By Bob Hertzel
For the Times West Virginian
Perhaps you don’t know it, but I have a better chance of getting into the College Football Hall of Fame, no matter which city it is located in this week, than Patrick White ... as long as I have the admission price.
And there’s something wrong with this.
It seems to come to mind around this time every year that Patrick White, who just may have been the most exciting college quarterback ever to play the game and certainly one of the most dynamic, is not eligible for election to the College Football Hall.
That this comes up so often probably is in direct proportion to how much WVU sports news there is to occupy one’s mind around Memorial Day. With that being virtually vacant and with little, if any, on the horizon, the mind drifts to injustices.
And to this mind there is no greater injustice than Patrick White’s exclusion from the College Football Hall of Fame.
That WVU players are finally getting noticed by the Hall is encouraging, for certainly Major Harris and Darryl Talley had to wait long enough to be recognized, but Patrick White will have to wait either until the rules for election to the College Football Hall of Fame are changed or an exception is granted.
See, this is rule No. 1, and considering that it is listed in capital letters on the Hall of Fame website it is safe to assume it is as iron clad as those old “No Spitting in the Subway” signs they had in New York City:
1. FIRST AND FOREMOST, A PLAYER MUST HAVE RECEIVED MAJOR FIRST TEAM ALL-AMERICA RECOGNITION.
For Patrick White, there is no need for Rule No. 2 or 3, for with all his glory, he never received a major first team All-America selection.
From 2005 to 2008 the first team quarterbacks on the major teams were Vince Young of Texas; Matt Leinhart of USC (2005); Troy Smith of Ohio State (2006); Tim Tebow of Florida (2007); and Sam Bradford of Oklahoma and Colt McCoy of Texas (2008).
That none of the above won four consecutive bowl games seems to matter not, for the breadth and scope of a career also is discounted, since there is almost no mention of accomplishments over the course of career short of saying in the criteria section that “while each nominee’s football achievements 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.”
It sounds almost as if helping old ladies across the street can get you into the College Football Hall of Fame quicker than beating Ohio State four straight seasons while passing for three touchdowns and 300 yards in each game.
The All-American rule, of course, is in there to assure that only a high quality player is inducted, but it is discriminatory against quarterbacks (and centers). While you have two tackles, two guards, a couple of running backs and who knows how many wide receivers on an All-American team, you have only one QB.
Should a quarterback come along at a time when he is second best to say, a John Elway, he is out of luck, even if he is the best quarterback in his school’s history or his conference’s history or the second-best quarterback in history.
In truth, All-American honors are as much a result of a public relations campaign run by a slick ad agency out of New York, where the last time we looked only Columbia was playing football, as it is of a player’s on-field ability.
We surely don’t want BBDO naming our Hall of Fame players, now do we?
Let us understand that Patrick White was a college Hall of Fame-quality quarterback, the greatest running quarterback the game ever saw, a player who turned around the football fortunes of a school that was in desperate need of a boost in Mountaineer pride.
He surpassed 4,000 rushing yards, which is running back stuff, averaged almost 7 yards per carry while accounting for 113 touchdowns on the ground and in the air. He helped change the way the game of football was played, making a quarterback’s legs into a weapon equal to his arm.
That he is, at present, not qualified to be elected to the College Football Hall of Fame has been noticed by the great masses out there in Facebook, there being a page entitled: PAT WHITE — Not Eligible For The College Football Hall of Fame — WHAT?!?!?!
It’s time for the Hall to take a look at itself and find a way to make ALL the qualified players eligible for election.
Email Bob Hertzel at firstname.lastname@example.org.