Two of the most notable football players from colleges in the Lone Star State, former Texas running back Ricky Williams and former Texas Tech linebacker Zach Thomas, joined 15 others Friday in the 2015 induction class for the College Football Hall of Fame.
Also earning the call from the hall were former Oklahoma linebacker Brian Bosworth, current Kansas State coach Bill Snyder and former Dallas Cowboys linebacker Bob Breunig, who starred in college at Arizona State before being part of three Super Bowls, three Pro Bowls and six NFC championship games with the Cowboys.
The 17 members of the 2015 induction class (15 players, two coaches) were introduced as part of ceremonies in conjunction with Monday’s College Football Playoff national championship game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. They will be inducted Dec. 8 in New York.
Williams, the 1998 Heisman Trophy winner, and Thomas, a Pampa native who was a two-time consensus Southwest Conference defensive player of the year (1994-95), were not present for Friday’s news conference. But Bosworth, noted for his flamboyant style on and off the field while becoming a two-time Butkus Award winner during his Oklahoma career (1984-86), summed up the sentiments of most honorees.
“This honor took my breath away. I’m speechless,” said Bosworth, who admitted shedding a few tears when he received the news about his selection. “I never envisioned being part of this.”
Breunig, who played at Arizona State from 1972-74 before being selected by the Cowboys in the third round of the 1975 NFL Draft, said he had “made peace” with the idea he’d never be elected after being on the ballot for several years. He acknowledged being surprised when he was alerted to his selection.
“I’m just delighted and very grateful,” Breunig said. “To even be on the ballot was a great honor.”
Bill Hancock, CFP executive director, anticipates a cutback in the number of weekly rankings by the selection committee next season but acknowledged there will be minimal tweaks to the process that sets the 2015 postseason bracket.
Next year’s committee meetings, he said, will remain face-to-face endeavors and administrators are pleased with the four-team playoff format.
“I don’t think you’ll see the major changes the BCS made early on,” Hancock said. “We were able to evaluate and plan up front.”
Although nothing is certain, Hancock indicated a cutback from seven to five sets of CFP rankings during the 2015 season is likely. He also made it clear there is no momentum among administrators to expand the existing four-team bracket.
“We know there is a tipping point beyond which the size of a postseason bracket will begin to erode the regular season,” Hancock said. “The fact is, nobody knows where that tipping point is. We know it’s not four. This worked out really, really well. We just couldn’t be happier.”
Archie Manning, who took a leave of absence from selection committee duties in 2014 because of health reasons, attended Friday’s news conference and said he would “see how things go” with his rehabilitation from knee surgery before he commits to a return next season. Manning said he would like to return, and Hancock said CFP officials want him back.
Hancock chuckled when someone joked that Manning’s spot, if he cannot return, could be taken by Baylor coach Art Briles. Briles said the committee lacked enough Southern voices once Manning departed, citing that as a factor in causing the Bears to place fifth, one spot out of the playoff, in the final CFP rankings.
“I like Art. I appreciate his passion,” Hancock said. “We knew that teams No. 5 and No. 6 were going to be disappointed.”
Hancock said CFP officials were thrilled with the record-setting cable TV ratings for the playoff semifinal games on ESPN. But he disagreed with the premise that having No. 4 Ohio State climb into the playoff field in the final week, at the expense of two private schools with smaller fan bases (No. 5 Baylor and No. 6 TCU), played a role in escalating those ratings.
“It’s not a consequence to us. It’s not anything I’ve even thought about,” Hancock said. “I think the playoff stood on its own. I don’t think it was a function of what teams were in there.”
Hancock estimated there will be a crowd of 75,000 for Monday’s title game in Arlington, which officially has been deemed a sellout. CFP officials will continue selling standing-room-only tickets at AT&T Stadium through Sunday. Hancock also said he was not disappointed that tickets to some fan-related events this weekend have shown up on discount ticket sites at less than face value.
“We’re not worried about ticket sales for that,” Hancock said. “We were successful in reaching out into the community to provide events for the people to attend.”
Jimmy Burch, 817-390-7760
2015 College Football Hall of Fame class
Texas running back Ricky Williams
Texas Tech linebacker Zach Thomas
Oklahoma linebacker Brian Bosworth
Kansas St. coach Bill Snyder
Arizona St. linebacker Bob Breunig
Nebraska linebacker Trev Alberts
Millsaps defensive end Sean Brewer from Division III
Pittsburgh offensive tackle Ruben Brown
Florida split end Wes Chandler
Notre Dame split end Thom Gatewood
Yale running back Dick Jauron
Michigan St. halfback Clinton Jones
Washington offensive tackle Lincoln Kennedy
Michigan running back Rob Lytle
Marshall quarterback Michael Payton
Kentucky defensive lineman Art Still
Ohio State and Youngstown State coach Jim Tressell