Big Ten: Kirk Gibson

The official 2012 FBS ballot for the College Football Hall of Fame selection is out, and it includes 15 former Big Ten players, one former Big Ten coach as well as five former Nebraska and Penn State players who didn't compete in the league.

Let's take a look at the group:
  • Trev Alberts, LB, Nebraska, 1990-93*
  • Erick Anderson, LB, Michigan, 1988-91
  • Otis Armstrong, RB, Purdue, 1970-72
  • Larry Burton, SE, Purdue, 1973-74
  • Dave Butz, DT, Purdue, 1970-72
  • Marv Cook, TE, Iowa, 1985-88
  • Eric Crouch, QB, Nebraska, 1998-2001*
  • D.J. Dozier, RB, Penn State, 1983-86*
  • Jumbo Elliott, OT, Michigan, 1984-87
  • Dave Foley, OT, Ohio State, 1966-68
  • Tommie Frazier, QB, Nebraska, 1992-95*
  • Kirk Gibson, WR, Michigan State, 1975-78
  • Tim Krumrie, DL, Wisconsin, 1979-83
  • Robert Lytle, RB, Michigan, 1974-76
  • Tom Nowatzke, FB, Indiana, 1961-64
  • Jim Otis, FB, Ohio State, 1967-69
  • Orlando Pace, OT, Ohio State, 1994-96
  • Percy Snow, LB, Michigan State, 1986-89
  • Lorenzo White, RB, Michigan State, 1984-87
  • Steve Wisniewski, G, Penn State, 1985-88*
  • Darryl Rogers, coach, Michigan State, 1976-79 (also coached at Cal-State Hayward, Fresno State, San Jose State and Arizona State)

*-played for team not in Big Ten

The 2012 Hall of Fame class will be announced May 15 and inducted Dec. 4.

Selection criteria:
To be eligible for the ballot, players must have been named a First Team All-America 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 ten 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.

It's a strong group from the Big Ten, and you can definitely expect to see some names announced May 15. It's interesting to see several clusters of nominees from certain eras, like the three Purdue players from the early 1970s, the two Penn State players from the mid 1980s, the two Ohio State players from the late 1960s and the two Michigan State players from the mid to late 1980s.

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

The National Football Foundation announced its 2009 ballot for the College Football Hall of Fame Tuesday, and the list includes 16 players from the Big Ten and two coaches who spent time in the league. 

Former Michigan wide receiver Desmond Howard, the 1991 Heisman Trophy winner, leads the Big Ten contingent on the ballot, which includes 76 players and six coaches.

Ohio State, Michigan and Purdue each have three players on the list, while both Penn State and Michigan State have two players. Wisconsin, Iowa and Indiana each have one candidate.

Here's the list of Big Ten players eligible for induction, along with some information on each candidate provided by the NFF:

Otis Armstrong, Purdue, running back (1970-72) -- Named consensus All-America in 1972 after accumulating 3,315 career rushing yards, a school and Big Ten record. Named Big Ten MVP in 1972. 

Dave Butz, Purdue, defensive tackle (1970-72) -- Consensus first team All-America. Finalist for the Lombardi Award in 1972 and named first team All-Conference. Named Defensive MVP of the Senior Bowl.

D.J. Dozier, Penn State, running back (1983-86) -- Named 1986 consensus first team All-America and led Penn State to perfect 12-0 season and national championship (1986).  Finished eighth in 1986 Heisman voting. First Penn State running back to lead the team in rushing for four consecutive seasons.

Dave Foley, Ohio State, offensive tackle (1966-68) -- Named consensus first team All-America in 1968. Led Buckeyes to the 1968 national championship and an undefeated season. National Football Foundation National Scholar-Athlete in 1968.

Kirk Gibson, Michigan State, wide receiver (1975-78) -- Named first team All-America, led Big Ten in receiving in league play and helped the Spartans to a Big Ten co-championship and a No. 12 national ranking in 1978. Played Major League Baseball for 17 seasons and won National League MVP honors in 1988.

