TUSCALOOSA | Former University of Alabama coach Gene Stallings was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame Thursday at a news conference in New York.
Stallings, who was chosen by the National Football Foundation’s Veterans Committee, joined 13 other former college players and coaches in the 2010 Hall of Fame class. Reached during a meeting of the Texas A&M University Board of Regents, on which Stallings sits, Stallings deferred much of the credit for his induction to his former players and assistant coaches.
“The very bottom line is that I hope every player that ever played for me feels like they had a little something to do with me getting in there,” Stallings said. “I would only wish that they all feel that way. The real joy in coaching was seeing the players graduate. Something that stood above other things for me was the success of the player in whatever it was they did with their lives. Winning games is important, everybody knows that, but seeing the success of the player was the real joy of it all for me.”
Stallings collegiate coaching career was highlighted by an undefeated, 13-0 season and a national championship in 1992. The Crimson Tide was not ranked No.1 in the nation throughout that season until dispatching Miami, 34-13, in the Sugar Bowl.
Stallings’ on-field record in seven seasons at Alabama (1990-1996) was 70-16-1, though the NCAA only recognizes a 62-25 mark after stripping UA of eight victories and a tie from the 1993 season on an eligibility ruling. Stallings’ third Alabama team won the inaugural Southeastern Conference Championship Game, 28-21 over Florida at Birmingham’s Legion Field, just weeks before topping the Hurricanes for the national crown.
“I think it’s well deserved. I think it’s a little late too, I think it should have happened a long time ago,” said John Copeland, a star defensive end on Stallings’ 1992 national championship team. “He’s one of the best men on the planet. Of all the coaches I’ve had who I still talk to, head coaches, he and (former Hinds Community College coach) James Murphy were the most influential in my life. He’s one of the best men I’ve ever run across.”
Stallings also served as head coach at Texas A&M beginning in 1965.
Former Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez was the only coach inducted Thursday other than Stallings. Others elected included the late Pat Tillman, who starred at Arizona State before giving up an NFL career to serve in the Army in 2002, and former Heisman Trophy winner Desmond Howard. Others in Stallings’ induction class: defensive lineman Dennis Byrd of North Carolina State; center Ronnie Caveness of Arkansas; defensive lineman Ray Childress of Texas A&M; guard Randy Cross of UCLA; running back Sam Cunningham of Southern California; quarterback Mark Herrmann of Purdue; receiver Clarkston Hines of Duke; defensive back Chet Moeller of Navy; halfback Jerry Stovall of LSU; and linebacker Alfred Williams of Colorado.