Derrick Thomas is not in the college football Hall of Fame. He's the single season record holder for sacks with 27 in a season, a legend at the University of Alabama, and as an NFL all-timer cannot possibly be considered a hipster's pick for any plaudits, awards, or posthumous laurels. He's Derrick Thomas, known football monster. Famous enshrinement's already happened for him: in 2009, the NFL inducted him in the Hall of Fame.
He is not in the College Football Hall of Fame. His friend and teammate Cornelius Bennett is outraged, and in one sense, should be. Thomas was one of the most dominant players of his generation, and a defensive overlord at a school with a very high standard for what constitutes a terrifying defender. If a College Hall of Fame were to ever mean anything, then Derrick Thomas would be in it.
And he might well be in it one day, and that's nice. His family will get a nice day out of it, and someone will be paid to make commemorative artwork. What won't change is the incongruity of college football and the idea of a Hall of Fame--that this sport, 120 teams plus wide and over a century deep at just the FBS level, much less further on down the FCS strata, should ever pay attention to something that claimed any authority over what was considered great.
Jack Trice isn't in the Hall of Fame, either. Read about him yourself here. He wrote this the day before playing Minnesota on October 6th, 1923.
My thoughts just before the first real college game of my life: The honor of my race, family & self is at stake. Everyone is expecting me to do big things. I will. My whole body and soul are to be thrown recklessly about the field tomorrow. Every time the ball is snapped, I will be trying to do more than my part. On all defensive plays I must break through the opponents' line and stop the play in their territory. Beware of mass interference. Fight low, with your eyes open and toward the play. Watch out for crossbucks and reverse end runs. Be on your toes every minute if you expect to make good. Jack.
Jack Trice died from injuries sustained while playing Minnesota. They named the stadium after him, and it is still named after him. There are a lot of negative side effects from the way college football is built, but one nice side effect is the locality, the patchwork of little half-remembered histories lurking at every destination like Jack Trice Stadium, still the home of Iowa State football today.
There's no outrage in the idea that someone can't get into the Hall of Fame. The real outrage is assuming anyone would try and fit the whole thing in one place at all.
P.S. We repeat: Howard Schnellenberger can't get in, either. To hell with any party that won't let Howard in the door.