President’s column: It’s the most wonderful time of the year Reply

By Matt Fortuna

A funny thing happens every Fourth of July at my in-laws’ cookout. And no, I’m not talking about my cousin annually rigging the family cornhole tournament in his favor.

2019 FWAA President Matt Fortuna

Sure, it is the peak of summer; who doesn’t love food, family, fireworks and fun? But the conversations for me — and I’m sure for most of you — inevitably shift to college football season. It turns out that when a majority of your family has graduated from two of last year’s Playoff schools (but, alas, not the two finalists), it is never too early to start the hype machine, and the questions are aplenty.

For those of us in the FWAA, Independence Day is a reminder that our summers are darn near over, and that that is perfectly fine if you are fortunate enough to make a living writing about this great sport.

It may be hard to believe, but media days — our preseason — are upon us. Four of the five Power conferences will hold their annual kickoff events next week across the country, and the FWAA will be out and about at each of them — along with the Pac-12 the following week — looking to spread the word about our message.

We recently announced our new access/press relations committee, a collaborative effort between a talented and experienced group of writers and media relations pros who will help ensure a healthier dialogue between the media and the schools that they cover.

We will celebrate the 75th anniversary of our All-America Team this season, with a sponsor that will be announced Aug. 31 in conjunction with the Auburn-Oregon game in Arlington, Texas.

We will name our 63rd Coach of the Year, with Coach Eddie Robinson serving as the namesake of the award since the 1997 season. We will name our 74th Outland Trophy recipient, with the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) serving as the presenting sponsor for a second straight year.

We will select the 27th FWAA Defensive Player of the Year (Bronko Nagurski Trophy) in 2019, with the presentation being hosted by the Charlotte Touchdown Club for a 25th straight year. And we will partner with Shaun Alexander for a second straight year to name a Freshman of the Year. We will announce an additional sponsor for that award and the 2019 FWAA Freshman All-America Team soon.

It is membership season — or #SZN, as the recruits of today would tweet — and we ask that you join or renew by July 12 to guarantee your inclusion in the 2019-20 FWAA print directory. It takes less than three minutes to join here, and your active membership will grant you access to everything on collegepressbox.com once the new and expanded site is unveiled this summer.

This really is the most wonderful time of the year — when us in the Midwest can enjoy our brief period of sunshine, when Notre Dame and Oklahoma fans can gather ‘round the grill and resist temptation to insult each other, and, most importantly, when all of us in the press can get back to doing what we love.

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Final reminder: Best Writing Contest deadline is July 10

The deadline for FWAA members to submit entries in 27th annual Best Writing Contest has been extended until July 10.

CATEGORIES

  • Game Story (Immediate Deadline)
  • Feature Story/Profile
  • Enterprise/Investigative
  • Column/Analysis/Commentary

BEAT WRITER OF THE YEAR AWARD

In addition, see below, we have created a special award for the top beat writer as judged by a special FWAA committee headed by Executive Director Steve Richardson.

WRITING CONTEST RULES

You must be an FWAA member in good standing to enter.

Deadline: July 10, 2019. Entries sent after the deadline WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED.

Limit: One (1) article per category, although a series of articles may be submitted in the enterprise category.

Entries must have appeared in print or on line between Feb. 1, 2018 and Jan. 31, 2019.

Entries must be submitted electronically to contest@fwaa.com.

Entries not sent to this e-mail address will not be accepted

Send MS Word or text files only. DO NOT SEND HTML files, Word Perfect files, stories in other word processing software or links to stories on the Internet or electronic libraries

Make your entry easy to read by taking out unnecessary carriage returns (They can give your entry an odd look when opened by a judge’s word processing program)

Delete any embedded advertising, photos and cutlines from the files (The file should contain only your story and your identifying information)

At the top of each entry, the following information should be included:

  • Writer(s)
  • Publication or online service
  • Category
  • Date of publication
  • E-mail address and telephone number for the writer(s) of the entry

The entries will be sorted and stripped of identifying information and forwarded to the judge(s).

