BOULDER Bobby Anderson, who starred at two positions for the University of Colorado football team in the late 1960s, will become the fourth Buffalo to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, the National Football Foundation announced Tuesday.
Anderson, 58, is a member of a very impressive overall class, as he will be inducted with 14 others this December in New York City, including one other Colorado college product, Air Force defensive end Chad Hennings.
The other inductees include Bennie Blades (Miami, Fla.), Carl Eller (Minnesota), Steve Entman (Washington), Thomas Everett (Baylor), Chip Kell (Tennessee), Mike Phipps (Purdue), Mike Rozier (Nebraska), Jeff Siemon (Stanford), Bruce Smith (Virginia Tech), Emmitt Smith (Florida) and Charlie Ward (Florida State) along with two active coaches, Bobby Bowden (Florida State) and Joe Paterno (Penn State), both of whom qualify for immediate induction as they are over 75 years of age.
They will be inducted at the 49th annual awards dinner at the Waldorf Astoria this December 5, and the group will officially be enshrined in the Hall in South Bend, Ind., in the summer of 2007.
Anderson attended Colorado from 1966 to 1970, following an outstanding prep career at Boulder High School. He is one of just three CU football players to have his jersey (#11) retired, and among the 18 original records he set as a Buffalo included career marks for total offense (4,565 yards, a Big Eight record at the time), rushing yards (2,367) and scoring (212 points). Several of his marks only fell after freshman were allowed to play beginning in 1973, giving players one more season to work their way into the record book.
He finished 11th in the 1969 Heisman Trophy voting and was the second-leading vote getter on CU’s All-Century team, announced in 1989.
“Its certainly a wonderful honor, a real blessing, an amazing award,” Anderson said. “It just makes me feel very fortunate to represent people I played for and with, the great players, coaches and teams I was a part of in 1967, 68 and 69. It humbles me.
“I was appreciative to play for a coach like Eddie Crowder,” he continued. “I can’t give enough credit to the kind of coach Eddie Crowder was, what he taught me, what he did for me. And Eddie had some great assistants, my backfield coach Chet Franklin, offensive line coaches Joe Harper and Augie Tammariello. Jim Mora and Don James were on Eddie’s staff and they went on to become great head coaches. Never under estimate the impact coaches like that have on an individual career. We didn’t beat the great ones every year, but we beat them at one time or another.”
Crowder, who coached Colorado from 1963 to 1973 and was the school’s athletic director for 20 years, retired in 1984 and has been in private business since. But he’s remained in close contact with Anderson through the years.
“It’s my immediate thought that Bobby Anderson is as worthy of this honor as anyone I know,” Crowder said. “There is a fundamental reason I can arrive at that observation. Bobby was as complete a player as any coach would hope to have in terms of ability and the variety and collection of things he could contribute to a team. He could play any position, as evidenced when he moved from quarterback to tailback for us two games into his senior season. He was totally devoted to the team as any person I’ve ever known. Those are the attributes and characteristics that had to prompt him being selected.
“Another wonderful attribute of his was that he wouldn’t bear any bad news, he would just go to war to get the job done.”
Crowder was referring to the 1969 season, when Anderson was asked to switch to tailback, a move that was not unveiled until he started at the position in the third game of the year against Indiana. Though the Buffs opened with a 35-14 win over Tulsa, the offense struggled in a 27-3 loss at second-ranked Penn State. Anderson rushed 30 times for 161 yards and three touchdowns in CU’s 30-7 win, and the Buffaloes, behind Anderson, averaged 250 rushing yards per game the remainder of the year in finishing with an 8-3 record, culminated by a 47-33 win over Alabama in the Liberty Bowl.
He was a consensus first-team All-American that year, the other running back being Steve Owens of Oklahoma, who also won the Heisman Trophy. It was one of the few times two running backs from the same conference earned first-team All-America honors the same season. Anderson rushed for 954 yards and 18 touchdowns during the regular season, and added 254 and three more scores in the bowl game.
“I had great offensive lines with guys like Mike Montler and Kirk Tracy, Bruce Heath and Bart Bortles, and guys like John Farler at slotback and Mike Pruett at tight end,” Anderson said in recalling some of his teammates. “Monte Huber was a great receiver for me when I played quarterback, with Wilmer Cooks, Larry Plantz and Bill Harris the backs, and boy did those guys do a great job blocking for me when I sprinted out. These are the guys who helped us beat Miami in the Bluebonnet Bowl.”
