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Cougars great Ryan Leaf among first-timers on College Football HOF ballot

Ryan Leaf, who led the WSU to the school's first Rose Bowl in 67 years, is making a first appearance on the College Football Hall of Fame ballot.

Ryan Leaf, who led the Washington State Cougars to the school's first Rose Bowl in 67 years, is among the former players making a first appearance on the College Football Hall of Fame ballot.

The National Football Foundation announced on Monday the players and coaches eligible for election into the 2023 Hall of Fame, and 11 of the 80 FBS players are debuting on the ballot.

Hall of Fame ballots go to more than 12,000 NFF members and current Hall of Famers. The votes are considered by the NFF's Honors Courts, which then deliberates and selects a class of about a dozen players and two or three coaches.

College Football Hall of Famer and two-time Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin from Ohio State is the chairman of the Honors Court, which includes athletic administrators, Hall of Famers and members of the media from all over the country.

Some of the other former players on the ballot for the first time are quarterback Tim Tebow of Florida, quarterback Alex Smith of Utah, wide receiver Justin Blackmon of Oklahoma State, running back Ki-Jana Carter of Penn State, linebacker Luke Kuechly of Boston College and defensive lineman Dewey Selmon of Oklahoma.

Leaf spent four seasons in Pullman (1994-97) and led the Cougs to the 1998 Rose Bowl.  That season has been arguably called the best season in WSU history.   Leaf and the Cougars made a comeback in the Rose Bowl against Michigan, but fell short.

Leaf would set numerous school and conference records during the 1997 season, including for touchdown passes, total offense, and passing yards.  He would declare for the NFL Draft after the Rose Bowl.  San Diego picked him second overall in the draft.

Leaf would later be inducted into the Washington State Athletics Hall of Fame in 2019.

Among coaches on the ballot for the first time are Mark Richt, Larry Coker and Frank Solich.

Richt was at Georgia from 2001-15 and at Miami from 2016-18. He won 74% of his games at Georgia and he led the Bulldogs to five SEC title games.

Coker was 60-15 with a national championship at Miami from 2001-06, including 35-3 his first three years. He finished his career at UTSA from 2011-15.

Solich succeeded Tom Osborne in 1998 and led the Cornhuskers to the 2001 national title game. He was fired in 2003 despite going 58-19. He became the winningest coach in Mid-American Conference history at Ohio before retiring last summer.

Former Seahawks Steve Hutchinson (Michigan 2000) and Marshawn Lynch (Cal 2006) also made the ballot.

The 2023 Hall of Fame class will be announced early next year.  The induction will happen December 5, 2023 in Atlanta, Georgia.


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