Pillars of the FWAA: Tom Mickle (1950-2006), Florida Citrus Sports

ffaw_redesignThe Football Writers Association of America is celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2015. Founded in 1941, the FWAA has served the writing profession and college football during a time when the world has changed greatly and the sport of football has along with it. In an effort to tell the stories of the members of the organization, we will publish each week a sketch on one of the FWAA’s  most important  leaders — all Bert McGrane Award winners.

The Bert McGrane Award, symbolic of the association’s Hall of Fame, is presented to an FWAA member who has performed great service to the organization and/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 McGrane Award was first bestowed on an FWAA member in 1974.

For a list of all the winners go to:  http://www.sportswriters.net/fwaa/awards/mcgrane/index.html.

The following is the 17th installment of the Pillars of the FWAA series. Tom Mickle was the 2010 winner of the Bert McGrane Award. Thanks to FWAA Past President Alan Schmadtke (2005)   for writing and researching this sketch.

By Alan Schmadtke

College football historians link Tom Mickle’s legacy to a cocktail napkin, his vehicle of choice for game-planning a playoff.

For those who knew him best, memories take them to his unending optimism. They remember his small, perpetual grin that made them wonder if they were about to laugh or be amazed. They remember his owl-like glasses, a raspy voice and a wry delivery. They remember him hoisting a glass of wine in the fall and winter, a gin-and-tonic when it turned warm.

Tom Mickle, posthumous winner of the Bert McGrane Award in 2010.

Tom Mickle, posthumous winner of the Bert McGrane Award in 2010.

Mickle had a passion for work and play.

“Once you’d been around him, you didn’t leave and not smile about things or have a better perception about things. He had that effect,” one of Mickle’s best friends, Rick Chryst, told the Orlando Sentinel upon Tom’s death at age 55 in 2006.

Former Atlantic Coast Conference Commissioner Gene Corrigan called Mickle the best hire he ever made, and no one argues the point. One morning in the early 1990s, Mickle walked into his boss’s office and handed him brackets on small paper. The last remnant from a brainstorm dinner was the framework of a No. 1 vs. No. 2 New Year’s Day football game – the end result of Corrigan’s dream-shot request.

The commissioner wanted to secure the ACC’s football champion an annual New Year’s slot somewhere alongside SEC, Big Eight, Big Ten and Pac-10 champs. A de facto national championship game for college football as part of the solution worked fine, too.

Few remember now how land-locked college football used to be, when a 1 vs. 2 matchup was an anomaly.

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Pillars of the FWAA: Dave Campbell (1925-), Waco Tribune-Herald

ffaw_redesignThe Football Writers Association of America is celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2015. Founded in 1941, the FWAA has served the writing profession and college football during a time when the world has changed greatly and the sport of football has along with it. In an effort to tell the stories of the members of the organization, we will publish each week a sketch on one of the FWAA’s  most important  leaders — all Bert McGrane Award winners.

The Bert McGrane Award, symbolic of the association’s Hall of Fame, is presented to an FWAA member who has performed great service to the organization and/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 McGrane Award was first bestowed on an FWAA member in 1974.

For a list of all the winners go to:  http://www.sportswriters.net/fwaa/awards/mcgrane/index.html.

The following is the 16th installment of the Pillars of the FWAA series. Dave Campbell was the 1988 winner of the Bert McGrane Award. Thanks to FWAA member Gene Duffey for writing and researching this sketch.

By Gene Duffey

For a guy who worked 51 years in the newspaper business, Dave Campbell will be remembered longer, at least in his own state, for starting a magazine. Campbell founded Texas Football in 1960 and more than a half a century later the magazine is still going strong.

Dave Campbell, 1988 winner of the Bert McGrane Award.

Dave Campbell, 1988 winner of the Bert McGrane Award.

In the summer of 1959 Campbell, who was already sports editor of Waco Tribune-Herald, picked up several college football annuals at a local newsstand.

“I was struck by how many errors there were,” Campbell said of the magazines. “I was covering the Southwest Conference and it was pretty abbreviated coverage. One magazine left Baylor out entirely, and that was my alma mater.”

Football was extremely popular in Texas, particularly high school football. Campbell figured he could certainly do a better job covering the college teams in his state than the other magazines.

With the help of Tribune-Herald staffers Al Ward, Jim Montgomery and Hollis Biddle, Campbell got down to business. They started by mailing out questionnaires to the high school coaches in the state. They visited all the coaches in the Southwest Conference after spring practice.

“I never worked harder in my life,” said Campbell. “(The magazine) had a great reception. It was an artistic success, but not a financial one.”

