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Ten Legends to Join Allstate Sugar Bowl Hall of Fame

PITTSBURGH, PA – OCTOBER 01: (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

NEW ORLEANS – The Allstate Sugar Bowl will introduce 10 legends as the second class of the Sugar Bowl Hall of Fame in conjunction with the 85th annual Allstate Sugar Bowl on January 1, 2019. The inaugural Hall of Fame class, introduced last year, was composed of 16 legends of the annual New Orleans football classic. The second class of Hall of Famers spans seven decades of Sugar Bowl action and includes seven all-star players, two national championship coaches and one individual who both starred in the Sugar Bowl as a player and directed a team to the national championship as a coach.

“The Sugar Bowl has a very proud and storied history,” said Rod West, President of the Sugar Bowl Committee.  “Last year we created our own Hall of Fame to recognize the legends of our game. This year, we will recognize 10 more of the very best players and coaches to have ever competed in the Sugar Bowl Classic.  These men all played significant roles in lifting the Bowl to its current level of national prominence, and they gave college football fans some great, great memories in the process.”

The living members of the second class of the Sugar Bowl Hall of Fame have all been invited to New Orleans for this year’s Allstate Sugar Bowl. Attendees and their guests will participate in select Sugar Bowl VIP activities and will be recognized on the field during the pregame ceremony leading up to the annual Sugar Bowl Classic.

Allstate Sugar Bowl Hall of Fame – Class of 2018

Name                                                School                                                Sugar Bowl(s)

Jerome Bettis                                Notre Dame                                     1992

Todd Blackledge                           Penn State                                        1983

Vince Dooley                                  Georgia                                              1969, 1977, 1981, 1982, 1983

Bobby Grier                                    Pittsburgh                                         1956

Bobby Layne                                  Texas                                                  1948

Abe Mickal                                      LSU                                                      1936

Darrell Royal                                  Oklahoma, Texas                            1949, 1950, 1958

Deion Sanders                               Florida State                                     1989

Steve Spurrier                               Florida                                                1966, 1992, 1994, 1995, 1997, 2001

Scott Woerner                              Georgia                                              1981

Jerome Bettis turned in a legendary performance in the 1992 Sugar Bowl. Florida jumped out to a 16-7 halftime advantage and still led 22-17 late in the fourth-quarter. However, Notre Dame fed the ball to “The Bus” who broke loose for touchdown runs of 3, 49 and 39 yards in a 2:44 stretch to lift the Fighting Irish to a 39-28 victory. Bettis, who earned the Miller-Digby Award as the game’s Most Outstanding Player, went on to a 13-year NFL career. A member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, he ranks seventh all-time in rushing in NFL history.

Todd Blackledge keyed Penn State’s first national championship with a Most Outstanding Player performance in the 1983 Sugar Bowl. The junior quarterback threw for 228 yards and a critical 47-yard TD strike early in the fourth quarter to clinch the victory over Georgia. He has added to his Sugar Bowl legacy by serving as the television analyst for six Sugar Bowl broadcasts on ABC (December 1995) and ESPN (2011, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2018). The 1982 winner of the Davey O’Brien Award as the top collegiate quarterback in the nation, Blackledge played seven years in the NFL before beginning his broadcasting career.

 Vince Dooley directed five Georgia teams to the Sugar Bowl, including as stretch of three straight games in 1981, 1982 and 1983. His 1981 team, featuring freshman Herschel Walker, defeated Notre Dame in a 17-10 thriller to cap an undefeated national championship season for the Bulldogs. Dooley, who was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1984, was the Georgia head coach from 1964 to 1988 and served as the school’s athletic director from 1979 to 2004.

Bobby Grier made history as the first African-American to play in the Sugar Bowl Classic in 1956, the 22nd edition of the game. The star running back ran for a game-high 51 yards in a 7-0 loss to Georgia Tech. His participation in the Sugar Bowl, as well as the support he received from a range of groups, including the Sugar Bowl Committee, is considered a landmark in American race relations. Following his football career, he served in the Air Force for 11 years and then worked in education until his retirement.

