Dick Sheridan is historically significant at Furman and in college football overall.
That is, by definition, why Sheridan is being honored by Furman and the National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame during Saturday’s home football game against The Citadel. Sheridan was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in the Class of 2020.
“Any individual honor like that, especially in the sport of football, is a group success; it’s not an individual success,” said Sheridan. “No one’s more aware of that than I am, that it needs to be shared, particularly with your assistant coaches and the players who made it happen.”
The NFF Hall of Fame On-Campus Salute program, which began with the inaugural College Football Hall of Fame Class in 1951, has become a hallowed tradition, and to this day the singular events remain the first of numerous activities in the Hall of Fame experience.
During the NFF Hall of Fame On-Campus Salutes, each electee returns to his respective school to accept a Hall of Fame plaque that will stay on permanent display at the institution. The events take place on the field during a home game, and many Hall of Famers cite the experience as the ultimate capstone to their careers, providing them one more chance to take the field and be recognized in front of their home crowd.
The 2020 and 2021 College Football Hall of Fame Classes will be officially inducted during the 63rd NFF Annual Awards Dinner Presented by Las Vegas Dec. 7 at the ARIA Resort & Casino Las Vegas. (The 2020 event was canceled due to COVID-19.)
“A national coach of the year at both the FBS and FCS levels, Dick Sheridan guided one of the most successful runs in Furman history,” said NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell. “We are thrilled to honor him at Paladin Stadium.”
Sheridan began his head-coaching career at Furman from 1978-85, winning 69 games in eight seasons and posting a .744 winning percentage that remains the best in school history. During his 1st season in Greenville, he guided the Paladins to their 1st-ever conference football championship while earning his first of three Southern Conference Coach of the Year honors.
Sheridan’s Furman teams would win 6 SoCon titles in his 8 seasons, and they became just the 2nd program in league history to win four in a row (1980-83). After overseeing the Paladins’ transition from the FBS to the FCS in 1982, he directed Furman to a 1st-round playoff appearance that year followed by a 10-2-1 season in 1983 that culminated with a trip to the FCS Semifinals.
Sheridan’s final year at Furman was his best, as the team won a then-school record 12 games and narrowly lost the FCS National Championship Game.
The 1985 AFCA FCS National and Region II Coach of the Year earned multiple South Carolina Coach of the Year accolades during his career from the S.C. Sportswriters Association, Columbia Touchdown Club and Charleston-Palmetto Touchdown Club.
While leading the Paladins, Sheridan coached eight First Team All-Americans, 75 all-conference players and five SoCon Players of the Year, including the league’s first 3-time selection, Stanford Jennings. He also coached 2-time Academic All-American and 1985 NFF National Scholar-Athlete Brian Jager, and he served as Furman’s athletics director from 1983-85.
Sheridan is the first player or coach from Furman to enter the College Football Hall of Fame.
Success followed him to North Carolina State where he helped spark a turnaround as the coach from 1986-92. Prior to his arrival, the Wolfpack had posted three consecutive 3-8 seasons. During his 1st year in Raleigh, Sheridan would be named the Bobby Dodd National Coach of the Year and ACC Coach of the Year after leading N.C. State to an 8-3-1 record, a 2nd-place finish in the conference and a berth in the Peach Bowl.
He guided the Wolfpack to five more bowl games, including wins in the 1988 Peach Bowl and 1990 All-American Bowl, as well as national rankings in 1991 (No. 24) and 1992 (No. 17). Boasting a winning record in all but one of his seven seasons at N.C. State, he would finish with the 2nd-most wins in school history (52) while coaching four All-Americans and 31 all-conference players.
A native of Augusta, Ga., Sheridan graduated from the University of South Carolina in 1964. He began his coaching career at the high school level, compiling a 37-8-1 record and leading Orangeburg-Wilkinson High School to a South Carolina state title in 1971.
Two years later, Sheridan joined the staff at Furman as an assistant before becoming head coach in 1978. He is a member of the Furman Athletic, South Carolina Athletic and South Carolina Football halls of fame.
The 2020 College Football Hall of Fame Class includes Lomas Brown (Florida), Keith Byars (Ohio State), Eric Crouch (Nebraska), Eric Dickerson (SMU), Glenn Dorsey (LSU), John “Jumbo” Elliott (Michigan), Jason Hanson (Washington State), E.J. Henderson (Maryland), E.J. Junior (Alabama), Steve McNair (Alcorn State), Cade McNown (UCLA), Leslie O’Neal (Oklahoma State), Anthony Poindexter (Virginia), David Pollack (Georgia), Bob Stein (Minnesota), Michael Westbrook (Colorado), Elmo Wright (Houston) and coaches Dick Sheridan (Furman, North Carolina State), and Andy Talley (St. Lawrence [NY], Villanova).
The 2021 College Football Hall of Fame Class includes Harris Barton (North Carolina), David Fulcher (Arizona State), Dan Morgan (Miami [FL]), Carson Palmer (Southern California), Tony Romo (Eastern Illinois), Kenneth Sims (Texas), C.J. Spiller (Clemson), Darren Sproles (Kansas State), Aaron Taylor (Notre Dame), Andre Tippett (Iowa), Al Wilson (Tennessee) and coaches Rudy Hubbard (Florida A&M) and Bob Stoops (Oklahoma).
The accomplishments of both classes will be forever immortalized at the Chick-fil-A College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta, and each inductee will receive a custom ring created by Jostens, the official and exclusive supplier of NFF rings.
Including the 2020 and 2021 Hall of Fame Classes, 1,038 players and 223 coaches have been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame from the nearly 5.47 million who have played or coached the game during the past 152 years. In other words, less than 2-100ths of a percent (.02) of the individuals who have played the game have earned this distinction.