President’s column: As media industry changes, let us know how the FWAA can help 1

2018 FWAA President Stefanie Loh of the Seattle Times

I’m incredibly honored to be called upon to lead the FWAA into its 77th year.

I fell in love with the game of football while watching the NFL on television half a world away. But it wasn’t till I started college at the University of Oregon that I acquired an appreciation for the college version of the sport.

For a native Singaporean who grew up in a country where “football” means soccer, and virtually no one I knew understood the rules of American football, I never imagined that this sport would become such a big part of my life.

As an industry, college football is perhaps the most unique spectator sport of its kind. The gladiatorial nature of the game, combined with the creativity you see at the college level, with its variety of offenses and defenses, and the built-in dramatic quality that comes from the way the season is structured – every game counts – captivates the country like nothing else.

In my career, I’ve covered college football on both coasts, reporting on schools in several different conferences and at newspapers of varying sizes. I believe that background gives me a solid base from which to understand the trials and challenges that covering this sport poses to media members at organizations of different sizes. And I hope you will all use us as a resource to help you do your jobs.

Next year, I’m excited that college football will take its biggest game – the national championship, out to the coast I’ve come to call home – Levi’s Stadium in the Bay Area. The FWAA hopes to capitalize on that to make a push out west and garner more members and exposure on that side of the country. We also hope to diversify the membership, improve our website, and make a stronger push on social media. I look forward to helping to lead that charge.

This organization has been an invaluable part of the college football media landscape for decades, and it has a proud history.

But as we know, the media industry has changed drastically over the last 15 years or so. As we continue to navigate our place in the digital age I would also like to hear from you – the membership – on how we, the FWAA board, can better serve your needs.

So please, feel free to reach out to me directly (email: sloh@seattletimes.com). I hope to hear from many of you. Enjoy the offseason (we all know that doesn’t really exist anymore).

 

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Photo gallery: Outland Trophy presentation dinner

Photos from the Outland Trophy presentation dinner and related events on Jan. 10, 2018, in Omaha, Neb .

New FWAA president honored as Washington state Sportswriter of the Year

Stefanie Loh of the Seattle Times is the FWAA’s president for 2018. Photo by Melissa Macatee.

The Seattle Times’ Stefanie Loh, incoming 2018 FWAA President, was named Sportswriter of the Year in the state of Washington for 2017 by the National Sports Media Association . Loh assumed her duties as FWAA President last week during the FWAA’s Awards Breakfast in Atlanta. She will be honored in June in Winston-Salem, N.C.

National Sports Media Association honors two FWAA members

Dick Weiss

The National Sports Media Association has announced a four-person class that will be inducted into the organization’s Hall of Fame during a ceremony in June in Winston-Salem, N.C.

Dick Weiss, the FWAA’s President in 2004 and Bert McGrane winner in 2013, is among the inductees. Another long-time FWAA member, Woody Durham, the former North Carolina football and basketball voice, is also being honored.

 
Weiss has covered college football and basketball for more than 40 years in Philadelphia, at the New York Daily News and now with Blue Star Media. 

Photo gallery: Past Presidents Dinner

Photos from the FWAA’s annual Past Presidents Dinner, hosted by the National Football Foundation, on Jan. 5 in Atlanta.

Photo gallery: Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year reception

Photos from the FWAA Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year reception on Jan. 6 in Atlanta.

Photo gallery: FWAA Awards Breakfast

Photos from the FWAA’s annual Awards Breakfast on Jan. 8 in Atlanta.

Final Kellner computer rankings

The Cody Kellner Points Index gives each team a rating that is reflective of their strength of schedule and the success they had within it.  Margin of victory is also considered in the ratings.

