The National Football Foundation on Tuesday unveiled the ballot for the 2021 College Football Hall of Fame class, beginning an 18-month process that will conclude with the 2021 class being formally inducted at the 2021 NFF Dinner.
“Having a ballot and a voice in the selection of the College Football Hall of Fame inductees is one of the most cherished NFF member benefits,” said NFF Chairman Archie Manning, a 1989 Hall of Fame inductee from Mississippi. “There is no group more knowledgeable or passionate about college football than our membership, and the tradition of the ballot helps us engage them in the lofty responsibility of selecting those who have reached the pinnacle of achievement in our sport.”
To merit inclusion on the ballot, coaches must serve at least 10 full seasons and win no less than 60 percent of their games. Coaches become eligible three years after retirement if they are under 70 years of age, immediately upon retirement at age 70, and active coaches are eligible at age 75.
Bob Stoops and Gary Pinkel headline the list among FBS head coaches, both in their first year on the ballot.
A definitive shoe-in, Stoops stands as the winningest head coach at a school with five former coaches already in the Hall of Fame. He went 190-48 as Oklahoma’s head coach from 1999-2016, with 10 Big 12 championships, four BCS title game appearances and a national championship in 2000.
Stoops stands alone as the only coach of the BCS era to win a national championship and all four BCS bowls — the Rose (over Washington State to cap the 2002 season), Fiesta (over Connecticut in 2010), Sugar (over Alabama in 2013) and Orange (over Florida State to clinch the 2000 title).
Stoops is joined on the ballot by two of his former players: safety Roy Williams, and quarterback Josh Heupel.
Heupel, of course, is now the head coach at UCF, but is under consideration for his exploits as a player. After beginning his career at the JuCo level, Heupel won the Walter Camp Player of the Year award, finished second in Heisman Trophy voting and was a consensus First Team All-American in leading OU to the 2000 title.
Pinkel stands as the winningest head coach at Toledo and Missouri, going 191-110-3 between the two. His 1995 Toledo team went 11-0-1, won the MAC and the Las Vegas Bowl, and finished No. 24 in both polls.
His Missouri teams enjoyed five 10-win seasons, peaking in 2007 with the first of two consecutive Big 12 North championships and entered the final week of the regular season at No. 1 in the BCS standings (where, ironically, Pinkel lost to Stoops’s OU team). It was Missouri’s first No. 1 ranking in 47 years.
Stoops and Pinkel were joined on the ballot by returnees Larry Blakeney (Troy, 1991-2014), Jim Carlen (West Virginia, Texas Tech and South Carolina, 1966-81), Pete Cawthon, Sr. (Austin College and Texas Tech, 1923-40), Billy Jack Murphy (Memphis, 1958-71), and Darryl Rogers (Cal State East Bay, Fresno State, San Jose State, Michigan State and Arizona State, 1965-84).
Thirty-three coaches made the Divisional ballot. Recent Hall of Fame candidates include:
— Dick Biddle, Colgate (1996-2013)
— Danny Hale, West Chester [Pa.], Bloomsburg [Pa.] (1984-2012)
— John Luckhardt, Washington & Jefferson [Pa.], California [Pa.] (1982-2011)
— George Milhalik, Slippery Rock [Pa.] (1988-2015)
— Steve Mohr, Trinity [Texas] (1990-2013)
All NFF members and former Hall of Fame inductees are eligible to vote, which will be tabulated for consideration by the NFF Honors Court, whose votes determine the next Hall of Fame class.
The announcement of the 2021 Hall class will be made in “early 2021,” and the class will be inducted on Dec. 7, 2021.
As always, stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest.