Books: Dave Matter on Gary Pinkel Reply

FWAA member Dave Matter from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch is the author on a new book about recently retired Gary Pinkel, the winningest coach in Missouri football history. 

Book blurb: “Very few college football coaches earn the distinction of becoming their programs’ winningest, but Gary Pinkel has done it twice. From his nine-year tenure at the University of Toledo to his career at the University of Missouri from 2001 to 2015, Pinkel has shown he has the talent and meddle to take his teams to the top.  These remarkable achievements have been met by challenges along the way in Pinkel’s personal and professional life, including a DUI and a divorce, a threatened team boycott at Mizzou which dominated national news headlines, and ultimately, a decision to step away from it all following a diagnosis of non-Hodgkins lymphoma.  In The 100-Yard Journey, Pinkel offers a glimpse into the mind of a winner as well as an honest reflection on meeting and overcoming the unexpected. Follow along from the start of Pinkel’s coaching career at Kent State, the same program for which he played as a tight end, through stops at Washington and Toledo, and finally, taking over at the helm of Missouri, a program he guided to 10 bowl games in 15 years, a No. 1 AP ranking at the end of the 2007 season, and SEC Coach of the Year honors in 2014. Whether you’re a Tigers fan or just interested in what makes a successful head coach tick, anyone can find something to relate to in Pinkel’s personal memoirs.”

To order Dave’s book, CLICK HERE to go to Triumph Books.

 

President’s column: Twitter storm at Texas resolved; let us know if 20-hour rule causes media access problems Reply

By Dave Jones

I don’t know about where you live. But in the woods of Pennsylvania, it’s always the cicadas and crickets that let you know.

David Jones, 2017 FWAA President

I still can’t smell that certain scent of sweet freshly mown grass in August without thinking of the end of practice. Of taking off my helmet in the dewy dusk after being drill-sergeanted by coaches for two hours in 90 degrees.

The sensual connect is the same: You know it won’t be long now until the first kick.

When I was a kid this time of year, I couldn’t wait for the Street & Smith’s Official College Football Yearbook. I’m not suggesting you feel exactly the same about the 2017-18 FWAA Directory, but I can assure you it’s at the printers and headed for your mailbox within days. As always, thanks to Ted Gangi, it’s the most useful little book you will carry with you all season.

We’ve had some news on the access front that I feel compelled to address. In particular, we’ve had some good vibes lately at Texas — the positive resolution of a two-day dust-up at UT revolving around something that looked like a mandate about when reporters could tweet.

New coach Tom Herman, just arrived from Houston, caused something of a mini-furor when he requested that anyone covering the 30 to 45 minutes of practice and subsequent interviews not tweet until after those interviews had been completed. The purpose ostensibly was to allow everyone to digest and accurately relate info. Beat reporters understandably felt it was micromanagement and complained in print and to longtime sports information director John Bianco.

Well, they got the rule or guideline or whatever it was rolled back. It’s a good example of a coach who wants to have a good relationship with media deciding when and where to pick his battles after getting some push-back. Herman ended up saying his idea was only a preference, not a dictum.

A more global issue has been the new NCAA rule that media obligations count as part of the players’ 20-hour max. I want to know how your program is treating this, if they attempt to reduce access by using this as a lever and especially if you encounter unworkable constraints. For instance, if Monday becomes a blanket off-day but player interviews are not offered until Tuesday evening, does this become a burdensome jam against print deadline, if you have one, or push your post into an online readership dead zone beyond 8 or 9 p.m.? If it is, let me know and we’ll see if we can help finesse a solution.

I think we’ve turned the FWAA-NFF Super 16 Poll into the best in the business and a particularly interesting one to fill in the two months before the CFP committee’s first rankings.

This will be our fourth go-round with it. After the first two polls (announced on Tuesdays), the results of the 48 pollsters are released at 11:30 every Sunday morning, allowing a quick post for you by noon before the NFL games crank up. Please continue to stress the transparency of the poll to your readers and link the individual ballots. It’s a hook that often sets ours apart from other polls and sets up weekly debate the others don’t have.

