DALLAS -- Thirty years later, there is gray in Brian Bosworth's beard. There is also a softness in his gaze and wisdom in his words.
Bosworth didn't have any of the above when he played linebacker at Oklahoma from 1984 to 1986.
He became a two-time All-American and as The Boz, he became a national figure known for brash, egocentric stunts that helped usher in a different kind of college football celebrity.
Bosworth paid for his behavior. His beloved Oklahoma pretty much blackballed him. Former Sooners coach Barry Switzer, in his autobiography, praised the Bosworth who graduated with a 3.6 GPA and a business degree and criticized The Boz with an expletive, saying he "strutted around Norman like he owned the place, both stiffing and intimidating people. ... The Boz was an obnoxious, overbearing loudmouth and deadbeat."
It doesn't usually take 30 years for a player with Bosworth's credentials to be elected to the College Football Hall of Fame. The rest of college football followed Oklahoma's lead. Bosworth washed out of the NFL because of physical problems. He spent a lot of time angry for what had happened to him.
"I have had a very heavy heart," Bosworth said Friday.
He spoke of how Christianity had helped him let go of the burdens in his life. He has apologized to those he let down at his alma mater, including his head coach.
When Bosworth joined 14 other players and two coaches in the class of 2015 announced Friday by the College Football Hall of Fame, the delay made the gratification all the sweeter.
"I think the Hall of Fame is something that not only has to consider the merits of what you do on the field," Bosworth said, "but I think it's also a consideration of the character you are off the field. They want people in there who represent the purity and the passion of college football in the right way. And I wasn't there. I'm glad it took the time, because I wouldn't have appreciated the award during the years that I was angry. It's an honor and it's humbled me the way that it has come."
Three other members of the class joined Bosworth at the news conference Friday at the Renaissance Dallas: Bob Breunig, a linebacker at Arizona State in the early 1970s who played 10 seasons for the Dallas Cowboys; Lincoln Kennedy, who wore a purple scarf representing the University of Washington, where he played offensive tackle from 1989 to '92; and Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder, who became eligible despite being an active coach because he turned 75 in October.
Snyder, who has won 187 games in 23 seasons, made the Wildcats rise from the dead. In 1989, when Kansas State beat North Texas State 20-17 in his fourth game in Manhattan, the victory ended a 29-game winless streak. The Wildcats finished the year 1-10.
"At the end of the season," Snyder recalled Friday, "every friend that I have, few as they may be, contacted me and said: 'You need to leave as quickly as you possibly can. Something bad is going to happen if you don't.' And I remember the statement I had made publicly and privately as well. I had never been more convinced that Kansas State University could be a successful program, based on the fact that we had made gradual improvement ... throughout the course of the season. We just got a little bit better and a little bit better and a little bit better."
The magnitude of the honor can be overwhelming. The emotion that older men feel when they are honored for their youthful achievements would warm the coldest heart. Kennedy said he learned of the honor during a phone call while helping his 8-year-old son with his homework, and it scared his son because Kennedy started crying. Snyder started to thank his five children by name for their sacrifice but named only three of them.
The class of 2015 had a Southwest feel to it, a reflection of the site of the inaugural College Football Playoff National Championship game -- AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. In addition to Bosworth and Breunig, Texas tailback Ricky Williams, who set the NCAA career rushing record and won the Heisman Trophy as a senior in 1998, and Texas Tech linebacker Zach Thomas (1992-95) will go into the Hall.
The other members of the class are Sean Brewer of Division III Millsaps College; Pittsburgh offensive tackle Ruben Brown; Florida split end Wes Chandler; Notre Dame split end Thom Gatewood; Yale running back Dick Jauron, who went on to become head coach of the Chicago Bears and Buffalo Bills; Michigan State halfback Clint Jones; the late Rob Lytle, a Michigan running back who was a favorite of his coach Bo Schembechler; Marshall quarterback Michael Payton; and Kentucky defensive end Art Still.
Joining Snyder as a coach elected this year is Jim Tressel, who won four Division I-AA championships at Youngstown State, then won a BCS title with Ohio State in 2002. The election of Tressel, now the president of Youngstown State, raised eyebrows because he still has nearly two years remaining on a "show-cause" order -- an effective coaching suspension -- handed down by the NCAA for his failure to report his knowledge of extra benefits received by some of his Buckeye players.
"That was looked at closely," said Steve Hatchell, president of the National Football Foundation, which oversees the Hall of Fame. "A lot of people felt he was a heckuva coach who cared for his guys. This wasn't shoot from the hip. It was all carefully considered."
Someone asked Bosworth how he would like to play against the modern up-tempo offenses. You could almost see the energy surge through his body.
"I've never really left football," he said. "My body may have left, but my heart and soul have always continued to play football."
It may be a young man's game, but within the beat-up bodies of the class of 2015, those young men still exist.
ESPN's Joe Schad contributed to this report.