NEW YORK » The Boz was never getting into the College Football Hall of Fame.
“My name was on the ballot, but I wasn’t accepted,” Brian Bosworth said today.
Bosworth was an All-America linebacker and two-time Butkus Award winner at Oklahoma from 1984-86. He helped the Sooners win a national title in ‘85. He should have been a Hall of Famer a long time ago, but the obnoxious persona he created, the brash-talking Boz, was not so well-received.
He failed a drug test that got him suspended from a bowl game. He taunted the NCAA. After he left Norman, Oklahoma, for an NFL career that flamed out quickly, he was not welcomed back.
The Boz is gone now, replaced by a 50-year-old man who has reconnected with his school, developed spirituality and found humility. That’s the guy who is going into the Hall of Fame, part of a class of 15 former players and two coaches who were set to be inducted tonight by the National Football Foundation at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Manhattan.
“I’ve lived my life so impatiently, and I fought to hurry things up and not allow God to let things happen in God’s time. And I wanted it to happen more in Brian’s time,” Bosworth said. “As long as I continued to try to fight that battle, I knew my life was always going to be in a sense of frustration and high anxiety.”
The players heading into the hall with Bosworth were Trev Alberts from Nebraska, Bob Breunig from Arizona State, Sean Brewer from Millsaps College, Ruben Brown from Pittsburgh, Wes Chandler from Florida, Thom Gatewood from Notre Dame, Dick Jauron from Yale, Clinton Jones from Michigan State, Lincoln Kennedy from Washington, Michael Payton from Marshall, Art Still from Kentucky, Zach Thomas from Texas Tech, Heisman Trophy winner Rick Williams from Texas and the late Rob Lytle from Michigan.
The coaches were Jim Tressel, who led Ohio State to a national championship in 2002, and 76-year-old Bill Snyder, who has won 193 games in 24 seasons with Kansas State.
“It’s strange coming to me under any circumstances,” Snyder said of the honor while still active. The NFF allows coaches who are 75 and older to be inducted while they are still coaching. In 2006, the late Joe Paterno was inducted while at Penn State and Bobby Bowden went in while coaching at Florida State.
Kansas State won its last three games to become bowl eligible this season at 6-6 and will play Arkansas in the Liberty Bowl on Jan. 2.
“If they had to re-vote today, they probably wouldn’t vote that way considering the past season,” Snyder said. “Obviously, it’s special, and I’ve tried to put it all off, just because of being in the season and not get wrapped up in it at all. I’m honored.”
Snyder took over at Kansas State in 1989 when it was maybe the worst program in major college football. He built it into a Big Eight and Big 12 power, a transformation dubbed the Miracle in Manhattan.
As for coming back for a 25th season, Snyder said: “As of right now, I have no reason not to, but I take some time after each season and process that and go from there.”
Thomas, a three-year starter at linebacker for the Red Raiders, said Bosworth was one of the players he tried to emulate when he was playing high school ball in Texas.
“He was the prototypical linebacker,” said Thomas, who was Southwest Conference defensive player of the year in 1994 and ‘95.
Bosworth played for another Hall of Fame coach during his time at Oklahoma. Barry Switzer won three national titles with the Sooners. He was in New York today to attend the induction ceremony, and nothing meant more to Bosworth than sharing the moment with his old coach.
“That’s why it was so emotional,” Bosworth said. “Because it’s really all about him. Without him believing in me as a high school kid, giving me that chance, reaching down and telling me you’re good enough and I’m proud of you and I love you; those are things I didn’t get when I was growing up with my father. Being able to share that with him and really express how much I loved our football team.”