President’s column: Season of changes is upon us

2014 FWAA President Kirk Bohls

2014 FWAA President Kirk Bohls

Let’s kick this thing off.

Actually Sam Houston State and Eastern Washington did the honors Saturday on an all-red field with a no-huddle offensive fury — my eyes are just now adjusting back to normal — but the college football season starts in earnest this Thursday.

If the real season is anywhere near as eventful as the off-season was, this promises to be one of the most exciting, electric years ever.

To recap, we’ve witnessed an all-out assault on the NCAA and the status quo with a move toward greater autonomy for the Power Five conferences, the likelihood of cost of attendance benefits for athletes and the player-friendly outcome of the landscape-altering Ed O’Bannon lawsuit.

We’ve seen football strongholds embrace diversity as Charlie Strong and James Franklin become the first African-American head coaches at tradition-clinging Texas and Penn State. We’ve also seen Chris Petersen leave his comfort zone at Boise State to test the big-school waters at Washington. And we’ll see coaches on the hot seat like Will Muschamp, Dana Holgorsen and Charlie Weis try to stave off the wolves on their doorsteps.

We’ve grimaced when we see stars like Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller and Oregon offensive tackle Tyler Johnstone go down with injuries that ended their seasons before the first kickoff.

We’ve said our goodbyes to Johnny Manziel and Sammy Watkins and nearly every quarterback in the SEC, but we still have household names Jameis Winston and Todd Gurley to wow us.

We’ll say hello to the SEC Network and broadcaster Mack Brown and new, more logical targeting rules.

We’ve seen the popular Mark Mangino come back to the Big 12 as Iowa State’s offensive coordinator and the polarizing Lane Kiffin returning to the game at Alabama, of all places. What’s next? A female coach in the NBA?

Oh yeah, I’ve heard something about a new playoff system, too. That should be kinda interesting.

It’s all shaping up to be an historic season. And the Football Writers Association of America will be right there to chronicle it and be in the middle of it.

The FWAA will unveil a brand new Grantland Rice Super 16 Poll in September as our knowledgeable committee of voters partners with the National Football Foundation to provide enjoyment for the fans and an extra resource for the 13-member College Football Playoff panel. Look for it on Sept. 15.

We’ve switched sponsors for the prestigious Eddie Robinson award to the season’s best coach and welcome the Sugar Bowl in our collaborative effort to honor coaches in the name of the late, great coach of Grambling State in his home state.

Our organization of 1,400 members should all have received our new FWAA directory, and we hope you use it early and often.

Also if any of you get the chance, take in the terrific, interactive College Football Hall of Fame, which opened to the general public on Aug. 23 in Atlanta, and check out the Eddie Robinson Bust and the Outland Trophy and the digital area for the Bert McGrane Award, complete with the names and pictures of all the winners. It’s something to see unless, of course, you’re still blinded from the red football field.

But at long last, the season is here.