RANK SCHOOL RATING
1 ALABAMA 151.965
2 GEORGIA 142.077
3 WISCONSIN 140.368
4 OHIO STATE 135.268
5 CLEMSON 133.045
6 PENN STATE 128.492
7 UCF 123.214
8 NOTRE DAME 104.334
9 OKLAHOMA 97.838
10 MICHIGAN STATE 90.828
11 MIAMI FL 90.216
12 TCU 83.567
13 AUBURN 82.879
14 WASHINGTON 80.176
15 USC 78.927
16 NORTHWESTERN 77.507
17 VIRGINIA TECH 71.317
18 OKLAHOMA STATE 67.862
19 MISSISSIPPI STATE 67.326
20 LSU 64.065
21 IOWA 59.418
22 BOISE STATE 59.065
23 NC STATE 57.932
24 SOUTH CAROLINA 57.826
25 MICHIGAN 55.899
26 SOUTH FLORIDA 54.823
27 STANFORD 49.476
28 FLORIDA ATLANTIC 48.614
29 WASHINGTON STATE 45.782
30 MEMPHIS 45.153
31 FRESNO STATE 45.086
32 WAKE FOREST 42.102
33 ARMY 41.002
34 TROY 40.566
35 LOUISVILLE 36.884
36 SAN DIEGO STATE 33.716
37 BOSTON COLLEGE 31.897
38 TOLEDO 31.704
39 IOWA STATE 31.342
40 PURDUE 26.978
41 FLORIDA STATE 23.771
42 APPALACHIAN STATE 18.450
43 TEXAS 17.626
44 ARIZONA STATE 15.633
45 DUKE 13.709
46 TEXAS A&M 13.525
47 UTAH 10.777
48 KANSAS STATE 10.743
49 GEORGIA TECH 9.155
50 KENTUCKY 8.316
51 NAVY 6.310
52 MISSOURI 5.851
53 OREGON 4.827
54 HOUSTON 3.581
55 OHIO 2.741
56 MARSHALL 0.019
57 WEST VIRGINIA -0.107
58 MISSISSIPPI -1.968
59 ARIZONA -3.344
60 NORTHERN ILLINOIS -4.538
61 UCLA -6.210
62 WYOMING -6.793
63 INDIANA -9.011
64 NORTH TEXAS -9.322
65 TEMPLE -9.402
66 VANDERBILT -13.069
67 SMU -14.024
68 TEXAS TECH -14.252
69 CALIFORNIA -16.495
70 MINNESOTA -18.038
71 PITTSBURGH -18.285
72 FLORIDA INTL -20.175
73 ARKANSAS STATE -20.686
74 CENTRAL MICHIGAN -20.784
75 FLORIDA -21.817
76 VIRGINIA -22.203
77 COLORADO STATE -22.378
78 LOUISIANA TECH -25.662
79 SOUTHERN MISS -26.730
80 MARYLAND -27.652
81 SYRACUSE -28.726
82 NEBRASKA -29.519
83 WESTERN MICHIGAN -31.547
84 TULANE -32.398
85 UAB -32.432
86 NEW MEXICO STATE -33.799
87 UTAH STATE -33.889
88 GEORGIA STATE -34.631
89 COLORADO -36.195
90 BUFFALO -37.698
91 AKRON -39.497
92 MIDDLE TENN STATE -39.884
93 ARKANSAS -42.249
94 TENNESSEE -42.419
95 RUTGERS -46.373
96 AIR FORCE -48.183
97 EASTERN MICHIGAN -48.820
98 UTSA -50.161
99 UNLV -51.909
100 MIAMI OH -59.725
101 NORTH CAROLINA -62.836
102 WESTERN KENTUCKY -65.705
103 CINCINNATI -69.347
104 ULM -71.550
105 MASSACHUSETTS -71.559
106 ULL -75.479
107 OLD DOMINION -77.299
108 BYU -80.889
109 ILLINOIS -81.926
110 NEVADA -81.946
111 CONNECTICUT -83.227
112 SOUTH ALABAMA -84.410
113 EAST CAROLINA -86.325
114 IDAHO -87.710
115 TULSA -89.412
116 NEW MEXICO -102.650
117 BAYLOR -111.304
118 OREGON STATE -114.388
119 HAWAII -116.460
120 BOWLING GREEN -117.281
121 COASTAL CAROLINA -120.273
122 GEORGIA SOUTHERN -126.354
123 KANSAS -129.613
124 TEXAS STATE -137.825
125 SAN JOSE STATE -143.227
126 KENT -143.664
127 RICE -151.502
128 BALL STATE -153.770
129 CHARLOTTE -174.692
130 UTEP -190.899

FWAA Awards Breakfast: Passing the baton 2

The FWAA held its Annual Awards Breakfast on Monday morning in Atlanta prior to the CFP National Championship Game. David Jones, the 2017 FWAA President from the PA Media Group, handed off to Stefanie Loh of the Seattle Times, the 2018 FWAA President.

ACC’s Mike Finn receives FWAA Lifetime Achievement Award

ATLANTA — Mike Finn will retire from the Atlantic Coast Conference next spring following a stellar 40-year media relations career at the league office and two of its member schools, North Carolina State and Georgia Tech.

Mike Finn

The FWAA recognizes Finn for a job well done in bestowing its Lifetime Achievement Award on a person who has worked with many of the top coaches and administrators in ACC history, as well as serviced the media in the region with a professionalism that has been very impressive.

“Mike Finn has devoted his career to serving the media,” said FWAA Executive Director Steve Richardson. “He has truly been the consummate professional. Whenever you needed information Mike delivered. And you knew you were getting the accurate story. You always have great confidence in Mike’s word.”

