President’s column: Championship week includes several FWAA events in Arizona

ffaw_redesignBy Lee Barfknecht

OMAHA — Don’t close the door on college football’s 2015 season just yet. Multiple events during the College Football Playoff’s championship week in Arizona will involve the Football Writers Association of America.

On Jan. 8, a dinner to salute past presidents of the FWAA is set at Paradise Valley Country Club. Last year, 11 former chiefs attended and we look for strong attendance and story-telling again this year.

On Jan. 9, a reception is set to honor Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz as the 59th winner of the FWAA/Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award presented by the Allstate Sugar Bowl. The event will be at the media hotel, the JW Marriott Camelback in Scottsdale.

FWAA 2015 President Lee Barfknecht.

FWAA 2015 President Lee Barfknecht.

Ferentz’s Hawkeyes, who were 7-6 in 2014, were picked fourth in the Big Ten West Division in a preseason media poll. Iowa instead rolled to the division title, going 12-0 in the regular season.

Ferentz was a finalist for the Eddie Robinson Award in 2002 and 2004. He is the first Big Ten coach to win it since Ohio State’s Jim Tressel in 2002. The FWAA has honored a coach of the year since 1957. The first winner was Ohio State’s Woody Hayes. The Eddie Robinson name began to grace the award in 1997.

On Jan. 10, the FWAA’s board of directors will gather for its annual meeting. Among the ongoing topics our organization has high interest in and will discuss are access for news media, bowl game operations, our player and team of the week awards and the growth of the FWAA.

On Jan. 11, the morning of the championship game, the annual FWAA awards breakfast is set. Among those to be saluted:

Irv Moss of the Denver Post will be honored with the FWAA’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Moss, at 81, is still covering the college football beat.

Chris Dufresne, the FWAA beat writer of the year. The 2013 FWAA President recently took a buyout after 40 years at The Los Angeles Times.

Bret Robertson, U.S. Army veteran and a junior strong safety at Westminster (Mo.) College, as the Armed Services Merit Award winner presented by the FWAA and coordinated by the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl. Robertson earned a Purple Heart (he was wounded in Iraq) and the Army Commendation Medal.

The winners of the Bert McGrane Award (FWAA Hall of Fame) and Volney Meece Award (academic scholarship for a son or daughter of an FWAA member) will be announced in the coming days.