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2007-12-14 / Sports

Kern named to College Hall of Fame

Out of 4.7 million college football players, only 813 have been inducted
By Daniel Wolowicz

Photo Courtesy College Hall of Fame Rex Kern Photo Courtesy College Hall of Fame Rex Kern The last time Camarillo resident Rex Kern and coaching legend Joe Paterno were together, it was 1971 and the two were on the sidelines of the Hula Bowl in Hawaii.

Paterno, Pennsylvania State University's legendary football coach, and Kern, a standout quarterback from Ohio State University, were part of the North team of college football all-stars.

Paterno was the North's assistant coach, and although Kern had just led his OSU team to a 9-1 record and just missed out on a second national championship, he was playing thirdstring QB behind NFL Hall of Famers Jim Plunkett and Joe Theismann.

Because of an injury to North's starting safety, Paterno had Kern play as a defensive back- the position he would play for four seasons in the NFL. Kern did get a chance to complete two throws as quarterback, though- one for a touchdown- and North beat South 42-32.

Paterno went on to become a coaching great at Penn State, and Kern was drafted by the Baltimore Colts.

The two stood together again earlier this month during the College Football Hall of Fame induction banquet in New York. They were inducted into the Indiana-based Hall of Fame along with 10 other football legends, including Boston College quarterback and Heisman Trophywinner Doug Flutie and University of Oregon running back and wide receiver Ahmad Rashad.

"The experience was quite remarkable," said Kern.

The 58-year-old said he was impressed by the fact that, of the 4.7 million athletes who have played college football over the past 139 years, only 813 have been inducted into the College Hall of Fame.

During Kern's time at OSU- 1968 to 1970- the Buckeyes posted an incredible record of 27-2.

In his sophomore year, Kern capped the Buckeyes' National Championship season with a 2716 win over the University of Southern California in the Rose Bowl.

Not only was Kern named the game's Most Outstanding Player, but Kern met his wife of 34 years, Nancy, who was at the game as one of the Rose Princesses.

"The most memorable, without a doubt, was 1968 when we beat Southern Cal for the national championship and O.J. Simpson was their leader that year," Kern said when asked which season was the most notable for him. "That was the most rewarding year for me."

Kern helped OSU win two Big Ten titles and played in two Rose Bowls. The Buckeyes narrowly missed out on the National Championship in 1970 when they lost to Stanford in the last game of the season at the Rose Bowl

According to the Hall of Fame, Kern was the first All-American (1969) quarterback to play for Buckeyes coach Woody Hayes. In his junior year, he was third in the Heisman Trophy voting.

A back injury forced the Ohio native to retire from the NFL in his final season with the Buffalo Bills in 1974. He went on to earn his doctorate in health, physical education and recreation from Ohio State shortly after leaving the NFL and made a career as a business executive.

Kern, who said Hayes was a major influence in his education and professional career, helped establish the Anne and Woody Hayes Endowment for abused children at Columbus Children's Hospital in 2001.

"Woody always believed that, first of all, you came to the Ohio State University to get an education and then you had an opportunity to play great football," Kern said of the fellow Hall of Famer. "Woody believed strongly in the importance of education."

Kern, a consultant for Ohiobased United Midwest Savings, and his wife have two grown sons, John-Ryan, 32, and Michael, 28.

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