NATCHITOCHES – Outdoorsman Phil Robertson, recognized internationally as the Duck Commander, and former LSU football coach Nick Saban, who won 75 percent of his games and the 2003 national championship in five seasons with the Tigers, join eight-time Mr. Olympia world bodybuilding champion Ronnie Coleman and another global sports figure, Sweet Lou Dunbar of the Harlem Globetrotters, among a star-studded group of eight 2020 competitive ballot inductees chosen for the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame.
The LSHOF Class of 2020 also includes a pair of multiple-year Pro Bowl NFL standouts, New Orleans Saints receiver Joe Horn and Chicago Bears cornerback Charles “Peanut” Tillman, a star at UL Lafayette, along with two extraordinary basketball players: New Orleans native Kerry Kittles, a two-time All-America guard at Villanova who averaged 14 points in an eight-year NBA career, and Louisiana Tech Lady Techsters legend Angela Turner, who helped her teams to four straight national championship game appearances including wins in 1981 and 1982.
Robertson, a Vivian native, was Louisiana Tech’s starting quarterback ahead of a young Terry Bradshaw until he gave up football to focus on his love of hunting and fishing. His passion, personality and business acumen ultimately led to a multi-million dollar business in West Monroe and inspired the wildly successful “Duck Dynasty” reality TV show. Robertson becomes only the third outdoorsman elected to the Hall from the competitors’ ballot, joining Grits Gresham (1989) and BassMasters Classic champion Jack Hains (2018).
Saban went 48-16 from 2000-04 at LSU before jumping to the NFL for two seasons as head coach in Miami, then returning to college football at Alabama, where he has captured five more national championships since 2009. His Tigers won Southeastern Conference championships in 2001 and 2003, reigning as SEC West Division champs from 2001-03, and he won his first national and SEC coach of the year awards while guiding LSU to the 2003 BCS national crown. He is the first sitting college coach elected to the Hall since Grambling’s Eddie Robinson (1985).
North Louisiana natives Coleman (Bastrop) and Dunbar (Minden), like Robertson, achieved worldwide celebrity status in their sports. Coleman, a linebacker for some of Robinson’s 1980s Grambling teams, won a record 26 International Association of Bodybuilders professional titles. Dunbar, the state’s Mr. Basketball at Webster High School, averaged 22 points while starring for the University of Houston before embarking on a 27-year playing career and 43 ongoing years of involvement with the Globetrotters.
Horn’s unlikely and colorful 12-season NFL career included four Pro Bowl appearances, all with in his seven seasons with the Saints (2000-06), when he set several franchise season and career receiving records, including career touchdown catches (50). A second-round 2003 NFL Draft pick after being a four-year starter for the Ragin’ Cajuns, Tillman was a two-time Pro Bowler who had 38 career interceptions and forced 44 fumbles as he played 13 pro seasons, all but a few games with his hometown team, the Bears, from 2003-14.
After averaging 22 points while leading St. Augustine to the 1992 Class 5A state championship, Kittles became a record-shattering All-American at Villanova and the No. 8 pick (Brooklyn Nets) in the 1996 NBA Draft, leading to a successful pro career. At tiny Shady Grove High School in rural Bienville Parish, Turner was a three-time state Most Valuable Player and two-time prep All-American before her dynamic all-around game helped the Lady Techsters go 143-10 in her incredible four-year (1979-82) college career.
Turner will join former Techster teammates Pam Kelly, Janice Lawrence and Kim Mulkey, and their co-head coaches Leon Barmore and Sonja Hogg, in the Hall of Fame next summer.
Saban will be the eighth former LSU head football coach enshrined, joining Gaynell Tinsley (1959), Bernie Moore (1963), Biff Jones (1966), Jerry Stovall (1981), Charlie McClendon (1982), Paul Dietzel (1988) and Les Miles (2019).
Horn will become the 17th former Saints standout, coach (Jim Mora) or administrator (Tom Benson, Jim Finks) inducted, and will be only the third player from this century so far to join the LSHOF ranks, along with running back Deuce McAllister and Pro Football Hall of Fame offensive tackle Willie Roaf.
Coleman is the first bodybuilder elected to the Hall.
The Class of 2020 will be enshrined Saturday, June 27, in Natchitoches to culminate the 61st Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Induction Celebration June 25-27.
