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Comment by the judge: Superb story about something that happened many years ago that even the most ardent college football fans probably don’t know about. Researching something as far back as the early 1960s is never easy and the writer does a fine job presenting it from all angles.

By Tom Shanahan

TomShanahan.Report

The 1962 Rose Bowl established a college football Civil Rights milestone, but the 60th anniversary of the New Year’s Day game came and went without attention or even a fractional accounting. What should be remembered as a tipping point quickly turned into an oxymoron – a “forgotten milestone.”

The culprit was a 1960s media custom of avoiding race in sports stories. In this case, failing to fully report on the maneuvering of a segregationist coach, Alabama’s Paul “Bear” Bryant.

Events began with a small group of UCLA Black students and the Bruins’ eight Black players angered upon learning Bryant attempted to gain a backdoor invitation to Pasadena in place of the traditional Big Ten entry. The Black students discussed a gameday protest at the stadium. The Black players, led by Kermit Alexander, a future NFL Pro Bowler with the San Francisco 49ers, threatened to not take the field.

The UCLA reaction was largely word-of-mouth — until Los Angeles Times sports columnist Jim Murray got wind of it. Murray understood its significance, unlike his peers – including those on his own paper — who followed media customs. Some looked the other way. Other writers lobbied for Alabama oblivious of social issues.

Despite the Times’ influential stature in Southern California, the 1961 UCLA protestations weren’t reported in the newspaper outside of Murray’s two Pulitzer Prize-worthy columns. They were published Nov. 19 and Nov. 20, with Birmingham, Alabama, datelines.

Murray’s biting words – his career later included a Pulitzer Prize in 1990 for commentary – derailed Bryant’s backdoor maneuvering. A week after Murray’s stories appeared, Alabama president Frank Rose announced his school was instead attending the Sugar Bowl in segregated New Orleans.

Not a word was mentioned on the ESPN broadcast of the 2022 Rose Bowl, Ohio State’s 48-45 victory.

American sports can provide a stage for social change but telling the stories about race in American sports afterward are often complicated. Major media platforms avoid complicated stories that implicate a legend such as Bryant.

Alabama’s response, though, demonstrates Bryant clearly got the message when his team wasn’t invited. Taking his team outside the Mason-Dixon Line attracted unwanted attention. Bryant retreated into the segregated cocoon for the remainder of the decade. In the South, his antebellum attitudes versus the U.S. Constitution weren’t questioned by a fawning media.

For example, Bryant avoided criticism when Alabama’s campus desegregated in 1963. He blithely maintained an all-white program another seven years until recruiting his first Black player in 1970, Wilbur Jackson.

He didn’t schedule Alabama to play outside the Mason-Dixon until, oddly enough, a 1971 game against USC at the Coliseum. It was likely no coincidence that the 1971 season also was the first year Alabama dressed a Black player in a varsity game.

In 1961, news cycles moved to the day-to-day beat of newspaper reporting. Today’s frenetic minute-to-minute pace fueled by social media, sports cable TV and ubiquitous sports talk radio was decades into the future. Black Historiography – how history was written or ignored – explains how an Ohio State volcanic eruption quickly buried the UCLA/Alabama backstory beneath the lava.

First, Ohio State defeated Michigan 50-20 on Nov. 25 to clinch the Big Ten title. The volcano erupted two days later when the Ohio State Senate Faculty voted to decline a Rose Bowl bid if offered. Ohio State’s Senate Faculty had explained it feared coach Woody Hayes, who was in his 11th year with national titles in 1954 and 1957, had turned their school’s reputation into a football factory.

Ohio State professor Anthony Menitz of the Philosophy Department was quoted in an AP story published in the Nov. 28 Times: “The issue simply is this, we have the opportunity to destroy the image of this being the football capital of the world.”

The end result was the Ohio State tale – sanitized of race – quickly took over the news cycle. The narrative for posterity formed without UCLA/Alabama in historical memory.

Avoiding race in sports stories traced to the 1930s and the “Conspiracy of Silence,” a term that Black sportswriters used. They claimed the mainstream media was complicit maintaining Major League’s Baseball’s color line by failing to write about segregation in the national pastime.