This award goes annually to a person who has been a distinguished FWAA member. Previous winners are Buddy Davis, Ruston (La.) Daily Leader; Irv Moss, Denver Post; Bill Little, University of Texas; and Art Spander, San Francisco Examiner.

“I would say without a doubt this award is the most significant I’ve received in my professional career,” Finn said. “It means everything. While you get into this business because you want to be involved in sports, you quickly find out that what’s most important are the personal relationships you make along the way.

“I’ve been fortunate to know a great many outstanding media members for a long time, especially in the Atlantic Coast Conference and Southeast regions, and there is a special bond with that. To be recognized by the Football Writers, an organization I have always admired, is very special.”

Finn graduated with honors from the University of Florida with a B.A. in Psychology, but was not preparing for a career in media relations.

“I worked some in the Florida SID department (under Norm Carlson) on game days, typing play-by-play and being the official scorer in basketball,” Finn said, “but I didn’t think I could break into the business because of the competition for jobs. I had a desire to become a therapist or do community psychology.”

Finn actually did break into sports media relations at Virginia Tech, an independent in 1977-78, as a graduate assistant. He lasted there one year, before heading to ACC’s North Carolina State, still unsure where his career path would eventually go.

“My year at Virginia Tech taught me a great deal about job security,” Finn explained. “Our long-time AD retired, our head coach got fired and our (SID) Wendy Weisend, one of the most respected men in the business, was ‘reassigned’ to a different position on campus.”

The timing was perfect to move to the ACC’s North Carolina State. If Finn didn’t like the job, he planned on going to graduate school. He liked the job. Forty years later he is still in the business.

At North Carolina State, he worked for both football coach Bo Rein and basketball coach Jim Valvano, who led the Wolfpack to the NCAA basketball title in 1983. After Finn was there two years, Rein took the job at LSU and would die in a plane accident before he ever coached a game for the Tigers.

“Had he lived, Bo would have gone on to become one of the great coaches of his generation,” Finn said. “He was also terrific to work with.”

Once when Finn was interviewing Rein for the daily practice report, both were walking down the sideline when a tight end caught a pass and turned up field for more yardage instead of going out of bounds.

“Bo always loved a player doing that,” Finn recalled. “So in mid-interview, he’s left me and is sprinting down the sidelines with the player yelling encouragement. … Our safety comes over and roll blocks the tight end out of bounds, right in Bo’s path. Bo didn’t hesitate. He hurdled both players and kept on going. We never did finish that interview.”

Over the years, Finn, at the school level worked for such football coaches as Virginia Tech’s Bill Dooley, Rein and his successor at North Carolina State, Monte Kiffin, and Georgia Tech’s quadruple of Bill Curry, Bobby Ross, Bill Lewis and George O’Leary. Finn moved to Georgia Tech in 1983, right after the Wolfpack’s national basketball title, and was there 17 years before he went to the ACC office in 2000 as assistant commissioner for external relations.

His experiences in Atlanta at Georgia Tech were many. But he recalls quite vividly one of his exchanges with Georgia Tech’s Curry at the 1985 Hall of Fame Bowl versus Michigan State. Several Georgia Tech players missed curfew and Curry had sent them home, including the team’s starting quarterback and big-play wide receiver-returner. Curry summoned Finn for a meeting to do a news release about the situation.

“After he said that,” Finn explained, “I probably asked the dumbest question in my 40 years: ‘Coach, does that mean they won’t play in the game?’ Curry gave me one of those fatherly looks and said gently, ‘Yes, Mike, they won’t be playing in the game.’ No telling how Norm Sloan would have reacted, or George O’Leary for that matter.’’’

Finn’s years at the ACC office have been marked with expansion of the league in 2004 and 2013. He dealt in all things ACC Football (media days, championship games, weekly releases and communications) and at times the Bowl Championship Series Standings. He served as the BCS liaison with the FWAA in 2008 and 2009.

“I was fortunate in getting into the business to have so many great mentors from Dave Smith at Virginia Tech, who today is still my best friend, to Norm Carlson (Florida), Wendy Weisend (Virginia Tech), Jack Williams (Virginia Tech), Ed Seaman (North Carolina State), Norman Arey (Georgia Tech),” Finn said.

“All of them were or could have been excellent newsmen in addition to working in public relations and taught me a great deal about sports writing and the importance of deadlines. I’ve also had great bosses in athletics directors Willis Casey (North Carolina State), Homer Rice (Georgia Tech) and Dave Braine (Georgia Tech) and (ACC) Commissioner (John) Swofford, Mike Kelly and Amy Yakola of the ACC Staff.”

Swofford praised Finn. “Mike is well-deserving of this highly prestigious award,” he said. “He has built the best kind of career, one based on strong relationships and service. I’m so pleased the FWAA has selected Mike as this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award recipient.”