Johnny Majors is an underdog again.
He was an underdog in the late 1960s when he became the football coach at Iowa State. He was an underdog in the early 1970s when he became the football coach at the University of Pittsburgh.
Now, he's an underdog for the College Football Hall of Fame. But there's not a lot he can do about it.
He can't rebuild his resume the way he did football programs at Iowa State, Pitt and Tennessee. The resume is complete. And it's worthy of the College Football Hall of Fame.
Dick Williams thinks so, too. The difference is he can do something about it.
Williams, who is the president of the local chapter of the National Football Foundation, knows what he's up against.
"We've tried in previous years and not gotten anywhere with it," Williams said. "Now, we've put a nomination package together."
The obstacles are imposing as ever, however. First, according to Williams, there's sentiment among the voters against double inductions.
As an All-American tailback at UT in the 1950s, Majors is already in the Hall as a player. Only three people have made the College Football Hall of Fame as a player and coach. Former UT player and coach Bowden Wyatt is one.
Bobby Dodd, who played quarterback at UT and was a successful coach at Georgia Tech, is another. Amos Alonzo Stagg is the third.
Majors' winning percentage also works against him with the Hall, which will select its new inductees in a couple of months. One of the requirements for the Hall is a .600 winning percentage. Since Majors' percentage falls just shy of that, his nomination will have to be navigated through a couple of committees, one of which is set up to handle special cases.
Majors' case is special because of where he coached. In all four of his coaching stints, including two at Pitt, he took over programs which were either down or way down.
Iowa State had suffered losing seasons in 16 of 19 seasons prior to Majors' arrival. His 1971 team went 8-4, losing three of the games to the top three teams in the country. Only one other Iowa State team has won more games.
Pittsburgh's program was just as bleak when Majors assumed command in 1973. Prior to his arrival, the Panthers had won 22 games in seven seasons. Majors' fourth Pitt team, which included Heisman Trophy winner Tony Dorsett, was an unbeaten national champion.
UT football also was at a low ebb when Majors took over. His fifth team won eight games. In the next 11 seasons, UT had one losing season and won three SEC championships.
In making a case for Majors, Williams said he took off the wins and losses in the first two years at each of his coaching stints. The subtraction left Majors with a winning percentage to .615.
Maybe that will resonate with the College Football Hall of Fame's Veteran Committee. After all, what's a greater testament to one's coaching ability than turning a down program right-side up? And few programs were as down as Iowa State or Pitt.
Majors didn't just build a national championship team at Pitt. He built a dominant team. No one came closer than 10 points to Pitt in 1976. The Panthers capped their perfect season with a 27-3 rout of SEC champion Georgia in the Sugar Bowl.
A hall of fame ultimately should reflect outstanding achievement. Majors should be rewarded, not penalized, for having succeeded at such a high level as both a player and coach.
South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier already has been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a player. How could you possibly not induct him as a coach as well? He won a national championship and dominated the SEC in the 1990s as the head coach at Florida.
He belongs in the Hall as both a player and coach. And so does Majors.
Sports editor John Adams may be reached at 865-342-6284 or firstname.lastname@example.org.