But he never lost hope.
"I've never been one to look at something and say, 'No, it never can happen,' '' Talley said. "I've always been the eternal optimist and thought that if I'm on there, I've got a chance. I'm at least in the game. And that's all you can ask for, to be given an opportunity to get in the game.
"Yes, it's a big deal. You think about how many millions of kids play in collegiate athletics and what percentage of those get to go [to the Hall of Fame]. It's truly an honor.''
That percentage, by the way, is .001 percent of the athletes who have played college football over the years, according to Nehlen, who himself was inducted into the same hall in 2005.
"At least that's what was on the computer today,'' Nehlen said. "I'm not smart enough to figure out the percentage, but I know one thing. I know you're in tall cotton, brother.''
And he's not the one standing there with his finger obscured, either.
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com.