Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Hall of Fame Announces 2015 Inductees

Former East Carolina quarterback Jeff Blake and Georgia wide receiver Hines Ward to be inducted to the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Hall of Fame. 2008 inductee Lou Holtz to join for on-field ceremony.

Long-time volunteers Leeman Bennett and Bob Coggin named to Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Volunteer Hall of Fame.

ATLANTA (Dec. 27, 2015) – East Carolina’s Jeff Blake and Georgia’s Hines Ward highlight the 2015 class of inductees into the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Hall of Fame, as announced today by Bowl officials.

“As a Bowl we have been blessed to host some of college football’s highest-caliber talent and this inductee class is a great example of the best of the best,” said Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl President and CEO Gary Stokan. “Each of these men represents core values of determination, character and leadership and deserves to be inducted in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Hall of Fame.”

In the 1991 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, Jeff Blake led a furious fourth-quarter rally as East Carolina stormed back from 17 down to defeat N.C. State, 37-34. Blake won ECU’s offensive MVP award after throwing for 378 yards and a Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl record four TD passes. Blake orchestrated arguably the greatest season in Pirate football history, leading ECU to an 11-1 record and final national ranking of No. 9. He was named second-team All American and East Coast Athletic Conference Player of the Year. After his time in Greenville, Blake spent 14 years in the NFL and passed for over 21,000 yards and 134 touchdowns and running for over 2,000 yards and 14 touchdowns. Blake was inducted into the East Carolina Hall of Fame in 2007.

A dynamic all-around offensive weapon for Georgia, Hines Ward played quarterback for the Bulldogs in the 1995 Peach Bowl and set Georgia bowl records for pass attempts (59), pass completions (31), passing yards (413) and most total yards of offense (469) in a 34-27 loss to Virginia. A wide receiver for most of his Georgia Bulldog career, Ward’s 149 career receptions for 1,965 yards place him second in team history. He also played tailback and totaled 3,870 all-purpose yards, second only to Herschel Walker in Bulldogs history. After his four years in Athens, Ward was a third-round selection of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1998 NFL Draft and would play all 14 years of his career in the Steel City. A four-time Pro-Bowl selection and two-time Super Bowl Champion, Hines won the MVP of Super Bowl XL. He would go on to finish as the all-time leader in Pittsburgh Steelers history for receiving touchdowns (85), receptions (1,000) and yards (12,083).

Jeff Blake will be honored during an on-field ceremony prior to kickoff. Joining Blake will be Lou Holtz, a 2008 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Hall of Fame inductee, who has previously been unable to attend a ceremony for his induction.

Lou Holtz is recognized as one of the top coaches in NCAA History, earning the distinction as the only coach history to lead six different programs to bowl games. He is also the only coach to guide four different programs to final top 20 rankings – including an undefeated national championship season with Notre Dame in 1988. He earned 249 wins during his coaching career with Notre Dame, N.C. State, Minnesota, South Carolina, Arkansas and William and Mary, good enough for eighth all time in the NCAA. He made a pair of visits to the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl with N.C. State, splitting a pair of meetings with West Virginia. Holtz and the Wolfpack won in 1972 using 35 second half points to turn a 14-13 halftime lead into a 49-13 rout. The Mountaineers got their revenge in 1975, topping the ‘Pack 13-10. He was named National Coach of the Year in 1977 and 1988, was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2008 and served as an analyst on ESPN for many years.

Established in 2002, the Chick-fil-A Bowl Hall of Fame honors former players, coaches and contributors, as well as staff and volunteers, who have had a significant impact on the Bowl. There are currently 42 members, including players such as Mike Singletary, Reggie White and Jim Kelly, and coaches including Bobby Dodd, Vince Dooley and Lou Holtz.

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Volunteer Hall of Fame

This year the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Volunteer Hall of Fame is honoring two longtime volunteers for their service.

With a combined 58 years with the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, Leeman Bennett and Bob Coggin have been instrumental in the growth of the bowl to where it now sits as a part of the College Football Playoff.

“Our volunteers have been essential to our ability to put on memorable bowl week experiences for our players and fans, and that especially includes these two fine gentleman, Leeman Bennett and Bob Coggin,” said Stokan. “These two have been here for almost three decades, selflessly giving their time not only around the holidays, but throughout the whole year. On behalf of our entire staff, it’s my privilege to be able to honor them with this induction.”

The current Chairman of the Bowl’s Team Marketing and Relations Committee, Bennett previously served as Chairman of the Team Marketing and Selection Committee for 27 years. In that role, he led weekly meetings to review teams in consideration for the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. Prior to being named Chair of the Team Marketing and Selection Committee, Bennett was a NFL Head Coach for eight seasons. He spent his first six years in Atlanta, where he led the Falcons to a 46-41 overall record during those seasons, including a playoff victory over the Philadelphia Eagles in his second year on the job. He spent his last two years in Tampa Bay before moving back to Atlanta.

In his 29 years of volunteering with the Bowl, Coggin has worn many hats as he has worked on five different committees: More Than a Game, Compensation, Audit, Investment and Team Selection. Bob was also very involved in ticket sales during his time with the Bowl and used his position as Executive VP of Sales and Marketing at Delta to reach out to prospective ticket buyers. During the 1995 year, he won the corporate ticket sales campaign and also had years where he and his team sold over 3,000 tickets. He currently serves as the Chair of the Investment Committee. In addition, Coggin previously held the Vice Chairman and Chairman positions, has been a Board Member since 1997 and has recently been appointed to the Board of Trustees and Executive Committee. The Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl has long been known as the preeminent hospitality bowl in the country due in large part to its more than 400 dedicated and passionate volunteers.

The Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Volunteer Hall of Fame was created in 2012 to recognize and celebrate the significant contributions of its volunteer force in a meaningful way.

About Peach Bowl, Inc.:
Peach Bowl, Inc. operates the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, the ninth-oldest bowl game in the country and one of New Year’s Six Bowls selected to host the College Football Playoff. In 2015, the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl will host top nationally ranked teams as assigned by the College Football Playoff Selection Committee. In 2016, the Bowl will host its first College Football Playoff Semifinal (#1 vs. #4 or #2 vs. #3). The Bowl has sold out 17 of the last 18 years and has earned a reputation as one of the most competitive bowls in the country, with 55% of its games being decided by a touchdown or less. The Peach Bowl, Inc. has disbursed $150 million in team payouts over its 48-year history and has increased team payout every year since 1996. The Bowl also leads all other bowl game organizations in charitable and scholarship contributions, giving more than $17.9 million to organizations in need since 2002. Peach Bowl, Inc. also owns and manages the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game, the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Challenge charity golf tournament and The Dodd Trophy national coach of the year award.

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