Big Ten: 2011-HOF

Entering the Hall: Lloyd Carr

May, 17, 2011
Let's take a quick look at the former Big Ten coach selected Tuesday to the College Football Hall of Fame ...

Lloyd Carr, head coach, Michigan, 1995-2007

Carr is one of those coaches who wasn't truly appreciated until he retired from his premier job. Think about these accomplishments: a 122-40 record, a national title in 1997 and five Big Ten championships (won or shared) in 13 seasons at Michigan.

Doesn't sound too shabby, especially when you look at what has happened to Michigan football after Carr stepped down.

Named Michigan's interim coach in May 1995 after Gary Moeller's surprise resignation, Carr didn't seem like a strong candidate for the permanent position. But after winning eight of his first 10 games on the job, Carr earned the permanent tag. Two years later, he guided the Wolverines to wins against Ohio State and Washington State in the Rose Bowl, which resulted in Michigan being named AP national champions.

Carr's Michigan teams won or shared the Big Ten title in three out of four seasons and claimed back-to-back titles in 2003 and 2004. Although his struggles against Ohio State and coach Jim Tressel are well documented, Carr led Michigan to nine or more victories in 10 seasons. The Wolverines were ranked in the AP Top 25 for all but nine games during Carr's tenure.

Carr also represented the program in ways that resonated with Michigan fans. His charity work and presence in the community is well documented. He won numerous awards both during and after his coaching career, and he's the sixth man who coached Michigan to be elected to the College Football Hall of Fame.
It's time to look at the final former Big Ten player selected to the College Football Hall of Fame class of 2011 ...

Gene Washington, WR, Michigan State, 1964-66

Michigan State dominated college football in the mid-1960s, and Washington was a big part of the Spartans' success.

A native of LaPorte, Texas, Washington starred in high school but couldn't stay close to home as the top Texas programs didn't recruit black players at the time. Along with other Texas stars like Bubba Smith, Washington traveled north to Michigan State to play ball.

He earned first-team All-America and first-team All-Big Ten honors in both 1965 and 1966, as Michigan State claimed national titles in both seasons. Washington led the Spartans in receiving in each of the three seasons he played and finished his career with team records for receptions (102), receiving yards (1,857) and touchdown catches (16). A big-play threat who averaged 18.2 yards per catch in his career, Washington recorded six career 100-yard receiving performances.

Michigan State went 23-6-1 during Washington's career, including a 17-3 mark in Big Ten games.

Washington was drafted in the first round of the 1967 NFL draft (No. 8 overall). He played eight seasons in the NFL and made Pro Bowls in both 1969 and 1970. While playing for the Minnesota Vikings, Washington began working for 3M as a diversity recruiter and later started the company's first minority college recruiting program.

Michigan State inducted Washington into its athletic Hall of Fame in 1992. Washington becomes the first Spartans receiver elected to the College Football Hall of Fame.
It's time to spotlight another former Big Ten player selected to the College Football Hall of Fame Class of 2011 ...

Sandy Stephens, QB, Minnesota, 1959-61

There might be more famous members of the 2011 Hall of Fame class, but few left a more significant legacy than Stephens did at Minnesota.

Sandy Stephens
AP Photo/CEKSandy Stephens (15) was the first African-American to play quarterback for the Gophers.
Stephens was the first African-American to play quarterback for the Gophers, but he always preferred to be remembered for what he did between the lines. He did plenty.

After Minnesota finished last in the Big Ten in 1959, Stephens guided the team to back-to-back Rose Bowl appearances and a national title in 1960, the program's first since 1941. He remains the only quarterback to take Minnesota to Pasadena, fulfilling the goal he set when he first arrived on campus. A multisport star in high school, Stephens turned down a chance to play pro baseball to suit up for coach Murray Warmath in Minneapolis.

In 1961 Stephens became the first black quarterback to earn All-America honors. He also received the Chicago Tribune's Silver Football as Big Ten MVP that year and finished fourth in Heisman Trophy voting. Stephens capped his career by scoring two touchdowns in the Rose Bowl as Minnesota beat UCLA. He was named Player of the Game and entered the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame in 1997.

Stephens never played quarterback in the NFL, which remained hesitant to use black signal callers, and had a brief career in the CFL. He died in 2000 and had his No. 15 jersey retired by Minnesota later that year.

Stephens joins John McGovern as the only Minnesota quarterbacks to enter the College Football Hall of Fame.
It's time to look at another new member of College Football's Hall of Fame ...

Will Shields, G, Nebraska, 1989-92

Nebraska has produced its share of exceptional offensive linemen, and Shields finished his Huskers career as one of the best to ever come through Lincoln. He made history by leaving his home state of Oklahoma for the hated Huskers -- Shields was Nebraska's first scholarship player from the Sooner State -- and flourished for a program defined by its option offense.

Few Huskers offensive linemen see the field as true freshmen, but Shields logged nine games in his first season. He went on to earn all-conference honors in each of his final three years, becoming just the sixth Nebraska lineman to do so.

Shields' college career culminated with a spectacular senior season. He became the fifth Nebraska player to earn the Outland Trophy and was selected a consensus All-American and a semifinalist for the Lombardi Trophy. How good was Shields in 1992? He even received votes for Big Eight Offensive Player of the Year.

In 1990 Shields became the first Nebraska offensive lineman since Dave Rimington to earn first-team all-conference honors. He earned second-team All-America honors the next season, and Nebraska claimed national rushing titles in three of his four seasons at the school.

A third-round pick of the Kansas City Chiefs in 1993, Shields went on to start 231 consecutive games and reach 12 straight Pro Bowls, earning nine All-Pro selections. Nebraska retired his No. 75 jersey in 1994.

A success story both on and off the field, Shields certainly deserves this honor as he becomes the fifth Nebraska offensive lineman elected to the Hall of Fame.
Three former Big Ten players, one Nebraska player and one former Big Ten coach are part of the 2011 College Football Hall of Fame class. I'll have a quick snapshot of each new inductee, beginning with ...

Eddie George, RB, Ohio State, 1992-95

[+] EnlargeOhio State's Eddie George
Matthew Emmons/US PRESSWIREEddie George rushed for 3,668 yards for Ohio State and won the Heisman Trophy in 1995.
Some college programs recruited George to play linebacker, and looking at his hulking frame, it's easy to see why. Instead, George made numerous linebackers look bad as one of the best running backs in Ohio State history. He finished his career second on the team's all-time rushing list with 3,668 yards and third in rushing touchdowns (44).

Although he saw the field as a true freshman, George didn't truly blossom until his junior season, when he led Ohio State with 1,442 yards and 12 touchdowns. It set the stage for one of the most impressive individual seasons in the Buckeyes' storied history.

As a senior, George rushed for a team-record 1,927 yards and reached the end zone 24 times en route to the Heisman Trophy. George eclipsed 100 rush yards in each of his final 12 collegiate games and also took home both the Doak Walker Award and the Maxwell Award in 1995. After putting up big rushing totals against both Washington (212 yards) and Notre Dame (230 yards), George all but locked up the Heisman with a single-game team record 314 yards against Illinois in mid November.

George finished with 20 games of 100 rush yards or more at Ohio State. He was the No. 14 overall pick in the 1996 NFL draft, went on to win Rookie of the Year the next season and made four Pro Bowls.

This had to be an easy choice for the Hall of Fame, and George certainly deserves the honor.