I also want to make special mention of Gina Lehe being honored by SportsBusiness Journal on Monday. Good reporters don’t depend on media relations folks, but we sure as hell appreciate the ones who know their jobs. And Gina is one. Not only is she the consummate pro, she hires people who do great work, as anyone who’s been to one of the bowls she’s managed can attest.

Now, as communications director and brand manager for the College Football Playoff, she’s been named as one of SBJ’s “Game Changers: Women in Sports Business.”

I can personally attest that if any sports info staffer ever acted with something bordering on heroism, Gina did at the post-2008 Rose Bowl. She was one of roughly half of those in the press box that day — media members and publicity staffers alike — who’d been stricken with a withering food poisoning plague the night before. A lot of people “played hurt” that day but none more so than Gina.

So, on that note, the season is upon us. In the words of one of my old coaches: “Are you ready?! I can’t have you people coming out flat!”

 

From the vault: Tom Shatel on Barry Switzer how wild it used to be Reply

 Editor’s Note: Getting ready for the 2017 season, here is a classic column by Past FWAA President Tom Shatel of the Omaha World-Herald about the way things used to be. We missed this last January at the Outland Trophy Awards Dinner in Omaha. But good to bring it up now. Barry Switzer was probably the most accessible really big-big-time coach in college football history. Nice to note now  when most other coaches of his status find it hard to be accessible in 2017. And no, Nebraska and Oklahoma aren’t scheduled to play this season. The days of the Big Eight are long gone. Nebraska and Oklahoma now are in different leagues. But they will hook up next in non-conference games in 2021 and 2022.

By Tom Shatel

I don’t know where to start this column, with Dick Janda, or with Earth, Wind and Fire or the mink coat at Jam’s Grill in Omaha.

Barry Switzer, American original and Husker frenemy, comes back to Nebraska on Wednesday night. He’ll accept the Tom Osborne Legacy Award from the man himself, and the two will look like that Rockwell painting we all grew up with. Maybe with a touch of gray.

Many in the audience at the Outland Trophy dinner will come to get that feeling again, to remember the days when Tom and Barry were kings and took turns ruling the game of college football.

They were so darned good, they made me fall in love with the sport. I cherish those days, and we all should, now that realignment and scholarship parity and coaches playing musical jobs have taken over the sport.

Not to mention the joyless crusade of Nick Saban.

I mean, you wouldn’t catch Saban dead in a full-length mink coat.

OK, so we start with Jam’s. This was a cold winter’s night, back in the ’90s. I wandered into the midtown Omaha eatery on a midweek night about 9. I walked in the door and there it was.

Barry Switzer. Wearing that mink coat. Holding a glass of wine. And surrounded by a group of young ladies.

“What are you doing here?” I asked Switzer.

“I’m here to shoot a commercial with Tom tomorrow,” Switzer said. “It’s for a cellphone. So, how ya been?”

It’s been this way since October 1977 — the first time I spoke to the “King.” I was a scared-to-death sophomore at Missouri calling the Oklahoma coach for a quote. The idea of him talking to a kid reporter was a long shot at best — until he answered his own phone.

“This is Barry Switzer.”

He might be the most accessible legend in college football history. Bobby Bowden was media good. But I don’t think Bowden ever did hourlong interviews the day before a game.

Well, the opponent was lowly KU in 1986. Switzer took my interview on a Friday at 1 p.m. The man has the defending national champs and is chasing another title. It’s the day before a game.

He yelled, “Come on in, Tom.” When I walked into his office, he was leaning back in his chair, boots propped up on his desk and puffing on a stogie. Down on the field, his team was going through a classic OU walkthrough. The linemen were having a touch football game, dropping back to pass, etc.

For the next hour, he told the famous tale of his childhood: his father the bootlegger and hearing his mother commit suicide. I’ll never forget this line: “Some people are born on third base and think they hit a triple.”

That’s not the name of an Earth, Wind and Fire song. But I did get to meet band members, thanks to Switzer, who had them visit his locker room after one win.

“Hey, meet the boys from Earth, Wind and Fire.”

