June 9, 2008

"100 for 100" All-Time Football Team to be Announced

The century mark is special to 100 Eastern Washington University football players.

To commemorate the upcoming 100th year of football at Eastern, the athletic department has named 100 of the top players in school history to the "100 for 100" All-Time Football Team. Players on the squad will be honored on Eastern Athletics Hall of Fame Day on Sept. 27, 2008, in conjunction with EWU's Big Sky Conference football game with Idaho State.

The "100 for 100" list is by no means intended to be a list of the top 100 football players in school history. But it's certainly an impressive group of 100 of the most-honored and highly-regarded players in 100 years of football on the Eastern campus in Cheney, Wash.

With more than 1,300 letter winners in recorded history -- and more than 200 of them honored in one way or another -- narrowing it down to 100 was no easy task. Making it that much more difficult is the fact the school's history has been split between affiliations (NAIA and NCAA), with an early era where information, honors and comparisons are hard to come by. In addition, the school's eras have been split by nickname, with the early-era "Savages" replaced in the 1970s by the more politically-correct "Eagles."

Most of the athletes on the team were named to the squad by being first or second team All-America selections at the NCAA or NAIA level. All-West Coast selections from the 1940's and 1950's also received automatic qualification because of the lack of small college All-America teams in that era. Players who earned third team All-America honors at the highest level of football Eastern has played (NCAA Football Championship Subdivision, formerly called I-AA) were also included.

Another large group of athletes selected came from a pair of all-star teams selected by former head coaches and Eastern Athletics Hall of Fame members William B. "Red" Reese and Dick Zornes. Reese coached Eastern for 13 seasons (1930-41, 1946) while Zornes had the longest and most successful tenure at EWU. First as a player under the late Hall of Fame head coach Dave Holmes, then as a graduate assistant and finally as head coach and athletic director, Zornes was a part of Eastern teams that won 158 games in his 26-year tenure at Eastern (1963-67, 1971, 1979-98).

The remainder of the "100 for 100" team was selected via a vote by the 15-member Hall of Fame selection committee. That group voted Zornes, a first team All-Evergreen Conference defensive back in 1965, onto the "100 for 100" team.

In all, there are 14 players on the "100 for 100" team who were at Eastern during the five years Holmes was head coach at Eastern, highlighted by a runner-up finish in the NAIA Playoffs in 1967. There are 35 players on the squad who were coached by Zornes, who directed Eastern to FCS Playoff berths in 1985 and 1992 and the school's first-ever Big Sky Conference title in 1992.

The 1997 team, coached by Mike Kramer, is represented by 14 members as they helped Eastern to a school-record 12-2 season. Included on that list were eight seniors in 1997 as they led Eastern to the outright Big Sky title and advanced to the semifinals of the FCS Playoffs. In all, Kramer coached 24 players on the "100 for 100" team during his tenure as head coach at Eastern from 1994-99.

Paul Wulff, the coach who replaced Kramer, has 22 of his former players on the squad. Wulff was head coach at Eastern from 2000-2006 and is now head coach at Washington State University. Included in the "100 for 100" players Wulff coached are three current members of the team, now coached by Beau Baldwin, who get to play in Eastern's 100th season of football in 2008.

Personal opinions will vary, but the "100 for 100" squad is a group that is representative of the school's 449 victories in 99 previous seasons that have included seven national playoff berths and 24 league titles. Perhaps most importantly, the list is representative of a collegiate football program rooted in the state of Washington with nearly 90 percent of its annual roster consisting of graduates of in-state high schools.

The "100 for 100" list, in fact, is made up of exactly 90 percent Washingtonians, including one player from Canada who attended high school across the border in Washington. Nine players are from Spokane and eight from Seattle, with four each coming from Tacoma, Vancouver and Yakima. The out-of-state players include three quarterbacks from California and one from Oklahoma.

The "100 for 100" team will be announced in groups by positions, starting with arguably the most successful position in school history, the offensive line. Voting will then be conducted on-line by the public to pick the top player at each position. The winners will be announced on Sept. 27 at the EWU-ISU game.

Here is the scheduled release date for the Eastern Football "100 for 100" squad, which will include comments from players named to the team.

June 11 - Offensive Linemen - 26 players
June 12 - Linebackers - 11 players
June 13 - Wide Receivers/Tight Ends - 13 players
June 14 - Defensive Linemen - 11 players
June 15 - Specialists - 6 players
June 16 - Running Backs - 12 players
June 17 - Defensive Backs - 13 players
June 18 - Quarterbacks - 8 players

Inclusion on the Team were Given to the Following (must have completed their eligibility at Eastern):

41 Players -- First, Second or Third Team NCAA Football Championship Division (formerly I-AA) All-Americans from the years 1984-present

1 Player -- First or Second Team NCAA Division II All-Americans from the years 1980-82

9 Players -- First or Second Team NAIA All-Americans from the years 1954-79

3 Players -- Little All-West Coast Selections from the 1950s and 60s

24 Players -- Additional Members of the Dick Zornes All-Time Team from the years 1963-67, 1971, 1979-98

10 Players -- Members of the Red Reese All-Time Team from the years 1930-41, 1946

12 Players -- At-Large Members voted onto the team by the Hall of Fame Selection Committee

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