(STILLWATER, Oklahoma / June 3, 2019) – Former Oklahoma State defensive end Leslie O'Neal is one of 76 players included on the ballot for 2020 induction into the College Football Hall of Fame, the National Football Foundation announced today. It is the third consecutive year that O'Neal has been included on the ballot.
A two-time All-America honoree, O'Neal anchored the two best defenses in school history in 1984 and 1985. He was a dominant force on teams which allowed just a total of 34 touchdowns over two seasons, the lowest totals ever at OSU. He was named Big Eight defensive player of the year in 1984 and earned All-Big Eight honors in each of his last three seasons as a Cowboy.
O'Neal set a school record that stands to this day by registering 16.0 sacks for 118 yards lost in 1984. He also remains the OSU career leader with 34.0 sacks.
He was a first-round draft choice of the San Diego Chargers in 1986. O'Neal retired following the 1999 season. During his career, the defensive end was selected to the Pro Bowl six times, while recording 136.0 career sacks. His career sack totals still rank among the top 15 players in the history of the NFL.
During his career, the Cowboys played in the Bluebonnet Bowl and consecutive Gator Bowls. He was a unanimous All-American in 1985, earning a spot on each of the five recognized teams (American Football Coaches Association, Associated Press, Football Writers Association of America, The Sporting News and Walter Camp).
Oklahoma State currently has five representatives in the College Football Hall of Fame – coach Lynn "Pappy" Waldorf (inducted in 1966), Bob Fenimore (inducted in 1972), Barry Sanders (inducted in 2003), Thurman Thomas (inducted in 2008) and coach Jimmy Johnson (inducted in 2012).
The ballot was emailed today to the more than 12,000 NFF members and current Hall of Famers whose votes will be tabulated and submitted to the NFF's Honors Courts, which will deliberate and select the class. The FBS Honors Court, chaired by NFF Board Member and College Football Hall of Famer Archie Griffin from Ohio State, and the Divisional Honors Court, chaired by former Marshall head coach, longtime athletics director and NFF Board Member Jack Lengyel, include an elite and geographically diverse pool of athletic administrators, Hall of Famers and members of the media.
The announcement of the 2020 Class will be made in January 2020 in the days leading up to the College Football Playoff (CFP) National Championship in New Orleans. The January announcement will be televised and/or streamed live, and specific viewing information will be available as the date draws near. Several of the electees will also participate in the pregame festivities and the coin toss before the championship game.
The 2020 College Football Hall of Fame Class will officially be inducted during the 63rd NFF Annual Awards Dinner on Dec. 8, 2020, at the New York Hilton Midtown. They will also be honored at their respective schools with an NFF Hall of Fame On-Campus Salute, presented by Fidelity Investments, during the 2020 season.
The criteria for Hall of Fame consideration include:
• First and foremost, a player must have received First-Team All-America recognition by a selector organization that is recognized by the NCAA and utilized to comprise their consensus All-America teams.
• A player becomes eligible for consideration by the Foundation's Honors Courts 10 full seasons after his final year of intercollegiate football played.
• While each nominee's football achievements in college are of prime consideration, his post-football record as a citizen is also weighed. He must have proven himself worthy as a citizen, carrying the ideals of football forward into his relations with his community and his fellow man, with love of his country. Consideration may also be given for academic honors and whether the candidate earned a college degree.
• Players must have played their last year of intercollegiate football within the last 50 years.* For example, to be eligible for the 2020 ballot, the player must have played his last year in 1970 or thereafter. In addition, players who are playing professionally and coaches who are coaching on the professional level are not eligible until after they retire.
• A coach becomes eligible three full seasons after retirement or immediately following retirement provided he is at least 70 years of age. Active coaches become eligible at 75 years of age. He must have been a head football coach for a minimum of 10 years and coached at least 100 games with a .600 winning percentage.
• Nominations may only be submitted by the athletics director of a potential candidate's collegiate institution; by the head coach or sports information director (SID) representing a dues-paying college/university; or by a dues-paying chapter of the National Football Foundation.
*Players who do not comply with the 50-year rule may still be eligible for consideration by the Football Bowl Subdivision and Divisional Veterans Committees. Veterans Committee candidates must still meet First Team All-America requirement.
Once nominated for consideration, all FBS player candidates are submitted to one of eight District Screening Committees, depending on their school's geographic location, which conducts a vote to determine who will appear on the ballot and represent their respective districts. Each year, approximately 15 candidates, who are not selected for the Hall of Fame but received significant votes in the final selection, will be named automatic holdovers and will bypass the district screening process and automatically appear on the ballot the following year. Additionally, the Veterans Committee may make recommendations to the Honors Court for exceptions that allow for the induction of players who played more than 50 years ago. The Honors Court annually reviews the Hall of Fame criteria to ensure a fair and streamlined process.
Of the 5.33 million individuals who have played college football since Princeton first battled Rutgers on Nov. 6, 1869, only 1,010 players have earned induction into the College Football Hall of Fame, or less than two one-hundredths of a percent (.02%) of those who have played the game during the past 150 years. From the coaching ranks, 219 individuals have achieved Hall of Fame distinction.
The 2020 voting deadline is June 21. If you would like to become a member and receive this year's ballot, please contact NFF Director of Membership Ron Dilatush at firstname.lastname@example.org.