Despite going 44-4 in his final four seasons as the coach for the Miami Hurricanes, Jimmy Johnson knows that it is the losses everyone remembers most.
The Hail Flutie game in 1984, for example, or the 1987 Fiesta Bowl upset by Penn State. The 31-30 defeat at Notre Dame, which snapped the Hurricanes’ 36-game winning streak.
“The most devastating loss for me, college or pro, was the loss to Penn State,” said Johnson of the 14-10 shocker in the ’87 Fiesta Bowl, the de facto national championship game that season. “I just went back into the locker room and was completely devastated. That ’86 Miami team was the best I ever had.”
Johnson was in a more cheerful mood on Tuesday as he and 16 other players and coaches were inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. Along with Johnson, who coached five seasons apiece at Oklahoma State and Miami — the minimum number of seasons for a coach to be considered for induction is 10 — former Tennessee coach Phil Fulmer and former Texas A&M coach R.C. Slocum were also voted into the Hall.
“The most fun time of my life was at the University of Miami,” said Johnson, who currently works as an NFL analyst for FOX. “When you lose two games in four years, that’s a lot of fun.”
The 15 players, among them 1991 Heisman Trophy winner Ty Detmer of BYU, are, in chronological order of the years they played: John Wooten, guard, Colorado; Hal Bedsole, split end, USC; Otis Armstrong, halfback, Purdue; Dave Casper, tight end, Notre Dame; Steve Bartkowski, quarterback, California; Tommy Kramer, quarterback, Rice; Charles Alexander, tailback, LSU; Art Monk, wide receiver, Syracuse; Gabe Rivera, defensive tackle, Texas Tech; Scott Thomas, safety, Air Force; Detmer; Greg Myers, safety, Colorado State; Jonathan Ogden, offensive tackle, UCLA; and Mark Simoneau, linebacker, Kansas State.
Bartkowski, who like former Stanford QB Andrew Luck was a Bay Area collegiate passer that became the first overall pick in the NFL Draft, was also at the NASDAQ headquarters in Times Square for the announcement. The 1974 Cal grad was an All-American in both football and baseball while at Berkeley. When asked how he felt about the possibility of players missing additional class time for an expanded playoff, Bartkowski, 59, replied, “I went to sports and played school at Cal.”
Detmer was the lone Heisman Trophy winner to be inducted into this year’s class and one of a pair of two-time consensus first team All-Americans. The other was LSU’s Alexander, alias “Alexander the Great”, who became the first running back in SEC history to rush for more than 4,000 yards and 40 touchdowns.
Monk, one of two players inducted who has already been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame (the other is Casper), is currently suing both the NFL and helmet manufacturer Riddell for failing to protect him against the impact of concussions suffered during his 16-year NFL career.
The College Football Hall of Fame is in the process of relocating from South Bend, Ind., to Atlanta. Steve Hatchell, president of the National Football Foundation, said the new Hall plans to open its doors in autumn of 2014.