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FWAA unveils 75th anniversary All-America team

ffaw_redesignDALLAS — The Football Writers Association of America proudly announces its 75th Anniversary All-America Team, celebrating the association’s All-America teams from near the end of World War II through the 2014 season. The FWAA, which was founded in 1941, has picked an annual All-America team since the 1944 season, making it the second longest continuously selected team in major college football.

The FWAA’s first All-America team in 1944 included Army’s famous running back tandem of Doc Blanchard and Glenn Davis and Georgia Tech’s Frank Broyles, who later became Arkansas’ legendary head football coach. Seven decades later, the 2014 team featured Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Marcus Mariota of Oregon, Outland Trophy winner, offensive tackle Brandon Scherff of Iowa, and Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner, linebacker Scooby Wright III of Arizona.

“This was one of the most fun, yet most difficult exercises I’ve had in life – next to parallel parking, that is,” said FWAA 75th All-America Committee chairman Kirk Bohls of the Austin American-Statesman. “Truly, it was an exciting – if not impossible – task to find the best 75 college football players ever. Please save your hate mail, but feel free to weigh in and tell us how we messed up. And I’m sure we did, but no one should argue that it wasn’t a great idea to honor the best who have ever played the game. Let the debating begin.”

A nomination ballot with selected players from all FWAA All-America teams was sent to the entire membership this spring. The popular vote was then taken into consideration by a Blue Ribbon Committee of FWAA past presidents, current board members and officers. That committee put the finishing touches on selecting the 75-man team. In order for a player to be considered for the FWAA’s 75th team, he had to be on a previous FWAA All-America team.

The FWAA’s 25-man first team included Navy quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Roger Staubach, the only member from a military academy; the only two-time Heisman Trophy winner running back Archie Griffin of Ohio State; three-time FWAA All-America end Leon Hart of Notre Dame; and the only two-time Outland Trophy winner, center Dave Rimington of Nebraska. On the three 25-man teams, the Cornhuskers led all schools with six selections – including four on the first team – and four of their overall honorees are Outland Trophy winners. Ohio State and Pittsburgh each had five selections and Alabama, Oklahoma and Texas had four. Schools with three selections were Florida State, Georgia, Michigan and USC.

75th ANNIVERSARY FWAA ALL-AMERICA TEAM

FIRST TEAM OFFENSE

QB Roger Staubach Navy
RB Archie Griffin Ohio State
RB Herschel Walker Georgia
WR Larry Fitzgerald Pittsburgh
WR Jerry Rice Mississippi Valley State
TE Keith Jackson Oklahoma
OL John Hannah Alabama
OL Orlando Pace Ohio State
OL Will Shields Nebraska
OL Ron Yary USC
C Dave Rimington Nebraska

FIRST TEAM DEFENSE

DT Lee Roy Selmon Oklahoma
DT Ndamukong Suh Nebraska
DE Leon Hart Notre Dame
DE Ted Hendricks Miami (Fla.)
LB Tommy Nobis Texas
LB Mike Singletary Baylor
LB Derrick Thomas Alabama
DB Ronnie Lott USC
DB Deion Sanders Florida State
DB Jack Tatum Ohio State
DB Charles Woodson Michigan

FIRST TEAM SPECIALISTS

P Ray Guy Southern Miss
K Kevin Butler Georgia
RS Johnny Rodgers Nebraska

SECOND TEAM OFFENSE

QB Tim Tebow Florida
RB Tony Dorsett Pittsburgh
RB Barry Sanders Oklahoma State
WR Fred Biletnikoff Florida State
WR Randy Moss Marshall
TE Mike Ditka Pittsburgh
OL Bill Fralic Pittsburgh
OL John Hicks Ohio State
OL Calvin Jones Iowa
OL Jonathan Ogden UCLA
C Chuck Bednarik Penn

SECOND TEAM DEFENSE

DT Merlin Olsen Utah State
DT Randy White Maryland
DE Hugh Green Pittsburgh
DE Bruce Smith Virginia Tech
LB Brian Bosworth Oklahoma
LB Dick Butkus Illinois
LB Luke Kuechly Boston College
DB Champ Bailey Georgia
DB Kenny Easley UCLA
DB Jerry Gray Texas
DB Ed Reed Miami (Fla.)

