Former Utah State football great Anthony Calvillo is part of the inaugural induction class of the newly created MAACO Las Vegas Bowl Hall of Fame, and will be one of four individuals inducted this December, the bowl’s President of the Executive Board of Directors Rob Dondero announced.
Calvillo is one of two players inducted, joined by Oregon State great Steven Jackson. Coaching legend John Robinson and bowl founding father Rossi Ralenkotter will also be inducted.
“To be inducted into this newly created Hall of Fame ceremony and to be honored along side three deserving individuals is truly special. I will be going in December with my wife,” Calvillo said.
The California native helped Utah State win the 1993 co-Big West Conference championship and an automatic bid to its first bowl game since 1961. In the game, Calvillo completed 25-of-39 passes for 286 yards and three touchdowns in leading the Aggies to a thrilling 42-33 victory over Ball State, and was voted the game’s MVP. It is the first and only bowl victory in the school’s 113-year football history.
“I have a lot of great memories from that game. Ironically, that was the last college game in which I played in," said Calvillo. "So Las Vegas is a special place for me. I ended my college career there and shortly after I began my professional career in the exact same stadium."
Calvillo began his pro career in 1994 as quarterback of the Las Vegas Posse during the franchise’s only year of existence as part of the Canadian Football League. He then played three seasons for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats after being selected in a dispersal draft before signing a free-agent contract with Montreal Alouettes in 1998. The 2011 season marks Calvillo’s 18th season in Canada, and he has passed for the fourth-most yards in the history of professional football with 71,000 and counting. Calvillo has thrown for more touchdown passes (400-plus) and completions (5,275-plus) than anyone in league history. He has won three Grey Cup championships (2002, 2009, and 2010) and was named Grey Cup MVP in 2002, and has won the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player Award three times (2003, 2008, and 2009), which ties him for second all-time behind Doug Flutie.
Calvillo, who played at Utah State from 1992 to 1993, is ranked No. 31 in the NCAA record book for career total offense per game with 265.4 yards. He also held the USU single-season total offense school record of 3,260 yards, set in 1993, until Diondre Borel broke that record last season with 3,343 yards. Calvillo is still the school record holder with five touchdown passes in a game, which he accomplished twice.
The Hall of Fame inductees will be honored at the annual Kickoff Luncheon on Dec. 21 as well as at the game the following evening. The 20th edition of the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas, which is owned by ESPN Regional Television Inc. (ERT), a subsidiary of ESPN, will be played Thursday, Dec. 22, 2011, at 6 p.m.
While Ralenkotter (President and CEO of LVCVA) worked diligently to help make the game a reality two decades ago, Calvillo (Utah State quarterback 1993) and Jackson (Oregon State running back 2003) were named Most Valuable Players in their respective appearances and Robinson became the sport’s winningest bowl coach while leading his 2000 UNLV team to a victory over Arkansas.
“Reaching 20 years is special for everyone involved in our game and this class of remarkable performers is a perfect blend of those who helped build it, coach in it and star in it over the first two decades,” said MAACO Bowl Las Vegas Executive Director Tina Kunzer-Murphy. “This bowl would not exist without Rossi Ralenkotter, John Robinson is already a College Football Hall of Famer, Anthony Calvillo went on to become the most prolific passer in CFL history while Steven Jackson is a homegrown talent who may be the best ever to come out of our city. You could not ask for a better group to begin our Hall of Fame.”
The Las Vegas Bowl Hall of Fame will welcome a class every five years but there is no time requirement to be eligible for induction. While there is no minimum or maximum amount of honorees in a class, inductees will fall under the following categories: Player, Coach, Founding Father or Contributor.
Doug Hoffman is the assistant athletic director for Utah State University.