ARLINGTON, Texas – Eric Dickerson, who is still not in the College Football Hall of Fame, believes SMU’s so-called death penalty is the reason for his exclusion and that of other Mustangs.
Dickerson was selected into the Pro Football of Fame in his first year of eligibility 17 years ago and was added to the Cotton Bowl Hall of Fame on Friday. Part of the “Pony Express” from 1979-82, SMU’s career rushing leader is still not in college football’s hall.
“The funny thing about that, and I’ll just say it out loud … I really believe that they hold that death penalty against myself and other guys, and that had nothing to do with us. We were long gone,” Dickerson said before his Cotton Bowl induction. “I really believe they hold that against our university and myself and other players of not inducting me and whoever else, Craig (James) and whoever, into the college hall of fame.”
NCAA sanctions led to the cancellation of SMU’s 1987 season before the school opted for a two-year shutdown.
There are six SMU players in the College Football Hall of Fame, none who played there after 1968. Only one Mustangs player has been inducted since the death penalty.
“Sometimes it comes down to politics,” Dickserson said. “But if I ever get in, I get in. But if I don’t, no problem. I’m proud to be in the NFL Hall of Fame and most definitely here in the Cotton Bowl, because I played here in Dallas, I played right here in this bowl.”
The last SMU player inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame was in 2003 with the enshrinement of Jerry LeVias, a receiver from 1966-68 who was the first black scholarship athlete in the Southwest Conference.
Dickerson had a Southwest Conference-record 47 rushing touchdowns for the Mustangs and ran for a school record 4,450 yards, seven more than yards than Earl Campbell at Texas from 1974-77. Dickerson left SMU as the league’s career rushing leader, and was third on that list when the league disbanded after the 1995 season.
Campbell is in both the pro and college halls.
Dickerson ran for 124 yards in the Cotton Bowl on New Year’s Day 1983, when the Mustangs beat Pittsburgh 7-3.
In an 11-season NFL career with the Los Angeles Rams (1983-87), Indianapolis (1987-91), Los Angeles Raiders (1992) and Atlanta (1993), he had 13,259 career yards rushing with 90 TDs and still holds the NFL single-season record with 2,105 yards in 1984. He was a six-time Pro Bowler, a five-time All-Pro pick and won four rushing titles.
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