Did Will Shields’ 2011 HOF enshrinement preclude another Husker in 2012?
By Randy York
Nebraska football fans undoubtedly were disappointed Tuesday watching the official announcement of the National Football Foundation’s 2012 College Football Hall of Fame class. Fourteen players were selected and Trev Alberts, Eric Crouch and Tommie Frazier were not among them. Perhaps ESPN’s Ivan Maisel has the reason why Nebraska went winless this time around. In a column that pointed out why it took so long for a Heisman winner like Ty Detmer (1990) to be elected into the Hall of Fame, Maisel said the answer was simple math. “There are 22 All-Americans every year,” he wrote. “The Hall inducts 12-14 annually. It must select all positions and from all regions. And the Hall has a rule against taking players from the same school in consecutive years.”
That last sentence came as a surprise to many. The “consecutive year rule” is accurate, even though it is probably more of an unwritten rule than an absolute one. The National Foundation is always in a bit of a delicate balance, especially when it comes to such traditional football powers as Nebraska. But apparently the unwritten rule is applied everywhere – just as much to Ohio State and Michigan as it would be to Nebraska and Oklahoma. Back-to-back winners from the same school are few and far between and the National Football Foundation apparently tries to avoid repeat winners as a matter of practice, if not policy. And since Will Shields was a member of the 2011 College Football Hall of Fame class, chances of Nebraska gaining another member in 2012 probably were close to prohibitive, especially when you consider that the odds of anyone becoming a College Football HOF member are .0196 percent. Several factors are taken into consideration each year before selections are finalized. The NFF Honor Court considers position played, geography, race, conference affiliations and recent inductions.
Frazier waited six years past his eligibility just to get on the ballot for the first time in 2011, and he was far from disappointed Tuesday when he learned he did not make this year’s class. “I can’t control how people vote. I just go about my business and live life,” he said. “I’ve never been one to talk about individual honors. I’m all about team. The team has driven everything I’ve ever accomplished on the football field. I wouldn’t have any honor if I wasn’t surrounded by the kind of teammates I had. Without them, I’m nothing.” We caught Frazier a few minutes after the final HOF announcements were made. He was walking down the hall of Immanuel Medical Center in Northwest Omaha to attend a meeting. In his second year as a development officer for Omaha’s top-ranked hospital system, Frazier is much more into his job than his football honors. “I’m very appreciative of every honor I’ve ever received,” he said, “and I can wait as long as necessary for anything else that might come my way.”
For the record, Nebraska is well represented in the College Football Hall of Fame with 15 player inductees: Ed Weir - Tackle (1923-25) - Inducted in 1951 George Sauer - Fullback (1931-33) - Inducted in 1954; Guy Chamberlin - End (1913-15) - Inducted in 1962; Clarence Swanson - End (1918-21) - Inducted in 1973; Sam Francis - Fullback (1934-36) - Inducted in 1977; Bobby Reynolds - Halfback (1950-52) - Inducted in 1984; Forrest Behm - Tackle (1938-40) - Inducted in 1988; Wayne Meylan - Middle Guard (1965-67) - Inducted in 1991; Bob Brown - Guard (1962-63) - Inducted in 1993; Rich Glover - Middle Guard (1970-72) - Inducted in 1995; Dave Rimington - Center (1979-82) - Inducted in 1997; Johnny Rodgers - Wingback (1970-72) - Inducted in 2000; Mike Rozier - I-Back (1981-83) - Inducted in 2006; Grant Wistrom - Rush End (1994-97) - Inducted in 2009; and Will Shields (1989-92) Offensive guard – Inducted in 2011. To the surprise of many, six Nebraska coaches also have been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame: Fielding Yost (1898) - Inducted in 1951; Dana X. Bible (1929-36) - Inducted in 1951; Lawrence McCeney “Biff” Jones (1937-41) - Inducted in 1954; Edward N. “Robbie” Robinson (1896-97) - Inducted in 1955; Bob Devaney (1962-72) - Inducted in 1981; and Tom Osborne (1973-97) - Inducted in 1999.
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