BOZEMAN — To be eligible for the College Football Hall of Fame, a player must be 10 years removed from his final year of play.
However, the other part of the selection process is that if more than 50 years have passed a player cannot be inducted.
That was almost the case for Montana State great Bill Kollar after nearly five decades, the former defensive tackle can now say he’s earned college football’s ultimate honor.
“To me, it’s for the Bobcat Nation, really," Kollar reflected on Tuesday.
Born in Warren, Ohio, the 6-foot-3 product out of Warren G. Harding High School had opportunities to stay close to home for college, including both Kent State and Youngstown State. However, when it came down to making a decision, it was his father who pushed him to go somewhere outside the area.
“I ended up going to Montana State, and obviously it changed my life forever," Kollar smiled. "Never regretted it one second. I mean, with the people out there, the fans and backers and everything — I mean, you can’t beat it. It definitely turned out to be the best decision I have ever made other than getting married to my wife.”
The defensive tackle went on to have a storied career with the Bobcats in the early 1970s where he was a three-time first-team All-Big Sky selection, earned All-America status twice, and also won the league’s 1972 defensive MVP award.
He logged more than a hundred tackles (107) in his final year with Montana State before being drafted 24th overall by Cincinnati, which is still the highest NFL draft pick to this day in Bobcat history.
He credits his success to the blue-collar teammates he had back then and said he still sees that same work ethic in the Bobcat football program 50 years later.
“The players that we had out there were guys that end up working their butt off all the time," Kollar explained. "They didn’t have anything given to them … You can still see it in the players now.”
Kollar spent a total of 42 years in the NFL, eight as a player and 34 as a coach. He officially retired this last week with the Denver Broncos, which means he’ll have a lot more of time on his hands — time that might be used helping Montana State.
“I told Coach [Vigen] yesterday — he texted me and congratulated me and stuff — and I said, 'Hey, since I’m retired now, if you need any help with pass rush or just whatever,'" he chuckled. "I’m going to end up having a lot of free time now, so I would definitely be interested in helping out now and then. He definitely said yes that he would.”
Kollar joins Dennis Erickson as one of two Bobcats inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame but is the first to be inducted as a player.
The official ceremony for the 2023 class will take place at the end of this year on Dec. 5 in Las Vegas.