Lucas at Large: Dayne has look of first-ballot Hall of Famer

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Pat Harder would have been 91 on Monday.

As a Badger, he was 34 -- No. 34 -- an All-American fullback on the legendary 1942 team.

Harder, a Milwaukee native, was a fan favorite at Camp Randall Stadium.

"Hit'em again, Harder, Harder.''

Who knew such a simple cheer would have so much staying power?

In the 1944 National Football League draft, the Boston Yanks -- consider what an oxymoron that combination is today -- selected Notre Dame quarterback Angelo Bertelli with the No. 1 pick overall.

The 5-foot-11, 203-pound Harder -- who answered to the nickname "The Mule'' -- was taken second by the Chicago Cardinals. No UW player has ever been drafted higher.

After World War II, Harder played eight seasons with the Cardinals and Detroit Lions. Upon his retirement as a player, Harder went on to officiate 17 seasons in the NFL.

Less than a year after his death in 1992, Harder was posthumously inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. Alan Ameche is the only other UW running back to be so honored by the HOF.

On Tuesday, the National Football Foundation will announce its 2013 College Football Hall of Fame class, which will consist of 12 players and two coaches.

Wisconsin tailback Ron Dayne is on the ballot for the first time and it would be surprising -- maybe even shocking -- if Dayne, the NCAA's all-time leading rusher, is not a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

Dayne is not the only HOF candidate who falls into this year's "no-brainer'' category.

Any short list should include Nebraska's Tommie Frazier, TCU's LaDainian Tomlinson, Oklahoma's Brian Bosworth, Notre Dame's Rocket Ismail, Ohio State's Orlando Pace, Indiana's Antwaan Randle El, Alabama's Derrick Thomas, Miami's Vinny Testaverde and Iowa's Andre Tippett.

By the way, Bernie Wyatt, a former Hayden Fry assistant, was not only instrumental in recruiting Tippett to Iowa, but also Dayne to Wisconsin when he was on Barry Alvarez's coaching staff.

On his 1995 campus visit, Dayne saw the Badgers attempt 51 passes and only 20 runs in a 33-20 loss to the Hawkeyes at Camp Randall. They were outrushed by 312 yards.

Sedrick Shaw led Iowa with 41 carries and 214 yards. Aaron Stecker led Wisconsin with 13 carries and 25 yards. After the game, UW assistant Brian White threw his arm around Dayne.

"See why we need you?'' White said with a sigh.

Dayne nodded and replied softly, "Yeah, I do.''

Seven thousand and one hundred and twenty-five rushing yards later ...

Dayne left Wisconsin with the 1999 Heisman Trophy.

In 2011, he was inducted into the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame.

When he got the news, Dayne responded, "Are you serious? Aren't I too young to be going into a Hall of Fame?'' He was then 33. Later, he admitted, "I was surprised. I really didn't believe it.''

Dayne was a two-time Rose Bowl MVP, one of only four in history joining Texas' Vince Young, USC's Charles White and Washington's Bob Schloredt.

Alvarez, UW's director of athletics, was Dayne's presenter at the Rose Bowl induction ceremony. To say the least, he knows his way around such HOF functions as a previous inductee.

"You liked your odds,'' Alvarez has always said, "going into any game with Ron Dayne.''

You also have to like the odds of Dayne going into the College Football Hall of Fame on Tuesday.
ON WISCONSIN