Posted: 8:00 am Friday, August 22nd, 2014

Behind the curtains at the College Football Hall of Fame 

By Ken Sugiura

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.

27 comments
GaryTyrrell
GaryTyrrell

1982 Stanford-Cal game. Thanks for the acknowledgement. Cheers!

SouthernHope5
SouthernHope5

actually, Chroha, the museums down there have done pretty well....both the Coke Museum and the Aquarium have been having record years. On the particular museum, I didn't have that much initial interest (i'm not a big college football fan) but the more I hear about it, the more I m thinking that it could be a big hit. 

Chroha
Chroha

Just wondering how long it will take for attendance and revenues to fall below rosy projections, and operating expenses to blow through too-low estimates. Then this museum, like many others in this state will turn to the State for a bailout.  

nevrenuftime
nevrenuftime

2 more years of gt probation. Another great accomplishment under PJ

JackClemens
JackClemens

I've been in some museum backrooms before, but none that haphazard.

10percenter
10percenter

If some big Tech donor does not win the auction for the Cumberland ball and put it in the HOF then I will be disappointed. The game literally took place a couple of football field lengths from the HOF site.

JacketMan
JacketMan

Apparetly, according to the serial number on the Certificate of Authenticity I received, I purchased the very FIRST Legacy Brick at the New College Football Hall of Fame. Whether that was significant; I have no idea, but I got an invitation to the early opening Saturday morning and I'm planning on being there for the Grand Opening.

GeorgeStein
GeorgeStein

He must have a helluva big office to have all that stuff in it.  

SupersizeThatOrder-mutt
SupersizeThatOrder-mutt

Good stuff, Ken.  LOVE the comment on the down marker.

Look forward to your future articles on the Hall.

SteveRC
SteveRC

Only 5% of the artifacts are on display?  Maybe fewer video screens and astroturf and more showcases would be appreciated.

OldJacketFan
OldJacketFan

@nevrenuftime 

Just thinking out loud here. I wonder if Tech or the ACC or both might just say the hell with the NCAA and when the punishment is announced just take it on over to the U.S. District Court and seek a TRO prohibiting the NCAA from enforcing any penalty, then just go ahead, file suit for restraint of trade, etc. Then let's see if the NCAA has the cojones to walk into another Federal court.

Given their track record lately I don't think they want another, VERY PUBLIC, fight on their hands. With all the crap the NCAA has turned a blind eye to (and I know I don't have to detail that here) it would not surprise me in the least for the NCAA to back down real quick. After the debacle with Tech's ACC Championship I have no patience for the sanctimonious BS the NCAA shovels on a daily basis! 

SupersizeThatOrder-mutt
SupersizeThatOrder-mutt

@nevrenuftime 

Just how is this Johnson's fault.  The blame lies solely with Spencer.  Did you even bother to read what was written?  "Spencer resigned after it was discovered that he had sent numerous impermissible text messages to prospects. Spencer told an NCAA investigator that had he known the school was monitoring his texts, he would not have made them."  That's like saying, "I wouldn't have shot that man if I had known anybody was looking."  Spencer is obviously a first class loser......sort of like you.

RichardKPE
RichardKPE

@nevrenuftime You think this is a big deal?  At this point, I'M probably on NCAA probation for something noone has ever heard of as well.

jarvis1975
jarvis1975

@10percenter No one outside of Tech considers that note worthy. You guys beat the hell out of a school that no longer had a varsity program. They played you to avoid paying a fee.  By the way, they beat you 22-0 a year earlier when they still had an actual football program.

TheWatcher31
TheWatcher31

@jarvis1975 Yeeeeeah, that would have been in a baseball game. C'mon man do your fact checking. Also, they had professional ringers in that game as well. Just thought you should know that.

10percenter
10percenter

@jarvis1975 

That's just not true. If nobody else thought there was any significance the auction price would be where I could by the ball with the money in my wallet. The circumstances of the game aside, fact remains it is the most lopsided game in college football history. It would not matter if it was between Sewanee and Cumberland, it happened.  

jarvis1975
jarvis1975

@TheWatcher31 I don't want to do the fact checking.  I don't give a schlitz.  No one does.  That was kind of the point.

jarvis1975
jarvis1975

@10percenter @jarvis1975 It's at like $15K today.  Hasn't it been up for auction for 3 weeks?


It's $4,000 less than a replica Heisman Trophy that was made in 1958 to recognize the first 20 winners of the award....again, your ever so famous game ball is 4 grand less than a replica award.


http://catalog.scpauctions.com/Category/Featured_Items-406.html

GTLee
GTLee

"I don't want to do the fact checking. "

Of course you don't. Why would you let facts get in the way of a good troll?

#moron

SupersizeThatOrder-mutt
SupersizeThatOrder-mutt

@jarvis1975 

Apparently you care, or you wouldn't be on here posting crap.  Did you even bother to read the article?  In the past, bids have skyrocketed the last 24 hours on the block.  Whether you think the ball is noteworthy or not doesn't matter; there are plenty of collectors who do.  I just hope Tech is able to get it.

GTLee
GTLee

"your ever so famous game ball is 4 grand less than a replica award."

And 4 grand more than your double-wide.

#gopoundsandupyourass