Files containing your entries should follow this naming convention: yourname-category.doc

The category must be one of these four words: Game, Feature, Enterprise or Column

Example: KenStephens-game.doc

FWAA BEAT WRITER OF THE YEAR AWARD: If you have a nomination of a beat writer who covers major college football (either a team or a conference) or you want to nominate yourself, please send an e-mail/letter explaining the qualifications of the person (no more than 250 words) to:

Steve Richardson
FWAA Executive Director
18652 Vista del Sol
Dallas, TX 75287

Steve’s e-mail is tiger@fwaa.com. Steve and his committee will then make inquiries into the FWAA members nominated. In order to qualify for this award the person nominated must have been an FWAA member during the 2018 football season.

Questions? E-mail Ken Stephens at ken.stephens@sbcglobal.net.

Nominations sought 2019 Armed Forces Merit Award

FORT WORTH, Texas — Nominations are now being accepted for the 2019 Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the Football Writers Association of America.

Armed Forces Merit Award

Coordinated by the staff at the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl, the Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the FWAA was created in June 2012 “to honor an individual or a group with a military background and/or involvement impacting college football.”

Nominations for the 2019 Armed Forces Merit Award will be accepted through October 1. At that time, a selection committee of five FWAA members and two representatives from the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl will review the list of candidates. The 2019 recipient will be announced on Veteran’s Day, November 11.

“We are pleased to join with the Football Writers Association of America to honor an individual with a military background or group that works with our armed services that has an impact within college football,” said Brant Ringler, the Executive Director of the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl.

FWAA Executive Director Steve Richardson echoed Ringler’s sentiments, adding that the group “has an outstanding list of candidates each year, making it difficult to honor only one recipient when there are several individuals and programs so very deserving of the honor.”

From among 56 nominations considered for the 2018 award, Robert Morris President and Air Force veteran Dr. Chris Howard was selected as the seventh recipient of the Armed Forces Merit Award. A 1991 graduate of the United States Air Force Academy, Dr. Howard was a Rhodes Scholar and received the 1990 Campbell Trophy, the highest academic award in the nation presented to a senior college football player by the National Football Foundation.

To nominate an individual or group for the Armed Forces Merit Award, please click on the link below for the nomination form, which should be completed and returned to:

Tim Simmons
Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl
9655 Yellowstone Road
Longmont, CO 80504

Armed Forces Merit Award Nomination Form.

 

FWAA Launches New ‘Access/Press Relations Committee’

DALLAS — The Football Writers Association of America is establishing a new Access/Press Relations Committee to oversee press relations with FBS Conferences moving into the 2019 football season.

This is a broad-based effort by the FWAA to improve press relations and accessibility with schools in terms of coach, assistant coach and player availability during the regular season and the off-season.

“We are excited to bring together a talented, experienced, and diverse group of reporters and SIDs to work together to ensure a healthier dialogue between the media and the schools that they cover,” said Matt Fortuna, 2019 FWAA President. “Our hope is that this collaborative effort will lead to better opportunities to tell the stories of the subjects that we cover, while giving our members a better platform to highlight good and bad practices when it comes to access.”

The FWAA will have two representatives for each of the Power Five Conferences, in which many of the issues arise in terms of accessibility. The Group of Five Conferences/Independents will have three representatives. In addition, there will be nine at-large committee members from different groups affiliated with college football.

The process would be for individual FWAA members to report to the representatives of their conference any issues in their league as brought up by Sports Information Directors or FWAA members. This process will also occur with bowl games. The Committee would attempt to keep a running record of incidents reported to them and try to improve conditions as well as commend outstanding access and conditions.

“In many ways this can also be a learning experience on both sides,” said Steve Richardson, FWAA Executive Director. “We can document thoroughly why a school would or wouldn’t be a Super 11 winner simply by comparing a school’s list of press availability or polices to the FWAA’s list of standards. If there are complaints about media members, these also will be considered by the Committee. It can be a two-way street here.”

The discussions will also extend to game-day: press box conditions, interview area conditions, press parking issues and safety concerns around and in the stadium. The committee could have running dialogues with schools where problems in access occur and coverage conditions are questionable.