Bobby Layne was presented the first Miller Trophy (before Fred Digby’s name was added to the trophy) as the Most Outstanding Player in the Sugar Bowl following his performance in the 1948 game for the Texas Longhorns. He passed for 183 yards and a touchdown while running for 51 yards and another score in a 27-7 win over Alabama. He would go on to a 15-year NFL career and is a member of both the College Football Hall of Fame (1968) and the Pro Football Hall of Fame (1967).

Abe Mickal led LSU into the second annual Sugar Bowl Classic on January 1, 1936. Nicknamed “Miracle Mickal,” he was a three-time All-SEC selection and an All-American, but three days of rain made the Sugar Bowl Stadium field a quagmire and neither offense could move the ball as TCU managed to hold on for a 3-2 win. Because of the conditions, both teams were recognized as national champions by the Williamson Poll. Following his collegiate career, he became a well-known doctor until his retirement from practice in 1980. He also served as the vice president of medical affairs for Kenner Regional medical Center from 1985 until his death in 2001. He is a 1967 inductee into the College Football Hall of Fame.

Darrell Royal is recognized as one of the greatest college football coaches in history. The head coach of the University of Texas from 1957-76, he directed the Longhorns to 167 wins, including three national championships and 11 Southwest Conference titles. Royal, who was a star player at Oklahoma and played in the 1949 and 1950 Sugar Bowls (throwing for a touchdown in one game and running for one in the another), wasted little time turning around a Longhorns program which had just one victory in 1956. In his first year at the helm of the program, he directed Texas to the Sugar Bowl.

Steve Spurrier is arguably the most successful player/coach in Sugar Bowl history. He was the only player from a losing team to earn Most Outstanding Player recognition after leading Florida’s miraculous fourth-quarter comeback that came up just short in a 20-18 loss to Missouri. As a coach, he led five Gator teams to the Sugar Bowl, earning wins in 1994 and 1997. The 1997 victory over No. 1 Florida State catapulted the Gators to the national championship. Spurrier was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a player in 1986 and as a coach in 2017.

Deion Sanders registered one of the top defensive plays in Sugar Bowl history during the 1989 game. With Florida State holding onto a 13-7 lead over Auburn, the Tigers drove the ball to the FSU 22 with 12 seconds remaining. However, Sanders dashed in front of the Auburn receiver on the potential game-winning pass and snagged the interception to preserve the victory. That memorable play continued to build his reputation as “Primetime,” a nickname which remained appropriate for him through his 17-year NFL career. He also played Major League Baseball for nine seasons. He has been inducted into both the College Football and Pro Football Halls of Fame.

While Herschel Walker earned Most Outstanding Player honors when Georgia capped its national championship season in the 1981 Sugar Bowl, Scott Woerner may have been just as deserving.  The senior cornerback tallied three tackles, three pass break-ups and a pair of interceptions in Georgia’s 17-10 win over Notre Dame. His first interception came in end zone and he also broke up a third-down pass in the end zone, but no play was bigger than his pickoff of a Notre Dame pass with 2:56 to go to clinch the victory. Head coach Vince Dooley said, “His secondary play in the Sugar Bowl was one of the greatest performances I’ve ever seen.” The consensus All-American was inducted into College Football Hall of Fame in 2016.

The New Orleans Mid-Winter Sports Association was founded in 1934 by a group of civic-minded businessman and professionals interested in promoting amateur athletic events geared toward bringing visitors to New Orleans during what had traditionally been a slow period for tourism. Now known as the Sugar Bowl Committee, the organization remains a voluntary group whose members serve without remuneration.

The Allstate Sugar Bowl has established itself as one of the premier college football bowl games, having hosted 28 national champions, 93 Hall of Fame players, 49 Hall of Fame coaches and 18 Heisman Trophy winners in its 84-year history. The 85th Allstate Sugar Bowl Football Classic, featuring Texas from the Big 12 and Georgia from the SEC, will be played on January 1, 2019. In addition to football, the Sugar Bowl Committee annually invests over $1.6 million into the community through the hosting and sponsorship of sporting events, awards and clinics. Through these efforts, the organization supports and honors nearly 100,000 student-athletes each year, while injecting over $2.5 billion into the local economy in the last decade.

Article Courtesy of AllState Sugar Bowl Information Department.

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