It’s mid-June, which means it’s time for the College Football Hall of Fame to do its annual thing.
Late Tuesday morning, the National Football Foundation unveiled the 85 individuals who are on the 2021 ballot for induction into the College Football Hall of Fame. Of those 85, 78 are on the ballot as former players. Which means, if my math is correct, the other seven are former college football head coaches.
Headlining the latter is Bob Stoops. The former Oklahoma Sooners coach abruptly retired from the Sooners in June of 2017. On the players side, Ray Lewis is arguably the biggest name. Lewis was a first-team All-American in 1995 and two-time first-team All-Big East selection. In 2018, Lewis was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame.
Once again though, the legendary Howard Schnellenberger has been snubbed. Why? Because of NFF criteria for the College Football Hall of Fame that absolutely needs changed.
- First and foremost, a player must have received First-Team All-America recognition by a selector that is recognized by the NCAA and utilized to comprise its 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. Consideration may also be given for academic honors and whether 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 2021 ballot, the player must have played his last year in 1971 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 football coach for a minimum of 10 years and coached at least 100 games with a .600 winning percentage.
- Nominations may only be submitted by the current athletics director, head coach or sports information director (SID) of a potential candidate’s collegiate institution. Nominations may also be submitted by the president/executive director of a dues-paying chapter of the National Football Foundation.
Schnellenberger is more than three years removed from retirement and is decidedly above the age floor. He qualifies on the number of years as a head coach (he coached 28 seasons). He qualifies on number of games coached (he is at 312). Where he lags is winning percentage, coming in at .508.
The coach took over a Louisville program that won a combined five games in the two years prior to his arrival. Five years after taking over a Miami program that finished above .500 just twice in a decade before his arrival, Schnellenberger guided the Hurricanes to a national title. At Florida Atlantic, Schnellenberger literally built an FCS program from the ground up and turned it into one that moved to the FBS level.
Right now, Schnellenberger is easily the biggest College Football Hall of Fame snub. It needs to be rectified. Before the 86-year-old coach shuffles off this mortal coil.
As for the past players and coaches who did make this year’s ballot? Click HERE for the full list.