That was in 1967, when a sophomore Anderson called the signals and led the Buffaloes to a 31-21 win over the Hurricanes in the now-defunct Bluebonnet Bowl in Houston.
“The guys that made the difference in the win over Alabama were Dennis Havig and Jim Phillips on one side and Dick Melin and Eddie Fusik on the other, with All-American Don Poppelwell at center,” he added of CU’s thrilling win over the Crimson Tide and their legendary coach Bear Bryant. “Bob Masten at slotback and Ward Walsh at fullback were relentless blockers. We had great defensive players, too. A guy that I played with all the way back to little league who was like another brother to me was Phil Irwin, a great linebacker, with Eric Harris in the secondary and guys like Herb Orvis and Bill Brundige on the line. One of the most inspirational players I played with was a walk-on from Houston was a guy named Bill Collins, who ended up being an all-conference player and captain for us. He took over for another great one at nose guard after Ron Scott graduated.”
The thought of Collins reminded him of a story and what it was like to play a southern school in the Liberty Bowl in Memphis in the 60’s, when prejudice, race and civil rights issues were very much at the forefront in America.
“Mike Pruett and I wanted to make a point to Alabama back in 1969, and we wanted Bill Collins, who was black, to step out in front and call the coin toss,” Anderson recalled. “We were tri-captains, but we wanted Bill to represent us because of who we were playing. Alabama did not have any black football players, and I remember some of their fans yelling racial epithets at our team, especially at halftime and that angered us, so we wanted to make a statement.”
Bobby’s older brother, Dick, was CU’s third player to be enshrined in the Hall, as he was inducted in 1993. They will become the seventh set of brothers to be afforded the honor, as they will join siblings Albert, Alvin and Francis Wistert, Jim and Ave Daniels, Bump and Pete Elliott, Bill and Jonas Ingram, Howard and Tad Jones and Pop and Bill Warner.
“It’s fun joining Dick in the Hall,” the younger Anderson said. “He had a great career, not only at CU where he was the (all-time) leading interceptor (and tackles leader) when he left, but a great NFL career with the (Miami) Dolphins. He always led the way for me, and this is no different. I am proud to follow him into the Hall, and I am so happy that my parents are still healthy as this is a lot of fun for them, too.”
“Bobby’s performance at CU as a three-year player, with the records that he left the school with, was absolutely phenomenal,” Dick Anderson said. “It was unfortunate in the pros that he got hurt, but as a blocking back for Floyd Little, he got injured. I would think what I accomplished in my pro career enabled me to get into the Hall of Fame sooner, but Bobby’s college career was more remarkable. That, and the fact that he played quarterback for two years and switched positions in his senior year and went on to become an All-American. Coach Crowder said, Hey, we want to do this,’ and Bobby endorsed it. How many kids would do that today?
“He was a true leader, someone who set great examples,” Dick Anderson added. “Here he was, the starting quarterback, and he would run the stadium steps after practice while everyone else was showering. He was truly a student of the game, and I don’t know of anyone who was more focused than Bobby. Even after football, when he decided to do something, nobody was as focused as he was. He is really deserving of this honor, and it’s long overdue.”
Byron “Whizzer” White and Joe Romig were the first two Buffaloes to enter the Hall, inducted in 1952 and 1984, respectively, with the Anderson brothers upping Colorado’s count to four.
Bobby Anderson had been on the ballot since 1994, appearing once his brother was inducted. CU officials have preferred not having multiple players on the ballot, steering those who vote to one former Buffalo at a time. He never gave it much thought when he was previously passed over, viewing it as an honor just to be on the ballot.
In fact, there were two Bob Andersons on the ballot for about eight years, and were the first two names voters would see of about the 70 or so who were up for selection annually. The other Bob Anderson played at Army in the 1950s, when CU’s Bobby Anderson was just a youngster playing a variety of sports in Boulder.
“From time to time, I was aware when the names were announced every year, and certainly they were all worthy,” he said. “I remember Joe Dudek going in the Hall, as that reminded me of the time I filled in hosting the Dan Reeves Show during the NFL strike in ’87 when he played in those replacement games. I knew he had had a terrific small college career. But I never really knew what the process was, but I figured once the other Bob Anderson got in (he was inducted in 2004), then I might have a better shot. But I always looked at it as, what will be, will be.’ I am appreciative of all the support I have had through the years, people at the University have been great, and I have to thank them, too.”