I can’t see Urban Meyer doing that. Maybe Jim Harbaugh.

I became fascinated with Switzer and Osborne over the years. They were the yin and yang, the Oscar and Felix of college football. They were the faces of their programs: run and fun Oklahoma and rock solid and straightforward Nebraska.

Osborne tried so hard to beat his rival, and often NU coached and played tight while Switzer and the Sooners would come in and play loose and fast.

So when I saw that framed photo in the campus bookstore at OU several years ago, well, I had to have it.

It’s a photo of Osborne and Switzer doing a radio interview on the field. Switzer is talking and Osborne is smiling. Every photo has a story. This one is classic.

The radio man in the shot was Janda, the longtime Lincoln broadcaster. He used to do a short interview with Osborne on the field before each game.

This particular interview took place at Oklahoma before the annual Big Eight championship game. Janda said he was interviewing Osborne, as usual, when out of nowhere Switzer popped in and crashed the interview.

Switzer was going on about something and you can see Osborne cracking up. Before the biggest game of the year!

That photo, which hangs in my office, is a perfect portrait of their relationship — and why this Switzer appearance is so special.

The kings are growing older. Switzer is 79. How many more times will these two legends get together? We hope forever.

Switzer likes coming to Nebraska and why not? He only lost twice here (1978 and 1982). Even after his coaching days, he was still getting invited to speak all over the state. For a guy who caused so much grief, there was something you had to love about Barry. He was a guy you would want to hang out and have a beer with after he ripped out your heart.

These days he lives in Norman, near campus and, as he pointed out, across the street from a sorority house. He has 10 grandkids he sees frequently. He doesn’t attend OU games, but only because he’s busy hosting a “Coaches’ Cabana” party where he watches the game with Sooner fans.

He still knows how to work the media. He’s on Twitter and had fun recently by telling the media he had met with Donald Trump.

I got a few minutes with Switzer, who says he is bringing Sooner legends Billy Sims, Thomas Lott and Joe Washington with him on Wednesday night:

Q: When was the last time you were in Nebraska?

A: It’s been awhile. I think the last time I was in Lincoln, I went up for a game in Jerry Jones’ bus. I was living in Dallas and took the Dallas Cowboys’ bus to Lincoln. Everywhere we stopped along the way, people wanted to know if Emmitt Smith or the Cowboys cheerleaders were in there. I wish it would have been the cheerleaders over Emmitt!”

Q: What does receiving the Osborne Legacy Award mean to you?

A: “Tom’s one of the greatest legends in college football history. What he did for 25 years is unmatched. Nobody will touch that, doing that every year for 25 years. We always got along well. We competed hard. It will mean a lot.

“I was more like Bob Devaney, I guess. I remember awhile back, they had me come up to Omaha to honor Tom at the arena. Chris Fowler was the emcee.

“When they invited me to come up and sit on the couch and talk about Tom, I brought my drink up with me. Fowler laughed and said, ‘You brought your drink up.’ And I said, ‘Well, Bob Devaney would have been disappointed if I hadn’t.’

“I said, ‘Tom didn’t drink at bars where Bob and I were hanging out.’ Of course, I don’t know that Tom went to any bars.”

Q: Did you ever feel like those games were you against Tom?

A: “No, it was never about us. It was about our great teams, the players we recruited. Coaches don’t take those games personally, the fans and players do. The only time I ever asked a team to win for me was the second time we played Arkansas in the Orange Bowl (1986). That’s where I played, and they had upset us (in the 1977 season) when we were trying to win the national championship. So I asked the players that year, ‘Win this one for us, the guys from Arkansas, me and Keith Jackson.’ ”

Q: What are some of your favorite memories of the Nebraska series?

A: “Well, one year we won up there with the hook and lateral. I remember the media kept calling it the ‘hook and ladder.’ There’s no ladder. What is this, a fire truck?

“Of course, there was the 1978 game. That was my best team. We fumbled nine times that day. Billy Sims had a fantastic run at the end of the game, and then he fumbled. We lost. If we had won that game, we would have played someone else in the Orange Bowl, not Nebraska, and would have won the national title. I still think about that. That one still haunts me.”

