The Big 12 Conference has long been one of the premier collections of talent in the college football world. Throughout every decade in this sports illustrious history, generational players have resided in this conference, even pre-dating the conference’s current name, when it was called the “Big 8.”
When the College Football Hall of Fame Class of 2022 was announced on Monday, it reiterated just how many special players have taken the field for this conference over the years. Roy Williams, a legendary defensive back at Oklahoma from 1999-2001, shared a picture of his induction into the prestigious club which had a quote that sums up just how special it is to be a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.
“Of the 5.54 million who have played and coached college football since 1869, only 1,038 players and 223 coaches have been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. Welcome to the club.”
After doing some quick math, one realizes that of all the players that have impacted this game, only 0.00023% are selected to be immortalized and enshrined in that special place in Atlanta, Georgia.
With that in mind, here is your Big 12 (and Big 8) College Football Hall of Fame Class of 2022.
Michael Crabtree – WR, Texas Tech (2007-08)
Crabtree was a two-time Biletnikoff Award winner, and the first to ever win the award twice, while at Texas Tech in 2007-08. In his time as a Red Raider, TTU went 20-6, highlighted by an 11-2 finish in 2008 when the Red Raiders climbed as high as No. 2 in the polls. According to the university record, Crabtree remains the only two-time unanimous All-American in school history, as well as being an All-Big 12 First Team selection in both of his seasons in Lubbock.
The 2007 Freshman All-American and AT&T All-America Player of the Year finished his freshman season at Texas Tech as the NCAA freshman record holder for receptions (134), receiving yards (1,962), and receiving touchdowns (22). Those numbers still stand and are also single-season records at Texas Tech as well.
Crabtree finished his two-season career as the Texas Tech career record holder for receiving yards (3,127) and receiving touchdowns (41). His career will always be highlighted by this touchdown that went down as one of the top plays in College Football history, as Crabtree lifted Texas Tech over the top-ranked Texas Longhorns, 39-33, with a last-second score.
Crabtree was selected in the first round by the San Francisco 49ers with the 10th overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft.
Terry Miller – RB, Oklahoma State (1974-77)
As a two-time All-American, Terry Miller was a Heisman finalist twice; finishing second in1977 and fourth in 1976. Only 23 running backs in college football history have had two top-four Heisman finishes, and with Miller’s selection, all of them are now in the College Football Hall of Fame.
During his career at Oklahoma State, Miller played in 43 games, racking up 871 carries for 4,754 yards, and 49 touchdowns. To this day, he remains the only player in Cowboys’ history to have three 1,000-yard rushing seasons in his career. When he left for the NFL after the 1977 season, Miller ranked fourth in career rushing yards in NCAA history. Miller ranks second in career rushing yards and rushing touchdowns at Oklahoma State, trailing only the great Thurman Thomas in yards and legend Barry Sanders in touchdowns.
Miller holds two Cowboys’ records that will be quite hard to top: most career 100-yard games (26) and most consecutive 100-yard rushing games (19). Miller is one of only three Big 8 players with more than 4,000 career rushing yards, joined by Nebraska’s Mike Rozier and, again, Thurman Thomas.
Miller was selected in the first round by the Buffalo Bills with the fifth overall pick of the 1978 NFL Draft. His jersey, No. 43, is one of four no longer in use at Oklahoma State.
Rashaan Salaam – RB, Colorado (1992-94)
The only Heisman Trophy winner in Colorado history will now take his rightful place alongside other legends from America’s greatest game. Up until this point, Salaam was the only pre-2000 Heisman winner not already inducted in the College Football Hall of Fame. In 1994, Salaam rushed for 2,138 yards and 27 touchdowns, becoming just the fourth player in history to reach the 2,000-yard mark in a single season. Behind his efforts, the Buffs had one of their best seasons in school history, finishing No. 3 in the polls and 11-1 after defeating Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl.
Just the fifth unanimous All-American in Colorado history, Salaam also won the Doak Walker Award and Walter Camp Trophy in that 1994 season, adding first-team All-Big 8 selections in 1993-94. After the 1994 season, Salaam declared for the NFL Draft, and was selected in the first round by the Chicago Bears with the 21st pick in the 1995 NFL Draft. Unfortunately, that is where the story takes a darker turn. Salaam became addicted to marijuana, suffered a career-altering leg injury in 1998, and was never the same player he was in college.
Tragically, Salaam took his own life on December 5, 2016, at the age of 42. His brother, Jabali Alaji, later told USA Today that Rashaan exhibited “all the symptoms” associated with CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a disease associated closely with the sport of football. Salaam never had an autopsy done, so it will remain a mystery if the disease played a factor in his death.
