So, you know how ridiculous the College Football Hall of Fame is, right? Their criteria seem a little draconian and maybe that works for them but it leaves out a wellspring of football legends.
So that's why the SB Nation college football crew is putting together their own College Football Hall of Fame. It'll be fun! They're asking all the blogs to nominate five players from their camp in any of 10 categories: QB, RB, WR, TE, OL, DL, LB, DB, ST and Coach. We talked it over and here's who we sent over, after the jump.
We should also explain the eligible candidates. Basically they are not looking to pore through the annals of college football and nominate historical figures. The loose criteria is that we are ushering in those players we've been lucky enough to watch live, either on TV or in person. This puts most of us at 90s or later. It also boots Chuck Ealey out of consideration, which saddens me but rules are rules. Nominees has to been out of school for four years (so, 2007 season or before) and the coach has to have been coaching at their position for at least five years.
Now, there are likely going to be other MAC candidates. The network has other MAC blogs. Other Big Ten blogs might pick somebody from the MAC that ravaged their team, or perhaps a poached coach. These are just our five candidates. This does not mean they're the five best players in the MAC since the mid-90s (when I became cognizant of this sport). It's just who we're nominating, for strategic reasons. (Example: we could submit five quarterbacks, but EVERYBODY is going to have a quarterback.) However we'd love to hear who you would nominate. Here's who we went with:
QB Ben Roethlisberger (Miami University, 2001-03)
Roethlisberger was lightly recruited out of high school because he only played his senior year. Otherwise he might've become a Big Ten legend. Instead he landed at Miami, doing a total rewrite of the RedHawks' record book. He holds the MAC record for single-season passing yards (4,486) and had he stuck around for his senior season, virtually all the career quarterback records would have been his.
In 2003 season he guided Miami to a MAC Championship, #10 Associated Press ranking and 13-1 record. For most of the season, Roethlisbeger was untouchable, having about as much pocket elusiveness as a 6'5", 240-pound quarterback is allowed to have. For all this he was named third team All-American by the Associated Press and ninth in the Heisman Trophy voting. And the best-kept story of his career at Miami: in his final two years he averaged one punt a game, holding a 40.1 yard per punt career average.
RB Travis Prentice (Miami University, 1996-99)
Prentice was the definition of a running back that wore any team down, big or small. Prentice holds some sizable NCAA records: most career touchdowns (78) and career rushing touchdowns (73) and most consecutive carries without a fumble (862). His 25 career multi-touchdown games is also an NCAA record. Some of his greatest games keyed big upsets in the late 90s. His 91-yard, two-touchdown game spurred a win over #14 Virginia Tech in 1997. He followed that up with a 37-carry, 162-yard game against #12 North Carolina in 1998, another win.
In 1998 he was named first team All-American by the Sports Network, second team by the Sporting News and third team by the Football News and Associated Press.
DL Jason Babin (Western Michigan University, 2000-03)
Babin holds the FBS record for most tackles for loss in a career (75) and season (32) as well second in career sacks (38). Twice Babin won MAC Defensive Player o the Year, and he did all this while playing on largely sub-.500 teams. It could be argued there has not been a better defensive end in college football since he graduated. He was bona fide Big Ten talent among MAC opponents.
ST Brad Maynard (Ball State University, 1993-96)
Perhaps the greatest punter in MAC history. In 1996 Maynard actually won the MAC Defensive Player of the Year and the Vern Smith Leadership Award, given annually to the top MAC Player. Yes, a punter won these awards. He picked up first team All-American nods from three major publications in '96 (Walter Camp, AFCA, Football News) and five in 1995 (same plus Associated Press and UPI) as well as a second team All-American nod in 1994 by the Associated Press and Football News. His career punting average over four years was 44.2 yards, but the NCAA only recognizes this career number with a minimum of 250 punts. He had 242, but this average would put him fourth all time.
Coach Bob Pruett (Marshall University, 1996-2004)
Behind the legend of Marshall football in the late 1990/early 2000s — Randy Moss, Chad Pennington and Byron Leftwich — was Pruett, who led the Thundering Herd to a 15-0 record and a I-AA Championship in 1996, his first year with them. The next year was Marshall's first in I-A, promptly winning the MAC. Pruett led the Herd to five MAC Championships in their first six years, including a 13-0 campaign in 1999, finishing ranked 10th in the country by the Associated Press.
Pruett's 58-9 mark through a five-year stretch was the best by a coach since 1896, later broken by Boise State's Chris Petersen. His 79-23 FBS record is fourth in MAC history behind Actual College Football HOF coaches Ara Parseghian, Sid Gillman and Doyt Perry. He retired after the 2004 season with a 94-23 record, both subdivisions combined.