Curtis Greer, Michigan, defensive tackle (1976-79) -- First team All-America selection. Set school record for tackles for loss in a season (23) and career (48). Two-time first team All-Big Ten selection (1978-79). Led Wolverines to three conference championships and four bowls.

Mark Herrman, Purdue, quarterback (1977-80) -- Named unanimous first team All-America, Big Ten MVP and finished fourth in the Heisman Trophy voting in 1980. A first team All-Conference selection, he broke NCAA career records for passing yards (9,188) and completions (707).

Desmond Howard, Michigan, wide receiver (1989-91) -- Consensus first team All-America and Heisman Trophy winner in 1991. Led Wolverines to three Big Ten titles and two Rose Bowls. Led the nation in scoring (11.5 points per game) and kickoff returns (27.5 avg.) in 1991.

Tim Krumrie, Wisconsin, defensive line (1979-83) -- Named a consensus first team All-America in 1981. Led Badgers to 1981 Garden State Bowl and earned Defensive MVP honors in 1982 Independence Bowl. Three-time first team All-Conference selection, recording 444 career tackles.

Robert Lytle, Michigan, running back (1974-76) -- Named consensus first team All-America in 1976. Finished third in the 1976 Heisman Trophy voting. Named Big Ten MVP in 1976 and led Michigan to two conference championships.

Tom Nowatzke, Indiana, fullback (1961-64) -- Named first team All-America in 1964. A two-time All-Conference selection (1963-64), he led the Big Ten in rushing in 1963. Played in the East/West Shrine Game, Senior Bowl and Coaches All-American Game.

Jim Otis, Ohio State, fullback (1967-69) -- Named consensus first team All-America in 1969. Member of the 1968 national championship team. Named First Team All-Big Ten in 1969 and led the Buckeyes to two conference titles. Led the team in rushing three times.

Percy Snow, Michigan State, linebacker (1986-89) -- Unanimous First Team All-America in 1989 and Butkus Award winner. Led MSU to 1987 Big Ten title and Rose Bowl win. Ranks second all-time in career tackles (473).

Chris Spielman, Ohio State, linebacker (1984-87) -- Two-time first team All-America selection (1986-87) -- unanimous in 1987, consensus in 1986. The recipient of the 1987 Lombardi Award, he is a three-time first team all-conference selection and a member of two Big Ten title teams.

Larry Station, Iowa, linebacker (1982-85) -- Two-time first team All-America selection (1984-85) -- unanimous in 1985, consensus in 1984. A three-time first team all-conference selection, he was named team captain and MVP in 1985. Iowa's all-time leader in tackles with 492.

Curt Warner, Penn State, running back (1979-82) -- Named first team All-America in 1981 and led Penn State to 1982 national championship. Most outstanding offensive player in 1980 and 1982 Fiesta Bowls. Finished career with 11 season, 10 career, 14 bowl and 42 school records.

Howard and Dave Foley are on the ballot for the first time. 

Two coaches with Big Ten ties also are on the ballot. Darryl Rogers coached Michigan State from 1976-79, going 24-18. William "Lone Star" Dietz coached Purdue in 1921, going 1-6. 

The 2009 class will be announced on April 30 and inducted at the National Football Foundation's annual awards dinner on Dec. 8 in New York.  


Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

If you're short and slow like me, you're probably deeply envious of guys like Eric Decker. An athletic achievement for us is getting through 18 holes without Advil, or shoveling snow without pulling a muscle. Then there's Decker, a junior wide receiver for Minnesota who last season racked up 909 receiving yards and nine touchdowns as one of the only bright spots on a 1-11 team. After being peppered with requests from Golden Gophers baseball coaches to play for their team, Decker decided, eh, what the heck. He wound up starting 42 games in left field, hitting .329 with 28 RBI. At last month's Major League Baseball draft, the Milwaukee Brewers selected Decker in the 39th round. He had no plans to sign and didn't, wanting to gauge his skills on the gridiron this fall and help Minnesota back to respectability. NFL scouts will be watching. So will the rest of the Big Ten.