“When I was a kid, the Bob Anderson from Army was my hero,” Anderson said. “He played about 10, 11 years ahead of me, when I was playing Young American Football (Boulder City Recreation sponsored football for older elementary school kids, though he actually started two years early, as a second grader). My first football helmet was a replica Charlie “Choo Choo” Justice helmet, an All-American halfback from North Carolina. I really developed an appreciation for the game at an early age.”
The legendary Archie Manning, who played quarterback at Mississippi the same time Anderson starred at CU, drove a carload of people up to Memphis to watch this guy from Colorado run, according to Steve Hatchell, the NFF executive director.
“I met Archie that night after the game at a banquet. We didn’t really keep track of teams in the south that much, but everyone knew who Archie Manning was,” Anderson said. “We were out after the game, and I met him and a couple of his teammates. We got to know each other a little bit that night, and he was very complementary and a class guy.”
Anderson exited CU with 18 regular season school marks, but the record book wasn’t as inclusive then as it was now. For example, Joel Klatt set 44 records in his CU career, almost all exclusively passing marks (40 passing, four total offense); Anderson’s 18 records in rushing (5), passing (4), scoring (4) and total offense (5) were 44 percent of all records kept or 41 total among those four categories in 1969. When the record book was revamped in 1979, his total jumped to 32, not including three of his marks that had been broken in the decade since his departure.
His versatility showed up with the diverse array of records he would establish. Among his many single season marks he set included passing yards (1,341 in 1968) and total offense (2,129, the same year). He had a CU-best 11 100-yard career rushing games, and was just the second player at the time to throw for 200 yards in a game on two occasions.
You can still find Anderson’s name high on several current all-time career lists, including fourth in scoring, seventh in total offense, eighth in rushing yards, 14th in passing yards and 19th in all-purpose yards.
Anderson also set five bowl games marks, all of which still stand today, and he still holds or shares five Liberty Bowl records, including the outright marks for most rushes (35) and the most gross and net rushing yards (both 254). He shares the bowl record for touchdowns (3) and points (18) scored. At the time, it marked the second most rushing yards ever in postseason play, and it still tied for the seventh-most all-time.
He was the most valuable player in the ’67 Bluebonnet Bowl, the ’69 Liberty Bowl and the ’70 Hula Bowl. He played in 32 college football games, regular and postseason, and four college all-star games all told.
The Denver Broncos selected him in the first round (the No. 11 pick overall) in the 1970 National Football League draft. He would spend five seasons with the Broncos and complete his career with New England and Washington, as knee injuries eventually took a toll on his professional career. In the NFL, he rushed for 1,282 yards and nine touchdowns, and made 84 catches for 861 yards and another two scores.
In 1980, he was inducted into the Big Eight Conference Hall of Fame, and in 1982, he was inducted in the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame.
Anderson was born October 11, 1947 in Midland, Mich., moving to Boulder with his family when he was three years old after his father transferred to Colorado with Dow Chemicals to become one of the original workers at the Rocky Flats Nuclear Plant. He currently lives full-time in LaQuinta, Calif., where he lives with his wife of 21 years, Marty, and owns Liberty Tax Service, a tax preparation business. He was a founding member of the Celebrity Players Golf Tour, and still regularly plays in their events. He has spent the better part of 29 years as a member of CU’s football broadcast team, and still hopes he can be a member of the broadcast pending the development of his new business venture.
“When I was at Michigan, I heard a lot about the great All-American Bobby Anderson, so when I came here in 1971, he was with the Broncos and I first got to know him as a professional athlete,” said Larry Zimmer, who has teamed with Anderson for 26 of his years of his service on CU football radio broadcasts. “He had the tough luck career in the pros with the injuries, but there’s so much more to Bobby than people know. He was a part of the Denver Organizing Committee that at one time had brought the 1976 games to Denver. He has a gift for languages, speaks fairly good Russian, and even picked up enough Japanese to get around Sapporo.
“He’s really in a class by himself, and he is Colorado football, just like Byron White was,” Zimmer noted. “I feel that he is the greatest sideline reporter in the country. He’s a great broadcaster, and he’s added so much to our broadcasts through the years. I think the world of him, he’s from a great family, and I’m honored to have him as a friend and a colleague.”
Anderson has even appeared in a few movies, in Woody Allen’s Sleeper as an extra, in the basketball movie One on One, when he was the tough opponent known as Hit-Man King (who punched out the movie’s star, Robbie Benson, in a game action scene), and in American Flyers as a reporter.