College football hall says yes to Jim Tressell and the Boz, no to Rocket Ismail and Simeon Rice

SHARE College football hall says yes to Jim Tressell and the Boz, no to Rocket Ismail and Simeon Rice
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Lincoln Kennedy and Bill Snyder share a laugh during the College Football Hall of Fame announcements. (LM Otero/AP)

DALLAS — I was excited to attend today’s ceremony at which the 2015 College Football Hall of Fame class was announced. Excited because, in part, I thought I might run into one or two of the Notre Dame and Illinois players I’d voted for. Maybe a Rocket Ismail. Perhaps a Simeon Rice.

No go.

They weren’t among the players and coach — Oklahoma linebacker Brian Bosworth, Washington tackle Lincoln Kennedy, Arizona State linebacker Bob Breunig, Kansas State coach Bill Snyder — who were here representing the hall’s newest class of 15 players and two coaches. Ismail, the most exciting player in the country when he was with the Irish, and Rice, the nation’s best pass rusher when he starred for the Illini, didn’t even make the 2015 cut.

I’ll puzzle over both omissions for a while.

But it is a terrific class, and also a fascinating one — the latter due to the inclusions of Bosworth, a noted steroid user at Oklahoma, and former Ohio State coach Jim Tressel, a central figure in a major scandal that cost him his throne in Columbus.

“It took my breath away,” the Boz said of the call he received informing him of his selection. “I started to cry.”

Kennedy likewise spoke of tears shed. But the star of the day was Kansas State’s Snyder, architect of arguably the greatest program building job in the game’s history. He recalled being convinced, after the Wildcats won a single game in 1989, his first season, that success was near, even though many of his pals in the profession were encouraging him to get as far away from Manhattan as possible. He also was — in his inimitably bone-dry fashion — hilarious.

“I’m awfully grateful that the voting took place before the bowl game,” said Snyder, referring to K-State’s loss to UCLA in the Alamo Bowl.

A pretty classic moment unfolded after Snyder had finished acknowledging the many people who’ve emboldened his efforts along the way, including his three children. Snyder’s wife, Sharon, raised a hand and jumped in with the media questioning. She wanted to know why her husband had forgotten to mention Snyder offspring Nos. 4 and 5. One of the kids Snyder forgot to mention, Sean, played at K-State and is on the coaching staff there now.

Snyder also offered a pearl of wisdom to Urban Meyer, whose Ohio State will meet Oregon in the championship game here on Monday night.

“Get 14 guys on the field,” Snyder advised.

The college hall is a tough one to get into. Only 963 have been selected, out of over 5 million player’s in the game’s history.

The 2015 class includes Thom Gatewood, the first black captain in Notre Dame history, a split end who led the Irish in receiving in 1969, 1970 and 1971. Also selected: former Yale running back and Bears coach Dick Jauron.

The rest of the class, alphabetically: Nebraska linebacker Trev Alberts, Millsaps (Miss.) College defensive lineman Sean Brewer, Pittsburgh tackle Reuben Brown, Florida split end Wes Chandler, Michigan State halfback Clinton Jones, Michigan running back Rob Lytle, Marshall quarterback Michael Payton, Kentucky defensive end Art Still, Texas Tech linebacker Zach Thomas and Texas running back Ricky Williams.

Email: sgreenberg@suntimes.com

Twitter: @slgreenberg

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