SB Nation is revamping the College Football Hall of Fame, and BYU fans can be a part of it. Due to the infamous, odd requirements for the HOF, the network of bloggers is collaborating to make a new, more-sensible home to CFB's best.
The effort does have some caveats, however, as the #SBNHOF's inaugural class is inducted.
Unlike the actual CFB HOF qualifications, there will be no requirements for whether or not a player was an All-American or garnered any other such accolades -- because that's kind of like requiring a team to be a conference champ to get into the playoffs instead of just taking the four best teams.
The only true requirement is the players must have been done with their college careers for four years. The inaugural 2012 class will account for players up through the 2007 season (bowls that finished in 2008.) This was decided upon to allow for a small moratorium so we can (hopefully) properly frame a player's performance in its historical place. This means that two of BYU's all-time greats, statistically at least, Austin Collie (WR, 2008) and Dennis Pitta (TE, 2009) must wait for future induction classes to be nominated.
Players under consideration will also hail from the era of college football starting in 1962, but furthermore, while not a requirement, it is also a strong suggestion that we (you the reader and we here at Vanquish The Foe) try to nominate players we actually watched in their BYU days.
Each college site within SB Nation can nominate up to five players per class, with one player from each position from any of the following positions:
QB, RB, WR, TE, OL, DL, LB, DB, ST, Coach
An induction committee comprised of the SBNation.com college writers and managers of various college sites around the network will field the nominations and elect members into the SB Nation Hall of Fame.
Here at Vanquish The Foe, we want your help coming up with our nominations for 2012. We will nominate our five BYU players, make our case to the SBN committee, and hope the players are inducted.
While we definitely want your vote, I will get us started with the two most obvious selections that are both worthy of accolades by BYU standards, and also easily merit inclusion in a national hall of honor. As a manager of the site, I hope it is understood when I use discretion to make the first two selections. I feel they are obvious, and since we can only nominate one player per position (a stipulation I don't really enjoy), I wanted to avoid exhausting all discussion amongst staff and readers over quarterbacks.
So our first two nominations for BYU in the 2012 class will be:
LAVELL EDWARDS | Coach, 1972-2000
Coach Edwards is an absolute no-brainer as a BYU nominee, but should also be a shoo-in for the first #SBNHOF class for both his all-time standing and his influence on the game. His 257 wins ranks Edwards 6th in all-time Division I-A/FBS wins. Having coached for 29 years at BYU, Edwards is the only coach to win a national championship at a non-power/major/BCS school in the modern era.
His influence in football, college and pro, pushes his profile to must-include status. Norm Chow, Andy Reid, Mike Holmgren, Ted Tollner, Brian Billick, and Doug Scovil all coached under Edwards (Billick coached for one year as a grad assistant, but also played at BYU). When you extend to coaches who played under Edwards, the list includes Steve Sarkisian and Kyle Whittingham. The Air Raid, currently CFB's most potent offense, traces directly to Edwards. Hal Mumme, grandfather of the Air Raid, credits Edwards as a major influence. Mike Leach, CFB's biggest purveyor of the offense, had his football mind stirred while watching Edwards'-coached teams play while an undergrad and rugby player at BYU -- before eventually being mentored by Mumme at Valdosta State and Kentucky.
I don't think I'm going out on a limb to say Cougar Nation would unanimously nominate Coach Edwards. No need to put it to a vote.
TY DETMER | QB, 1988-91
I suppose it is a little controversial for me to pick a quarterback out of BYU's amazing pantheon without debate -- a pantheon that makes the #SBNHOF stipulation of only one nominee per position absolutely brutal from BYU's perspective. Without it, we'd be nominating Edwards and four QBs.
As is, I think a debate over which QB to nominate first could last forever. I feel Detmer is the appropriate first choice for several reasons, the most obvious of which is being a Heisman Trophy winner. The 1990 stiff-armed-relic recipient is the only in school history, and one of only possibly two players, depending how you count, to win the award from a non-power/major/BCS school. (Andre Ware of Houston would be the other. By my count, Roger Staubach won it for an independent Navy program that finished as a top-five team three times in the ten years previous, and Army/Navy/Yale/TCU/SMU were all major programs at the time they had Heisman winners.)
While the Heisman does get a player into an elite club, "Tysman" did more than just being the best player in a given year. Detmer's 15,031 career passing yards -- which doesn't include bowl yardage -- stood as the all-time best yardage number for 14 years until run-and-shoot or air raid passers for whom BYU QBs paved the way overtook him. Detmer was also the first quarterback in Division I history to pass for at least 100 career touchdowns. His mark of 121 TDs stood for 17 years and now ranks fifth all-time.
Of BYU's best QBs, Detmer also meets the "has seen them play" suggested qualification for a larger group of our community/readership. While many BYU passers have been very accomplished, none were or are as an accomplished college signal-caller than Detmer.
* * * * *
Of three possible nominations remaining, we must now choose from RB, WR, TE, OL, DL, LB, DB, and ST.
