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HOF voter Ed Bouchette agrees that selection process “needs an overhaul”

Pro Football Hall of fame

More than three weeks after the latest class of Hall of Famers made it to Canton, discussion and debate continue regarding possible improvements to the process of sifting through eligible candidates.

Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, one of the 44 members of the selection committee, has added his two cents on the topic, under a subheadline that says the process “needs an overhaul.”

Bouchette writes that the Hall of Fame has been soliciting opinions from the members of the committee regarding possible changes.  Voter Howard Balzer told PFT Live this week that some of the voters planned to meet in Indianapolis at the Scouting Combine to discuss possible changes.  Bouchette indicates that the meeting happened on Thursday.

Bouchette mentions that some are clamoring for transparency, something he doesn’t seem to favor.  (He’s one of the only voters to publicly question the push for transparency; most of the voters who have commented on the subject favor making the outcome of the voting process known.)

Bouchette favors the creation of separate categories, so that men like NFL Films founder Ed Sabol won’t have to compete with players like Steelers center Dermontti Dawson.

As to the process of expanding the pool from 44 voters, many have expressed concern that adding voices will bog down the annual meeting during which the next class of Hall of Famers is determined.  Bouchette provides the most radical suggestion yet.

“Copy what the Baseball Hall of Fame does,” Bouchette says.  “They have more than 500 voters, but the ballot is handled through the mail — no debates in a room for 71/2 hours while a voter next to you continually complains about the length of the meeting. Plus, you can then expand the voting list to any number you want. . . .  That’s my solution — 500 voters, mail ballot, only players.  Somehow, the Baseball Hall of Fame thrives without holding meetings to discuss the process, as they did Thursday in Indianapolis, or meetings to vote.  Just vote.  If you don’t know if a player should be in the Hall of Fame, you don’t need the power of persuasion by a colleague in Nashville to convince you.  Just do your homework.”

We don’t know that 500 is the right number, but we think that the current Hall of Famers should have a say.  Regardless of who the voters are, it’s important to have more than 44 people determine who gets in and who doesn’t.  As both Bouchette and voter Dan Pompei have pointed out, the current numbers of voters makes it too easy to keep a guy out.

Here’s hoping that the Hall of Fame will unveil by the 2011 ceremony new standards that will apply moving forward, along with a commitment to constantly seeking out ideas for improving the process.

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11 Responses to “HOF voter Ed Bouchette agrees that selection process “needs an overhaul””
  1. iknowfootballandyoudont says: Feb 27, 2011 3:15 PM

    Jason Whitlock nailed earlier this month.
    Give credit where it’s due.

  2. metalhead65 says: Feb 27, 2011 3:40 PM

    ordinarialy I would agree that a change should take place in the voting. but since the charge is being led by a lawyer turned intenet hack who thinks he knows everything about the sport in which he never played,or held a job in then I say leave it the way it is.

  3. argel830 says: Feb 27, 2011 4:01 PM

    I don’t think the current HOF’ers need a say at all. The ability to analyse the game isn’t something that inherently comes with play, it comes with watching the game as a whole, watching as much as possible and having the ability to articulate your findings. I can think of many many players who are HOF’ers that don’t meet that criteria, so to give a generalisation that somehow all of those who have shown the ability off the field are all, to a man, aware of the ability of others or are qualified to judge others is a step too far.

    I do think the essence of your post is right though, the spectrum itself needs to broaden, but it shouldn’t arbitrarily be expanded. The voters themselves need to be appointed judiciously to avoid a situation as we find today in the future.

    I also think the real issue is not who votes, but what they are voting for. We all know the bias towards sill players that exists even now, yet we continue down a path that consistently denies influential players at the less fashionable positions from hall of fame entry simply because their body of work will never stack up to the tangible numbers that a receiver, quarterback or running back is able to produce.

    That is the crux of the matter.

  4. nekelund says: Feb 27, 2011 4:15 PM

    Why is there such a big concern over non-players making it into the Hall of Fame? Bouchette refers to copying what the Baseball Hall of Fame does, but then suggests that only players be eligible (which is not, to my knowledge, the case in the BHoF).

    Limiting eligibility to players is arbitrarily discounting the contributions of coaches, general managers, officials and builders who helped create the modern game. To do so would eliminate the function of the Hall as a record of the history of the game and turn it into a mere gallery of whose stats are better.

    What the league should do is create a high threshold amount like the Baseball Hall and let everyone who meets the threshold get in, not an arbitrary class size which is a greater reason for the delay in inclusion of worthy athletes, moreso than the election of Ed Sabol and other non-players.

  5. tdem232wi says: Feb 27, 2011 4:17 PM

    Is this guy related to Bobby Bouchette, the Waterboy?

  6. joerevs300 says: Feb 27, 2011 5:52 PM

    nekelund, I agree 100% re: creating a threshold.

    Add in the current HOF’s, give them a vote along with the other designated 44 voters they currently have, and any player/coach/etc. has to get 80% of the vote. Period, end of story. The deserving ones will get in, the others will not.

    And you won’t have hours of meetings where people are trying to be persuasive but come off as being a PITA.

  7. dobreshunkajackham says: Feb 27, 2011 6:46 PM

    There is something wrong with a process when the second best Center of all time does not make it into the HOF. Also, Jerome Bettis. Where does he rank on the all time rushing list. The process is broken

  8. maguiremike says: Feb 27, 2011 8:28 PM

    The baseball hall of fame voting process is a complete disaster, the NFL’s is way better right now. Hopefully they don’t copy it.

  9. sfbookreviews says: Feb 27, 2011 9:41 PM

    nekelund says: Feb 27, 2011 4:15 PM

    Why is there such a big concern over non-players making it into the Hall of Fame? Bouchette refers to copying what the Baseball Hall of Fame does, but then suggests that only players be eligible (which is not, to my knowledge, the case in the BHoF).
    ————————————————–

    Bouchette never said that. He proposes separate categories for players, coaches and contributors, so that a player like Dawson isn’t passed over for a non-player. It’s pretty clear if you read the article. He never once suggests only players be eligible. He does say let the voters only vote on players and let someone else decide what managers, etc. make it in.

    And that would be just like baseball. Voting for managers and umpires are held every 2 years while a separate comittee votes on executives and builders the other years. It’s completely separate from the players process.

  10. Deb says: Feb 27, 2011 9:50 PM

    Bouchette’s right … why do they need to meet so people can “lobby” for candidates? Create separate categories, bring more people into the process, and mail the ballots. Those changes shouldn’t be difficult to implement. For once, it would be nice to see the NFL make timely changes without so much drama. And people shouldn’t have to reveal their votes.

    @iknowfootballandyoudon’t …

    Apparently you don’t know much about PFT. Mike launched this topic in response to a personal challenge from Whitlock, has repeatedly linked to Whitlock’s column, and had Jason on his show to discuss the issue. Don’t speak if you don’t know :roll:

  11. godofwine330 says: Feb 28, 2011 10:04 AM

    Whitlock lailed it, true. But do NOT even think of doing what baseball does. What did they have…1 player elected into the HOF this year?

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