Why flood of Nick Saban Alabama All-Americans must play College Football Hall of Fame waiting game | Goodbread
Bobby Humphrey waits.
Shaun Alexander waits.
DeMeco Ryans waits.
Poor Dennis Homan, he's waited so long, Alabama's 1967 consensus All-America wide receiver can now only be inducted by a special procedure of the National Football Foundation's Honors Court, because his eligibility for regular induction expired 50 years after his last college game.
There's nothing necessarily wrong with any of these lingering cases, and the point here isn't to campaign on behalf of Alabama's best candidates. A hall of fame, by definition, should induct nothing less than elites. When any HOF opens its doors so wide as to become a Hall of Very Good, it merely subtracts from the honor for the most deserving.
That said, there is a glut of Nick Saban-era Alabama players, becoming newly eligible for consideration, that is beginning to hit the College Football Hall of Fame's shores more like a crimson tsunami than a tide. The primary criteria for HOF eligibility is All-America status by at least one NCAA-recognized selector. The Alabama record book lists 140 All-Americans in program history, 20 of whom are already recognized as Alabama Hall of Famers. Of the remaining 120, a stunning 51 of them played for Saban.
If that disparity doesn't quite sink in, consider it this way: 69 Alabama All-Americans not in the Hall of Fame played for UA over a 115-year span prior to Saban's arrival, and 51 such players have suited up for the Crimson Tide in just 15 seasons since.
In short, a logjam of Alabama HOF candidates is coming, and the Hall's induction history suggests it isn't ready for so many knocks on its door from one school.
Not all those All-Americans are HOF-eligible, because not all were named by an NCAA-recognized selector. And, of course, lots of eligible All-Americans simply aren't good enough HOF candidates, be they from Alabama or anywhere else.
Despite those caveats, however, simple math foretells a bottleneck of legitimate Alabama candidates for a Hall of Fame that can be slow to recognize, and boasts an induction rate of 0.02% (1,056 inductees among an estimated 5.54 million players in the sport's history). We're talking about a hall of fame that didn't induct Alabama linebacker Derrick Thomas, unquestionably one of the greats in history, until his 15th year of eligibility.
The star-studded 1992 Alabama national championship team has been in the books for 30 years now, and the HOF has only now gotten around to sorting Langham, in his 19th year of eligibility, to the top of that team's numerous candidates.
Meanwhile, another HOF criteria - that players be 10 years removed from the end of their college careers - is being met in growing numbers by Saban's army of All-Americans. Thirteen and counting, as of this year, including a trio of two-time All-Americans in Mark Barron, Barrett Jones and Terrence Cody.
Not all deserve consideration.
But for a Hall of Fame that's opened its doors to just two Alabama players since 2015, those that do could be waiting an awfully long time.
Reach Chase Goodbread at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @chasegoodbread