He was the first player to top 7,000 yards rushing and finished with 7,125 career yards on the ground. That’s over four miles worth of turf that Ron Dayne chewed up in his tenure as the Wisconsin Badgers’ tailback from 1995 to 1999. He graduated at the NCAA’s all-time leading rusher.
You’d think that would be enough to be a first-ballot selection for the College Football Hall of Fame, no?
According to the National Football Foundation, a player becomes eligible for consideration “ten years after his final year of intercollegiate football played.” For Dayne, his final game as a member of the Badgers came Jan. 1, 2000, when Wisconsin beat Stanford 17-9 to win the Rose Bowl, a game in which Dayne was named MVP.
By my calculation, that would have made Dayne eligible for entry into the College Football Hall of Fame at the beginning of 2010. Why did it take him three more years to get selected? I don’t have a good answer. Apparently graduating as the NCAA’s all-time leading rusher and as first-team All-American with a Heisman Trophy and a slew of other national awards under your belt doesn’t make the first-year cut.
But Dayne isn’t the only one who had to wait. Here’s a short list of some other candidates that I think should have been in the College Football Hall of Fame for a while:
Vinny Testaverde, QB, Miami
Not only did Testaverde win the Heisman Trophy in 1986, but was a unanimous first team All-American selection, as well as winner of the Walter Camp, Maxwell and Davey O’Brien trophies. He led the Hurricanes an 11-0 regular season (and a 23-3 record for his career) as well as a trip to the 1987 Fiesta Bowl against Penn State. Twenty-five years after his playing career ended, it’s about time Testaverde received this honor.
Tommie Frazier, QB, Nebraska
Arguably the best player in college football in the 1990s, Frazier led Nebraska to back-to-back perfect seasons and subsequent national championships in 1994 and 1995, as well as four straight Big Eight titles, yet Frazier’s induction comes in his eighth season of eligibility
Danny Wuerffel, QB, Florida
Wuerffel spent four dominant years in Gainesville, leading the Gators to four bowl games and posting a 45-6-1 career mark at Florida. He also threw for over 11,000 yards in his career, was a two-time All-American selection and earned trophies for the Walter Camp Player of the Year, Maxwell Award, Davey O’Brien Award, Unitas Golden Arm and the Sammy Baugh Trophy, on top of winning the 1996 Heisman Trophy. Seven years after becoming eligible, Wuerffel finally earns a rightful place in the Hall.
Orlando Pace, OT, Ohio State
Pace set a new standard for offensive linemen, becoming a unanimous All-American selection in both 1995 and 1996. He didn’t allow a sack in either of those two seasons, and finished fourth in the 1996 Heisman Trophy voting, a remarkable feat for an offensive lineman. He also became the first player to repeat as winner of the Lombardi Award, given to college football’s best lineman or linebacker.
The rest of the 2013 College Football Hall of Fame class is as follows:
TED BROWN – TB, North Carolina State (1975-78)
TEDY BRUSCHI – DE, Arizona (1992-95)
JERRY GRAY – DB, Texas (1981-84)
WAYNE HARDIN – head coach, Navy (1959-64) and Temple (1970-82)
BILL McCARTNEY -head coach, Colorado (1982-94)
STEVE MEILINGER- E, Kentucky (1951-53)
ROD SHOATE (deceased) – LB, Oklahoma (1972-74)
PERCY SNOW – LB, Michigan State (1986-89)
DON TRULL – QB, Baylor (1961-63)