Zach Weigert – OT, Nebraska (1991-94)
Zach Weigert will become the 26th Cornhusker inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame next December and deservedly so. During his senoir year in 1994, Weigert was a consensus All-American and was the Outland Trophy Award winner, presented annually to the nation’s top offensive lineman.
Weigert was a three-year starter at Nebraska during the golden year’s of Huskers football. In his 46-game career, Weigert only allowed one sack at right tackle, earning All-Big Eight honors in 1992, 1993 and 1994.
That 1994 Cornhuskers team is legendary for their grit and toughness, and for being downright badass. The Huskers averaged 340 rushing yards per game that year, and Wiegert led Nebraska with 113 pancake blocks. Nebraska defeated Miami in the Orange Bowl in theor own backyard that year, 24-17 and clinched the national championship at 13-0.
Weigert was selected in the second round by the St. Louis Rams in the 1995 NFL Draft. He would go on to play for 12 seasons with the Rams, Jaguars and Texans and made 137 starts in 145 career games played.
Roy Williams – DB, Oklahoma (1998-2001)
Roy Williams is set to become Oklahoma’s 29th addition to the College Football Hall of Fame after a collegiate career that made him the most feared defender in the country during his time in Norman. During his 1998 season, WIlliams showed flashes of excellence, but was sidelined by a back injury in game three that cut his freshman year short before it even got started. However, in 1999 Williams came back with a vengeance under first-year head coach Bob Stoops. Williams played in all 12 of Oklahoma’s games that season and started the final five contests for the Sooners, totaling 75 tackles, two interceptions, and 11 pass breakups, earning freshman All-American honors and setting himself up for a fantastic season in 2000.
As a redshirt sophomore, Williams asserted himself as one of the most dominant defenders in the country during Oklahoma’s national title run in 2000. He helped lead the defense to a stellar year, topped off by shutting out the might Florida State offense in the BCS National Championship, a.k.a the Orange Bowl, winning 13-2. The Sooners finished 13-0 that season, ending a 15-year national championship drought.
2001 was Williams best individual season, and the season in which his legend was born. He won the Nagurski Award as the nation’s top defender and the Thorpe Award as the nation’s top defensive back and also finished seventh in the Heisman voting, behind six quaterbacks. The unanimous All-American was also named Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and ended the season 107 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, five interceptions, 22 pass breakups and three fumble recoveries. Williams career is highlighted by the “Superman” play, one of the most memorable plays in sports, when Williams deflected a pass in the Texas backfield while flying over a Longhorn blocker with two minutes remaining in the 2001 Red River game. The deflected pass was caught by teammate Teddy Lehman for a short score. On Texas’ next offensive play, Williams sealed the game with an interception, giving the Sooners a 14-3 victory.
Williams was selected in the first round of the 2002 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys with the eighth overall pick. The five-time Pro Bowler finished his NFL career with 110 starts in his 114 games, 596 tackles, 24 tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks, 20 interceptions (three of which he returned for touchdowns), 59 pass deflections, 10 forced fumbles and 11 fumble recoveries.
Gary Pinkel – Head Coach, Missouri, Toledo (1991, 2015)
Gary Pinkel, who ranked 20th in FBS hostory in wins at the time of his retirement, is the winningest coach in school history at both Toledo and Missouri, making him one of just three coaches to hold that distinction at two D-I programs. Joining him in that distinction are College Football Hall of Fame inductees Bear Bryant (Kentucky, Alabama) and Steve Spurrier (Florida, South Carolina).
While at Missouri, Pinkel led the Tigers to five conference division titles, 10 bowl bids, and finshed ranked five times, including top five finsihes in 2007 and 2013.
Pinkel compiled a coaching record of 118-73 (.618) between his years at Toledo and Missouri, coaching 10 first-team All-Americans, three Academic All-Americans, three NFF National Scholar-Athletes and 79 first-team all-conference players. Pinkel was the 2007 National Coach of the Year (FieldTurf) and a conference coach of the year in both the Big 12 (2007) and the SEC (2014).
After the 2015 season, Pinkel announced his retirement because of a diagnosis of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. AT the time, Pinkel ranked as the third-winningest active coach behind future College Football Hall of Fame inductees Frank Beamer of Virginia Tech and Bill Snyder of Kansas State.
The 2022 College Football Hall of Fame Class will officially be inducted during the 64th NFF Annual Awards Dinner on Dec. 6 (location TBD).