May 13, 2006

Olin picks his Hall of Fame class

Some elections are too easy. Take the presidential ballot, for instance.

Every four years you pick between two choices. What could be easier? You like this guy or you don't like that guy and you make a simple decision. Well, it's simple unless you support Ralph Nader, and then your vote doesn't matter, anyway.

Oh, but that's another topic of debate for another Web site at another time about two years from now.

No, this is about a truly difficult ballot which gives new meaning to the term "electoral college."

On Tuesday, the National Football Foundation will announce 13 former players who were selected from a list of 77 nominees for induction into the College Football Hall of Fame.

No ballot was presented to me, but that's OK. That would require officially rejecting some of the greatest players in the history of the greatest sport in America.

Instead, I'll just say this is how I would have voted. Let me know the selections with which you agree and disagree. But that invitation is only for the college players. If you wish to debate Nader's credentials, I'm not interested.

Here's how my Hall of Fame ballot would read:

Trev Alberts, LB, Nebraska
Think he was annoying as an ESPN analyst? He was even worse as a linebacker. Give credit where credit is due, and Alberts is certainly due his share. The '93 Butkus Award winner, Alberts recorded 96 tackles that season and tied a school record with 15 sacks. He was credited with 21 tackles for loss, three forced fumbles and 38 quarterback hurries in helping Nebraska to an undefeated regular season. The Big Eight defensive MVP, he was also named the Orange Bowl defensive MVP. He finished his career with 45 tackles for loss and 29.5 sacks. He was also an Academic All-American, which counts for something.
Eric Dickerson, SMU
A two-time Southwest Conference player of the year, Dickerson rushed for 4,450 yards and 48 touchdowns - and that was as a part-time starter. He shared the tailback position with Craig James in SMU's "Pony Express." In his senior season of 1982 Dickerson scored 19 touchdowns, was named All-American and finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting. What would he have done if he played the whole game?
Steve Emtman, Washington
In 1991 Emtman won the Lombardi Award and Outland Trophy and was fourth in the Heisman voting, the highest finish ever for a Husky. A tackle, he was the anchor of the defense that allowed only 67.1 rushing yards and 9.2 points per game and paved the way to the national championship. Of the 60 tackles he recorded his junior season (he left for the NFL after that year) 19.5 were for losses.
Rex Kern, QB, Ohio State
He led the Buckeyes to a 27-2 record in three seasons, including the 1968 national championship which was clinched with a 27-16 Rose Bowl victory over Southern Cal. He was named Most Valuable Player in that game. He quarterbacked the Buckeyes to No. 1 rankings in 1969 and 1970, but a season-ending loss to Michigan in '69 and a Rose Bowl defeat to Stanford to end the '70 season prevented the Buckeyes from winning another national title.
Mike Rozier, RB, Nebraska
The fact that he's the career rushing leader in Nebraska history says all you really need to know. The 1983 Heisman Trophy recipient and two-time All-American holds Nebraska records for single-season rushing with 2,148 yards and rushed for 4,780 in three seasons. Behind Rozier, the Cornhuskers took a 12-0 record and No. 1 national ranking into an Orange Bowl matchup with Miami. The Huskers were upset 35-34. Rozier rushed for 147 yards on 26 carries in that game, but left in the third quarter with an injury. Would there have been an upset if Rozier hadn't gotten hurt?
Bruce Smith, DE, Virginia Tech
Until Michael Vick came along, Smith was the most honored player in Hokies history. Now, he's the most honored defensive player in Hokies history. The "Sack Man" completed his collegiate career in 1984 with 46 sacks for 504 yards in losses. He had 22 sacks as a junior when he was named All-American. In his senior season he posted 16 sacks and won the Outland Trophy.
Lawrence Taylor, LB, North Carolina
Before he was known as the greatest linebacker in NFL history, he was known as "Godzilla" in Chapel Hill. He had 95 tackles and forced seven fumbles as a junior and followed that up with 16 sacks in his senior season in which he was named All-American and the ACC player of the year.
Wilson Whitley, DT, Houston
A dominant defensive tackle who was the 1976 Lombardi Award recipient, Whitley was a major factor in leading Houston to a share of the Southwest Conference championship and Cotton Bowl victory over Maryland. He was named the SWC's defensive player of the decade for the '70s.
Richard Wood, LB, USC
Think of all the great players, the dozens of All-Americans and the future NFL stars and even Pro Football Hall of Famers to play at Southern California. Yet, only one Trojan was ever a three-time All-American. That's right. Richard Wood.
Bob Golic, LB, Notre Dame
Was torn between Golic, a Lombardi Award finalist, and Chris Zorich, a Lombardi Award winner. In the end I was swayed by the fact 25 years after he left South Bend, Golic still ranks second in Notre Dame history with 479 tackles. He still shares the Irish single-game tackle record with 26 against Michigan in 1978.
Emmitt Smith, RB, Florida
What? You thought he wasn't good until he joined the Cowboys? When he completed his career in Gainesville, Smith held 58 Florida school records - including all-time leading rusher with 3,928 yards. He'd probably still own all the records had he not been hobbled by injuries as a sophomore and then left for the NFL after his junior year. He's still owns Florida records for 316 yards rushing in a single game and 1,599 yards rushing in a season.
Ron Simmons, NG, Florida State
The Florida State media guide still calls him 'the most dominating defensive lineman in Seminole history." Need I say more? Of course not, but I will anyway. A two-time consensus All-American, Simmons still holds FSU records for season and career tackles for loss. In 1979 he recorded 81 tackles a huge number for a lineman and 17 tackles for loss. He was the first Florida State defensive player to have his number retired.
Chris Spielman, Ohio State
I can hear the howls coming all the way from Ann Arbor. Two Ohio State players? OK, next year I vote for Dave Gallagher and the late Dave Brown and anyone else who ever donned the winged helmet. But I just couldn't pass on Spielman, who holds Ohio State's all-time record for solo tackles with 283. He once recorded 29 tackles against Michigan. (Here come the howls again). A three-time All Big Ten choice, two-time All-American and 1987 Lombardi Award winner, Spielman was on teams that won two Big Ten championships, and he was named defensive MVP of the Cotton Bowl as a senior.

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