This committee will help in the decision making for the FWAA’s annual Super 11 Awards, which honor outstanding Sports Information Departments each year. Committee members will be encouraged to interact with Sports Information Directors in their respective conferences during the course of the year.

FWAA ACCESS/PRESS RELATIONS COMMITTEE

SEC

  • Ron Higgins, Rivals
  • Anthony Dasher, UGASports.com

ACC

  • Gene Wang, Washington Post
  • Andrea Adelson, ESPN.com

Big 12

  • Randy Peterson, Des Moines Register
  • John Hoover, TheFranchiseOK.com

Pac-12

  • Jon Wilner, San Jose Mercury News
  • Chris Dufresne, TMG

Big Ten

  • Adam Rittenberg, ESPN.com
  • Shannon Ryan, Chicago Tribune

Group of Five/Independents

  • Chris Vannini, The Athletic
  • Dick Weiss, Blue Star Media
  • Mark Anderson, Las Vegas Review-Journal

At-Large

  • Edward Aschoff, ESPN.com, FWAA
  • Matt Fortuna, The Athletic, FWAA
  • George Schroeder, USA Today, FWAA
  • Doug Vance, CoSIDA
  • Shelly Poe, Auburn
  • Dave Plati, Colorado
  • Vince Thompson, AFCA
  • Gine Lehe, CFP
  • Doug Kelly, FBA

The Football Writers Association of America, a non-profit organization founded in 1941, consists of more than 1,000 men and women who cover college football. The membership includes journalists, broadcasters and publicists, as well as key executives in all the areas that involve the game. The FWAA works to govern areas that include game day operations, major awards and its annual All-America team. For more information about the FWAA and its award programs, contact Steve Richardson at tiger@fwaa.com or call 214-870-6516.

 

National Football Foundation asks FWAA members to vote on 2020 College Football Hall of Fame Class

The National Football Foundation has decided this year to provide each FWAA member a complimentary ballot for the 2020 College Football Hall of Fame Class, encouraging you to vote and then write about your selections. Please vote and share your perspective with your readers. Ballots must be submitted by June 21.

  • Click here to access your electronic ballot to vote.
  • Click here to read a pdf version of the NFF Footballetter with bios of the candidates.

 

Deadline for entries in 2019 Best Writing Contest extended until July 10

The deadline for FWAA members to submit entries in 27th annual Best Writing Contest has been extended until July 10.

CATEGORIES

  • Game Story (Immediate Deadline)
  • Feature Story/Profile
  • Enterprise/Investigative
  • Column/Analysis/Commentary

BEAT WRITER OF THE YEAR AWARD

In addition, see below, we have created a special award for the top beat writer as judged by a special FWAA committee headed by Executive Director Steve Richardson.

WRITING CONTEST RULES

You must be an FWAA member in good standing to enter.

Deadline: July 10, 2019. Entries sent after the deadline WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED.

Limit: One (1) article per category, although a series of articles may be submitted in the enterprise category.

Entries must have appeared in print or on line between Feb. 1, 2018 and Jan. 31, 2019.

Entries must be submitted electronically to contest@fwaa.com.

Entries not sent to this e-mail address will not be accepted

Send MS Word or text files only. DO NOT SEND HTML files, Word Perfect files, stories in other word processing software or links to stories on the Internet or electronic libraries

Make your entry easy to read by taking out unnecessary carriage returns (They can give your entry an odd look when opened by a judge’s word processing program)

Delete any embedded advertising, photos and cutlines from the files (The file should contain only your story and your identifying information)

At the top of each entry, the following information should be included:

  • Writer(s)
  • Publication or online service
  • Category
  • Date of publication
  • E-mail address and telephone number for the writer(s) of the entry

The entries will be sorted and stripped of identifying information and forwarded to the judge(s).

