What is the College Football Hall of Fame? Simplistically, it’s the ultimate accolade for college football. However, the Hall is more than just a place to recognize the sport’s brightest stars. It’s a place to educate, inspire, and entertain while connecting fans to the greatest sport in America, nay, the world.
The history of the College Football Hall of Fame
Originally conceptualized in 1951 by the National Football Foundation, the College Football Hall of Fame has evolved significantly over the past 70+ years. In its intended form, it was a vessel to immortalize the greatest players and coaches in the sport. Like the sport itself, however, it has undergone a journey to the point where it finds itself now on Marietta Street in Georgia.
Unsurprisingly, the intention was to have the Hall reside at Rutgers University, the birthplace of college football. The intention was poetic, the execution was not.
Some 11 years and an investigation into why the National Football Foundation had collected donations but never opened a facility later, the College Football Hall of Fame had a home in Kings Mill, Ohio.
Despite attracting significant interest upon opening, disappointing entrance figures blighted the Hall in Ohio. As a result, it was announced in 1992 that a new facility would open in South Bend. However, the facility never once attracted the estimated 150,000 people per year. As in Ohio, the College Football Hall of Fame flickered and died in South Bend.
In 2009, the National Football Foundation, led by Archie Manning, breathed new life into the College Football Hall of Fame. In moving the Hall to Georgia, they surrounded it with other visitor attractions. Furthermore, the campuses of Georgia Tech, Georgia State, and the now national champion Georgia Bulldogs are located within easy access.
Set in a $68.5 million purpose-built space, the Hall boasts three floors, five themed galleries, and over 50 interactive exhibits. The Hall also features a 47-yard football field and a three-story wall of over 750 college football helmets. In addition to standard entry, the Hall also hosts parties, corporate events, and educational field trips for schools.
Who is in the College Football Hall of Fame?
According to the College Football Hall of Fame website, only 0.02% of coaches and players involved in the greatest sport in the world become immortalized in the Hall. From the 5.1 million who have played or coached the game, there are less than 1,300 current members. In 2021, 11 players and two coaches were immortalized in the Hall. Those included former USC quarterback Carson Palmer, Clemson running back C.J. Spiller, and former Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops.
There is a very specific list of requirements for induction into the College Football Hall of Fame. The most important of those is that a player must have earned first-team All-American adoration from at least one of the outlets that comprises “consensus” in the eyes of the NCAA. A player becomes eligible 10 years after the end of their college career. Conversely, they have to have played college football within the last 50 years at the time of the ballot to be eligible.
For coaches, there are obviously a different set of requirements for inclusion into the Hall. Coaches become eligible three years after retirement. However, if they are aged over 70 at the time of retirement, they are immediately eligible. Furthermore, active coaches aged 75 or over are also eligible. For consideration, coaches have to have coached for over 10 years and have a record over .600 during their career.
Even on the inductees section of their website, the College Football Hall of Fame aims to educate and entertain. There isn’t a simple list. You’re met with a rolling timeline of who and where they played, with the ability to educate with just one click of a button bringing up key information, stats, and lots more.