TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Peyton Manning and his Southeastern Conference nemesis, former Florida coach Steve Spurrier, will go into the College Football Hall of Fame together.
The rest of the new Hall of Fame class of 13 players and coaches announced Monday includes Southern California Heisman Trophy winner Matt Leinart, San Diego State running back Marshall Faulk and Danny Ford, who coached Clemson to its only national championship.
Manning started for four seasons at Tennessee and set school records for yards passing (11,201) and touchdown passes (89). He led the Volunteers to four consecutive bowl games and was Heisman Trophy runner-up as a senior in 1997.
“His stats were incredible … but as we all know his legacy goes much, much further than that,” former Tennessee coach and Hall of Famer Philip Fulmer said. “He was absolutely the ultimate team player, the ultimate teammate, the ultimate greatest guy you could possibly want to coach.”
But Manning never did beat Spurrier’s Gators, going 0-3. Spurrier built Florida into an SEC powerhouse from 1990-2001, winning six conference titles and the school’s first national championship in 1996. He also was never shy about taking verbal jabs at his rivals such as Tennessee (“You can’t spell Citrus without U-T”) and Florida State (“Free Shoes University”).
“Steve and I, people think we’re bitter enemies, we really aren’t,” Fulmer said. “We’re actually pretty good friends. I’ve said this before – until somebody puts a microphone in front of him, he’s a pretty good guy.”
Also to be inducted in December at the National Football Foundation banquet are:
—Notre Dame linebacker Bob Crable (1978-81)
—Michigan State wide receiver Kirk Gibson (1975-78)
—Texas offensive tackle Bob McKay (1968-69)
—Texas A&M linebacker Dat Nguyen (1995-98)
—Georgia Southern running back Adrian Peterson (1998-2001)
—Boston College nose guard Mike Ruth (1982-85)
—New Mexico defensive back Brian Urlacher (1996-99)
—Mount Union coach Larry Keheres, who won 93 percent of his games and 11 Division III national championships from 1986-2012.
Leinart won the Heisman in 2004 and led Southern California to two national championships and a BCS national title game.
Faulk was the first freshman to lead the nation in rushing and scoring in 1991. He won back-to-back rushing titles and was a three-time Heisman finalist. He went on to have a Hall of Fame NFL career with the Indianapolis Colts and St. Louis Rams.
Ford was 33 when he led Clemson to the national title in 1981 and is still the youngest coach to win a national championship. He spent 12 seasons at Clemson and five at Arkansas and is second in career victories for the Tigers with 96.
Gibson’s greatest fame came as a baseball player. He played for World Series winners in 1984 with the Detroit Tigers and in 1988 with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He was the National League MVP in ’88 and hit one of the most famous World Series home runs, against Oakland Athletics reliever Dennis Eckersley.
For the Spartans, Gibson averaged 21.0 yards on 112 receptions with 24 touchdowns.
AP Sports Writer Steve Megargee in Knoxville, Tennessee, contributed to this report.