Q: A lot of people think Alabama has the greatest teams ever in college football. Do you agree?

A: “The game is so different now. The players are bigger, stronger, faster. The strength and conditioning programs are so good, and everyone’s got one. You used to have an edge.

“It’s harder to do what (Alabama’s) doing now, because everyone’s got players. With 85 scholarships, you can’t take 30 or 40 of them every year. You have to choose. That means there’s talent going everywhere, and nobody does it better than the SEC. Everyone’s got talent, and it didn’t used to be that way.”

Q: The story most Nebraskans remember about you is when you crashed Bob Devaney’s TV show with the tacos.

A: “I still hear about that. We’re in Lincoln, and the winner is going to the Orange Bowl and the loser probably going to the Sun Bowl in El Paso.

“So we’re driving around Lincoln, and on the marquees they had signs that said, ‘Switzer have a good time in El Paso.’

“Well, Bob Devaney used to do a TV show the night before the games with Dick Janda. Bob wanted me to come on the show. Bob had been out to dinner and had a few pops. I said I would, but only if I could just walk out there unannounced and surprise everyone. I said, ‘If you tell anyone I’m here, I’m not coming out.’

“On the way to the show, I had someone stop at a food place and get a sack of tacos. I walked into the show and handed it to him. It was a good time.”

See you Wednesday night, Barry. We’ll bring the tacos.

 

FWAA and NFF partner for fourth year on Super 16 Poll Reply

Several of the most respected voices in college football will rank the top teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision weekly during the 2017 season.

 IRVING, Texas (Aug. 15, 2017) – The Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and the National Football Foundation (NFF) & College Hall of Fame announced today that they will partner for the fourth consecutive year to conduct The FWAA-NFF Super 16 Poll, the organizations’ weekly  major-college football poll.

The results will be released by 11:30 a.m. ET each Sunday of the 2017 regular season, and the plans include a preseason poll on Aug. 22. The first poll of the regular season will be released on Tuesday, Sept. 5, to account for the games that will be played on Labor Day. The final poll will be released Dec. 3, the day after the conference championship games.

“We are proud to continue our partnership with the FWAA on the Super 16 Poll,” said NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell. “We received lots of positive feedback during the past three seasons from fans on how much they enjoyed the poll. We believe that our voters offer an extremely credible set of opinions, and we hope that the combined respect of both our organizations will continue to provide a compelling reference point for fans to follow during the season.”

The voters in the poll consist of FWAA writers and College Football Hall of Famers. The poll aims to draw on the vast knowledge of the nation’s top journalists with extensive experience covering college football in combination with some of the greatest legends to have ever played or coached the game.

“We are extremely excited to continue the Super 16 Poll and partner with the National Football Foundation,” said 2017 FWAA President David Jones, a voter in the poll. “We have had a great experience with the poll, and we look forward to extending it for another year. Our poll includes some of the most knowledgeable and objective college football minds in the country, and we believe it has developed into a compelling instrument for ranking the best teams in the country.”

The decision to conduct the poll was made by the boards of both organizations at the conclusion of the 2013 season and the end of the Bowl Championship Series, building on a relationship that stretches back to the 1940s when both groups were founded. The 2017 poll will tally the votes of 46 individuals (36 from the FWAA and 10 Hall of Famers) on a weekly basis, ranking the top 16 teams in the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision. Click here for an archive of previous year’s rankings.

The names and affiliations of the 2017 voters are listed below, and their individual rankings will again be made public each week during the season. The FWAA voters, all current or past writers of national stature, are selected to ensure balanced-geographical representation. The NFF voters, comprised of Hall of Fame players and coaches, also add to the diversity of perspectives, coming from different conferences and regions of the country.

