Atlanta new site for HOF

While in Atlanta recently, I forgot to check out the new College Football Hall of Fame being built downtown.

The Hall has taken a curious route to Atlanta. Launched by the National Football Foundation in 1971, the Hall had no permanent structure to house all its memorabilia until 1972 next to the Kings Island amusement park near Cincinnati.

I was there once and it was an interesting place. But if you’re at Kings Island, you’re there for fun, not football, although it lasted 22 years before moving to South Bend, Ind., home of the University of Notre Dame, from 1995 to 2002.

But the Hall didn’t survive either. In fact, it underachieved, only attracting half as many patrons as anticipated. But then as some longtime South Bend residents said, “South Bend is not Notre Dame,” which may have explained its short tenure there. Now though, it’s in Atlanta, where the people have apparently embraced the Hall. But where it’s also going to be smack dab in the middle of a big city as well as SEC country, which may be a plan for the Hall to thrive.

Although not officially having its Atlanta opening until the fall of 2014, the Hall will hold this year’s enshrinement ceremonies there on Aug. 28. This year’s class of Hall inductees caught my interest when former WVU head coach Frank Cignetti was one of them.

Cignetti’s four-year (1976-79) tenure at the Mountaineer grid helm followed that of Bobby Bowden, including a time frame when I was covering WVU quite a bit from the mid-70s to the mid-80s.

Cignetti went on after his time at WVU to be a highly-successful coach on the NCAA Division II level at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. In fact, his son, Curt, an 1982 WVU graduate, is now the head football coach at IUP, with a 19-5 record in his first two seasons guiding the Crimson Hawks.

By the way, the top-five schools in College Football HOF inductees are Notre Dame first with 43, followed by Michigan with 30, USC with 28, Ohio State with 27, and Army and Pitt tied for fifth with 24 each.

  • While most people are not that all excited with NFL preseason games (remember when they used to be called exhibitions?), my ears perked up when I heard Dane Sanzenbacher’s name in highlights of the Bengals-Falcons matchup Thursday night.

Sanzenbacher, a wide receiver signed by the Bears out of Ohio State in 2011, displayed some speed and nifty moves in returning a punt 71 yards for a touchdown, then grabbed a 36-yard TD toss. He had two receptions in the game for 59 yards, one more catch than the one he had all last season in Chicago.

At OSU, Sanzenbacher was a sure-handed, reliable receiver who wasn’t flashy at all, but very dependable. My last memory of him was in the 2011 Sugar Bowl. An alert Sanzenbacher got the Buckeyes’ first TD in a 31-26 win over Arkansas, recovering a fumble in the end zone by QB Terrelle Pryor after he had scrambled to the 3, then later on snagging the ball on a 15-yard diving TD catch.

Contact Steve Hemmelgarn at shemmelgarn@newsandsentinel.com