WHEN MIKE UTLEY is formally inducted into WSU's Athletic Hall of Fame on Saturday, he will become the 50th Cougar gridiron gladiator to join the select group of Crimson and Gray legends. And while I celebrate his deserved induction—just as I did the obvious selection of Drew Bledsoe and Jason Hanson in 2002—I fear other worthy, yet less apparent Crimson Soldiers have been bypassed over the years.

Whether it is the position they played (indeed, six of the 10 "suggestions" listed below cast their shadows in the anonymity of the trenches), the passing of time, or the lack of a professional football resume--or any combination of these variables—the following Cougar greats have fallen through the Hall of Fame cracks despite some mighty strong qualifications.

PAT BEACH, tight end, 1978-81
The Pride of Pullman High was named The Sporting News first team All-American and NEA second team All-American in 1981. Selected to play in the 1982 East-West Shrine Game after helping lead the Cougars to their first bowl appearance in 50 years. Drafted in the sixth round of the 1982 NFL draft by the Baltimore Colts. Played there for two seasons, Indianapolis for eight more, and a season with the New York Jets before retiring in 1993 as a Phoenix Cardinal.

JOHNNY BLEY, tackle, 1933-35
The team captain of the 1935 squad was a three-year starter on both sides of the ball who never missed a single game. So tough he once removed his pads and replaced them with sponges to increase his mobility. A true 60-minute ironman, played 407 out of a possible 420 minutes in WSC's seven major contests of 1935. Also handled many of the placekicking duties for the Cougs. Joined Babe Hollingbery's staff as a graduate assistant in 1936. Named 1935 Walter Camp first team All-West Coast (selected by Grantland Rice). Chosen to participate in the 1935 East-West Shrine game. Turned down professional offers from the Washington Redskins and Chicago Cardinals.

EARL "DUTCH" DUNLAP, center, 1919-21
The three-year starter was the foundation of Gus Welch's best squads and the first Washington State player ever to be named All-Conference three consecutive years (1919-21). Washington State racked up a 14-5-1 record in his three seasons as a starter. Respected as much for his defensive prowess as he was for his blocking finesse.

WAYNE FOSTER, defensive tackle, 1963-65
Defensive lynchpin of Bert Clark's famous "Cardiac Kids" of 1965 that finished 7-3, including huge nail-biting road wins at Iowa, Indiana and Minnesota. A controversial 7-6 loss to Arizona State deprived the Cougars a Rose Bowl berth. A 1965 Football Writers/Look Magazine first-team All-American, as well as first-team AP All-Coast and All-Conference. Participated in the 1965 East-West Shrine Game. Spent three seasons (1966-68) with the British Columbia Lions (CFL).

GAVIN HEDRICK, punter, 1974-77
Still holds three Cougar punting records, including longest punt in a game (83 yards), career punting average (43.4), and career punting yards (9,409). Also booted an 82 yarder.Earned first team All-Conference honors in 1975 and '77. Chosen for the 1977 East-West Shrine Game; was the 8th round choice of the San Diego Chargers in 1978.

DAN LYNCH, guard, 1981-84
(Editor's Note: In 2007, three years after this story, Dan Lynch was inducted into the WSU Hall of Fame)
Three-year starter from Spokane and two-time first team All-Conference pick. Helped pave the way for Rueben Mayes' record-setting 1984 season. Named 1984 AP and Football News first team All-American and second-team The Sporting News All-American. Winner of the 1984 Frank Butler Award and awarded the Pac-10's Morris Trophy as the league's premier lineman. Only player in college football history to play in two Senior Bowls (1984, '85) thanks to being granted an additional year of eligibility by the NCAA. Also played in the 1985 East-West Shrine Game. Selected by the Denver Broncos in the 12th round of the 1985 draft; also a 1984 17th round selection of Jacksonville Bulls (USFL). Pro career sidelined by onset of Addison's disease. Now a successful telecommunications czar in Prague.

A standout at both fullback and linebacker, he helped lead Jim Sutherland's 1958 squad to a 7-3 record and Sugar Bowl invite. WSU record holder for longest run from scrimmage (87 yards, tied by Frank Madu in 1995). Selected 1958 AP first-team All-West Coast and All-Conference. Played in the 1958 Copper Bowl All-star game and '59 Senior Bowl. Also named to UCLA's "All-Opponent" team in '58. Signed as a free agent by the Washington Redskins in 1959, released just prior to regular season; invited to try out with the Baltimore Colts in 1960. Played some semi-pro ball before becoming a successful Hollywood actor.

STEVE OSTERMANN, guard, 1972-74
Like Dunlap, one of just a handful of Cougs to be named first-team All-Conference three consecutive seasons (1972-74). Seventeen times on Ostermann's watch a Cougar running back rushed for 100 yards or more in a game. Also earned AP All-Coast honors in 1973 and played in the 1975 Hula Bowl. Signed by the Kansas City Chiefs -- despite weighing only 226 pounds. Now a successful businessman in Boise.

GEOFF REECE, center, 1972-74
Arguably the finest Cougar center this side of Mel Hein, he was named first-team All-American in 1974 by Time magazine and the Walter Camp Foundation. Believed to hold the Cougar record for most All-Star game appearances with four in 1974: Camp Football Foundation, Blue-Gray Game, East-West Shrine Game, and Coaches All-American. Drafted in the third round by the Los Angeles Rams in 1975. Played one season there and one season in Seattle before knee injuries ended pro career.

CLARENCE "BUTCH" WILLIAMS, tight end, 1989-92
Son of WSU Hall of Famer Clancy Williams, and yet another of the rare breed named first team All-Conference three consecutive years (1990-92). An outstanding blocker, was selected to play in the 1992 Japan Bowl and East-West Shrine game. Played one season in the NFL (Denver and Cleveland) after being drafted in the seventh round by the Broncos in 1993. Now a Washington State Highway Patrolman.

SURE, THERE are more obvious candidates whose numbers will—or should—eventually be called for enshrinement: Steve Broussard, Ken Greene, Ryan Leaf, DeWayne Patterson and Paul Sorensen, just to name a few. And while the 10 players suggested for Hall of Fame consideration may lack the name recognition of these Cougar greats, they certainly don't lack—like those "name" players—the qualifications needed for serious Hall of Fame consideration.

A HOF SALUTE: The very fact that I'm able to write an article on the WSU Hall of Fame as a living and breathing entity at Wazzu is a testament to Cougar Athletic Director Jim Sterk. Lest we forget, it was Sterk who made the revival of the HOF a priority after it had been dubiously mothballed during his predecessor's Reign of Error.

Editor's Note. Criteria for an athlete to be nominated for the WSU Hall of Fame are as follows: Athletes must have completed intercollegiate eligibility at least 5 years prior to selection, with at least 2 years of competition at WSU. Desirable qualifications include graduation, All-America recognition, NCAA champion, Olympic participant, world or conference record setter, All-Conference first team, scholar-athlete achievement, amateur athletic achievement, and/or continuing contribution to WSU.

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