USC’s Tessalone named winner of Bert McGrane Award

USC Sports Information Director Tim Tessalone

USC Sports Information Director Tim Tessalone

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.

The Bert McGrane Award

The Bert McGrane Award

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