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Blair Kerkhoff | The Kansas City Star | January 8, 2018

Northwest Missouri State legend Mel Tjeerdsma to join college football hall of fame

  Mel Tjeerdsma led the Bearcats to three national titles as head coach.

ATLANTA -- Mel Tjeerdsma, who won three NCAA Division II national championships at Northwest Missouri State, is a member of the 2018 College Football Hall of Fame class.

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Tjeerdsma, now the Bearcats' athletic director, stepped down after the 2010 season with a 183-43 career record at Northwest and 242-82-4 overall. He started his career at Austin College in Texas.

"It gives you a chance to thank all the people who made it possible," Tjeerdsma said. "I think of all the guys who have coached with me, and obviously all the players. That's how it all works. It's pretty humbling, to be honest."

Tjeersma became the school's athletic director in 2013, and Northwest has won three more NCAA football titles since then.

Tjeerdsma's first Bearcats' team in 1994 finished 0-11. But Tjeersma had assembled a coaching staff with winning backgrounds, and the program turned in a winning record the following season. Northwest tied for the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association championship in his third year.

"I still look at our second recruiting class as a key," Tjeerdsma said. "We were coming off 0-11 and had nothing attractive to show them."

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But that class became the foundation of the 1998 NCAA championship team, the first of two straight titles. The program played in the championship game four more times before reaching the top again in 2009.

Northwest won 12 MIAA championships in his 17 years in Maryville.

Other coaches joining Tjeerdsma in the class are Mack Brown, who won the 2005 BCS national championship at Texas, and Virginia Tech's Frank Beamer.

Ten players are also part of the class: Michigan defensive back Charles Woodson, Miami Hurricanes defensive back Ed Reed, Nebraska offensive lineman Aaron Taylor, Georgia Tech wide receiver Calvin Johnson, Rice running back Trevor Cobb, Penn State quarterback Kerry Collins, Montana quarterback Dave Dickenson, Illinois linebacker Dana Howard, Georgia offensive lineman Matt Stinchcomb and Temple running back Paul Palmer, who was the Chiefs first-round draft pick in 1987 and spent two seasons in Kansas City.

The group was announced Monday before the College Football Playoff National Championship Game and the 2018 class will be inducted at the National Football Foundation annual awards dinner on Dec. 4 in New York.

This article is written by Blair Kerkhoff from The Kansas City Star and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to


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