Files containing your entries should follow this naming convention: yourname-category.doc

The category must be one of these four words: Game, Feature, Enterprise or Column

Example: KenStephens-game.doc

FWAA BEAT WRITER OF THE YEAR AWARD: If you have a nomination of a beat writer who covers major college football (either a team or a conference) or you want to nominate yourself, please send an e-mail/letter explaining the qualifications of the person (no more than 250 words) to:

Steve Richardson
FWAA Executive Director
18652 Vista del Sol
Dallas, TX 75287

Steve’s e-mail is tiger@fwaa.com. Steve and his committee will then make inquiries into the FWAA members nominated. In order to qualify for this award the person nominated must have been an FWAA member during the 2018 football season.

Questions? E-mail Ken Stephens at ken.stephens@sbcglobal.net.

Super 11 Recipients Announced for 2018 season

DALLAS — Four first-time winners and seven previous ones comprise the 10th Annual Super 11 Awards, which the Football Writers Association of America gives out annually to the best performing sports information departments in the Football Bowl Subdivision. The awards announced this week are for the 2018 season.

In addition, for the first time the FWAA will present a Super 11 Coach of the Year Award. Arizona State Coach Herm Edwards granted outstanding access to his program during the 2018 season.

“These 11 sports information departments have done an outstanding job of not just fulfilling the needs of media members, but of understanding the importance of strong working relationships between programs and the reporters who cover them,” 2019 FWAA President Matt Fortuna said. “Additionally, Coach Edwards went above and beyond the norm in his first season at Arizona State, a refreshing approach that we feel deserves special recognition.”

As for the 2018 SID department awards, Clemson, Colorado and Nebraska each won for a sixth time. It was Clemson’s fourth straight award and Colorado’s fifth award in six seasons.

Pittsburgh claimed a Super 11 Award for the fourth time and Navy a third time. Iowa State and Mississippi State each won for the second time.

The four first-time recipients in the award series, which dates back to the 2009 season, are Arizona State, Miami, Fla., UAB and Wisconsin.

This year’s winners were deemed by FWAA observers to have had good accessibility during the week of the game and after the game — with a program’s players, coaches and assistant coaches — along with the other listed criteria.

“That was a special point of emphasis in 2018 and will be again in 2019,” FWAA Executive Director Steve Richardson said. “Our membership wants access to players after games, of course, but also for human interest and analytical stories during the week. Over the years, for a variety of reasons this access has been restricted. We believe there are many good stories out there that can be told if they are allowed to be told.”

FWAA members who covered college football during the 2018 season provided input in the awards survey.

In January 2009, the FWAA formed the first Super 11 Committee. The concept has been supported and endorsed by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA), many of whom are members of the FWAA. The FWAA has awarded Super 11 to 60 different schools in this program over the years.

The Football Writers Association of America, a non-profit organization founded in 1941, consists of more than 1,300 men and women across North America who cover college football for a living. The membership includes journalists, broadcasters and publicists, as well as key executives in all the areas that involve the game. The FWAA works to govern areas that include game-day operations, major awards, a national poll and its annual All-America teams.

Related link:
Super 11 Awards (including complete selection criteria)

Call for entries in the 2019 Best Writing Contest

FWAA members may begin submitting entries in the FWAA’s 27th annual Best Writing Contest now.

CATEGORIES

  • Game Story (Immediate Deadline)
  • Feature Story/Profile
  • Enterprise/Investigative
  • Column/Analysis/Commentary

BEAT WRITER OF THE YEAR AWARD

In addition, see below, we have created a special award for the top beat writer as judged by a special FWAA committee headed by Executive Director Steve Richardson.

WRITING CONTEST RULES

You must be an FWAA member in good standing to enter.

Deadline: June 1, 2019. Entries sent after the deadline WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED.

Limit: One (1) article per category, although a series of articles may be submitted in the enterprise category.

Entries must have appeared in print or on line between Feb. 1, 2018 and Jan. 31, 2019.

Entries must be submitted electronically to contest@fwaa.com.

