The National Football Foundation released its ballot today for the 2014 class of the College Football Hall of Fame, and among the 75 candidates is former WSU running back and defensive back Clarence "Clancy" Williams, who was an all-American for the Cougars in 1964.
More on the Hall of Fame
More on the Hall of Fame
Williams -- who died of cancer in 1986 just a short time before his son, Clarence "Butch" Williams III started his WSU career -- has been on the ballot in the past, but has failed to secure the necessary votes to gain induction. He led the Cougars in rushing in both 1963 and 1964, and was a standout as a cornerback as well.
The high-point of Williams' Cougar career, in the view of many, was his fabled "steal" against Stanford in the 1964 opener, also played in Spokane. It was Bert Clark's first game as WSU head coach, and the Cougars had a seven-game win streak against Stanford on the line.
Leading 23-22 with little more than one minute left to play, Stanford coach "Cactus Jack" Curtice inexplicably called a pass play. Quarterback Terry DeSylvia threw to receiver Dick Ragsdale. As Ragsdale caught the ball and turned to run, Williams ripped the ball away and returned it to the WSU 37. Ragsdale tackled Clancy, but was so enraged by the play that his venting earned Stanford a 15-yard penalty. From there, quarterback Tom Roth guided the Cougars in for the TD that gave them a stunning 29-23 win.
He was so good at corner, in fact, that he was selected ninth overall by the Los Angeles Rams and made his home as the starting left corner for them for the next six seasons, playing eight seasons total before finishing his career in the World Football League.
Again, via Cougfan.com:
Mal Florence, the veteran sportswriter for the Los Angeles Times, voted Clancy the most underrated Ram of 1968 --- the second straight year in which he led the Rams in interceptions with seven, to go with eight the year before.
"(Williams) took on practically every big name receiver in the NFL the past season," wrote Florence. "When it was all over, he was responsible for only one touchdown pass against the Rams -- a pretzel-like knee catch by Clifton McNeil in the first 49er game."
It seems like a longshot that Williams will be voted in given how long ago he played and the other names on the list, but it's still a cool honor that a Coug continues to have his name out there among the all-time greats.