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Ken SugiuraKen Sugiura

Behind the curtains at the College Football Hall of Fame

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You hopefully know that the College Football Hall of Fame opens Saturday in downtown Atlanta. I’ve heard plenty of great things about it and am hoping to pay a visit soon.

This post isn’t terribly related to Georgia Tech – but I’ll get to that in a minute – but I thought you might be interested anyway. Hall curator and historian Kent Stephens was gracious enough to allow me into his office (at the Georgia World Congress Center) in late July and more gracious to let me wander around the space – about the size of a high school classroom – which was packed to the ceiling with college football history. Rows after rows, shelves after shelves, boxes after boxes of artifacts collected that relate to the game’s history. The room pretty much contained everything that the museum has collected over the years that wasn’t going on display.

The reason I was there is actually related to Tech. With the opening of the hall, it would be fun, once the season begins, to have a weekly blog post featuring a Tech item that the hall has collected. That day, Stephens (or an assistant, to be more accurate) had collected several items of Tech memorabilia that the hall has in its possession, and I came by to take pictures. Some of it’s kind of dry, but some of it I’m will be of interest. We’ll start next week leading up to the season opener.

At any rate, here are some of the pictures I took of his office.

 

 

The view from the front of Stephens' office. The first row of shelving is full of assorted trophies. The table in the front actually has a lot of the Tech items that Stephens procured for me.

The view from the front of Stephens’ office. The first row of shelving is full of assorted trophies. The table in the front actually has a lot of the Tech items that Stephens procured for me.

 

The helmets were all worn by hall of fame members. He mentioned some of them. John Friesz' Idaho Vandals helmet is up front. The boxes below the helmets are full of game programs.

The helmets were all worn by hall of fame members. He mentioned some of them. John Friesz’ Idaho Vandals helmet is up front. The boxes below the helmets are full of game programs.

 

I'm not sure what that made that little statue meaningful, but this gives you an idea of just how packed this room is.

I’m not sure what that made that little statue meaningful, but this gives you an idea of just how packed this room is.

 

This was from a display about ancient forerunners of football. Stephens said something about how the Vikings (presumably not the versions from Minnesota, Berry or Lakeside High School) cut off the heads of defeated opponents and kicked them around.

This was from a display about ancient forerunners of football. Stephens said something about how the Vikings (presumably not the versions from Minnesota, Berry or Lakeside High School) cut off the heads of defeated opponents and kicked them around.

 

A UCLA megaphone? Why not?

A UCLA megaphone? Why not?

 

A bust of Notre Dame coaching great Knute Rockne. It isn't a trophy or award, merely a likeness of Rockne. Stephens doesn't know who made it, but the hall somehow ended up in possession of it. I suppose if I were Stephens, I'm not sure what I'd do with it either. It's not the sort of thing you put on Craigslist.

A bust of Notre Dame coaching great Knute Rockne. It isn’t a trophy or award, merely a likeness of Rockne. Stephens doesn’t know who made it, but the hall somehow ended up with it. I suppose if I were Stephens, I’m not sure what I’d do with it either. It’s not the sort of item you sell on Craigslist.

 

A sword that is part of the formal dress outfit for Army cadets, just lying on top of a box. Said Stephens, "We've got all sorts of oddities."

A sword that is part of the formal dress outfit for Army cadets, just lying on top of a box. Said Stephens, “We’ve got all sorts of oddities.”

 

Another bust, this one of Ohio State's Woody Hayes. It was a little disconcerting to turn the corner and come face to bust with Coach Hayes.

Another bust, this one of Ohio State’s Woody Hayes. It was a bit disconcerting to turn a corner and come face to bust with Coach Hayes. Stephens estimated that the items on display in the museum represent only about five percent of the hall’s total collection.

 

I asked Stephens if the down marker had any significance, if perhaps it was used in the Colorado fifth-down game in 1990 (which ultimately helped the Buffaloes earn a share of the national championship with Georgia Tech). Alas, he said it had no significance. He did think it would have been a good idea to obtain that down marker. Maybe I have a future in museum curating.

I asked Stephens if the down marker had any significance, if perhaps it was used in the Colorado fifth-down game in 1990 (which ultimately helped the Buffaloes earn a share of the national championship with Georgia Tech). Alas, he said it had no significance. He did think it would have been a good idea to obtain that down marker. Maybe I have a future in museum curating.

 

One of my favorite items in Stephens' storage space. The benches were from Notre Dame's locker room in the 1930's.

One of my favorite items in the storage area. The benches were from Notre Dame’s locker room in the 1930’s. That’s Stephens in the background, graciously allowing me to poke around his office.

A samurai helmet given to Grambling coaching great Eddie Robinson when he took his team to Japan in 1976 to play in the Pioneer Bowl. Robinson himself contributed it to the hall.

A samurai helmet given to Grambling coaching great Eddie Robinson when he took his team to Japan in 1976 to play in the Pioneer Bowl. Robinson himself contributed it to the hall.

 

My favorite item in Stephens' office. (That I saw, at any rate). The trombone case belonging to Gary Tyrrell, the Stanford band member who was run over by Cal's Kevin Moen in the 1980 Stanford-Cal game. The actual trombone is on display.

My favorite item in Stephens’ office. (That I saw, at any rate). The trombone case belonging to Gary Tyrrell, the Stanford band member who was run over by Cal’s Kevin Moen in the 1980 Stanford-Cal game. The actual trombone is on display.

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