The 2018 College Football Hall of Fame ballots were released to voters last week. As a member of the National Football Foundation, yours truly has a vote.
As opposed to selling my vote to Deadspin as has been done in the past with other Hall of Fame votes, I decided to submit my ballot and share it with you.
The criteria for coaches and players to get on the ballot, via the National Football Foundation, is as follows:
First and foremost, a player must have received First-Team All-America recognition by a selector organization that is recognized by the NCAA and utilized to comprise their consensus All-America teams.
A player becomes eligible for consideration by the Foundation's Honors Courts 10 full seasons after his final year of intercollegiate football played.
While each nominee's football achievements in college are of prime consideration, his post-football record as a citizen is also weighed. He must have proven himself worthy as a citizen, carrying the ideals of football forward into his relations with his community and his fellow man, with love of his country. Consideration may also be given for academic honors and whether or not the candidate earned a college degree.
Players must have played their last year of intercollegiate football within the last 50 years.* For example, to be eligible for the 2018 ballot, the player must have played his last year in 1968 or thereafter. In addition, players who are playing professionally and coaches who are coaching on the professional level are not eligible until after they retire.
A coach becomes eligible three full seasons after retirement or immediately following retirement provided he is at least 70 years of age. Active coaches become eligible at 75 years of age. He must have been a head coach for a minimum of 10 years and coached at least 100 games with a .600 winning percentage.
*Players who do not comply with the 50-year rule may still be eligible for consideration by the Football Bowl Subdivision and Divisional Veterans Committees.
A PDF of players and coaches on the 2018 ballot can be found here: 2018 Ballot
Here is who I voted for and why I voted for them:
Michael Bishop, QB, Kansas State
Bishop was the face of Bill Snyder’s Kansas State revival in the 1990s. Those of you who watched him play know how electric he was. I used Kansas State every time I played a college football game during his time in Manhattan, all because the character created based on his likeness, for which he was not paid for, was so dominant. He was essentially Michael Vick (on the field) before Michael Vick was Michael Vick.
Mark Carrier, Defensive Back, Southern Cal
Carrier was one of the most dominant defensive players in the Pac 10 during his tenure. I remember him being both a hard hitter and a ball hawk. He was an easy choice for me.
Kerry Collins, Quarterback, Penn State
Collins led one of the greatest college football teams of the last 30 years to an undefeated season in 1994. Unfortunately, his Penn State squad was robbed of a share of the national championship that year. In addition to his superb play that season, my vote serves as a protest for that injustice. I think they would have beat Nebraska. Yeah, I said it.
Eric Crouch, Quarterback, Nebraska
He won the Heisman. It seems like that alone should get you into the Hall. Additionally, I watched him single-handedly carry the Huskers to the national title game, only to lose to one of the greatest college football teams to ever set foot on the field — the 2001 Miami Hurricanes. He gave his all in that one, but he needed a lot more help.
Robert Gallery, Offensive Tackle, Iowa (GO HAWKS!)
Forget that I should lose this gig had I not voted for Gallery, the dude was simply the most dominant lineman in the game while in Iowa City. He was twice a First Team All-Big Ten selection, a unanimous All -American in 2003 and took home the Outland Trophy that same year. For a college football fan and writer for an Iowa blog, this was a no-brainer.
Martin Gramatica, Kicker, Kansas State
Yes, I voted for a kicker. ‘“Automatica” was money back in the day. He was a two-time first-team All-American and the 1997 Lou Groza winner as the best kicker in college football. He also owns the record for longest field goal in college and pro football history kicked without a tee: 65 yards.
Craig Heyward, Running Back, Pittsburgh
The guy was a legend before he left college. “Ironhead” Heyward was a 265-pound wrecking ball with speed who proved nearly unstoppable for collegiate defenses in his day. He topped the 3000-yard mark on the ground in just three years at Pitt. His 1,791 yards in 1987 was good enough to land him a fifth place finish in the Heisman voting that year. Long story short, he was a lot of fun to watch, like a real-life Kevin Mack on Tecmo Bowl.
Raghib Ismail, Flanker, Notre Dame
The “Rocket” has won me plenty of money in small side bets. For some reason, a lot of people think he won a Heisman Trophy. He did not, and I pocket $5 bills all the time as a result. That, however, leads me to believe that he must be in the conversation for greatest college players who have never won a Heisman. For that, he gets my vote.
Ed Reed, Safety, Miami (The U, not Miami of Ohio)
You remember me talking about the Miami team that smacked around Eric Crouch and his Huskers? Reed was the best defensive player on that squad. He was a two-time first-team All-American, Big East (yeah, the used to have football) Defensive Player of the Year and a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award. As awesome as you remember him being in the NFL, he was more dominant in college.
Lorenzo White, Running Back, Michigan State
Honestly, I voted for White because I remember watching him dominate on Saturdays when I was a kid — and that’s basically it. He was a two-time All-American, so that’s gotta count for something. But hey, it’s my vote. If you want one, get your own.
Steve Wisniewski, Guard, Penn State
“The Wiz” is one of the greatest lineman in Penn State history. He was a huge part of their 1986 National Championship team that upset Vinny Testaverde and the Miami Hurricanes. That’s all I got, and that’s good enough.
Charles Woodson, Defensive Back, Michigan
Probably the biggest no-brainer on the ballot. Only defensive player to win the Heisman. Beat out Peyton Manning and Randy Moss to do it. Won the Walter Camp, Nagurski, Bednarik and Thorpe the same year (1997). They probably should have just given him the Outland as well. Oh, and he led his team to a share of the national title.
Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech
I put Beamer up their amongst the greatest coaches to have never won a national title. He was 280-143-4 as a head coach with 22 bowl appearances. He put Virginia Tech football on the national map.
Mack Brown, Texas
A lot of people forget how irrelevant Texas was through the 1980’s and most of the 1990’s. Mack Brown led them back to the top of the mountain and brought a national championship back to the Lone Star State.
Divisional (Anything below FBS) coaches
Mel Tjeerdsma, Northwest Missouri State
You’ve probably tuned into the Division II National Championship game sometime over the last two decades and watched Northwest Missouri State at some point. Between 1998 and now, the Bearcats played in the title game 10 times, winning six of them. Seven of those appearances and three titles were under Tjeerdsma, who quietly constructed what has become the single most dominant football dynasty in the country. If he does not get in the Hall this year, they should board up the windows and lock the doors of the building forever.
As part of a continuing tradition, the National Football Foundation has partnered with the College Football Playoff to announce the new College Football Hall of Fame class during festivities prior to the National Championship in the host city. The announcement of the 2018 Class will be made Monday, Jan. 8, 2018, in Atlanta, and they will be inducted at the 61st NFF Annual Awards Dinner Dec. 4, 2018, at the New York Hilton Midtown. The inductees will be permanently enshrined at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta.