NEW YORK -- Since Joe Paterno and Bobby Bowden failed to
meet the qualifications for induction into the college football
Hall of Fame, the folks who run the hall simply changed the rules.
Instead of requiring a coach be retired, the National Football
Foundation decided to make any active coach over 75 eligible for
With the red tape cut, the winningest coaches in Division I-A
were elected Tuesday and can now be called Hall of Famers.
"I wasn't expecting it because I thought you had to die first --
and I didn't want to volunteer for that," Bowden said during a
conference call. "They might have changed the rules to get me and
Joe in. But I'm very excited about it."
Paterno, who will turn 80 in December, has won 354 games and two
national championships in 40 seasons as Penn State's head coach. No
one has ever coached longer and won more games at one Division I-A
The 76-year-old Bowden leads major college football with 359
victories, 286 -- and two national titles -- since taking over at
Florida State in 1976.
"I look forward to being in New York with my good friend Bobby
Bowden and am delighted that we are going into the Hall of Fame
together," Paterno said in a statement released by Penn State.
"Hopefully, I deserve it."
Tinkering with the rules to admit Bowden and Paterno made
complete sense to NFF president Steven Hatchell.
"Their legacies are intact," he said at a news conference.
Joining Paterno and Bowden are 13 players, including Heisman
Trophy winners Mike Rozier of Nebraska and Florida State's Charlie
Ward, who helped Bowden win his first national title in 1993.
"I think anytime a person is inducted into any kind of hall of
fame, the people that are going in with him, surrounding him, is
kind of a personal thing," Bowden said. "To be going in with
Charlie is very good, I love that."
Florida's Emmitt Smith, who became the NFL's career rushing
leader, and Virginia Tech's Bruce Smith, the NFL's all-time sacks
leader, are both going into the college Hall of Fame in their first
year of eligibility.
The rest of the class is Colorado running back Bobby Anderson,
Miami safety Bennie Blades, Minnesota defensive tackle Carl Eller,
Washington defensive lineman Steve Emtman, Baylor safety Thomas
Everett, Air Force defensive lineman Chad Hennings, Tennessee guard
Chip Kell, Purdue quarterback Mike Phipps and Stanford linebacker
They will be inducted in New York in December and enshrined at
the Hall of Fame in South Bend, Ind., in the summer of 2007.
Paterno took over at Penn State in 1966 after 16 years as an
assistant with the Nittany Lions. The kid from Brooklyn with the
thick black-framed glasses and high-water pant cuffs went on to
build one of the country's most successful programs.
He won national titles in '82 and '86, and led his teams to five
undefeated seasons. His program fell on hard times with four losing
seasons from 2000-04, but he orchestrated a remarkable turnaround
Penn State won the Big Ten for the second time and finished 11-1
and ranked No. 3 in the nation. Paterno won AP coach of the year,
and the Nittany Lions completed their revival with a
triple-overtime victory over Bowden and Florida State in the Orange
Bowden began his head coaching career at Samford in 1959 and
took over at West Virginia in 1970 before moving on to Florida
Before he arrived in Tallahassee, the Seminoles had won four
games in the previous three seasons. He turned them into a
powerhouse by never shying away from the best teams, even if it
meant playing on them road.
Bowden led the Seminoles to national titles in '93 and '99,
during an unprecedented streak of 14 consecutive seasons finishing
in The Associated Press top five.
Ward might have been his best player. An elusive runner and
accurate passer, he won the Heisman in '93. A two-sport star, Ward
was a first-round draft pick by the New York Knicks and played 11
seasons in the NBA.
Ward, who attended the news conference with fellow inductees
Bruce Smith and Hennings, said Bowden taught him about leadership.
"It's all about knowing who you are and what you do and getting
people your trust around you," said Ward, now working in player
development with the Houston Rockets.
Rozier became the second player to run for more than 2,000 yards
when he won the Heisman in 1983 and ran for 2,148 yards.