SECOND TEAM SPECIALISTS

P Russell Erxleben Texas
K Mason Crosby Colorado
RS Raghib Ismail Notre Dame

THIRD TEAM OFFENSE

QB Tommie Frazier Nebraska
RB Bo Jackson Auburn
RB Doak Walker SMU
WR Anthony Carter Michigan
WR Calvin Johnson Georgia Tech
TE Gordon Hudson BYU
OL Barrett Jones Alabama
OL Willie Roaf Louisiana Tech
OL Jerry Sisemore Texas
OL Dean Steinkuhler Nebraska
C Jim Ritcher N.C. State

THIRD TEAM DEFENSE

DT Steve Emtman Washington
DT Reggie White Tennessee
DE Bubba Smith Michigan State
DE Jack Youngblood Florida
LB Jack Ham Penn State
LB Lee Roy Jordan Alabama
LB Chris Spielman Ohio State
DB Dré Bly North Carolina
DB Dave Brown Michigan
DB Troy Polamalu USC
DB Roy Williams Oklahoma

THIRD TEAM SPECIALISTS

P Rohn Stark Florida State
K Tony Franklin Texas A&M
RS Derek Abney Kentucky

75th Anniversary All-Americans by school (75 players from 41 schools): Nebraska 6, Ohio State 5, Pittsburgh 5, Alabama 4, Oklahoma 4, Texas 4, Florida State 3, Georgia 3, Michigan 3, USC 3, Florida 2, Miami (Fla.) 2, Notre Dame 2, UCLA 2, Auburn 1, Baylor 1, Boston College 1, BYU 1, Colorado 1, Georgia Tech 1, Illinois 1, Iowa 1, Kentucky 1, Louisiana Tech 1, Marshall 1, Maryland 1, Michigan State 1, Mississippi Valley State 1, Navy 1, North Carolina 1, N.C. State 1, Oklahoma State 1, Penn 1, Penn State 1, SMU 1, Southern Miss 1, Tennessee 1, Texas A&M 1, Utah State 1, Virginia Tech 1, Washington 1.

75th Anniversary All-Americans by current conference: Big Ten Conference 19, Atlantic Coast Conference 15, Southeastern Conference 13, Big 12 Conference 10, Pac-12 Conference 7, Conference USA 3, Independents 3, American Athletic Conference 2, Ivy League 1, Mountain West Conference 1, Southwestern Athletic Conference 1.

“Picking the FWAA’s 75th Anniversary teams was like taking a final exam with no wrong answers,” said 2015 FWAA President Lee Barfknecht of the Omaha World-Herald. “Even though some answers may be more ‘right’ than others, this will add to the colorful conversation about college football, honor those chosen, and help celebrate the game.”

The quarterbacks of the top two teams are both Heisman Trophy winners: Staubach and Tim Tebow of Florida. Quarterback Tommie Frazier of Nebraska was selected to the third team after leading Nebraska to back-to-back national titles and finishing runner-up in the Heisman Trophy his senior season. All six of the running backs are Heisman Trophy winners: Griffin, Georgia’s Herschel Walker, Pittsburgh’s Tony Dorsett, Oklahoma State’s Barry Sanders, Auburn’s Bo Jackson and SMU’s Doak Walker. There are 16 Outland winners (selected since 1946) and five Bronko Nagurski Trophy winners (selected since 1993) on the three teams.

All eight decades in which the FWAA teams have been selected are represented on the 75-man team, starting in the 1940s with SMU’s Walker all the way through Alabama’s two-time All-America Barrett Jones, the 2011 Outland winner. In all, there are 56 members of the National Football Foundation’s College Football Hall of Fame and 41 schools are represented on the three 25-man teams.

The FWAA has selected All-America Teams in different forms over the years. All the teams are online at allamericateam.com and footballwriters.com in the All-America section in the FWAA awards area.

“This was truly an enriching experience picking this team,” said FWAA Executive Director Steve Richardson. “It put our members in contact with the great players of the past and truly gave them a better snapshot of college football history. All of our All-Americans were great, but picking this team was like choosing between a filet mignon and a Kansas City strip.”

Founded in 1941, the Football Writers Association of America consists of 1,400 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.

The FWAA welcomes comments on the selection of its 75th Anniversary All-America Team. Please send your comments to allamerica@fwaa.com or Tweet them to @TheFWAA.

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Pillars of the FWAA: Si Burick (1909-1986), Dayton Daily News

ffaw_redesignThe Football Writers Association of America is celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2015. Founded in 1941, the FWAA has served the writing profession and college football during a time when the world has changed greatly and the sport of football has along with it. In an effort to tell the stories of the members of the organization, we will publish each week a sketch on one of the FWAA’s  most important  leaders — all Bert McGrane Award winners.

The Bert McGrane Award, symbolic of the association’s Hall of Fame, is presented to an FWAA member who has performed great service to the organization and/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 McGrane Award was first bestowed on an FWAA member in 1974.

