Eight representatives from Big 12 schools – including Ricky Dixon of Oklahoma and Leslie O’Neal from Oklahoma State – are on the 2017 College Football Hall of Fame ballot.
Former players from Big 12 schools include Michael Bishop, QB (K-State); Dixon, DB; O’Neal, DT; Kenneth Davis, RB (TCU); Bob McKay, OT (Texas); and Byron Hanspard, RB (Texas Tech). Former coaches are Jim Carlen (West Virginia and Texas Tech) and Pete Cawthon Sr. (Texas Tech).
A 1987 consensus All-American, Dixon became the first Sooner to win the Jim Thorpe Award, given to college football’s top defensive back. He earned first-team All-Big Eight honors as a junior and senior in 1986 and ‘87, and finished his career with 170 total tackles and 17 interceptions. The 17 career interceptions are one shy of the OU record while his nine picks in 1987 still stand as the school single-season standard.
Dixon’s four OU teams went a combined 42-5-1 and played in the Orange Bowl each season. The 1985 squad beat Penn State in the Orange Bowl to claim OU’s sixth national championship.
Dixon was the star of the “Game of the Century II” in 1987, with Nebraska rated No. 1 in the country and OU ranked No. 2. The Dallas product intercepted two Huskers passes, the second of which came in the fourth quarter to help seal OU’s 17-7 road win and OU’s Orange Bowl berth.
Dixon was selected No. 5 overall in the 1988 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals. He played in the league for six seasons with the Bengals and Los Angeles Raiders, and made an appearance in Super Bowl XXIII with Cincinnati against the San Francisco 49ers. The announcement of the 2017 Class will be made Jan. 6 in Tampa, Florida. The city is serving as the host for the CFP National Championship, which will be played Jan. 9 at Raymond James Stadium. The inductees will be permanently enshrined at the new College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta later that December and honored on the field during the 13th Annual National Hall of Fame Salute during the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl.
The criteria for Hall of Fame consideration includes: First and foremost, a player must have received First-Team All-America recognition by a selector organization that is recognized by the NCAA and utilized to comprise their consensus All-America teams. A player becomes eligible for consideration by the Foundation’s Honors Courts 10 full seasons after his final year of intercollegiate football played.
While each nominee’s football achievements in college are of prime consideration, his post-football record as a citizen is also weighed. He must have proven himself worthy as a citizen, carrying the ideals of football forward into his relations with his community and his fellow man, with love of his country. Consideration may also be given for academic honors and whether or not the candidate earned a college degree.
Players must have played their last year of intercollegiate football within the last 50 years. For example, to be eligible for the 2017 ballot, the player must have played his last year in 1967 or thereafter. In addition, players who are playing professionally and coaches who are coaching on the professional level are not eligible until after they retire.
A coach becomes eligible three full seasons after retirement or immediately following retirement provided he is at least 70 years of age. Active coaches become eligible at 75 years of age. He must have been a head coach for a minimum of 10 years and coached at least 100 games with a .600 winning percentage. Players who do not comply with the 50-year rule may still be eligible for consideration by the Football Bowl Subdivision and Divisional Veterans Committee.
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.
Of the 5.12 million individuals who have played college football since Princeton first battled Rutgers on Nov. 6, 1869, only 977 players, including the 2016 class, 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 147 years.