MSU’s Smith named to 75th anniversary team

Michigan State’s Bubba Smith (95) was a third team selection on the Football Writers Association of America’s 75th Anniversary All-America Team. (Submitted photo)

Michigan State’s Bubba Smith (95) was a third team selection on the Football Writers Association of America’s 75th Anniversary All-America Team. (Submitted photo)

EAST LANSING — Former Michigan State defensive end Charles “Bubba” Smith, one of only three players in Spartan football history to have his jersey number (No. 95) retired, has been named to the Football Writers Association of America’s 75th Anniversary All-America Team (third-team selection).

The FWAA 75th Anniversary All-America Team celebrates the association’s All-America teams from near the end of World War II through the 2014 season. The FWAA, which was founded in 1941, has picked an annual All-America team since the 1944 season, making it the second-longest continuously selected team in major college football.

A nomination ballot with selected players from all FWAA All-America teams was sent to the entire membership this spring. The popular vote was then taken into consideration by a Blue Ribbon Committee of FWAA past presidents, current board members and officers. That committee put the finishing touches on selecting the 75-man team. In order for a player to be considered for the FWAA’s 75th team, he had to be on a previous FWAA All-America team. The Big Ten led all current conferences with 19 selections on the 75-man team.

All eight decades in which the FWAA teams have been selected are represented on the 75-man team. In all, there are 56 members of the National Football Foundation’s College Football Hall of Fame and 41 schools are represented on the three 25-man teams.

Smith earned three letters at Michigan State from 1964-66, while playing for legendary head coach Duffy Daugherty. In his final two seasons, the 6-foot-7, 280-pound defensive end helped the Spartans to a combined record of 19-1-1, including back-to-back Big Ten and National Championships in 1965 and ’66.

As a junior, he emerged as one of the top playmakers on a defensive unit that led the NCAA in rushing defense (45.6 yards per game) and scoring defense (6.2 points per game), earning First-Team All-America honors from the American Football Coaches Association and United Press International. Michigan State held three of its 1965 opponents to negative rushing yards: Michigan, Ohio State and Notre Dame.

As a senior, Smith was named First-Team All-American by nine different organizations, including the FWAA, Associated Press, UPI, AFCA, Newspaper Enterprise Association, The Sporting News, Central Press, Football News and New York News. In addition, he was selected UPI Lineman of the Year in 1966. Despite being regularly double- or triple-teamed or having opponents run away from his side of the field, Smith still produced 30 tackles (15 solos, 15 assists), including 10 for losses (59 yards). Michigan State ranked third in the NCAA in rushing defense in ’66, allowing just 51.4 yards per game.

Smith became the first selection overall in the 1967 National Football League Draft by the Baltimore Colts. He spent nine years in the NFL, including five seasons in Baltimore (1967-71), two in Oakland (1973-74) and two more in Houston (1975-76). Smith was a member of the 1970 Colts team that defeated Dallas, 16-13, in Super Bowl V (Jan. 17, 1971). He made back-to-back Pro Bowl appearances in 1970-71 and was named First-Team All-Pro by AP and Pro Football Writers in 1971.

In 1988, the Beaumont, Texas, native was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. Smith became a member of the inaugural class inducted into the MSU Athletics Hall of Fame in 1992. In 2006, he was rated among the Top 10 Greatest Defensive Players of All-Time, according to lists compiled by CollegeFootballNews.com’s Pete Fiutak (No. 6) and Richard Cirminiello (No. 8).

On Sept. 23, 2006, Smith became just the third player in MSU football history to have his jersey number retired. His jersey retirement was part of a special program to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the 1966 “Game of the Century” between the second-ranked Spartans and top-ranked Notre Dame that ended in a 10-10 tie. In 2010, Smith ranked No. 26 among the Top 50 Big Ten Icons, according to a list compiled by the Big Ten Network.

In 2011, the Big Ten began presenting the Smith-Brown Defensive Lineman of the Year Award as selected by the league’s head coaches and media panel, honoring MSU’s two-time All-American as well as Penn State’s Courtney Brown.

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