Entries not sent to this e-mail address will not be accepted

Send MS Word or text files only. DO NOT SEND HTML files, Word Perfect files, stories in other word processing software or links to stories on the Internet or electronic libraries

Make your entry easy to read by taking out unnecessary carriage returns (They can give your entry an odd look when opened by a judge’s word processing program)

Delete any embedded advertising, photos and cutlines from the files (The file should contain only your story and your identifying information)

At the top of each entry, the following information should be included:

  • Writer(s)
  • Publication or online service
  • Category
  • Date of publication
  • E-mail address and telephone number for the writer(s) of the entry

The entries will be sorted and stripped of identifying information and forwarded to the judge(s).

Files containing your entries should follow this naming convention: yourname-category.doc

The category must be one of these four words: Game, Feature, Enterprise or Column

Example: KenStephens-game.doc

FWAA BEAT WRITER OF THE YEAR AWARD: If you have a nomination of a beat writer who covers major college football (either a team or a conference) or you want to nominate yourself, please send an e-mail/letter explaining the qualifications of the person (no more than 250 words) to:

Steve Richardson
FWAA Executive Director
18652 Vista del Sol
Dallas, TX 75287

Steve’s e-mail is tiger@fwaa.com. Steve and his committee will then make inquiries into the FWAA members nominated. In order to qualify for this award the person nominated must have been an FWAA member during the 2018 football season.

Questions? E-mail Ken Stephens at ken.stephens@sbcglobal.net.

Shaun Alexander/FWAA Freshman of the Year Award calls for big things on, and off, the field

By Mike Griffith

AJC-Dawg Nation

CLEMSON, S.C. — Dabo Swinney was having flashbacks during the Clemson spring football game on Saturday with former Alabama and Seattle Seahawks star Shaun Alexander in attendance.

The 2005 NFL MVP was at the Tigers’ spring game to hand off the inaugural Shaun Alexander/FWAA Freshman of the Year Award to Trevor Lawrence. The trophy is presented by Stand Together, a non-profit organization.

Swinney had some fun at Alexander’s expense when his dynamic tailback, Travis Etienne, bounced a run outside to the head coach’s displeasure.

“You don’t have to hit home runs Shaun!” Swinney yelled in Etienne’s direction with Alexander standing beside him. “Sometimes you have to hit singles!”

Former Alabama and NFL running back Shaun Alexander is greeted by Clemson coach Dabo Swinney at the school’s 2019 spring game. Alexander was there to formally present the first Shaun Alexander/FWAA Freshman of the Year Trophy to Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Photo by Shane Sandefur.

Former Alabama and NFL running back Shaun Alexander is greeted by Clemson coach Dabo Swinney at the school’s 2019 spring game. Alexander was there to formally present the first Shaun Alexander/FWAA Freshman of the Year Trophy to Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Photo by Mike Griffith.

Alexander broke into a grin, knowing the phrase all too well having heard it several times early in his career at Alabama.

Swinney’s coaching career was just lifting off as a graduate assistant under the direction of College Football Hall of Famer Gene Stallings when Alexander signed with the Tide out of Boone County High School in Florence, Ky., and redshirted the 1995 season.

The 1996 season was big for Alexander and Swinney, a coming out party of sorts for both. Swinney was promoted to receivers coach under the direction of then-Tide offensive coordinator Woody McCorvey, who is now Clemson’s associate athletic director for football administration.

Alexander, meanwhile, was competing for playing time in a crowded backfield when he sent shockwaves across the country on Nov. 9, 1996.

Coming off the bench in the second quarter, Alexander took 20 handoffs from then-Alabama QB and now-Cleveland Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens and gained a school-record 291 yards against LSU, scoring four touchdowns in a 26-0 win over the Bayou Bengals.

Gerry DiNardo, the LSU coach at the time, since turned Big Ten Network lead analyst, remembers recognizing Alexander’s greatness when he watch No. 37 slice through a defense that anchored a 10-2 team.

“I can still remember a play starting toward our bench and then him cutting back, and I remember thinking as I watched that this is a special back,” DiNardo said. “He hadn’t started any games, and we didn’t know much about him.

“Anytime you see a great athlete move forward and contribute to our society, it’s a great story, so what started out for me as a bad memory has turned into a very good thing.”

