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Bill McCartney to be inducted into the college football Hall of Fame

11:29 AM, May 7, 2013   |    comments
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BOULDER - Bill McCartney has been selected by the National Football Foundation for induction into the College Football Hall of Fame on Dec. 10 in New York City.

Heisman Trophy winners Danny Wuerffel of Florida and Ron Dayne of Wisconsin, along with two-time national champion Tommie Frazier of Nebraska, have been selected for induction to the College Football Hall of Fame also. They are part of a class of 12 players and two coaches chosen by the National Football Foundation and revealed Tuesday.

The rest of the players to be inducted in December are: Miami Heisman winner Vinny Testaverde, whose selection was announced Monday; Ted Brown of North Carolina State; Tedy Bruschi of Arizona; Jerry Gray of Texas; Steve Meilinger of Kentucky; Orlando Pace of Ohio State; Rod Shoate of Oklahoma; Percy Snow of Michigan State; and Don Trull of Baylor.

The new Hall of Fame coaches are Wayne Hardin, who led Navy and Temple, and Bill McCartney of Colorado.

Coach "Mac" first set foot on the University of Colorado campus in Boulder in June 1982. He would retire as the winningest coach in CU football history.

He will become the seventh Buffalo enshrined in the Hall, joining Byron White (inducted in 1952), Joe Romig (1984), Dick Anderson (1993), Bobby Anderson (2006), Alfred Williams (2010) and John Wooten (2012). He is the school's first coach to be so-honored.

"It's a surprise and it is very humbling when you look at the men that have been recognized with this honor over the years," McCartney said. "It's very gratifying and rewarding. Keep in mind I've been out of coaching almost 20 years, so to be remembered after such a long absence was a complete surprise to me."

McCartney was 93-55-5 in 13 seasons at the reins of the Buffaloes, guiding the program to its first and only national championship in football in 1990, doing so by playing the nation's toughest schedule, just the second time that feat was ever accomplished. He coached CU in more bowl games, nine, than anyone before or after him, as well as to three consecutive Big 8 titles in 1989-90-91 during a run of 10 consecutive winning seasons in league competition. After a 4-16-1 start in conference games, the Buffs finished 58-29-4 against Big 8 competition, going an impressive 54-13-3 over his last 10 seasons.

In the six-year span from 1989-94, Mac's last six seasons, Colorado was 58-11-4, the fifth-best record in the nation behind Miami, Fla. (63-9), Florida State (64-9-1), Nebraska (61-11-1) and Alabama (62-12-1). CU's 36-3-3 record in the conference games in the same period was the nation's best. CU finished in the nation's top 20 each of those six years, including a No. 3 ranking his final season.

"Coach McCartney possesses a relentless passion for his profession and the Colorado Buffaloes," CU athletic director Mike Bohn said. "We join his coaching staff, players, loyal fans and alumni in congratulating him on this national recognition."

McCartney, 72, had coaching in his blood almost from the get-go.

"When I was 7 years old, I knew I was going to be a coach," he said. "My friends, other kids at that age were going to president, businessmen, attorneys, firemen. Ever since I was a little kid, I imitated my coaches, critiqued them, always followed and studied them. I was a student of the great coaches. I was a disciple of Bobby Knight's when I was (high school) basketball coach."

McCartney attended the University of Missouri on a football scholarship and lettered three times as a center-linebacker for the Tigers. He played in two Orange Bowl games and was named second-team All-Big 8 as a senior.

He graduated from Missouri in 1962 with a degree in education and immediately turned his attention to coaching.

The late Chuck Fairbanks abruptly resigned on June 1 to become president and head coach of the New Jersey Generals in the fledgling United States Football League. The late athletic director Eddie Crowder was faced with hiring a new coaching staff with the season opener just 102 days away.

Mac had started entertaining thoughts about becoming a head coach.

"When the Colorado job opened, it was the perfect time for me," McCartney recalled. "Because of the timing, there was really no head coach in America who could have applied for the job, because if you didn't get it, you would have been run out of town because you were willing to abandon your team. Chuck Shelton interviewed from Drake, which had just beat CU twice, but I didn't have to fight several head coaches who would have been interested had the job opened at a more opportune time. When I saw that Chuck resigned, I was immediately interested, I went in and saw Bo. At the appropriate time, Bo called Eddie Crowder. He was instrumental in my getting strong consideration. Colorado was one of the premier jobs in the country."

It wasn't a slam dunk that Crowder was going to hire him, though. He was the longshot. He wasn't even contacted until six days into the search.

McCartney was hired as the 20th head coach in CU history on June 9, 1982, taking over a team which had just suffered through three of its worst seasons in an otherwise tradition-rich football program.

The 1988 Buffaloes posted the best record at CU since 1976 by going 8-4 (with a new-fangled "I-bone" offense), which included a win at No. 19 Iowa. Mac's team again battled the Big Eight's top two to the wire, losing 17-14 to Oklahoma and 7-0 at Nebraska; CU placed fourth with a 4-3 mark. However, the Buffs fell short again in postseason play, losing 20-17 to Brigham Young in the Freedom Bowl. The biggest stride the 1988 team made was a return to the national Top 20 for the first time in over a decade.

As the unanimous National Coach-of-the-Year selection for 1989, McCartney's eighth CU team roared to an 11-0 regular season record and the first ever No. 1 national ranking in CU's 100-year football history. The Buffs won their second outright Big Eight title, to go with 1961, which earned McCartney unanimous Coach-of-the-Year honors in the league. Colorado became the first team since 1969 to defeat Oklahoma and Nebraska in the same year and all told the Buffs defeated five top 25 and three bowl teams. Only a 21-6 loss to Notre Dame in the Orange Bowl kept CU from being crowned the national champion, but the No. 4 final ranking was still the second best ever for the Buffaloes at that time.

His ninth Colorado team won the biggest prize possible in college football: the national championship. The 1990 team, with an 11-1-1 record, was also the first Buffalo team to claim back-to-back Big Eight titles. He was once again named as the league's Coach-of-the-Year, the third time he was afforded that honor.

Colorado's 10-9 win over Notre Dame in the Orange Bowl paved the way for the Associated Press along with most of the other recognized organizations to select the Buffaloes as the 1990 national champion.

In 1999, he was inducted into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame, just the sixth coach at the University of Colorado to be honored so. He was enshrined in CU's Athletic Hall of Fame in 2006.

(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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