2017 FWAA-NFF Super 16 Voters

Mark Anderson Las Vegas Review-Journal
Kevin Armstrong New York Daily News
Nicole Auerbach The All-American
Lee Barfknecht Omaha World-Herald
Zach Barnett FootballScoop.com
Tony Barnhart GridironNow.com
Mark Blaudschun TMG Sports
Chip Brown Scout.com/Horns Digest
Jon Finkel Beckett Media
Bryan Fischer Freelance
Pete Fiutak CollegeFootballNews.com/Campus Insiders
Matt Fortuna The All-American
Tommie Frazier 2013 College Football Hall of Fame Class – Nebraska
Teddy Greenstein Chicago Tribune
Andrew Greif The Oregonian
Mike Griffith AJC – SEC Country
Wally Hall Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Dan Harralson Saturday Down South
Tommy Hicks Freelance
Ron Higgins NoLa.com/The Times Picayune
Johnnie Johnson 2007 College Football Hall of Fame Class – Texas
Dave Jones PA Media Group
Cody Kellner Cody Kellner Points Index
Blair Kerkhoff Kansas City Star
Rachel Lenzi Land of 10
Stefanie Loh Seattle Times
Kelly Lyell Fort Collins Coloradoan
Kevin McGuire NBC Sports College Football Talk
Don McPherson 2008 College Football Hall of Fame Class – Syracuse
Chet Moeller 2010 College Football Hall of Fame Class – Navy
Matt Murschel Orlando Sentinel
Michael Payton 2015 College Football Hall of Fame Class – Marshall
Randy Peterson Des Moines Register
Bill Royce 2016 College Football Hall of Fame Class – Ashland (Ohio)
Barrett Sallee CBSSports.com
Pete Scantlebury Cox Media Group
Dan Sileo Mighty 1090 Radio
R.C. Slocum 2012 College Football Hall of Fame Class – Texas A&M coach
Phil Steele Phil Steele Publications
Patrick Stevens D1scourse.com
David Teel Newport News Daily Press
John Wagner Toledo Blade
Wesley Walls 2014 College Football Hall of Fame Class – Ole Miss
Dick Weiss Blue Star Media
Reggie Williams 2007 College Football Hall of Fame Class – Dartmouth
Scott Woerner 2016 College Football Hall of Fame Class – Georgia

2017 FWAA-NFF Super 16 Poll Release Schedule

Aug. 22           Preseason Rankings

Sept. 5             Week 1 Rankings

Sept. 10           Week 2 Rankings

Sept. 17           Week 3 Rankings

Sept. 24           Week 4 Rankings

Oct. 1              Week 5 Rankings

Oct. 8             Week 6 Rankings

Oct. 15            Week 7 Rankings

Oct. 22            Week 8 Rankings

Oct. 29            Week 9 Rankings

Nov. 5             Week 10 Rankings

Nov. 12           Week 11 Rankings

Nov. 19           Week 12 Rankings

Nov. 26           Week 13 Rankings

Dec. 3              Final Rankings

Gina Lehe named one of SportsBusiness Journal’s 2017 Game Changers 1

IRVING, Texas – Gina Lehe, senior director of communications and brand management for the College Football Playoff and a member of the Football Writers Association of America, has been named to the SportsBusiness Journal (SBJ) Game Changers: Women in Sports Business, CFP Executive Director Bill Hancock said.

An annual SBJ edition, Game Changers profiles women in the industry who have played key roles in their respective fields. The 2017 class features 35 women executives who have brought new approaches and ideas to sports business, have been out front on significant projects and programs and are making critical decisions that help shape companies and organizations for the future.

“It’s great that someone else has recognized what those of us in the college football family have known for a long time—that Gina is a wonderful professional and an exceptional leader,” Hancock said.

In its first three years, Lehe has helped catapult the CFP to national prominence, developing and launching the organization’s brand strategy. From its visual and textual identity to large format branding, including all collateral and supporting logo marks. In addition to traditional media services, operations and logistics, Lehe also oversees the CFP social and digital media strategy. Under her guidance, the official CFP social platforms have seen tremendous growth, including year-over-year increases in engagement, reach and impressions. She works closely with the ESPN production team and talent and serves on the senior staff supporting the CFP Selection Committee.