McCorvey knew he had a pretty good thing in Alexander, but not even he could have anticipated that sort of performance.

“For him to do what he did down in the other Death Valley at LSU in Baton Rouge, 291 yards rushing, that was unbelievable,” said McCorvey, who after seeing Alexander score on his only carry of the first half called Alexander’s number 19 more times in the second half.

“That was just the start of it for Shaun, he was able to finish of a tremendous college career and went on to have a stellar NFL career.”

As much as Alexander excelled on the field, he was an exemplary student-athlete off of it, serving as an Alabama chapter Fellowship of Christian Athletes president in 1999, the same year he was named SEC Player of the Year.

Those good works continued off the field, as Alexander started a family foundation in Seattle to mentor young men before his nine-year NFL career and retirement to the Washington, D.C., area with his wife and nine children.

“Shaun was a great representative of Alabama football, the way he carried himself off the field, and of course what an incredible back he was,” said ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit, who launched his career on ESPN GameDay in 1996. “I love that the FWAA has come up with an award recognizing a freshman of the year, and how fitting to be able to have a guy like Trevor Lawrence win it in the first year.

“Shaun and Trevor are two great people, two great athletes, and I think we’ll look back at this with Trevor winning a trophy that’s fitting of him and everything he and Shaun represent.”

In addition to the Alexander Trophy, the FWAA Freshman of the Year will receive a gold coin with the following traits displayed on the coin: “Ambassador, Legend, Faith, Passion, Talent, Focus, Character, Leader.”

McCorvey, who mentored Swinney as a receiver and assistant coach and now helps oversee Clemson football, has used many of those same words during his distinguished coaching career.

Former Alabama and NFL running back Shaun Alexander presents the inaugural Shaun Alexander/FWAA Freshman of the Year Trophy to Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence. The formal presentation occurred at Cloemson’s 2019 spring game. Photo by Shane Sandefur.

“Both Shaun and Trevor exemplify class,” McCorvey said. “When I was a part of Shaun’s career at Alabama, his work ethic and everything he put into being a student-athlete was exemplary.

“It’s the same thing with Trevor since he has been here. He’s been all business, he’s carried himself in the right way, and when he got his opportunity last year he handled it well. For him to win this award and win the national championship, that’s what it’s all about.”

Swinney, his arm around Alexander much of the day, agreed.

“Here’s the cool thing, I was there when you were a freshman, and I am here to see you present this award to this great freshman, Trevor,” Swinney told Alexander. “It’s fitting that he’s the first one, you were an amazing freshman; obviously he was too.

“But the great thing is both of you are great people, both of you have strong faiths. I’m honored Trevor won it and you are here to present it.”
Lawrence, born on Oct. 6, 1999, four days after Alexander scored four touchdowns and tallied 200 total yards in a 40-39 road win over a No. 3-ranked Florida team, was humbled to win the award.

“It’s awesome, obviously Shaun was a great player, so to win his award is an honor,” Lawrence said. “I try to lead by example; you can’t ask anyone to do anything that you’re not willing to do.

“My faith plays a big part in leading people, too, and that’s also leading by example. That’s doing the right thing, not just with the team and in workouts, but off the field, too.”

Alexander, his Alabama rooting interests aside, made it clear he’ll be pulling for Lawrence to continue his greatness on and off the field.

“I wanted someone to win this award whose character and faith and talent matched, and Trevor was that guy,” said Alexander, who chose Lawrence for the award before the Clemson phenom completed 20-of-32 passes for 347 yards and three touchdowns in the Tigers’ 44-16 CFP Championship Game win over the Tide.

“I, along with Stand Together and the Football Writers Association of America, will be looking for big things from you in the future on and off the field.”

Photo gallery: Freshman of the Year Award presented to Trevor Lawrence at Clemson spring game

Former Alabama and NFL running back Shaun Alexander formally presented the inaugural Shaun Alexander/FWAA Freshman of the Year Trophy to Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence during Clemson’s spring game on April 6.