniforms, the pink locker room, the swarm, to name a few. His influence at Iowa wasn't limited to aesthetics, either -- he helped end the Michigan-Ohio State "Big Two, Little Eight" hegemony in the Big Ten and evolved the league from one where Woody Haydes' "three yards and a cloud of dust" mantra was considered the gospel by virtually every coach in the league to one where a passing game could flourish. Fry's offenses with the two Chucks -- Long and Hartlieb -- set Big Ten passing records that stood for decades. And this is without even mentioning his incredibly prolific -- and successful -- coaching tree. Other coaches in Iowa history have better records in bowl games (Ferentz), or have better overall winning percentages (Howard Jones), or managed to win bigger (Evashevski), but there's a reason Hayden Fry is still the most beloved coach in Iowa's history: he's the G.O.A.T.
Chuck Long, quarterback (1981-1985): From 1968 to 1982, either Ohio State or Michigan won or shared every Big Ten title. Only two teams even managed to earn a share of a title in that span -- Michigan State tied Michigan in 1978 and Iowa tied Ohio State in 1982. One of the key reasons Iowa was able to end that dominance by the "Big Two" (from 1982 to 1990, Iowa won at least a share of three Big Ten titles, more than any team not named Michigan or Ohio State) was through a prolific passing game led by one Mr. Chuck Long. Long demolished school records, conference records, even some NCAA records (he completed 22 consecutive passes against Indiana in 1984, a record which stood until Tee Martin completed 23 consecutive passes for Tennessee in 1998). He owned nearly every Iowa passing record in the record books when he graduated -- and still owns several of them. He became the first Big Ten quarterback to throw for over 10,000 yards in a career and was the all-time leader in that category until very recently. He quarterbacked Iowa to victory over Michigan in the famous #1 vs. #2 game in 1985, as well as an outright Big Ten titles (still the only outright Big Ten crown Iowa has claimed since 1958), and a trip to the Rose Bowl. Iowa has had some very good quarterbacks since Long -- Chuck Hartlieb, Drew Tate, Brad Banks, Ricky Stanzi -- but none has a body of work as impressive as the one Long put together while leading Iowa to prominence in the early '80s.
Bob Sanders, strong safety (2000-2003): When it comes to Bob, stats only tell part of the story. Some of them are impressive, like the 348 total tackles (good for 9th all-time) or the 13 forced fumbles. Some of them are less impressive, like the 4 career sacks or the 7 career interceptions. But as anyone who saw Bob play football can attest, numbers don't come close to telling the full story of Bob Sanders' career at Iowa. Bob was a force of nature, a player whose mere presence helped elevate the play of the other
eleven ten guys on defense, a player whose attitude was infectious and influential. The Iowa teams in the early '00s prided themselves on being "the Bullies of the Big Ten" and that meant being tougher than the opponent and being willing to add that extra bit of physicality to every every game, every series, every snap. No one embodied that attitude more than Bob, who flew around the field like a maniac and delivered crushing hits to anyone foolish enough to get in his way. It was impossible not to watch Bob when the Iowa defense (or special teams) was on the field -- he was a can't miss player in a way that few defensive players ever are. Bob might not have the stats of some of the all-time greats at this position, but few players meant more to their team -- and few players were more feared by opponents.
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Now it's your turn. Feel free to nominate players in any of the categories listed above (QB, RB, WR, TE, OL, DL, LB, DB, ST, Coach), remembering to include only players from 1962 to 2007. (I know we have regular readers and posters here who remember players prior to 1962 -- and that's awesome -- but for the purposes of this exercise those players are off-limits.) If you want to include a blurb about why you think they deserve to be nominated, fantastic. (And if you don't, no worries.) We'll run some polls tomorrow to narrow it down to five nominees after we assemble the names.