The 2020 Induction Class will be showcased in the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Museum, operated by the Louisiana State Museum system in a partnership with the Louisiana Sports Writers Association. The striking two-story, 27,500-square foot structure faces Cane River Lake in the National Historic Landmark District of Natchitoches and has garnered worldwide architectural acclaim and rave reviews for its contents since its grand opening during the 2013 Hall of Fame induction weekend.
A 35-member Louisiana Sports Writers Association committee selected the 2020 inductees. The panel considered a record 150 nominees from 31 different sport categories on a 33-page ballot, said Hall of Fame chairman Doug Ireland.
The eight new competitive ballot inductees will raise the total of Hall of Fame members to 350 competitors honored since the first induction class — baseball’s Mel Ott, world champion boxer Tony Canzoneri and LSU football great Gaynell Tinsley — were enshrined in 1959 after their election a year earlier.
Also to be spotlighted next summer will be four other Hall of Fame inductees, the winner of the 2019 Dave Dixon Louisiana Sports Leadership Award, the recipients of the 2019 Distinguished Service Award in Sports Journalism presented by the LSWA, and a newly-initiated Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Ambassador Award. Those inductees from contributor ballots will be announced later this year.
The complete 12-person Class of 2020 will swell the membership in the Hall of Fame to 445 men and women, including 358 from the competitors’ ballot.
The Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame includes 24 Pro Football Hall of Fame members, 18 Olympic medalists including 11 gold medal winners, 11 members of the Basketball Hall of Fame, seven of the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players, seven National Baseball Hall of Fame inductees, 37 College Football Hall of Fame members, nine National High School Hall of Fame enshrinees, jockeys with a combined 16 Triple Crown victories, six world boxing champions, seven Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame members, seven College Baseball Hall of Fame inductees, 10 College Basketball Hall of Fame enshrinees, four NBA Finals MVPs, four winners of major professional golf championships, five National Museum of (Thoroughbred) Racing and Hall of Fame inductees and two Super Bowl MVPs.
Just this summer, LSHOF members Kevin Mawae (inducted in 2013), Ed Reed (2017) and Johnny Robinson (1984) were enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, two weeks after Lee Smith (2004) joined the Baseball Hall in Cooperstown and a month before 2010 LSHOF inductee Teresa Weatherspoon’s Sept. 6 entrance in the Basketball Hall in Springfield, Mass.
Biographical information on all 433 current Hall of Fame members is available at the LaSportsHall.com website, with a steady stream of info available at the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Facebook page and the @LaSportsHall twitter account.
Saban carved his prominent place in state sports history with the 2003 BCS national title win by his LSU squad over Oklahoma in the Superdome. His Tigers compiled a 48-16 (28-12 SEC) record in Baton Rouge, part of his 232-63-1 mark as a college head coach entering 2019.
Saban is the first coach to win a national title with two different FBS schools since the inception of the Associated Press rankings in 1936. Saban and Bear Bryant are the only coaches to win SEC crowns at different schools. His collection of national championships equals the record set by Bryant.
Among Saban’s coaching tree, former LSU assistants Jimbo Fisher, Will Muschamp and Kirby Smart are current SEC head coaches and Derek Dooley was coach at Tennessee. He is a 2013 inductee in the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame.
Robertson, recognized on sight around the world thanks to his iconic long, rugged beard, began his Duck Commander business in a dilapidated shed, where he spent 25 years making duck calls from Louisiana cedar trees. Robertson built his first call from a piece of walnut in 1972.
From its humble beginnings, the Duck Commander brand has become a household name in quality duck calls and has branched off to make an array of other products, from DVDs, Duck Commander shotguns to Cajun-style marinade to television shows. The Robertson family had a wildly successful venture into the entertainment industry through their reality show “Duck Dynasty” on the A&E Network.
After graduating cum laude in accounting from Grambling, and taking a position in law enforcement, Coleman quickly emerged as one of America’s top professional bodybuilders. He shares the record of eight straight wins (1998-2005) as Mr. Olympia, and holds the record for most overall wins as an International Federation of Bodybuilders professional with 26 career victories, breaking the previous mark of 24 in Moscow in 2004.
A middle linebacker at Grambling, Coleman worked as a police officer in Arlington, Texas, and began training in bodybuilding. His first major title was the heavyweight crown in the 1991 World Amateur Championships, earning the title Mr. Universe. The 5-11, 297-pounder’s pro resume includes wins in Canada, Europe, Russia and New Zealand in addition to world