Florida State football great Ron Simmons has been chosen as a member of the 2008 Football Bowl Subdivision Hall of Fame Class, Steve Hatchell, President and CEO of The National Football Foundation, announced Thursday. Simmons, a two-time first team consensus All-American nose guard who played for the Seminoles from 1977-80, was selected from the national ballot of 75 players and eight coaches and a pool of hundreds of nominees.
Simmons and the rest of the 2008 FBS Hall of Fame Class, which includes 13 All-America players and two legendary coaches, will be inducted at The National Football Foundation's Annual Awards Dinner on December 9, 2008 at New York City's prestigious Waldorf-Astoria. The class will be officially enshrined at the Hall in South Bend, Ind., in the summer of 2009.
"When I was first notified about it, I couldn't believe it was true," Simmons said, "because normally, when honors like these are bestowed upon you, it's usually late in your life or sometimes even after your dead. At this point of my life, I am able to enjoy it. It's a great honor. Out of the millions of young men that have played college football, to be chosen among such a select few, it's unbelievable and a very good honor. The fact that they considered me worthy just to be in the College Hall of Fame is a dream come true."
With the induction, Simmons becomes the fourth Florida State football player to earn the distinction. Ron Sellers (1988), Fred Biletnikoff (1991), Darrell Mudra (2000) and Charlie Ward (2006) have also been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as has head coach Bobby Bowden (2006).
When Simmons was signed out of Warner Robins, Ga., he was one of Florida State's greatest recruiting victories. He made an immediate impact as a freshman and was the difference in his first game at FSU earning national lineman of the week honors. He would finish his first year as The Football News freshman lineman of the year. The greatest defender in FSU history, Simmons' number 50 was retired in 1988, making him the first defensive player in FSU history to have his number retired. FSU's first two-time consensus All-American (1979 and 1980), he was a finalist for the Lombardi Trophy in 1980.
The powerful middle guard anchored the center of the defense that took FSU to a pair of Orange Bowl appearances in 1979 and 1980, resulting in FSU's highest national ranking at the time, No. 5 in the final AP poll. He also led FSU to a Tangerine Bowl and to four consecutive victories over Florida. Simmons, a three-time All-South pick (1978-80), set school records for quarterback sacks in a career (25) and season (12) in 1979, a mark that held top ranking at FSU for 23 years and now ranks among the top five. He ranks second on Florida State's all- time tackles list (483) and career tackles for loss (44). Simmons played professionally for a short time for the Cleveland Browns in the NFL and then the Tampa Bay Bandits in the United States Football League before becoming a professional wrestler. In 1986, he was inducted into the Florida State Athletics Hall of Fame.
To be eligible for the ballot, players must have been named a First Team All-America by a major/national selector as recognized and utilized by the NCAA for their consensus All-America teams; played their last year of intercollegiate football at least 10 years prior; played within the last 50 years and cannot be currently playing professional football. Coaches must have coached a minimum of 10 years and 100 games as a head coach; won at least 60 percent of their games; and be retired from coaching for at least three years; be retired from coaching and over the age of 70 (no waiting period); or over the age of 75 (active coaches eligible). In both cases, the candidate's post-football record as a citizen may also be weighed.
Once nominated for consideration, all player candidates are submitted to one of eight District Screening Committees, depending on their geographic location, which conducts a vote to determine who will appear on the ballot and represent their respective districts. Each year, 15 candidates, who are not selected for the Hall of Fame, will be named automatic holdovers and will bypass the district screening process and automatically appear on the ballot the following year. Additionally, the Honors Review Committee may make recommendations to Honors Court for exceptions that allow for the induction of players who played more than 50 years ago and coaches who have not won at least 60 percent of their games.
The ballot was mailed to the more than 12,000 NFF members and current Hall of Famers whose votes will be tabulated and submitted to the NFF's Honors Court, which deliberates and selects the class. Chaired by Gene Corrigan, a former ACC Commissioner and NCAA president, the 11- member NFF Honors Court includes an elite and geographically diverse pool of athletics directors, conference commissioners, Hall of Famers and members of the media. Of the 4.6 million individuals who have played college football, only 829 players have earned induction into the College Football Hall of Fame. From the coaching ranks, 178 individuals have achieved Hall of Fame distinction.
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