Bobby Bowden headlines Samford’s initial sports hall of fame class

HOMEWOOD, Ala. (WIAT) — Six former Samford athletes returned to campus Saturday as the initial inductees into the Samford Sports Hall of Fame.

Former Samford head coach and player Bobby Bowden was the big name of the inaugural class. He was joined by:

  • Charlie Owens, the first athlete to win a national championship in school history
  • Walter Barnes, a former basketball and track student athlete and head coach
  • Lauren Blankenship, a three-time OVC champion and Runner of the Year
  • Wally Burnham, a football All-American and assistant to Bowden at Florida State
  • Cortland Finnegan, a three-time All-American and OVC Defensive Player of the Year in football.

The Hall of Fame is located on the third floor of the Pete Hanna Center and has a plaque dedicated to each former athlete.

“The expression ‘There’s no place like home’ is true,” Bowden said before the induction celebration. “Seeing my picture really didn’t mean that much. Seeing Samford University with this new room and this wall here, that catches your eye. I think it’s fantastic.”

“Humbled, thankful. You can’t put into words what this is all about,” Finnegan said. “This place gave me so much more than football. This is such a small token that I could never repay back.

“The fact that you get to be with a legend (Bowden), a guy who lived and breathed football, but also just a father figure and so many other things he did for so many college athletes, I think that just speaks volumes.”

Check out the videos on this page to hear Bowden’s comments about Nick Saban and coaching into your seventies as well as Finnegan’s reflections on Samford now and during his playing days.

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