For a list of all the winners go to:  http://www.sportswriters.net/fwaa/awards/mcgrane/index.html.

The following is the 15th installment of the Pillars of the FWAA series. Si Burick was the 1984 winner of the Bert McGrane Award. Thanks to FWAA member Gene Duffey for writing and researching this sketch.

By Gene Duffey

Si Burick liked to say that he became sports editor of the Dayton Daily News at 19 and never received a promotion. He never retired, either.

Burick was still working when he died of a stroke at age 77.

Si Burick, 1984 winner of the Bert McGrane Award.

Si Burick, 1984 winner of the Bert McGrane Award.

Born in Dayton, Burick began writing for the Daily News at age 16, serving as correspondent for Stivers High School. The pay: $2 a week. He received his first byline Aug. 26, 1925.

Burick, the son of a rabbi, enrolled at the University of Dayton with grander plans. He wanted to become a doctor. Monetary problems forced him to withdraw from school.

In 1928 he was summoned to the office of James M. Cox, the publisher of the Daily News, three-time governor of Ohio and a presidential candidate in 1920. Cox offered him the job as sports editor. His first “Si-ings” column appeared Nov. 16, 1928.

Dayton may never have been home to major league teams, but Burick soon became a major league columnist. He covered his first Kentucky Derby in 1929. Over the next 50 years he missed only two Derbys.

Burick, who served as president of the FWAA in 1972, began covering the World Series in 1930. He became a regular at the Cincinnati Reds’ training camp beginning in 1937. He worked the first 20 Super Bowls.

But Burick’s columns weren’t limited by the borders of the United States. He wrote about Wimbledon and even traveled to Japan with the Reds in 1978.

“He was from another, glamorous generation when he would travel the country, and the world sometimes, covering all the major events,” said Ralph Morrow, who served as Burick’s executive sports editor for years.

Burick was well connected. He developed such a close relationship with heavyweight champion Rocky Marciano that he would meet Marciano for breakfast after many of Marciano’s fights.

Morrow handled the administrative part of the sports department, but Burick was still the boss, the final word on everything.

“When I made a major change or assignment, I always consulted Si,” said Morrow.

Hal McCoy, the Hall of Fame baseball writer for the Dayton Daily News, worked with Burick for years.

“Outside of the office he was one of the nicest, funniest, most humorous persons you’ll ever met,” said McCoy. “Inside the office he was a demon, a real taskmaster. If there was an error in the paper, he went nuts.”

Burick’s influence around Dayton went well beyond the newspaper. He became the first regular radio sportscaster in the state at WHIO in 1935. He began a side career on television in 1949 and worked in radio until 1961.

Dayton may have been 40 miles north of Cincinnati, but Burick made sure his newspaper competed with the Cincinnati papers when covering the Reds and Bengals.

Baseball was probably his favorite sport. He lived at 714 Otterbein Ave., the house number matching Babe Ruth’s career total in home runs. When Hank Aaron passed Ruth’s record, people asked Burick if he planned to move. He was elected to the writers’ section of the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1977.

Although he never graduated from Dayton, he did receive an honorary doctor of humane letters in 1977.

It was an appropriate acknowledgment for a man who took the written word very seriously. Morrow often edited Burick’s columns, but usually found himself as busy as the Maytag repairman.

“He was an immaculate writer, often not even needing a comma,” Morrow said of Burick.

He wanted everything done right.

“Everybody (else) tried to avoid handling his column, because if there was a mistake, you were going to catch hell,” said McCoy, who began covering the Cincinnati Reds in 1972 and was inducted into the writers’ wing at Cooperstown in 2002. “You didn’t make a change in his copy without going to him, showing it to him and convincing him.”

McCoy said when he was young he used to ride to Reds games with Burick just to learn the profession.

“I learned more in one month from him than I did in four years of journalism school,” said McCoy.

Ohio State is pre-season No. 1 in FWAA-NFF Super 16 Poll

ffaw_redesignDefending national champion Ohio State leads all teams by a large margin to claim the top spot in the Super 16 preseason poll released by the Football Writers Association of America and the National Football Foundation.

The Buckeyes were the top selection on 38 of the 40 ballots cast by the voters.

The Big 12 have two teams in the Top 16, with TCU and Baylor occupying the second and fourth spots in the poll, respectively. TCU received one first-place vote.

Alabama, the team the Buckeyes defeated in one of the two 2014 College Football Playoff Semifinals, is third in the poll, sandwiched in between the two Big 12 schools. The Crimson Tide received the other first-place vote.

Oregon, which lost to Ohio State in the national title game last season, is fifth in the initial poll.

