The College Football Hall of Fame unveiled its Atlantic 10 Conference exhibit Friday, it was announced by the world-class museum in South Bend, Ind. Twice a year, the Hall of Fame recognizes a conference with a temporary exhibit in the gallery and lockers with full uniforms in the Hall of Fame's Locker Room.
The displays, which are available for public viewing until mid-March, features memorabilia from selected schools, a conference banner and the logos of all 11 current members for football - Northeastern, Rhode Island, Richmond, Villanova, William and Mary, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Maine, James Madison, Hofstra and Delaware.
The A-10, which started in 1946 as the Yankee Conference with six New England land-grant universities, is one of the nation's oldest and most successful I-AA conferences. League membership expanded by two in 1986 with the addition of Delaware and Richmond and grew to 10 schools located in both New England and Mid-Atlantic States by 1997. The latter resulted in the conference's name being changed to the Atlantic 10 Conference. An 11th school, Hofstra, joined the conference this year.
Since NCAA football reclassified into Divisions I-A and I-AA in 1978, the A-10 has tallied 47 I-AA playoff berths, 54 final Top 25 rankings, 24 final Top 10 rankings and one national title. UMass, who won the 1998 crown, is represented with a t-shirt and hat commemorating the feat.
Two players - Jack Cloud and Buster Ramsey, both of William and Mary - and one coach, Delaware's Dave Nelson are enshrined in the Hall of Fame. A 1948 Street and Smith Football Yearbook with Cloud on the cover graces the exhibit along with a book on the Winged-T formation greatly developed by Nelson in the 1950s. The formation is continued to this day by his successor Tubby Raymond.
The jersey of Villanova's Brian Finneran, one of two A-10 players awarded the Walter Payton Award as the nation's best I-AA player, and a shirt worn by 1998 I-AA Coach of the Year Andy Talley of Villanova are displayed. New Hampshire's Jerry Azumah is the other Payton Award winner while six other conference coaches have been named I-AA Coach of the Year. A program from the 1982 Maine-Rhode Island game and a game ball from URI's trip to Europe in 1973 are included as well. The Maine-Rhode Island game in 1982 was the first overtime game in the conference's history and went a record six overtimes. The Rams' trip overseas, during which they played an all-star team of service personnel, was the first by any college to Europe. A return trip was made in 1989.
For more information on the A-10 Conference exhibit, please contact Hall of Fame Archives and Collections Manager Kent Stephens at 219-235-5717.