Prior to joining the CFP staff in 2014, Lehe spent 16 years working in the college football bowl industry, most recently as Director of Media for the Rose Bowl Game. In 2007, she became the first woman to lead media and communications for a national championship game. Lehe served in similar capacities for the Insight Bowl (now Cactus Bowl) and Fiesta Bowl.

Lehe is a member of the Association for Women in Sports Media (AWSM), College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA), Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and National Football Foundation (NFF). She also serves on the steering committee for Sports PR Summit. Lehe graduated from the University of Arizona with a bachelor of arts in communications. Originally from Pacific Grove, California, she is married to husband, Adam. The Lehes have a daughter, Adriana, and are expecting a second daughter this September.

The recipient class will be celebrated in New York on Thursday, September 14, at the 5th annual Game Changers: Women in Sports Business Conference. To view the full list of honorees, www.sportsbusinessdaily.com.

Navy bucks the wave of restrictions on media coverage at other football programs 1

Editor’s note: Navy’s Sports Information Department was named one of the FWAA’s Super 11 winners for the 2016 season earlier this year. The award is designed to reward the sports information departments and programs that exemplify excellent media relations.

You don’t have to be paranoid to win at college football. Just look at Navy.

By Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post

This summer — like most recent summers — has birthed new restrictions in the coverage of our most secretive communal pastime: college football. There’s LSU, which announced it would close all preseason practices to members of the media. And Notre Dame, which announced new rules on what sort of practice details could be revealed, and when, and at what length. And Texas, which announced a ban on the contemporaneous posting of quotes on social media, although that was later described as a preference.

In that context, an unlikely breeze of openness continues to waft from Annapolis. Breathe it in and grin. The Naval Academy — the rare college football program whose players might one day guard actual state secrets — doesn’t approach the sport as if it’s a fully classified endeavor. It doesn’t traffic in paranoia. And somehow, despite keeping its front door cracked open, Navy manages to win.

CLICK HERE to read the rest of Steinberg’s story.

A Special Message Regarding Safety Concerns for Media Parking Reply

From CFP, FWAA, CoSIDA and USBWA

On behalf of the FWAA, CFP, CoSIDA and the USBWA, we are writing to make you aware of growing concerns related to media parking locations for football and basketball events and how their placements pose potential safety risks for credentialed media representatives in a working capacity and having to exit facilities during late night hours.

While distance and darkness can pose safety problems for anyone, this is of particular concern for the growing number of female reporters who are departing football press boxes or basketball arenas in late night hours.

Several examples around the country this year have been registered where female reporters have felt unsafe or threatened due to the combination of darkness and distance while returning to cars that are parked in deserted lots.

And, without question, there is a growing proliferation of prime-time games for television that have driven the ending of games and post-game writing duties into the wee hours of the morning.

As a result, we encourage you to review your parking locations and policies as it relates to media lot assignments.   We recognize that the demands for priority parking are difficult for schools and we are not suggesting wholesale changes.   But, we are providing you with suggested plans that will emphasize safety and potentially help avoid putting people in a working capacity – both writers and press box staff/volunteers – who are attending events you host in perceived dangerous situations.

Recommended Media Parking Guidelines

  • For distances longer than one-quarter of a mile, a golf-cart shuttle could be made available 2-3 hours before the game to help reporters move from the media lot to the sports venue. The pre-game shuttle would help address concerns for individuals where age, health, gender and the amount of equipment create concerns while moving from media lots that don’t offer easy access.
  • A golf cart and/or walking escort or campus security representative could be made available after games upon request to ensure media representatives covering a late night event have coverage while returning to the media lot and their car.
  • Provide a text service for reporters needing help either in going to the stadium or returning to the media lot. (The College Football Playoff is in the process of developing this approach along with Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, for the national championship game).
  • Media should be provided a detailed description of the location and distance from venue of all parking areas, along with shuttle availability before or after the game, in advance as part of the credential process.  This information should also be available on game day in the press box and other appropriate areas.

Thanks for your attention and consideration to this concern!

Steve Richardson (FWAA) * Gina Lehe (CFP) * Doug Vance (CoSIDA) * Joe Mitch (USBWA)