The SEC leads all leagues with five teams in the poll, followed by the Pac-12 with four. The ACC, Big 12 and Big Ten have two teams each. Independent Notre Dame has the other vote.

Click here to see the entire poll.

 

Pillars of the FWAA: Bill Lumpkin (1928-), Birmingham Post-Herald

ffaw_redesignThe Football Writers Association of America is celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2015. Founded in 1941, the FWAA has served the writing profession and college football during a time when the world has changed greatly and the sport of football has along with it. In an effort to tell the stories of the members of the organization, we will publish each week a sketch on one of the FWAA’s  most important  leaders — all Bert McGrane Award winners.

The Bert McGrane Award, symbolic of the association’s Hall of Fame, is presented to an FWAA member who has performed great service to the organization and/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 McGrane Award was first bestowed on an FWAA member in 1974.

For a list of all the winners go to:  http://www.sportswriters.net/fwaa/awards/mcgrane/index.html.

The following is the 14th installment of the Pillars of the FWAA series. Bill Lumpkin was the 1997 winner of the Bert McGrane Award. Thanks to FWAA member Gene Duffey for writing and researching this sketch.

By Gene Duffey

Bill Lumpkin learned early in his career that working for a newspaper would not make him rich. He started working for the Birmingham Post at age 15 for $16.50 a week, including overtime. And then, while a student at Alabama and stringing for the Post, he was asked to cover the opening of a rubber plant in Tuscaloosa.

It cost Lumpkin 20 cents to ride the bus to the rubber plant and back, plus 5 cents to buy the newspaper the next day. The Post paid him 5 cents an inch. After he turned in a 15-inch story on the rubber plant, the paper ran only two. He lost money on the deal.

Bill Lumpkin, 1997 winner of the Bert McGrane Award.

Bill Lumpkin, 1997 winner of the Bert McGrane Award.

Lumpkin’s mother, Clara, worked at the Post, first as a switchboard operator and later in the business office.

“You’re not going to sit on your butt all summer and play softball,” Clara told her son in the spring of 1944. “Get down to the paper. They’re looking for an office boy.”

Bill began as a copy boy. His duties included calling the weather bureau and writing two paragraphs for the front page. “I couldn’t put a sentence together,” he said. Later he started writing a radio column called “Timely Tips for Nightly Dial Twisters,” which amounted to pasting up the releases that the radio stations mailed to the paper. He also filled paste pots, went out for coffee, ran copy to the composing room and did other “go-fer” jobs.

Oddly, Lumpkin also had a paper route, delivering the competition, the Birmingham News. “I don’t know if they knew,” he said of his bosses at the Post. “They probably didn’t care.”

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Pillars of the FWAA: Pat Harmon (1916-2013), Cincinnati Post

ffaw_redesign

The Football Writers Association of America is celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2015. Founded in 1941, the FWAA has served the writing profession and college football during a time when the world has changed greatly and the sport of football has along with it. In an effort to tell the stories of the members of the organization, we will publish each week a sketch on one of the FWAA’s  most important  leaders — all Bert McGrane Award winners.

The Bert McGrane Award, symbolic of the association’s Hall of Fame, is presented to an FWAA member who has performed great service to the organization and/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 McGrane Award was first bestowed on an FWAA member in 1974.

For a list of all the winners go to:  http://www.sportswriters.net/fwaa/awards/mcgrane/index.html.

The following is the 13th installment of the Pillars of the FWAA series. Pat Harmon was the 2004 winner of the Bert McGrane Award. Thanks to FWAA member Gene Duffey for writing and researching this sketch.

By Gene Duffey

Pat Harmon of the Cincinnati Post, 2004 winner of the Bert McGrane Award.

Pat Harmon of the Cincinnati Post, 2004 winner of the Bert McGrane Award.

Bill Koch covered the Cincinnati Reds for only half a season for the Cincinnati Post. Wherever he traveled around the National League, a similar scene would unfold. Other writers would ask Koch about Pat Harmon, the columnist/sports editor at the Post.

“He knew everybody,” said Koch. “When they found out I was from the Cincinnati Post, they wanted to know how Pat was. Jim Murray (the legendary columnist from the Los Angeles Times) even asked how Pat was. I found out what a big deal he was.”

Most sports columnists become well known in their own market. It seemed that Harmon was well known in every market.

“I was always amazed how many sports personalities he knew around the country,” said Barry Cobb, who worked for the Post for 38 years. “He knew everybody. He knew all the big athletes, owners, coaches.”

Harmon built his reputation as a gregarious guy with wavy red hair who enjoyed a beer or two, occasionally with his old baseball announcing buddy, Harry Caray.

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