Mel Tjeerdsma Set For Sept. 15 NFF Hall Of Fame On-Campus Salute

(From Northwest Athletics)

Northwest Missouri State University and The National Football Foundation (NFF) & College Hall of Fame announced today that they will jointly honor 2018 electee Mel Tjeerdsma with an NFF Hall of Fame On-Campus Salute, presented by Fidelity Investments. The Salute will take place this Saturday, Sept. 15, during the Bearcats’ game against Missouri Southern. The game will kick off at 1:30 p.m. CT and will be streamed live on the MIAA Network.

“Being part of the 2018 class of the NFF College Football Hall of Fame is almost beyond my imagination,” Tjeerdsma said in a Northwest release after the announcement in January. “This honor is really made possible through the cumulative efforts of so many coaches and student-athletes that have been a part of my career as well as the love and support of my family. I’m looking forward to this year and all of the events that go along with the award.”

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 each inductee’s Hall of Fame experience. During the NFF Hall of Fame On-Campus Salutes, each inductee returns to his alma mater or college where he coached to accept a Hall of Fame plaque that will remain on permanent display at the institution. The events take place on the field during a home game, and many inductees cite the experience as the ultimate capstone to their careers, providing them one more chance to take the field and hear the crowd roar their name.

“Mel Tjeerdsma certainly left a lasting impact on college football,” said NFF President and CEO Steve Hatchell. “He helped turn Northwest into a Division II powerhouse while leading the Bearcats to three national titles. We are thrilled to honor him at Bearcat Stadium on a field that bears his name.”

Boasting an impressive 74.4 career winning percentage and three national championships, Tjeerdsma’s 242 career wins are the 10th most all-time by an NCAA Division II coach. He becomes Northwest’s first-ever College Football Hall of Fame inductee (player or coach).

In 1994, Tjeerdsma became the head coach at Northwest Missouri State, where he compiled the most wins (183) and highest winning percentage in school history during a 17-year stint. Four years after his inaugural winless season with the Bearcats, Northwest became the first NCAA Division II football program to finish a season 15-0 in 1998.

He won back-to-back Division II national championships in 1998 and 1999 – the university’s first national titles in any sport. Tjeerdsma’s Bearcats added a third championship in 2009, capping an unprecedented run of five national championship game appearances that began in 2005.

The four-time AFCA National Coach of the Year led Northwest to 12 MIAA titles and a 32-10 record in 13 trips to the postseason. The 2009 Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year, Tjeerdsma was named the conference Coach of the Year 12 times and an AFCA Regional Coach of the Year seven times. His Bearcats won more than 11 games in all but four seasons, and his 24 consecutive wins streak from 1999-2000 is the longest run in school history.

Tjeerdsma retired as Northwest’s head coach following the 2010 season, during which he led the team to a 12-2 record, a conference title and a trip to the Division II semifinals.

The field at Northwest’s Bearcat Stadium was named in his honor in 2007 when he was still coaching, and he received the Fellowship of Christian Athletes’ Grant Teaff Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009. In 2013, Tjeerdsma became Northwest’s Athletics Director before retiring from the position earlier this year.

Tjeerdsma began his 27-year head coaching career at Austin College in Sherman, Texas, from 1984-93. Winning a school record 59 games in 10 seasons, he led the ‘Roos to three conference titles (1984, 1985, 1988) and trips to the NAIA Division II playoffs in 1988 and 1990.

Overall, he coached 55 First Team All-Americans, 20 First Team Academic All-Americans, 194 first team all-conference selections and one NFF National Scholar-Athlete. Tjeerdsma is a member of the NCAA Division II Football, MIAA, State of Missouri Sports, State of South Dakota Sports and Northwest’s M-Club halls of fame.

In 2011, the Springfield, S.D., native coached Team USA to a world championship at the International Federation of American Football World Cup in Austria.

A graduate of Southern State College (S.D.) in 1967, Tjeerdsma began his coaching career at the high school level in Iowa where he won the very first Class 2A State football championship in 1972. Before becoming the head coach at Austin College, he served as the offensive coordinator for eight seasons at Northwestern (Iowa) and helped the team win an NAIA Division II national championship in 1983.

Including the 2018 class, only 997 players and 217 coaches have been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame from the nearly 5.33 million people who have played or coached the game over the past 149 years. In other words, less than two one-hundredths of a percent (.02%) of those who have set foot on the gridiron have earned the distinction. Click here for a complete list of players and coaches in the Hall.

The 2018 College Football Hall of Fame Class will be officially inducted during the 61st NFF Annual Awards Dinner at the New York Hilton Midtown on Tuesday, Dec. 4. This year’s College Football Hall of Fame Class includes: Trevor Cobb (Rice), Kerry Collins (Penn State), Dave Dickenson (Montana), Dana Howard (Illinois), Calvin Johnson (Georgia Tech), Paul Palmer (Temple), Ed Reed (Miami [Fla.]), Matt Stinchcomb (Georgia), Aaron Taylor (Nebraska), Charles Woodson (Michigan) and coaches Frank Beamer (Murray State, Virginia Tech), Mack Brown (Appalachian State, Tulane, North Carolina, Texas) and Mel Tjeerdsma (Austin College [Texas], Northwest Missouri State). For more information on the Dinner, please contact Will Rudd at wrudd@footballfoundation.com or by calling 972.556.1000.

The 2018 Class will also be forever immortalized at the Chick-fil-A College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta.

Remaining Scheduled 2018 NFF Hall of Fame On-Campus Salutes
Presented by Fidelity Investments
(Chronological Order)

DATE INDUCTEE SCHOOL
(YEARS PLAYED/COACHED)
OPPOSING TEAM
Sept. 15 Coach Mel Tjeerdsma Northwest Missouri State (1994-2010) Missouri Southern
Sept. 22 Dave Dickenson Montana (1992-95) Sacramento State
Sept. 22 Coach Mel Tjeerdsma Austin College [Texas] (1984-93) Hendrix [Ark.]
Sept. 29 Kerry Collins Penn State (1991-94) Ohio State
Oct. 6 Coach Frank Beamer Virginia Tech (1987-2015) Notre Dame
Oct. 6 Ed Reed Miami [Fla.] (1998-2001) Florida State
Oct. 13 Coach Frank Beamer Murray State (1981-86) Tennessee State
Oct. 20 Aaron Taylor Nebraska (1994-97) Minnesota
Nov. 10 Calvin Johnson Georgia Tech (2004-06) Miami [Fla.]
Nov. 10 Matt Stinchcomb Georgia (1995-98) Auburn

The 2018 season marks the ninth season that Fidelity Investments, a leading provider of workplace savings plans in higher education, is serving as the national presenting sponsor of the NFF Hall of Fame On-Campus Salutes. The salutes are one component of a multi-year initiative between the two organizations to celebrate the scholar-athlete ideal and a joint commitment to higher education.

Fidelity is a proud partner of The William V. Campbell Trophy®, college football’s premier scholar-athlete award, and the NFF National Scholar-Athlete Awards. Fidelity also helped launch the NFF Faculty Salutes in 2011, which recognizes the contributions of the faculty athletics representatives around the country.