USC’s Tim Tessalone is the 41st winner of the Bert McGrane Award, which is annually bestowed on a member of the Football Writers Association of America.
He has served college football for more than three decades as the Trojans’ sports information director, helping writers in their jobs as well as promoting the school’s athletic teams — both in exemplary fashion.
The McGrane Award, symbolic of the association’s Hall of Fame, is presented to an FWAA member who has performed great service to the organization or the writing profession. It is named after McGrane, a Des Moines, Iowa, writer who was the executive secretary of the FWAA from the early 1940s until 1973.
Tessalone will receive the award during the FWAA’s Annual Awards Breakfast on Jan. 6 at the Newport Beach Marriott Hotel and Spa, the media hotel for the VIZIO BCS National Championship game, played at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.
“I am humbled and honored to receive an award that not only is named after a man who served the FWAA so well, but that has been presented previously to icons who are well above me in stature and ability,” Tessalone said. “It is a privilege to be in their company. Thank you to the FWAA membership, with particular gratitude to Chris Dufresne (2013 FWAA President) and Mark Blaudschun (1999 FWAA President).
Tessalone, a USC senior associate athletic director since 2012, became the school’s SID in 1984 and owns the longest tenure of any SID in the school’s history. He has worked 25 Trojan football bowl games, including 11 Rose Bowls. Overall, he was worked more than 400 USC football games, including a streak of 243 consecutive from 1980 until missing 2000 Notre Dame contest because of broken ribs. His current steak stands at 168 games since the injury.
“Tim, without a doubt, sets the sports information standard,” said USC Athletic Director Pat Haden. “Fair, transparent, diligent and helpful. For me as an athletic director, his wise and thoughtful counsel has been an enormous benefit. In the minds of all who have worked with Tim at USC over the years, there could not be a more deserving winner of the Bert McGrane Award.”
Under Tessalone, the USC Sports Information office has received the “Super 11 Award” in 2009, 2010 and 2011 from the FWAA for “excellent media relations” (one of just two schools to be honored in each of award’s first three years).
“I can’t think of anyone more deserving of this year’s Bert McGrane Award,” said 2013 FWAA President Chris Dufresne. “Tim Tessalone defines, to me, what a great sports information director should be. He has deftly navigated his obligation and loyalty to his school/employer with the highest quality of professionalism in dealing with journalists trying to do their jobs. It is often a near-impossible tightrope act.
“Tim is the same, win or lose, year after year, coach after coach, in good times and in crisis. To boil it down, Tim gets it. He knows his job and understands our jobs. He has been, for more than three decades, a familiar, reliable and important fixture in USC’s athletic department.”
Over the course of Tessalone’s tenure, the Trojans have produced 40 national championship teams, 346 Olympians and 18 Academic All-American first teamers. In football there have been 77 All-American first teamers, 199 NFL draft picks and five Heisman Trophy winners
Tessalone graduated in 1977 with a bachelor’s degree in public relations from USC. He and his wife, Trudi (USC ’80), have three children, sons Troy (USC ‘08) and Trevor (USC ’10), and daughter, Tori (USC ’13).
“I am unsure why I am being recognized for doing what is, simply, my job,” Tessalone said. “ SIDs are people who should be in the background. It is not about us, it is about the coaches, student-athletes and staff we promote and the media we service. I am blessed to have worked beside many talented men and women over the years in the USC Sports Information Office whose goal was the same as mine: providing the best service possible to USC and to the media.
“I also am fortunate to have worked with head coaches who, most of the time (!), understood the media’s role and valued the concepts of cooperation, access, good story lines and free speech.”
Winners Year by Year
|2014||Tim Tessalone||University of Southern California|
|2013||Dick Weiss||New York Daily News|
|2012||Dave Sittler||Tulsa World|
|2011||Beano Cook||University of Pittsburgh/ESPN|
|2010||Tom Mickle||Florida Citrus Sports|
|2009||Tony Barnhart||Atlanta Journal-Constitution|
|2008||Claude Felton||University of Georgia|
|2007||Mark Blaudschun||Boston Globe|
|2006||John Junker||Tostitos Fiesta Bowl|
|2005||Steve Richardson||Dallas Morning News, Kansas City Star|
|2004||Pat Harmon||Cincinnati Post|
|2003||Dan Foster||Greenville News|
|2002||Orville Henry||Arkansas Democrat-Gazette|
|2001||Edwin Pope||Miami Herald|
|2000||Jimmie McDowell||All-American Football Foundation|
|1999||Field Scovell||Cotton Bowl Athletic Association|
|1998||Don Bryant||University of Nebraska|
|1997||Bill Lumpkin||Birmingham Post-Herald|
|1996||Bob Hammel||Bloomington (Ind.) Herald-Times|
|1995||Dick Herbert||Raleigh News & Observer|
|1994||Edgar Allen||Nashville Journal|
|1993||Bob Hentzen||Topeka Capital Journal|
|1992||Volney Meece||The Daily Oklahoman|
|1991||Murray Olderman||Newspaper Enterprise Assoc.|
|1990||Jack Hairston||Gainesville Sun|
|1989||Jim Brock||Cotton Bowl Athletic Association|
|1988||Dave Campbell||Waco Tribune Herald|
|1987||Tim Cohane||Look Magazine|
|1986||Raymond Johnson||Nashville Tennessean|
|1985||Blackie Sherrod||The Dallas Morning News|
|1984||Si Burick||Dayton News|
|1983||John Mooney||Salt Lake Tribune|
|1982||Furman Bisher||Atlanta Journal|
|1981||Fred Russell||Nashville Banner|
|1980||Maury White||Des Moines Register|
|1979||Tom Siler||Knoxville News-Sentinel|
|1978||Wilbur Evans||Cotton Bowl Athletic Association|
|1977||Dick Cullum||Minneapolis Tribune|
|1976||Paul Zimmerman||Los Angeles Times|
|1975||Wilfrid Smith||Chicago Tribune|
|1974||Charley Johnson||Minneapolis Star|