President’s column: Membership directory is in the mail

2016 FWAA President Mark Anderson

2016 FWAA President Mark Anderson

Welcome to the beginning of the FWAA’s next 75 years.

We have a lot to live up to given all that’s happened during the organization’s first 75 years. That birthday we celebrated in 2015 is in our rear-view mirror. But with a membership that is strong and talented, there is little reason to think the future can’t be at least as bright.

The information-packed FWAA 2016-17 Membership Directory will be in your hands soon, if not already. Coming to a mailbox near you is one reason your membership is so valuable. You have access — cell numbers, emails and twitter handles — of contacts that your non-FWAA member friends don’t possess.

And that’s only part of what the guide offers: informative team pages on all FBS schools; bowl, award, conference and media contacts, as well as individual listings for FCS schools. I-30 East’s Ted Gangi, Executive Director Steve Richardson, the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic’s Charlie Fiss and staff deserve a big thank you for the work they put into the guide, which alone is worth the price of FWAA membership.

Between now and the College Football Playoff National Championship Game on Jan. 9 in Tampa, we have a lot of ground to cover.

On Sept. 6 the first regular-season FWAA-National Football Foundation Super 16 Poll will be released. Please write about it and talk about it every week. The FWAA-NFF already has conducted a pre-season poll by its 40-plus member panel, composed of FWAA members and College Football Hall of Famers.

We are already beginning to send out information for player nominations for the Armed Forces Merit Award, sponsored by the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth. We will have flyers at many of the early-season big games that explain the award. Those nominees should be sent to Tim Simmons at bfishinc@aol.com

In the next two weeks, we will have exciting news, officially announcing a sponsor for our FWAA Freshman All-America Team

Once we get into the season, we will announce a Team of the Week each Monday, our Bronko Nagurski Defensive Player of the Week on Tuesday and our FWAA/Orange Bowl Courage Award Nominee on Wednesdays, starting a little later than  the other two weekly awards.  Please send any nominees for the Courage Award to ESPN’s Matt Fortuna at matt.fortuna@gmail.com.

And later …

FWAA members will receive their offensive line and defensive All-America ballots on Nov. 7 and offensive skill and special team ballots a week later. During our All-America Team selection conference calls, we look carefully at how the membership votes.  The 26-man 2016 FWAA All-America team will be announced in mid-December.

We also will be busy with announcements of the Bronko Nagurski  (Best Defensive Player) and Outland Trophy (Best Interior Lineman) Award winners in early December. A highlight in early January will be the honoring of our 60th Annual Coach of the Year with the Eddie Robinson  bust presentation  on Jan. 7 in Tampa. The legendary Robinson has been the namesake of our award since 1997.

During the FWAA’s Annual Awards Breakfast on Jan. 9 in Tampa, we will hand out, among other in-house awards, the “Steve Ellis Beat Writer of the Year Award.” His widow, Karen, will present it, a year after the FWAA Board decided to name the award after her late husband. Steve was a former colleague of mine at the Tallahassee Democrat and the best reporter I’ve ever been around. He once filed a story on his honeymoon. I don’t recommend that, by the way.

It’s sure to be a memorable year.

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