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Bob Stoops, Champ Bailey among 2021 College Football Hall of Fame nominees

Former Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops retired from coaching after the 2016 season. He left the school as its all-time winningest coach. File Photo by Mark Wallheiser/UPI
Former Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops retired from coaching after the 2016 season. He left the school as its all-time winningest coach. File Photo by Mark Wallheiser/UPI | License Photo

June 16 (UPI) -- Former Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops and ex-Georgia cornerback Champ Bailey highlight the newest nominees for the College Football Hall of Fame.

The National Football Foundation announced Tuesday the names on the 2021 ballot, including 78 players and seven coaches from the FBS level and 99 players and 33 coaches from the divisional ranks.

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"It's an enormous honor to just be on the College Football Hall of Fame ballot considering more than 5.4 million people have played college football and only 1,027 players have been inducted," NFF president and CEO Steve Hatchell said in a statement.

"The Hall's requirement of being a first-team All-American creates a much smaller pool of about 1,500 individuals who are even eligible. Being in today's elite group means an individual is truly among the greatest to have ever played the game, and we look forward to announcing the 2021 College Football Hall of Fame Class early next year."

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The 2021 ballot was sent Tuesday to more than 12,000 National Football Foundation members and current Hall of Famers, whose votes will be counted and submitted to the NFF Honors Court. That group will select the 2021 class.

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The announcement of the 2021 inductee class will be made early next year.

Stoops, 59, spent 18 seasons as head coach of the Sooners, guiding the school to 10 Big 12 championships, 14 seasons with double-digit victories and one national title (2000). When he retired after the 2016 campaign, he departed as Oklahoma's all-time winningest coach with 190 wins.

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Gary Pinkel, 68, joins Stoops on the ballot this year. He is the winningest coach at both Toledo and Missouri, earning 191 victories between the two schools.

Bailey and former Syracuse defensive end Dwight Freeney headline the list of players who are appearing on the ballot for the first time. Bailey -- who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame last year -- was the Nagurski Award winner as the nation's best defensive player in 1998, while also playing wide receiver and seeing time on special teams for the Bulldogs.

Freeney holds the NCAA record for career sacks per game at 1.61 and was named co-Big East Defensive Player of the Year for the Orange in 2001.

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Among the other players on the ballot for the first time: Miami Hurricanes quarterback Ken Dorsey, Kansas State running back Darren Sproles and Florida State kicker Sebastian Janikowski.

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Miami linebacker Ray Lewis, USC quarterback Carson Palmer, North Carolina defensive end Julius Peppers, Stanford receiver Ed McCaffrey and late Colorado tailback Rashaan Salaam are among the holdovers from last year's ballot.

To be eligible for the College Football Hall of Fame, a player must have earned first-team All-America honors by an organization the NCAA recognizes. Players are eligible for consideration 10 full seasons after their last year of playing college football.

Coaches are eligible three full seasons after retirement or immediately upon stepping away from the game if he is at least 70 years old. Coaches also must have been a head coach for at least 10 years and coached in at least 100 games with a .600 winning percent.

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