Marshall Faulk

Peyton Manning, Steve Spurrier appear on College Football Hall of Fame ballot

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After sailing into the sunset as a Super Bowl champion, Peyton Manning is sure to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in a few more years. He may not have to wait much longer to earn a spot in the College Football Hall of Fame. Manning is among the 15 first-year candidates appearing on this year’s ballot for the College Football Hall of Fame, released today by the National Football Foundation and the College Football Hall of Fame. He may also be going in with one of his former rivals, Steve Spurrier.

Manning is finally eligible this year because he no longer plays professional football. Being active in the professional game prohibits a player from being eligible for the ballot. Manning is joined by Marshall Faulk, Troy Polamalu, Tony Gonzalez, Craig Heyward, Jake Plummer, and Troy Vincent among others. Manning should be a lock for induction given his accolades while at Tennessee. Manning was a consensus First Team All-American and a Heisman Trophy runner-up in 1997 and took home the Maxwell Award and Davey O’Brien Award while setting Tennessee records for all-time passing yards and touchdowns.

Spurrier is a virtual lock to be inducted as a head coach after stepping in to his own retirement in the midst of the 2015 season at South Carolina. Spurrier owns the most wins at Florida and South Carolina and has the second-most all-time wins in the SEC, trailing only one Bear Bryant. Spurrier led the Gators to the 1996 national championship and six SEC crowns and has accumulated nine conference coach of the year awards and 21 bowl appearances between his stops at Duke, Florida and South Carolina.

You can see the full release and the names of all players on this year’s ballot HERE. The announcement of the Class of 2017 will be announced on January 6, 2017 in Tampa. The new class will be inducted later that year on December 5, 2017 in New York City.

SEC leads all conferences with Madden NFL video game covers

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There may no longer be an NCAA Football video game produced by EA Sports, but that does not mean the SEC cannot find one more thing to brag about. With wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. of the New York Giants, and previously of LSU, being named the cover athlete for Madden NFL 16, the annual NFL video game published by EA Sports, the SEC now has four all-time cover athletes on the most popular sports video game in the country. No other active conference has more than two Madden cover athletes.

LSU’s Beckham Jr. is the first Tigers player to appear on the cover of Madden. He joins Georgia’s Garrison Hearst (Madden NFL 99, the first cover athlete in the franchise’s history), Alabama’s Shaun Alexander (Madden NFL 07) and Peyton Hillis of Arkansas (Madden NFL 12). The SEC actually ties the old Big East for most all-time cover athletes. The Big East is the only conference to have a former Big East player appear on the cover in three successive seasons with Virginia Tech’s Michael Vick (Madden NFL 2004), Miami’s Ray Lewis (Madden NFL 2005) and Syracuse’s Donovan McNabb (Madden NFL 06). The Big East’s last representative on the cover was former Pittsburgh wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (Madden NFL 10).

The ACC, Big 12, Big Ten and Pac-12 all have had two cover athletes each. Joining the Big East in the defunct conference category of Madden cover athletes are the Big 8 and WAC, each with one cover athlete. Barry Sanders (Madden NFL 25; he technically appeared on the cover of Madden NFL 2000 too, but that was as a background image behind John Madden) of Oklahoma State played in the Big 8 and Marshall Faulk (Madden NFL 2003) played at San Diego State when the Aztecs were in the WAC.

One more note for those with an interest. Two players from independent programs have been featured on the cover of the Madden NFL series, and neither hailed from Notre Dame. UCF’s Daunte Culpepper (Madden NFL 2002) and Southern Mississippi’s Brett Favre (Madden NFL 09) have each graced the cover. At the time these quarterbacks were throwing passes on Saturday afternoons though, both programs were independent programs.

What about Heisman Trophy winners on the cover? There have been three of them on the cover of Madden. In addition to Sanders, Ohio State’s Eddie George (Madden NFL 2001) and Vince Young of Texas (Madden NFL 08) have appeared on the cover of the game.

Madden NFL 99 – Garrison Hearst, Georgia

Madden NFL 2000 – John Madden (Barry Sanders was in the background image, but not specifically featured)

Madden NFL 2001 – Eddie George, Ohio State

Madden NFL 2002 – Daunte Culpepper, UCF

Madden NFL 2003 – Marshall Faulk, San Diego State, WAC

Madden NFL 2004 – Michael Vick, Virginia Tech

Madden NFL 2005 – Ray Lewis, Miami

Madden NFL 06 – Donovan McNabb, Syracuse

Madden NFL 07 – Shaun Alexander, Alabama

Madden NFL 08 – Vince Young, Texas

Madden NFL 09 – Brett Favre, Southern Miss

Madden NFL 10 – Troy Polamalu, USC; Larry Fitzgerald, Pittsburgh

Madden NFL 11 – Drew Brees, Purdue

Madden NFL 12 – Peyton Hillis, Arkansas

Madden NFL 13 – Calvin Johnson, Georgia Tech

Madden NFL 25 – Barry Sanders, Oklahoma State; Adrian Peterson, Oklahoma

Madden NFL 15 – Richard Sherman, Stanford

Madden NFL 16 – Odell Beckham Jr., LSU