Donnelly to be inducted into National Football Foundation Hall of Fame
Ceremony to be shown live on ESPN3 Wednesday nightAugust 27, 2013 · @MTAthletics
ATLANTA - History will be made on Wednesday, August 28, when 24 of the greatest legends in college football history will see their legacies forever immortalized during the College Football Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony, in Atlanta.
The ceremony will be broadcast live on ESPN3 beginning at 6:30 PM Central. The sold-out event will be emceed by award-winning broadcaster Wes Durham. In addition to the enshrinement ceremonies, the show will feature a preview of the 2013 college football season by a panel of top television analysts, including Tony Barnhart, Desmond Howard (a 2010 inductee into the College Football Hall of Fame), Mark Schlabach and Matt Stinchcomb (the 1998 recipient of the NFF William V. Campbell Trophy).
This year's star-studded class of inductees includes a Heisman Trophy winning quarterback, one of the game's greatest wide receivers and former Middle Tennessee State University head coach James "Boots" Donnelly.
Donnelly, already a member of the Blue Raider Hall of Fame and the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame, joins five other coaching legends in this year's class and is the first ever from MT.
The 18 former players to be enshrined also form a "Who's Who" roster of college gridiron greats.
Hosted by the College Football Hall of Fame, the National Football Foundation and the Atlanta Sports Council, this is the first time Atlanta will host this special ceremony as it works toward the completion of a new home for the hall, set to open in 2014.
Only 934 players and 205 coaches, have been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame from the nearly 4.92 million who have played or coached the game over the past 144 years. This year's class brings the number of schools represented with at least one College Football Hall of Famer to 296.
Donnelly started his head coaching career at Austin Peay, taking a program that had never won a football championship to an Ohio Valley Conference title in his first season on the job. After two seasons and a 14-7 record, he left APSU for his alma mater where he would spend the next 20 years leading the Blue Raiders to unprecedented success.
Donnelly led MT to nine top 20 regular-season finishes and seven NCAA I-AA playoff appearances, guiding Middle Tennessee to a 31-game home winning streak from 1987-93. He won or shared the Ohio Valley Conference title five times, was named the OVC Coach of the Year four times, and is the only coach in OVC history to win a conference title at two different schools.
A hard-nosed defensive back at MT from 1962-64, Donnelly led the Raiders to a conference championship and a Grantland Rice Bowl win in 1964. He later also served as athletics director for three years at his alma mater, while playing an integral role in moving Middle Tennessee to the FBS level.
The Nashville native was named the 1989 NFF Middle Tennessee Chapter's Outstanding Contribution to Amateur Football Award winner and is a member of the organization's board of directors, instrumental in fundraising for scholarships. Donnelly currently serves as the CEO of the Backfield in Motion organization, which combines academics and athletics to inspire inner-city boys to reach their maximum potential.
The National Football Foundation's 2013 College Football Hall of Fame class:
Frank Cignetti - West Virginia, Indiana (Pa.)
James "Boots" Donnelly - Middle Tennessee State, Austin Peay
Jess Dow - Southern Connecticut State
Phillip Fulmer - Tennessee
Jimmy Johnson - Oklahoma State, Miami (Fla.)
R. C. Slocum - Texas A & M
Charles Alexander (RB - Louisiana State)
Otis Armstrong (RB - Purdue)
Steve Bartkowski (QB - California)
Hal Bedsole (E - Southern California)
Dave Casper (TE - Notre Dame)
Ty Detmer (QB - Brigham Young)
Shelby Jordan (LB - Washington U. in St. Louis (Mo.))
Tommy Kramer (QB - Rice)
Joe Micchia (QB - Westminster (Pa.))
Art Monk (WR - Syracuse)
Greg Myers (S - Colorado State)
Jonathan Ogden (OT - UCLA)
Gabe Rivera (DT - Texas Tech)
Art Shell (OT - Maryland Eastern Shore)
Mark Simoneau (LB - Kansas State)
Scott Thomas (S - Air Force)
Jeff Wittman (FB - Ithaca College (N.Y.))
John Wooten (G - Colorado)
Follow the Blue Raiders on Twitter @MTAthletics for continued updates.
More Football NewsJul 23, 2014: Blue Raiders participate in C-USA Media Day
Jul 17, 2014: Raiders to have 11 games televised in 2014
Jul 16, 2014: Byard, Barber tabbed first team All-C-USA
Jul 14, 2014: Barber named to Lombardi Watch List
Jul 11, 2014: MT's Byard named to Jim Thorpe Award watch list
Jun 13, 2014: Five recognized by Athlon Sports