SOUTH BEND, Ind. Penn State coach Joe Paterno helped a lot of players make it into the College Football Hall of Fame. He counts former Boston College quarterback Doug Flutie among them.
"We made Flutie. I told him that 10 times," Paterno said Saturday at a news conference before the pair and 18 others were enshrined. "He came to our place and nobody knew who he was and he ended up throwing for 400 yards.
"But we beat 'em," Paterno added with a smile.
Flutie got a chuckle out of it, as well.
"He kind of liked me so I figured he let me throw for a bunch of yards, but not beat them too often," Flutie said.
The Nittany Lions beat the Eagles three out of four times, although in his junior year Flutie passed for 380 yards in a 27-17 victory. As a sophomore, Flutie threw for 520 yards in a 52-17 loss and as a senior he threw for 447 yards in a 37-30 loss.
Flutie also saw his first collegiate action as a freshman against the Nittany Lions, getting into the game in the fourth quarter.
"I remember walking out on the field and thinking to myself, 'I'll able to tell my grandkids someday that I played in front of 85,000 people at Penn State against Joe Paterno,"' he said.
Those were typical of the stories being exchanged during the weekend. Like the others who were enshrined, Flutie said it's still hard to believe that someone who was told as a 5-foot-10 high school player that he was too small to play Division-I football not only won the Heisman Trophy, but made it to the Hall.
"I was believing I wasn't a Division I quarterback," he said.
For Paterno, getting into the hall feels strange for a different reason. For most people it's a final accolade, but Paterno is getting ready to start his 43rd season as coach.
"I'd rather do it now than when I'm dead," he quipped.
Paterno, whose 372-125-3 career record places him one victory behind Bobby Bowden, the major college leader, said he was flattered by the honor.
"I appreciate the fact that people have said, 'Hey, you've been an asset to college football and we want to acknowledge that,"' he said.
Paterno said his goal throughout his career has been to do what's best for the game and Penn State.
"I've tried to be good for college football. I'm not saying I've been the best coach. But I've worked hard to be good because I really love college football," he said.
Also enshrined were Mount Union quarterback Jim Ballard; Oklahoma center Tom Brahaney; Michigan defensive back Dave Brown; Clemson linebacker Jeff Davis; Texas defensive back Johnnie Johnson; Ohio State quarterback Rex Kern; North Alabama linebacker Ronald McKinnon; Texas A&I defensive end John Randle; Oregon running back Ahmad Rashad; McMurry halfback Brad Rowland; Indiana running back Anthony Thompson; Houston defensive tackle Wilson Whitley; Dartmouth linebacker Reggie Williams; Southern California linebacker Richard Wood and Notre Dame nose tackle Chris Zorich.
Coaches being enshrined along with Paterno are Central Michigan coach Herb Deromedi, Jackson State coach W.C. Gorden, and Doug Porter, who coached at Mississippi Valley State, Howard and Fort Valley State.
The day began with a parade, followed by a flag football game the East won 28-24 when Flutie threw for three touchdowns, ran for another and intercepted a pass by Ballard at the goal line.
Zorich said hanging out with fellow honorees is like being a fan who sneaked into the locker room of his favorite team.
"It's really a mind-blowing experience," he said.