Chris Lamb, who is the Chair of Journalism and Public Relations at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, has written six books about race and sports. In Lamb’s 2004 book, “Blackout,” he explains the “Conspiracy of Silence” through the story of Jackie Robinson’s first spring training with the Brooklyn Dodgers, in 1946.

Miami University’s Donald Spivey, a Distinguished Professor of History and Special Advisor to the President (Julio Frenk) on Racial Justice, began researching and writing about Black Historiography in the 1980s.

In today’s media world, UCLA’s 1961 players would have gained a place alongside their school’s long history of pioneers. The figures include the 1939 UCLA football team with Jackie Robinson, Kenny Washington and Woody Strode. The trio’s story was recently retold in the 2021 book “The Forgotten First” by Keyshawn Johnson and Bob Glauber.

All three players, who were from L.A.-area high schools, attended UCLA because USC shunned Black athletes in the 1930s. They later wrote more history in pro sports. Robinson, of course, broke Major League Baseball’s color line in 1947 with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Washington and Strode broke the same barriers in the NFL in 1946 with the Los Angeles Rams.

Basketball Hall-of-Famer Bill Walton, a socially conscious athlete throughout his UCLA and NBA careers, only recently learned about UCLA’s 1961 Black players standing up to Alabama.

“UCLA is full of stories like that,” Walton said. “I love that about UCLA. I’m so proud of and grateful for UCLA.”

The maneuvering behind the scenes of the 1962 Rose Bowl centers on Bryant and a key ally, Admiral Tom Hamilton. They were old Navy World War II friends.

Hamilton was the commissioner of the Athletics Association of Western Universities (a Pac-12 forerunner), but what stood out in his job title was the unique authority granted him to name the AAWU champion’s Rose Bowl opponent. Bryant counted on his old friend for a friendly invite.

The circumstances resulted from controversies seeded in the late 1950s with a West Coast pay-for-play scandal. It broke up the eight-team Pacific Coast Conference, creating a lapse in the exclusive Big Ten/PCC Rose Bowl contract that dated to 1947.

The five-team AAWU was formed: UCLA, USC, Cal, Stanford and Washington. The AAWU retained an automatic bid to the Rose Bowl but not the Big Ten. The first two years Hamilton stuck to the New Year’s Day traditional matchup. The 1959 season/1960 Rose Bowl paired Washington and Wisconsin and the 1960 season/1961 Rose Bowl pitted Washington and Minnesota.

What changed in the 1961 season was Alabama’s return to national prominence.

Alabama, Bryant’s alma mater, brought him back to the Tuscaloosa campus in 1958 to rebuild the program after successful stints at Maryland (1946), Kentucky (1947-53) and Texas A&M (1954-57). His 1960 Crimson Tide finished ranked No. 9 with an 8-2-1 record.

As the 1961 season unfolded and Alabama climbed toward No. 1, Bryant envisioned an undefeated season and his first national title on the Pasadena stage of the Granddaddy of Them All. Bryant knew firsthand the prestige of playing in the Rose Bowl – not to mention the financial rewards.

He played 57 minutes for Alabama in the 1935 Rose Bowl when the Crimson Tide beat Stanford. Alabama’s fanbase took great pride in participating in six Rose Bowls with a 4-1-1 record. In an era when poll voting declared the national champion at the end of the regular season, the Rose Bowl was the denouement to the college football season.

Alabama’s last appearance was in 1946, a year before Big Ten/PCC contract, but times changed by the 1960s. America was coming to terms, slowly, with the Civil Rights movement. Old-world men, Bryant and Hamilton, who failed to understand progress were being left behind.

Bryant, who died in 1983 at age 69, was raised in a world of 19th-century southern attitudes. His career thrived in an antebellum world the Ku Klux Klan violently fought to preserve.

Hamilton was a conservative military officer in addition to old-world man. Decades later, he never forgave Bill Walton for his arrest protesting the Vietnam War as a UCLA student in 1972. When Hamilton, in his retirement years, served on the board of San Diego’s Breitbard Hall of Champions, he told board members that Walton, a San Diego native, would never make the San Diego Breitbard Hall of Fame as long as he chaired the board.

Walton, an all-time talent honored by the NBA as one of its 75 greatest players, wasn’t enshrined in his hometown Hall until 1990 — after Hamilton no longer served. Hamilton died in 1994 at age 88.