Obviously jealous of über-athletes like Decker, I wanted to dislike the guy. But after chatting with him this week, I just can't do it. Here's the first part of our discussion.

A lot of guys rule out playing two sports before college, and once they get there, it's usually totally out of the question. Did playing baseball go more smoothly than you thought it would, playing in the spring and now getting back into football?

Eric Decker: Baseball went real well and I enjoyed it. I knew I had a little catching up to do when I got here in the summer. It took me a few weeks to get back in shape and get my weight back where I wanted it to be. Now things are off and rolling. I feel good where I'm at, and I'm definitely comfortable with the progress I've made the last three months.

Can you pull it off again?

ED: Definitely. My baseball experience I really enjoyed. It's kind of a different environment, different atmosphere. Going into baseball season, I expected to hopefully help the team out in certain roles. I got the opportunity to get a starting role and hit No. 2 in the batting order. I surprised myself, just how well things went.

Can you use your football skills in the outfield?

ED: Some of that stuff transitions over. Just baserunning a little bit, hand-eye coordination. But some things, the mentality or the attitude you have between both sports is so different. In baseball, you can't get fired up or get that emotional rush, where in football you let it bust, let it all roll out. In baseball, if you have that built up, that's when you struggle at the plate. It was something that was tough for me to handle in the first three weeks of baseball.

Baseball is a lot looser atmosphere, isn't it?

ED: It's so laid-back. Those guys definitely helped me get into that baseball mind-set. I was definitely struggling. I couldn't hit the curveball right away, and I was like, 'God, what the hell's going on. I don't know if this is for me.' And they were like, 'Hey, just relax, go up and do what you do.' It definitely helped.

How surprised were you when you got drafted?

ED: It's real exciting. It's quite an honor, just being my first year and stuff. Being drafted was also something I didn't really look into much because I told people I wasn't going to sign if they drafted me. They're calling you, 'When would you sign? How much you want?' I was like, 'You know what, don't even think about drafting me because I'm not going to sign.' Milwaukee took me and I was really grateful, but at the same time I was like, 'I told you what I was going to do, but thank you, I guess.'

Do anticipate having to choose one sport at some point, or is it pretty open-ended in terms of what you do after college?

ED: Definitely open-ended. I want another year to see where I'm at with both levels, see where I have more potential in what field. When that time comes, I'll decide. I love both sports and I'm definitely honored to be able to participate in both. When that time comes, I'll hopefully make the right decision.

Your football and baseball coaches have compared you to Ed McCaffrey and Kirk Gibson. Which one of those do like better?

ED: Growing up, I always was an Ed McCaffrey fan. Being a slot receiver and being fast and tough -- he'd catch the ball over the middle -- he was someone I always idolized. I know I'm not going to run by anybody or run a 4.3, so definitely doing the dirty work inside at the receiver position was something I looked at him for. Kirk Gibson, he's just a tough, nasty dude who was a great ballplayer. I didn't really watch him much, but everything about him definitely is what I'm trying to be.

Did you expect to be elected a team captain, or was that a surprise?

ED: It was a little surprising. I didn't get the opportunity to go to spring practice because I was playing baseball, but it's definitely an honor and a privilege. It's something I was looking forward to, something I wanted to reach. And we have a pretty young offense where, being a junior, I knew I was a leader.

So you weren't even with the team and you get elected. That's got to be a great feeling.

ED: It was really cool because coach (Tim) Brewster called me. I think it was toward the end of May, before guys took off to go home for a couple weeks in the summer, and I was still playing baseball at the time. I didn't know what was going on. I thought maybe it was just an end-of-spring-practice thing, this is what the summer's going to look like and stuff, but they elected captains and I was one of them, so that was really surprising.

Does that role become even more important after the year you guys had in 2007?

ED: Definitely. People look at the leadership of the team and what you can do to overcome what happened last year. I'm real excited and optimistic about this upcoming year because there were a bunch of games where we were a couple plays away from winning. Doing the right things will definitely get us over that hump. Hopefully winning some of those nonconference games will boost our confidence.