Last Saturday’s induction of four Gator greats was a real highlight for those of us who saw two or more of them during their playing days. It’s also a continuation of the best effort UF has ever made to bring together the eras of Florida Football. This is particularly important to UF students who more often than not think Florida football history began when they started paying attention.
I think it would be great to make the ring of honor process more transparent and consider annually adding one person to the list. I also think there should be some fine tuning to the criteria.
Name a Committee
The process of selecting future inductees would be enhanced if it was clear to Gator fans how the decision(s) on which Gators to honor are being made. A committee is the best way to do that and it should include people from academic administration, athletic administration, former players, former coaches and media. Let’s start with Bob Bryan, Bill Carr, Norm Carlson, Neal Anderson and Jack Hairston and go from there. The only shortcoming from that group is that Anderson should be one of the next four or five to go in so a change might be in order there.
There should be a news conference every year, perhaps the day of the season opener at which the committee announces who is anyone they have chosen for the honor. Ideally the honoree will be there and the display already there for installation. I don’t know how long it takes to make those panels, so a little secrecy might have to be maintained for a few weeks, but so what?
It would also spark interest among the Gator Nation if there was a list of individuals who are eligible for consideration. Think that might generate some interesting debate/argument? Well, we media types can work on that.
Looking at the Criteria
I was surprised that being a graduate was not on the list of criteria chosen for eligibility. I would like to see that as a requirement for consideration that the individual has to have a degree.
If not that, certainly you could add an eligibility item for any inductee into the College Football Hall of Fame or the Academic All American Hall of Fame. Another line could involve something along the line of a former Gator great that has given back to or brought positive recognition to the University.
I’m also not thrilled with the three or more consensus All American honors because few freshmen earn All American status and two-time All Americans invariably turn pro.
If you were on the committee and had to choose the next inductee into the “Ring of Honor” whom would you vote for? It’s not hard to come up with the candidates. Wilbur Marshall comes to mind immediately along with Carlos Alvarez and the aforementioned Neal Anderson. Lomas Brown gets my vote as the best offensive lineman in school history and he has to be strongly considered as well. You could easily make a case for Louis Oliver, John L Williams, Shane Matthews and eventually Rex Grossman. And what about Brad Culpepper who was a great player, had a fine NFL career and was the national scholar athlete of the year his senior season.
It will be quite a challenge for the committee. That’s why I didn’t put myself on it. But I look forward to seeing inductee number five in the relatively near future.