By Scott Kindberg
IRVING, Texas - Shane Conlan is considered one of the best, if not the best, linebackers in Penn State University history.
Shane Conlan, left, talks on the sidelines with Penn State teammate Michael Zordich during the Nittany Lions’ win over University of Pittsburgh at Pitt Stadium in 1985.
P-J file photo by Jim Riggs
Now the Frewsburg native has a chance to join an even more exclusive fraternity.
The National Football Foundation announced Thursday the names on the 2014 ballot for induction into the College Football Hall of Fame, including 75 players and six coaches from the Football Bowl Subdivision and 87 players and 26 coaches from the divisional ranks.
Conlan is on that list.
"Having a ballot and a voice in the selection of the inductees is one of the most cherished NFF member benefits," said NFF chairman Archie Manning, a 1989 Hall of Fame inductee from Ole Miss in a press release. "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."
Conlan, who was inducted into the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame in 1992, should get strong consideration for what he accomplished during his years as a Nittany Lion. His lengthy resume includes: earning 1986 consensus first team All-American honors and being named a Butkus Award finalist; leading the Nittany Lions to back-to-back national title appearances, winning the championship in 1986; and becoming Penn State's leading single-season tackler twice and finishing his career ranked second in tackles with 274.
The ballot was mailed this week to the more than 12,000 NFF members and current Hall of Famers whose votes will be tabulated and submitted to the NFF's Honors Court, which deliberates and selects the class. Chaired by Gene Corrigan, a former ACC Commissioner and NCAA president, the 17-member NFF Honors Court includes an elite and geographically diverse pool of athletics directors, conference commissioners, Hall of Famers and members of the media.
"It's an enormous honor to just be on the ballot when you think that more than 4.99 million people have played college football," said NFF President & CEO Steven J. Hatchell in the press release. "The Hall's requirement of being a First-Team All-American creates a much smaller pool of only 1,500 individuals who are even eligible to be on the ballot, so being in today's elite group means an individual is truly among the greatest to ever have played the game, and we are proud to announce their names."
The 2014 College Football Hall of Fame Class will be announced in May from Irving, Texas, and the inductees will be enshrined at the 57th NFF Annual Awards Dinner Dec. 9, 2014 at the landmark Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City. The inductees will be permanently enshrined in the new College Football Hall of Fame at a date to be determined in 2015. The new Hall, currently under construction, will open in Atlanta in time for the 2014 college football season.
To be eligible for the ballot, players must have been named a First Team All-American by a major/national selector as recognized and utilized by the NCAA for their consensus All-America teams; played their last year of intercollegiate football at least 10 years prior; played within the last 50 years and cannot be currently playing professional football. Coaches must have coached a minimum of 10 years and 100 games as a head coach; won at least 60 percent of their games; and be retired from coaching for at least three years. If a coach is retired and over the age of 70, there is no waiting period. If he is over the age of 75, he is eligible as an active coach. In both cases, the candidate's post-football record as a citizen may also be weighed.
Once nominated for consideration, all player candidates are submitted to one of eight District Screening Committees, depending on their school's geographic location, which conducts a vote to determine who will appear on the ballot and represent their respective districts. Each year, approximately 15 candidates, who are not selected for the Hall of Fame, will be named automatic holdovers and will bypass the district screening process and automatically appear on the ballot the following year. Additionally, the Veterans Committee may make recommendations to the Honors Court for exceptions that allow for the induction of players who played more than 50 years ago.
According to the press release, of the 4.99 million individuals who have played college football since Princeton first battled Rutgers on Nov. 6, 1869, only 934 players have earned induction into the College Football Hall of Fame, or less than two ten-thousandths (.0002) of one percent of those who have played the game during the past 145 years. From the coaching ranks, 205 individuals have achieved Hall of Fame distinction.