Cooper, McDaniel selected to Hall of Fame

A pair of former Sun Devils gained college football immortality Thursday, as former Arizona State University head coach John Cooper and one of his pupils, star offensive lineman Randall McDaniel, were selected to the College Football Hall of Fame, the National Football Foundation (NFF) announced.

Selected from a ballot of 75 All-America players and eight elite coaches, Cooper and McDaniel now join former Sun Devil coaches Dan Devine and Frank Kush and student-athletes defensive back Mike Haynes, wide receiver John Jefferson, linebacker Ron Pritchard and quarterback Danny White as representatives of Arizona State University in the College Football Hall of Fame.

In addition to Hall of Fame enshrinement, Cooper and McDaniel's names will be added to the façade of ASU's Sun Devil Stadium, joining the aforementioned Hall of Famers as well as Sun Devil legends Bobby Mulgado, Pat Tillman and Wilford "Whizzer" White. They will be honored at a football game this fall.

Criteria for selection to the College Football Hall of Fame include major first-team All-America honors for players, while coaches must have served at least 10 years as head coach with a minimum winning percentage of .600. Athletes are eligible 10 years after concluding their collegiate career, while coaches are eligible three years after retirement or immediately after retirement if 70 years of age or older. Active head coaches are immediately eligible after age 75. In accordance with the 50-year rule, all players must have competed within 50 years of the selection date, while all active professional players and coaches are ineligible until retirement.

Widely considered one of the greatest offensive linemen to ever play for the Sun Devils, McDaniel lettered at ASU from 1984-87. During his career, the Phoenix native earned first-team All-Pacific-10 Conference honors at offensive guard in 1986 and 1987, and as a senior he became only the 10th player in school history to earn consensus All-America honors.

"To be selected to the College Football Hall of Fame is an amazing honor," says McDaniel. "Especially as an offensive lineman; my job was to work with four other players as a group, so to earn an individual honor such as this is incredible."

An integral component in ASU's 1986 Pac-10 Conference Champion squad, McDaniel also earned honorable mention All-America honors as a junior by the Associated Press and Kodak, helping lead the Sun Devils to ASU's first ever Rose Bowl victory, 22-15 over the University of Michigan.

"As an Arizona native, it was an incredible experience to be able to play at Arizona State University in front of all my friends and family," says McDaniel. "Also, to have Coach Cooper be selected to the College Football Hall of Fame this year makes it additionally special."

In 1999, McDaniel was elected in Arizona State University's Athletics Hall of Fame.

McDaniel's football excellence continued after his collegiate career concluded, as he was selected 19th overall by the Minnesota Vikings in the 1988 NFL Draft. He would go on to enjoy a stellar 14-year career with both Minnesota and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, earning an NFL record 12 Pro Bowl invitations (1989-2000), while also receiving NFL All-Pro recognition nine consecutive times (1990-98) and was named to the NFL's All-Decade Team of the 1990's, as determined by voters of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

A starter in 202 consecutive games to end his career while missing only two games as a professional, McDaniel, now 43, retired from the NFL after the 2001 season. His ASU degree is a B.S. in Physical Education. In addition to his induction into the College Football Hall of Fame, McDaniel was recognized as a finalist for the NFL Hall of Fame's Class of 2008.

One of the finest head coaches of his time, Cooper came to ASU after eight excellent seasons guiding the University of Tulsa and led the Sun Devils during the 1985-87 seasons. While coaching the Sun Devils, Cooper joined school icon Frank Kush as the only coaches at ASU since World War II to anchor three straight winning seasons to begin their Sun Devil careers, while also leading ASU to postseason bowl berths all three years, at the time the second-longest postseason streak in Sun Devil history.

"I'm ecstatic to be selected to the College Football Hall of Fame," says Cooper. "When I think back to the coaches and players I idolized when I was player and during my coaching career, it's a thrill to be able to join that group."

Cooper's most memorable season at the helm for the Sun Devils came in 1986, as ASU captured its first Pac-10 Championship and the school's debut appearance in the famed Rose Bowl game, in which the Sun Devils defeated the University of Michigan, 22-15, capping off a 10-1-1 season and a No. 4 ranking by the Associated Press, which remains tied for the second-highest end of season ranking in ASU history.

During his tenure in Tempe, Cooper compiled an overall record of 25-9-2, with a 2-1 postseason record, also defeating Air Force, 33-28, in the 1987 Freedom Bowl in Anaheim, Calif.

"We had three great seasons in Tempe," says Cooper. "We came close to a Rose Bowl appearance in our first year (1985) and we were able to not only make it to the Rose Bowl after the 1986 season, we beat a very good Michigan team, and those are memories that I'm very proud of."

Cooper mentored three consensus All-Americans in safety David Fulcher and offensive linemen Danny Villa and fellow 2008 Hall of Fame inductee McDaniel, while sending 18 total draft selections to the National Football League. Fulcher also is on the current ballot for selection into the College Football Hall of Fame.

"Randall McDaniel was one of the very best players I coached while at Arizona State and one of the best I've ever had the chance to coach," says Cooper. "I always thought he would turn into a great player and he had a phenomenal college and professional career."

Following his coaching career at ASU, Cooper, now 70, went on to guide the Ohio State Buckeyes from 1988-2000 and retired with a career coaching record of 192-84-6

Other players joining McDaniel to earn Hall of Fame selection are UCLA quarterback Troy Aikman, LSU running back, Billy Cannon Virginia offensive tackle Jim Dombrowski; Northwestern linebacker Pat Fitzgerald; Florida linebacker Wilber Marshall; Washington State running back Ruben Mayes; Syracuse quarterback Don McPherson; Wyoming tight end Jay Novacek; Texas Tech split end Dave Parks; Florida State nose guard Ron Simmons; Oklahoma State running back Thurman Thomas, and Army quarterback Arnold Tucker.

Lou Holtz, notably of Notre Dame coaching fame, is the other head coach to join Cooper.

Founded in 1947 with leadership from General Douglas MacArthur, legendary Army coach Earl "Red" Blaik and immortal journalist Grantland Rice, The National Football Foundation College Hall of Fame, a non-profit educational organization, runs programs designed to use the power of amateur football in developing scholarship, citizenship and athletic achievement in young people.

With 121 chapters and 12,000 members nationwide, NFF programs include the College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend, Ind., the NFF Hampshire Honor Society, Play It Smart, and scholarships of over $1 million for college and high school scholar-athletes.

The NFF presents the MacArthur Trophy, the Draddy Trophy, presented by HealthSouth, and releases the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) Standings.

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