Which Nick Saban-Coached Players Have a Good Chance to Make the College Football Hall of Fame?

The College Football Hall of Fame is about to have a massive infusion of former Alabama Crimson Tide players, minus a couple of big-time names. All Things CW:
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One of the benefits of doing the recent Saban Top 100 project, which ranked the top Alabama players of the Nick Saban era at Alabama, was that it quickly put into perspective how many possible candidates the Crimson Tide will soon have for the College Football Hall of Fame. 

Even though Alabama has more national titles, Notre Dame still has twice as many individuals inducted (Southern California does as well), although the numbers should soon start swinging more in the Crimson Tide's way.

But not immediately.  

There are four minimum requirements for a player to be considered for induction, including a player isn't eligible for 10 years after his final collegiate was played. But it's another stipulation that will be crucial to some of Saban's Crimson Tide players: he must have received first-team All-American recognition by a selector organization that is recognized by the NCAA and utilized to comprise its consensus teams.

That's the American Football Coaches' Association, the Associated Press, the Football Writers Association, the Sporting News (which basically means the lead college football writer or editor), and the Walter Camp Foundation.

The bottom line is that any player who was not named an All-American by one of those organizations isn't eligible for consideration. 

With that in mind, consider the Saban Top 100. Alabama's eventual candidates under the coach (minus active players) can be placed into various groups:

Heisman Trophy winners: Derrick Henry and Mark Ingram III are obviously shoe-ins. 

Slam dunks: Jonathan Allen, Amari Cooper, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Barrett Jones, C.J. Mosley and Amari Cooper.

Among quarterbacks, who seem to get judged a little differently, Tua Tagovailoa was a consensus All-American, but AJ McCarron was not. However, he was named an All-American by both the AFCA and the Walter Camp Foundation, plus won the Maxwell Award and the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, so he'll probably get the nod. 

Strong candidates: Dont'a Hightower, Jerry Jeudy, Ryan Kelly, Rolando McClain, Trent Richardson, Andre Smith and Quinnen Williams.  

Good candidates who are probably on the bubble: Javier Arenas, Mark Barron, Antoine Caldwell, Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix, Terrance Cody, Landon Collins, Reuben Foster, O.J. Howard, Mike Johnson, Cyrus Kouandjio, Xavier McKinney, Dee Milliner, Reggie Ragland, A'Shawn Robinson, Cam Robinson, JK Scott, Chance Warmack and Jonah Williams.

Players who might get lost in the avalanche: Rashaan Evans, D.J. Fluker, Marlon Humphrey, Rashad Johnson, Dre Kirkpatrick, Da'Ron Payne, Courtney Upshaw, Jedrick Wills Jr., 

Here's the key player who doesn't meet the minimum: Julio Jones.

You can throw Calvin Ridley in there as well. Neither was a first-team All-American. 

Another factor to consider is that there's basically a backlog of Crimson Tide candidates. Alabama defensive lineman E.J. Junior is in the Class of 2020, after playing for the Crimson Tide from 1977-80. 

In the same class is one of Saban's players from LSU, Glenn Dorsey, a defensive lineman from 2004-07. Meanwhile, Arkansas running back Darren McFadden, who last played for  the Razorbacks in 2007, is already in, demonstrating the wide range of inductees. 

Consequently, we have 27 years of Crimson Tide players still to sort through, including all of the standouts on the 1992 national championship team, before any of the Saban players come up. 

As for Saban himself, a coach becomes eligible three years after retirement or immediately following retirement provided he is at least 70 years of age. Active coaches become eligible at 75 years of age. 

Saban turned 69 in October. 

That means he's in no later than 2026. 

There have been six individuals who have coached as inductees: John Ralston, Chris Ault, Bobby Bowden, John Gagliardi, Joe Paterno and, most recently, Bill Snyder.  

How an 8-Team Playoff Would Look  

With there being more and more calls for the College Football Playoff to expand, All Things CW has been keeping an eye on how an eight-team field, with each of the five major conferences having an automatic spot, would look. 

Here's the brackets based off the final CFP selection committee rankings: 

1. Alabama vs. No. 8 Oregon 

4. Notre Dame vs. 5. Texas A&M

3. Ohio State vs. 6. Oklahoma 

2. Clemson vs. 7 Florida/Cincinnati 

The guess here is that the committee would have been under tremendous pressure to include a non-major, or it would have been mandated to include one, so both Florida and Georgia fans would be complaining about being excluded, along with Indiana and Coastal Carolina. 

Personally, I don't think that expansion is necessarily a bad idea, only no one seems to have the players' best interest at heart. There's already the potential for a team to play 15 games, which is too many, and this would only add another. 

Additionally, the more the playoff field is diluted the more blowouts we'll see. Alabama opening as a 19-point favorite against Notre Dame was the largest spread in College Football Playoff history. What would it be favored against a No. 8 team, or non-Power 5 opponent? 

Meanwhile, according to BetOnline, Alabama would be favored by 4.5 points against Clemson, and 10.5 points vs. Ohio State in the national championship. If somehow we got a third round of Clemson vs. Notre Dame, the Tigers would be 14-point favorites. 


• For those wondering if Alabama taking three days off for Christmas might come back and bite the Crimson Tide, it could if anyone contracts the coronavirus while home. However, there are two other positive aspects to the move. 1) Emotionally, the players know that Saban trusts them, which speaks volumes, and, 2) Physically the Crimson Tide probably needed the break. Saban likes to give his players some extra rest every six weeks and this team just went through the grind of facing five straight Saturdays of facing an SEC opponent. That stretch included Auburn and LSU back to back. 

• Speaking of the Hall of Fame, pro or college, Sports Illustrated made the case that former Alabama player Don Hutson was the most dominating receiver in NFL history, and it's not even close. Back when I covered the NFL, including the Green Bay Packers, the way it was described to me by people in the know was that Hutson was Jerry Rice before Jerry Rice. Check it out: Don Hutson, not Moss or Rice, was the most dominant receiver in NFL history

• Who do you have, Amari Cooper, Don Hutson, Julio Jones or DeVonta Smith? I'll put those four up against any program's top four in college football history, and Jerry Jeudy if you want to make it five.  

• Something that got overlooked in all the talk about Alabama being the first program since 1945 to have three players place in the top of the Heisman vote, was that the Crimson Tide trio plays three different positions: Quarterback, running back and wide receiver. That's never been done before. Army, which still had players from other programs during World War II, was led by the backfield combination of "Mr. Inside" Doc Blanchard and "Mr. Outside" Glenn Davis, and quarterback Arnie Tucker. 

• If you missed Ross Dellenger's piece: 'Only Thing in Alabama's Way Is Alabama': Can Anyone Beat the Tide? Anonymous Coaches Weigh In, the prevailing wisdom reaffirmed what many have been thinking all year, if quarterback Trevor Lawrence and running back Travis Etienne are on their game Clemson is the one thing that could keep Saban from winning another title. 

• Check out Pat Forde's playoff preview: Same Old, Same Old: Playoff Field Delivers Star Power, but Little Originality

 Christopher Walsh's notes column All Things CW regularly appears on BamaCentral