On Thursday, the Southern Conference announced its latest inductees into its Hall of Fame. As has been the case every year since the SoCon created its Hall of Fame, no one representing The Citadel was selected.
This is the 78th year that The Citadel has been a member of the conference. There are at least a dozen candidates associated with the school who could be honored by the league. Instead, nada, zero, zilch.
Am I biased? Yes. However, the exclusion of every Bulldog athlete or coach from the SoCon’s Hall of Fame is ridiculous.
It is also an embarrassment for the conference. Not only has The Citadel been ignored, but VMI has as well. When VMI returns to the league after the conclusion of this academic year, the SoCon will have two schools with a combined 157 years of membership and no Hall of Fame honorees.
On the other hand, Fayetteville State does have an inductee.
Yes, you read that right. Fayetteville State, despite never being a member of the Southern Conference (or Division I, for that matter), has a representative in the league’s Hall of Fame, but The Citadel and VMI do not. How is this possible?
It’s possible because among the inductees is former officiating supervisor Jim Burch, a graduate of Fayetteville State.
The SoCon won’t see fit to enshrine any alums or coaches from the two military colleges that have been a part of the league for decades. However, the league has actually honored not one, but two basketball officiating supervisors.
It’s rather incredible, really, since this is the Southern Conference we’re talking about. The league has not been known over the years for excellence in basketball officiating (and I’m being kind here).
The SoCon has bent over backwards to honor players and coaches from its distant past. Now, I respect history, probably more than a lot of people. However, this has led to a problem.
After the 2013-14 campaign, there will be ten schools in the conference, and they will have combined for 377 years of league membership. Total number of athletes from those schools the conference has inducted into its Hall of Fame: Seven.
Five of those honorees are women, and two are men (both from Furman: Frank Selvy and Clint Dempsey).
Meanwhile, the conference has honored athletes/coaches from thirteen other schools that left or will no longer be in the league after 2013-14, schools that have combined for 346 years of league membership. Total Hall of Famers: Twenty-four.
Many of those honorees competed in the league decades ago. This is why over one-fourth of the SoCon Hall of Famers were deceased when they were elected.
Robert Neyland is a legendary figure in college football. However, I don’t think he is remembered for his SoCon coaching career as much as he is as the standard-bearer for the early days of the SEC. Indeed, most of his bio on his “Hall of Fame” page on the SoCon’s website revolves around the time following his days in the Southern Conference.
It’s not just Neyland. Everett Case, Wallace Wade — these are big names, sure, but I’m not sure why the conference was so desperate to induct them so early in the proceedings. None of them were alive (Neyland and Case died in the 1960s), and there were other candidates who might have enjoyed a day in the sun. I can think of at least one coach who will now never get that opportunity.
This year, the SoCon added Eddie Cameron to the list of honored coaches associated with schools that haven’t been in the SoCon for more than six decades.
There are no male athletes from the 1970s and 1980s in the SoCon’s Hall of Fame (three women from the mid-to-late 1980s have been honored). Apparently the men who played in the conference during that era were all really lousy at sports. The period of bad masculine athletic prowess in the league lasted from 1966 to 1992.
– Number of football players honored by the league who competed after 1955: Two
– Number of baseball players honored by the league who competed after 1950: Zero
– Number of men’s basketball players honored by the league who competed after 1965: Zero
– Number of women’s track and field athletes honored by the league who competed after 1987: Four
The conference would presumably like to have a few “ambassador” types, which is what a lot of Halls of Fame are all about. However, if the SoCon doesn’t induct living people (non-track division) who actually identify with the league, and who are associated with it, that’s not going to happen.
The SoCon has a lot of issues. Just to name one, the continued failure of the conference to get a decent TV deal is an enormous problem. However, the mismanagement of its Hall of Fame is different from other league quandaries in that it is entirely a self-inflicted wound.
It may not be easy to get a television package (though it can’t be that hard, either, based on what other conferences have been able to do). However, I cannot understand how the powers-that-be at the SoCon, including commissioner John Iamarino, could so badly screw up the league’s Hall of Fame.
They have, though…and there are alums from at least one small military college who will remind SoCon administrators of that fact on a regular basis.
You can count on it.