NFF College Football Hall of Fame Class of 2015: Brian Bosworth

In honor of the National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame Class of 2015 inductees,
ASN will profile all 17 new members in advance of the Dec. 8 NFF awards dinner in New York City.


Brian-BosworthBrian Bosworth simply was one of the best linebackers in college football history, with a swagger and various hairstyles that drew as much attention as his stellar play on the field. As the cornerstone of Oklahoma’s shutdown defense under Hall of Fame coach Barry Switzer in the mid 1980s, Bosworth made tackles and tossed out media-grabbing quotes with equal aplomb.

Born in Oklahoma City, Bosworth and his family crossed the Red River early in his life into Texas, with “The Boz” making his high school name at Irving MacArthur High School in the Dallas suburbs. But he returned to Oklahoma to play college football. He became a two-time, unanimous All-American and helped lead the Sooners to a 31-4-1 record and three consecutive Big Eight Conference titles.

“I spent most of my time in the 1980s stuck between the tackles getting hit by the Nebraska and Texas guys,” Bosworth said after being asked if he would have been able to star against today’s spread offenses. “I felt my biggest asset was my speed and my ability to make plays in the open field.”

Bosworth cites the 1986 Orange Bowl (1985 season) as the greatest game he played. Making 13 unassisted tackles, he helped the Sooners wrap up the national title with a 25-10 victory against Penn State in Miami.

“If you are the only two-time winner of the Butkus Award, you belong in the College Football Hall of Fame,” Switzer said at the time of the announcement. “He would have been a three-time winner if he had played another season at Oklahoma. Brian was just a tremendous player, a true superstar. He was a part of the best linebacker corps we had during my time at Oklahoma. They were all blessed with tremendous speed and were great competitors.”

Graduating with a degree in communications after his junior season, he already had played his final college game and entered the 1987 NFL Supplemental Draft where he was selected by the Seattle Seahawks. When injuries forced him out of the NFL after three seasons, Bosworth established careers in acting and in real estate.

Although he made 395 tackles at Oklahoma in just three seasons and posted 22 against Miami (Fla.) in the Sooners’ only loss during his final season of 1986, Bosworth didn’t know if he would be selected to the Hall of Fame.

“It took my breath away,” said Bosworth, who has founded Boz’s Kids, which provides activities for underprivileged children. “Honestly, I can say I started crying. The honor is something I thought would never come across my doorstep…To me it verifies the work we did as a football team. This award is not my award, it is an award I share with all my teammates and all my coaches because without them, the greatness we were able to achieve during those years would have never happened.”

Above: With 13 unassisted tackles in the 1986 Orange Bowl, Brian Bosworth helped Oklahoma beat Penn State 25-10 to win the national championship. (Courtesy OU Athletics)

Steve Richardson

Steve Richardson is the National Football Foundation Correspondent