SMU’s Eric Dickerson finally goes into College Hall of Fame – Daily Breeze

LAS VEGAS — Make no mistake. Eric Dickerson is glad to be going into the College Football Hall of Fame after all these years. He will take the stage and be cemented in the sport’s lore.

“Am I happy to be here? Yeah,” Dickerson said Tuesday. “Do I really care? No, honestly.”

The former SMU running back, who played for the Mustangs from 1979-82, was one of 27 players invited to Tuesday’s induction ceremony in Las Vegas. Dickerson was voted into the 2020 class, but the ceremony was canceled due to the pandemic.

Other inductees included Heisman Trophy winners Carson Palmer and Eric Crouch, former Eastern Illinois quarterback and current CBS analyst Tony Romo, and longtime Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops.

It’s an honor long overdue to Dickerson. The Pro Football Hall of Famer ran for 4,450 yards and 47 touchdowns at SMU, going from a 5-6 team as a freshman to an 11-0-1 club that won the Cotton Bowl his senior year.

But the school’s reputation was tarnished after the NCAA handed down the “death penalty” in 1987 for multiple violations that occurred before Dickerson arrived at SMU, up until 1986. Part of that controversy was Dickerson being given a sports car at around the same time he committed to Texas A&M before ultimately switching to SMU.

Dickerson has maintained the car was a gift from his grandmother.

“We had nothing to do with that death penalty,” Dickerson told the AP, referring to himself and “Pony Express” teammate Craig James. “That’s the travesty of the whole deal. People have the tendency to think I had something to do with it. We were a bunch of young kids.”

By the time the NCAA punished SMU, Dickerson was already a record-breaking running back in the NFL. His 2,105 rushing yards in the 1984 season, his second with the Rams, is still the league’s single-season record.

Dickerson was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1999 after finishing his 12-year career with 13,259 yards, currently ninth-best in NFL history.

“It’s bittersweet,” he said. “I look at my university because they made us like the black eye of the NCAA. And I just don’t like that. I’m honest about it.”

Dickerson is still proud to be an SMU alum and appreciative for the school to helping him and his family get to Las Vegas for the opportunity, even if it’s almost 40 years since he played football in Dallas.

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