(Photo by Jason Schott)
The National Football Foundation held their College Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Tuesday night at the Waldorf.
The members of the 2016 College Football Hall of Fame Class are: Marlin Briscoe (Nebraska Omaha), Derrick Brooks (Florida State), Tom Cousineau (Ohio State), Randall Cunningham (UNLV), Troy Davis (Iowa State), William Fuller (North Carolina), Bert Jones (LSU), Tim Krumrie (Wisconsin), Pat McInally (Harvard), Herb Orvis (Colorado), Bill Royce (Ashland [Ohio]), Mike Utley (Washington State), Scott Woerner (Georgia), Rod Woodson (Purdue, represented by his son, Demitrius) and coaches Bill Bowes (New Hampshire) and Frank Girardi (Lycoming [Pa.]).
Derrick Brooks was a two-time unanimous First Team All-American in 1993 and 1994, the ACC Player of the of the Year in 1994, and he led Florida State to its first-ever national championship in 1993. Brooks led Florida State to victories in four consecutive bowl games. He is the sixth Seminole to enter the College Football Hall of Fame.
Brooks said, at a press conference Tuesday morning at the Waldorf, of what he remembers most about that championship experience in 1993, when they beat Nebraska in the Orange Bowl, and the one memory he would love to live again, “It would be Coach Bowden’s face in that locker room after we won the championship in ’93. And the first two words out of his mouth were “thank you” to us. Obviously, we’d been down that road a lot. And two field goals in the wrong direction we felt cost us national championships.
“But in my mind, of all the teams I played with, particularly in Florida State, I would put our 1993 team as one of the best that Coach Bowden has ever put together. We always go back and forth, us alumni, about it. But across the board from top to bottom, we were pretty dominant. And that moment of seeing it all culminate for him in that locker room, you can literally — when I say I know what it’s like to have the bear off your back, I saw that with Coach Bowden, that burden lifted off his back by us winning the championship in 1993. That moment is very special for me in terms of Coach Bowden and what he’s meant, not only to me, but for a generation of players.
“And that’s why I constantly say greatest football coach that I’ve ever played with because he’s transcended so many lives from grandparents all the way down to grandchildren. He stayed in the game that long and has been a part of so many lives. So I’m extremely humbled to join not only him but many other student-athletes in the College Football Hall of Fame.”
Randall Cunningham is UNLV’s career passing and punting leader, and is the first Rebel to enter the College Football Hall of Fame. A First Team All American in 1983, Cunningham received second team honors as a senior while also garnering honorable mention as a quarterback.
Cunningham broke 18 UNLV records, including career marks for passing yards (8,020), touchdown passes (59) and punting average (45.6). A two-time PCAA Offensive Player of the Year, Cunningham was first team all-conference three times as a punter and twice as a quarterback. The single-season and career punting leader in PCAA history, he led the Rebels to the 1984 conference title and earned MVP honors in their first-ever bowl game appearance, a victory in the California Bowl.
Cunningham said of how proud he is of his accomplishments as a punter, “Very excited. In life you go through wonderful things, and I just happened to be that person that had a big foot. So I had a size 13 way back then. And so when the ball hit my foot, it was going somewhere. I didn’t know where it was going…It was a blessing. I got the opportunity to meet guys who were in the different categories, whether it was all-star games and things like that. I remember meeting Mike Rozier at an all-star game and at a conference. And it was just a blessing to meet him. He was one of the top players in college football. So it was great to see him and to meet him. And it gave me an avenue, by making it as a punter, with Kodak All-American. It was really a blessing to be able to just be around the top guys in the nation. And I really enjoyed that. So being a punter did open some doors for me.”
From 1972 to 1998 at New Hampshire Coach Bill Bowes claimed 175 victories and a 62% winning percentage from 1972 to 1998, more than any coach in Yankee Conference and A-10 history. He is the first UNH player or coach inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
Bowes said of it sinking in yet, “I’m not sure it truly has. It was unbelievable when I came home one night and there was a football there. One of the other inductees mentioned that. Of course, I didn’t know what it was. But when I opened the box and saw that I was inducted, I couldn’t believe it. And I still can’t believe it. I think so many times we, as head coaches, get too much credit for what we do.
I think people have asked me, what was your greatest skill as a coach? And I really believe that perhaps my greatest skill was in going out and hiring outstanding assistant coaches. And I freely admit that I was extremely blessed with assistant coaches that did a great job for me. Shaun McDonald, who’s currently the head coach at New Hampshire, he sets a record, I think, something like 11 or 12 straight years he’s gone to the playoffs. That’s amazing. Chip Kelly with the San Francisco 49ers; Phil Estes, the head coach at Brown; Mark Whipple, head coach at UMass. I have several former assistants who are currently assistants at the professional level and other major colleges. So, again, these are the guys who do the work. I just sat back and watched them work and reaped the benefits.”