The 2014 College Football Hall of Fame class was announced on May 22.
"Former NFL first-round draft picks Derrick Thomas, LaDainian Tomlinson, Sterling Sharpe, Willie Roaf, Tony Boselli, Shane Conlan, Darrin Nelson and Dave Butz now have something else in common: They are headed to the College Football Hall of Fame.
"On Thursday, they were announced as part of the 16-man College Football Hall of Fame's class of 2014. Rounding out the 14 players inducted: Dre' Bly (North Carolina defensive back 1996-98), Joe Hamilton (Georgia Tech quarterback 1996-99), John Huard (Maine linebacker 1964-66), John Sciarra (UCLA quarterback 1972-75), Leonard Smith (McNeese State cornerback 1979-82) and Wesley Walls (Ole Miss tight end 1985-88).
"Also, Mike Bellotti who was 137-80-2 at Chico State, California (1984-88) and Oregon (1995-2008), and Jerry Moore, 242-135-2 at North Texas (1979-80), Texas Tech (1981-85) and Appalachian State (1989-2012), were the only two coaches included. Bellotti is now an ESPN analyst."
According to the National Football Foundation (via the NCAA's official website), "The inductees were selected from the national ballot of 75 All-America players and six elite coaches from the Football Bowl Subdivision and the 87 players and 26 coaches from the divisional ranks."
The NFF also announced a first in its history as soon as the inductees were revealed, per the same update.
"For the first time in the history of the organization, the NFF has combined the inductees from the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), Football Championship Subdivision (FCS), Division II, Division III and the NAIA into one class.
"In 1996, the NFF started formally inducting players from the divisional ranks. College Football Hall of Fame coach Eddie Robinson called the change one of the best things to ever happen in college football at the time, and the change has proven to be extremely successful during the past 18 years with the 144 divisional inductees."
NFF chairman and 1989 College Football Hall of Fame inductee Archie Manning from Ole Miss lauded each member of this year's class.
"We are extremely proud to announce the 2014 College Football Hall of Fame Class. Each of these men has established himself among the absolute best to have ever played the game, and we look forward to immortalizing their incredible accomplishments at the new Hall of Fame in Atlanta as an inspiration to future organizations."
McMurphy's colleague, Ivan Maisel, weighed in on the late Thomas' induction in his May 22 blog. Thomas passed away 14 years ago at the age of 33 due to a massive blod clot as a result of a car accident.
"It only seemed as if it took Derrick Thomas forever to gain admission into the College Football Hall of Fame. The shadow of the late Alabama linebacker, a member of the school's All-Centennial Team (1982-1992) and the All-SEC team for the 1980s, loomed larger over the Hall with each passing year that he was excluded.
"Thomas, the 1988 Butkus Award winner, died in 2000 at the age of 33, only weeks after retiring from an 11-year career with the Kansas City Chiefs. Thomas suffered a pulmonary embolism two weeks after an automobile accident that left him paralyzed from the chest down.
"At a school known for linebackers -- in the past nine years, the Hall has selected Thomas, Woodrow (2009) and Cornelius Bennett (2005) -- Thomas stands out. A quarter-century after he played his last collegiate game, Thomas still holds the university record for sacks and for tackles for loss in a game, season and career (the NCAA's record-keeping in those defensive categories didn't begin until 2000).
"The Pro Football Hall of Fame elected Thomas as a member in 2009, yet college football had not honored him. The reason is simple: Alabama didn't nominate him for membership until 2011.
"The Hall elected former Crimson Tide defensive tackle Marty Lyons (1975-78) that year. Because of the Hall's spread-the-wealth policy of not selecting a player from the same school in consecutive seasons, Thomas didn't receive consideration again until 2013.
"If you want to quibble that Thomas should have been elected a year ago, quibble away."
McMurphy notes the 2014 class will be the first group to be inducted in the College Football Hall of Fame's new home in Atlanta, Ga., which will open in August.
The inductees will also be honored by the NFF at its annual black-tie dinner at New York's Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in December.