Football: ND’s Casper catches in College Hall
By Associated Press
6:59 am, May 15, 2012
His unselfish move, to become a tight end late in his collegiate career, never derailed David Casper’s march to greatness.
In fact, it may have accelerated it.
Tuesday, the former Notre Dame standout’s career — including that fateful move — found the national spotlight again as Casper was named to the National Football Foundation's College Football Hall of Fame.
The 1973 consensus All-American is one of 14 former college players and three coaches named to the 2012 College Football Hall of Fame Class. Running back Otis Armstrong of Purdue was also among Tuesday’s honorees.
The '12 class will be inducted at the 55th annual awards dinner on Dec. 4 at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York. The players and coaches will be enshrined in the summer of 2013.
Casper becomes the 44th former Notre Dame player inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. The Irish have six former coaches in the hall and the 50 total enshrines are the most of any NCAA institution, the most recent being Heisman Trophy winner Tim Brown in 2009.
Two Irish on the 76-player ballot this spring who will have to wait until at least next year are Rocket Ismail and Jim Seymour.
The rest of the class includes receiver Art Monk of Syracuse; quarterbacks Steve Bartkowski of Cal, Tommy Kramer of Rice and Ty Detmer of BYU; running back Charles Alexander of LSU; defensive backs Scott Thomas of Air Force and Greg Myers of Colorado State; split end Hal Bedsole of Southern California; defensive end Gabe Rivera of Texas Tech; linebacker Mark Simoneau of Kansas State; offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden of UCLA; and guard John Wooten of Colorado.
The three coaches in the class were Jimmy Johnson of Oklahoma State and Miami (Fla.), Phillip Fulmer, who won the first BCS title in 1998 with Tennessee, and R.C. Slocum, the winningest coach in Texas A&M history.
Now living in Alamo, Calif., the 60-year-old Casper serves as a financial advisor for Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance.
Born in Bemidji, Minn., Casper played his first three years of high school football at St. Edward Central Catholic High School in Elgin, Ill., and his senior campaign at Chilton High School in Chilton, Wis. His Chilton team in 1969 outscored its opponents 363-0.
The 6-3, 243-pound Irish tight end served as co-captain of the 1973 Notre Dame team that finished 11-0 and won the national title on a consensus basis after a 24-23 victory over top-rated and unbeaten Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. He caught three passes for 75 yards in that contest.
Casper played his first two seasons at offensive left tackle in 1971 and ’72. He started his final four games as a sophomore, then won honorable mention All-America honors in 1972 from Associated Press).
He then switched to tight end as a senior. Former Irish head coach Ara Parseghian called Casper the best athlete he ever coached.
Casper finished with 21 career catches for 335 yards and four touchdowns, with all but two of those receptions coming in his senior campaign in ’73. Selected Notre Dame’s offensive MVP in ’73, he also played earlier in his Notre Dame career as a linebacker, defensive tackle and split end.
In 1973, Casper earned first-team All-America recognition from United Press International, the American Football Coaches Association, Newspaper Enterprise Association, Football Writers Association of America and the Walter Camp Football Foundation — plus second-team honors from AP. In 2003 the Walter Camp Football Foundation named him its Alumnus of the Year.
A second-round pick of the Oakland Raiders in the 1974 NFL Draft (45th overall pick), Casper played 11 seasons professionally with Oakland (1974-80), Houston (1980-83), Minnesota (1983) and the Los Angeles Raiders (1984). He was selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2002.
Casper now joins former Irish standouts Wayne Millner, George Connor, Paul Hornung and Alan Page in an exclusive group as members of both the College Football Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Johnson, meanwhile, was asked Tuesday if he ever considered getting back into college coaching and responded by taking out his phone and scrolling through his pictures.
"There's where I live on the ocean," he said. "What I spend my time doing is ..."
And Johnson showed the small crowd gathered around him a photo of himself and a 250-pound blue marlin he caught one morning, fishing by himself off the coast of Florida.
"They realize now I'm not coming back," said Johnson, who went 52-9 and won the 1987 national championship in five years at the University of Miami before leaving to become coach of the Dallas Cowboys.
"While winning back-to-back Super Bowls with the Dallas Cowboys was rewarding, the most fun I had in football was in college," Johnson said.
Johnson's teams won with attitude. The Hurricanes were a brash, trash-talking bunch that became the team everybody loved to hate in the 1980s and '90s.
"A lot of people didn't like our approach because they had what we called a swagger," he said. "Our guys were disciplined. I didn't let our guys get away with being penalized. They were confident and maybe they were free-spirited but they were good kids. Our guys got their diplomas."
In 1987, Miami ran the table and won the title. The following year Miami lost only once, at Notre Dame 31-30, when Johnson went for two late instead of a tying extra point that might have given Miami another national title.
The game was also famous for a controversial fumble call at the goal line involving Miami running back Cleveland Gary. Johnson said he's happy to see college football heading toward a playoff system.
"If we would have had playoffs at Miami, I probably would have had another couple national championships," he said. "If we would have had replay, we'd probably had another one that Notre Dame won, but that's another story."