I feel it will be difficult to nominate anyone else from these positions who can truly "compete" with the rest of CFB's greats when the big, national picture is taken into account. Because of that, I also think it would be unnecessary to vote on several players from each position. We have chosen who we feel is the best from the eight remaining positions. So cast your vote! The top-three vote-getters of the group of eight below will be given the remaining nominations for BYU for the 2012 #SBNHOF class.
RB - LUKE STALEY | 1999-2001
BYU's all-time leading rusher, Harvey Unga, is not eligible for this induction class. Of the remaining choices, while others like Jamal Willis did very well at BYU, Luke Staley stands out as the candidate who did something transcendent on a national level. Staley split carries as a freshman and as a sophomore, left after his junior year, and still finished first in all-time rushing touchdowns at BYU (41), while still finishing sixth in all-time rushing yards (2,504) and fielding a career yards-per-carry average of 6.0.
His 2001 junior campaign earned him the Doak Walker Award, given to the nation's best running back. A BYU RUNNING BACK WON THE DOAK WALKER AWARD. Sometimes I think that isn't fully-comprehended by many. In his junior season, Staley rushed for 1,582 yards and 24 touchdowns in just 11 games -- remember, he sat out against New Mexico due to academic concerns, and broke his leg in the waning seconds at Mississippi State, therefore missing the final two games against Hawaii and Louisville. At his ridiculous pace of 8.1 (!!!!) yards per carry, Staley would have finished with over 2,000 rushing yards if he was able to participate in all 14 games.
WR - ERIC DRAGE | 1990-93
BYU's all-time leading receiver, Austin Collie, is not yet eligible. Eric Drage is 2nd. Early in his career, Drage was the recipient of many Ty Detmer yards. His 3,065 career receiving yards record stood for 16 years. Drage also averaged an amazing 19 yards per reception in his career, by far the best average of any BYU receiver with 100+ catches.
TE - ITULA MILI | 1991-96
Dennis Pitta is the best tight end I've seen at BYU (but he's not eligible yet.) But Itula Mili was every bit as good in college as Dennis Pitta was, in my opinion. He was just thrown to 100 less times than Pitta because he split time with Chad Lewis. He was big, athletic, and had great hands. If you don't remember Mili's exploits, it's a shame. He was really good. Mili ranks 17th all-time on BYU's receiving yards list with 1,763 yards, and I really feel he'd be remembered differently if he was featured like Pitta was.
OL - JOHN TAIT | 1996-98
I can't remember a more dominant offensive lineman at BYU than John Tait. He started as a freshman on that great 1996 team that had one of the best O-lines BYU has ever enjoyed. Then, he was a first-team conference player as a sophomore and as a junior, and left early for the NFL draft where he was a first-round draft pick.
DL - BYRON FRISCH | 1996-99
Statistically, many of BYU's best are not yet eligible. On the D-line, that would be Jan Jorgensen, who had one of the highest tackling performances on the D-line in BYU history and also one of the single-best sack seasons. But since he's not eligible, again it's time to look back a bit further. While Ryan Denney was high on my list, the DL choice is Byron Frisch. I'll compare Frisch to Jorgensen as the Janimal is a more recent player fans remember fondly. Frisch ranks very high on tackles from the D-line at BYU (his 222 tackles beats out Jorgensen by 1 tackle). He also recorded 25 career sacks (Jorgensen had 29).
LB - SHAY MUIRBROOK | 1993-96
Of all linebackers who best meet the "have seen them play" suggestion but also aren't so recent they don't yet qualify, two immediately came to mind: Rob Morris and Shay Muirbrook. Guess what? Both are tied for ninth in all-time tackles at BYU with 345. Morris had a fun nickname that helped his legacy, but I'm going to give the edge to Muirbrook. Both were similarly talented and performed similarly (as the stats show), but in my opinion, Muirbrook has the edge on tenacity. He had a primal part to his game that (again, my opinion) would have made him more feared, and he was extremely fun to watch.
DB - AARON FRANCISCO | 2001-04
Just 15 tackles behind Muirbrook and Morris is a ... safety. Aaron Francisco checks in on BYU's all-time tackles list at #12, first all-time at the school for all non-linebackers. It's easy to revise history to think of Francisco as someone who only went for the big hit and was a fundamentally-poor tackler (which may still have some truth to it), but the fact is Francisco's 330 career tackles are #1 for all non-linebackers. The KAT position in Bronco's now-defunct 3-3-5 was never played better than Francisco played it. Without him, those defenses would have been uber-disastrous.
ST - JAMES DYE | 1995-96
This nomination is definitely less statistically driven than others, but BYU has never had a gamebreaker like James Dye, before or since. Any time he touched the ball, the endzone was a possibility -- which is why I am somewhat dismayed more effort wasn't made to throw to him a few more times on offense. But as a kick returner in his two-year BYU career, Dye returned four punts and one kickoff for a touchdown. Despite just 15 receptions in the 1996 regular season, Dye ended up with four catches for 70 yards and a touchdown in the Cotton Bowl.
So cast your vote -- which one of those players do you think is most deserving of a nomination?