Almost 30 years later, they still haven’t made ’em quite like Bobby Saiz.
Twice inducted into Adams State University’s Hall of Fame (as an individual in 2001, and with the 1988 team in 2016) and named to the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference’s All-Time Team in 2009, No. 9 is still sitting fine in the mind of the National Football Foundation (NFF) & College Hall of Fame—which again included the iconic quarterback on the ballot for induction into the College Football Hall of Fame next year.
Saiz is one of 98 ‘Divisional’ (meaning not Football Bowl Subdivision) players and 31 coaches appearing on the ballot, released Thursday. More than 12,000 NFF members’ and current HOFers’ votes will be tabulated and submitted by June 20 to the NFF’s Honors Courts, which will then select the fortunate inductees.
Heading the Divisional Honors Court is Jack Lengyel, interim athletic director at the University of Colorado from 2004-05, but known as the 1970s Marshall University head coach portrayed in ‘We Are Marshall.’
“The Hall’s requirement of being a First-Team All-American creates a much smaller pool of only 1,500 individuals who are even eligible. So being in today’s elite group means an individual is truly among the greatest to ever have played the game, and we are extremely proud to announce their names,” NFF President/CEO Steve Hatchell said in comments accompanying the ballot.
“It’s an enormous honor to just be on the ballot when you think that more than 5.19 million people have played college football and only 987 players have been inducted,” he stated.
The announcement of the Class of 2018 will come Monday, Jan. 8, 2018, in Atlanta, Georgia, prior to that day’s NCAA College Football Playoff National Championship. Official induction will occur on Dec. 4, 2018, in New York City, with enshrinement at the College Football Hall of Fame taking place later that month.
Also appearing on the ballot from RMAC institutions are former Western State defensive back William Campbell (First Team All-America in 1978, 1979), former Chadron State punter Duane Fritz (First Team NAIA All-America in 1975), and former Nebraska-Kearney head coach (1955-71) and NAIA Hall-of-Famer Allen Zikmund.
Amongst the FBS nominees is former CU receiver Michael Westbrook (First Team All-America in 1994).
THE BOOK ON BOBBY: Twice named an NAIA [Adams State now competes at the NCAA Div. II level] All-American by the time his exciting four-year career concluded in 1990, Saiz passed for 10,169 yards and 87 touchdowns for the then-Indians while averaging 251 yards of total offense per game.
That figure stood at an NAIA Division I-leading 309.9 in 1988, when he led then-Adams State College to a 10-3-1 record and berth in the Champion Bowl—held that December 17th in Jefferson City, Tenn., at Carson-Newman University’s Burke-Tarr Stadium.
But after postseason wins over Emporia (Kansas) State University, Southeastern Oklahoma (Durant, Oklahoma) State and Pittsburg (Kansas) State, ASC was unable to contain Carson-Newman, which prevailed 56-21. Saiz tossed one TD in the game, bringing the Indians back to 21-14 in the second quarter, but behind junior running back Vernon Turner’s 189 rushing yards and three scores—earning him Offensive Player-of-the-Game honors—the Eagles earned boss Ken Sparks (who passed away on March 29, 2017) his fourth of five titles in the 1980s.
Adams State counterpart Jeff Geiser would be named NAIA Div. I Coach-of-the-Year in ’89, while Saiz led the squad to a 7-0 RMAC record and #1 national ranking before hopes for a Champion Bowl return faded in the semifinals, 51-44 against ESU—which then visited Jefferson City and lost to Carson-Newman in the grand finale.
In his first collegiate-postseason taste, Saiz paced ASC to a 35-17 victory over the Mexico All-Stars in the 1987 Aztec Bowl (played inside Mexico City’s Olympic Stadium), finishing a season in which he amassed 1,121 yards of offense, including 917 yards passing with six touchdowns—and setting the stage for the Indians’ breakout ’88 when Saiz set single-season school-bests in completions (231), yards (3,916), TDs (33) and total offense (4,142).
Prior to postseason play, he’d made 157 throws for 2,941 yards and 29 scores in piling up 3,079 total yards.
In ’89 Saiz’s regular-season stats included 2,481 yards of offense (2,253 passing), with 23 of 135 completions ending up in the opposition’s end zone, and as a senior in ’90—Turner had entered the NFL that spring with the Denver Broncos as an undrafted free agent—he threw for 2,316 yards, totaled 2,248 offensively, and fired 16 TDs amongst 152 completions.
All told, Adams State went 28-15-1 overall during Saiz’s four seasons, including a 17-4-1 RMAC record.