The 1962 Rose Bowl, when studied chronologically in the archives of L.A. Times, provided an example of Critical Race Theory through football – without, hopefully, the political football. CRT’s purpose is to teach stories that haven’t been fully told. Sometimes those stories include exposing painful truths – a revered coach who was a segregationist, in this case.

It’s unclear when Alabama was first floated to exploit the Big Ten/PCC contract lapse, but speculation mounted by mid-November. In the Associated Press polls (released on Mondays) Alabama climbed from No. 5 to No. 4 on Oct. 23 at 5-0. The Crimson Tide jumped to No. 2 on Nov. 6 at 7-0.

On the same day the Nov. 6 poll was released, the weekly Southern California Football Writers Luncheon convened at the Sheraton-West on Wilshire Blvd. The luncheons were routine gatherings to hear from UCLA coach Billy Barnes, USC coach John McKay, Los Angeles Rams’ coach Bob Waterfield and other invited speakers.

Ken Hooton, the director of public relations for the Southern California Big Ten club, was invited as a Nov. 6 speaker. He foreshadowed impending events, dropping news hefty enough to top Al Wolf’s Nov. 7 Times story.

The headline:Ohio State, Minnesota May Shun Rose Bowl”

At the time of luncheon, No. 3-ranked Ohio State and No. 5 Minnesota shared the Big Ten lead with unbeaten conference records.

Hooton, addressing the Big Ten race and Rose Bowl bid, said, “The Academic Senate at Ohio State is opposed to the Rose Bowl game and probably would not let the school accept a bid, were one received.”

Although the news was stunning, it wasn’t unusual in the 1960s for a college’s academic side of campus to wield authority over the athletic department. Notre Dame’s administration banned bowl games for academic reasons from 1925 until the 1969 season.

In those days, Notre Dame’s bowl ban had no impact on winning national titles since the final poll votes were tabulated after the regular season. Once the polls shifted the final votes to the conclusion of the bowl season, Notre Dame played Texas in the 1970 Cotton Bowl.

But Hooton’s time at the microphone didn’t stop with his Ohio State bombshell. He proceeded to inflame the Alabama speculation.

“It is my personal opinion,” Hooton added, “that Minnesota wouldn’t accept, even though it’s an individual matter for the schools now, because of a repeat trip would be contrary to Big Ten thinking.”

When the 1947 contract was signed, the Big Ten insisted on a no-repeat clause, although it only applied to the Big Ten entry. Minnesota had won the 1960 Big Ten title and played in the 1961 Rose Bowl. Although No. 1-ranked Minnesota lost to No. 6 Washington 17-7 in the 1961 Rose Bowl, the Gophers already had been declared national champion at the end of the regular season.

Wolf’s Nov. 7 story, using the Big Five nickname for the AAWU, continued: “So … Alabama may yet be the team which will oppose the Big Five champion next New Year’s Day. The Southeastern Conference does not have a tie-up with the Sugar Bowl, or any other bowl. Alabama has expressed a keen desire to play in the Rose, where it last appeared in 1946.”

In the Nov. 12 edition of the L.A. Mirror, the afternoon paper owned by the morning Times, sports editor Sid Ziff’s column addressed the issue.

The headline: “One Vote for the South.”

Ziff, noting a new Big Ten/AAWU contract was expected to be renewed prior to the 1963 Rose Bowl, suggested taking advantage of the outsider opportunity before the door closed. He nominated Alabama or Georgia Tech, another segregated team from the SEC (Georgia Tech left the SEC after the 1963 season).

On Monday, Nov. 13, Times sports editor Paul Zimmerman wrote in his column similar thoughts favoring the two SEC schools.

In the AP poll released in the same Nov. 13 edition, Alabama (8-0) remained No. 2 with three first-place votes. Texas was No. 1 with 41 first-place votes. Georgia Tech, which was also segregated, was No. 9 on Nov. 6, but its upset loss to Tennessee dropped the Yellow Jackets out of the Nov. 13 rankings (the AP poll was only the Top 10 in those days).

Wolf again covered the coaches’ luncheon on Nov. 13. His story in the Times on Nov. 14 was about an informal poll of writers.

The headline: “’Bama choice of writers for bowl”

On Nov. 15, the Times published an AP story with a Tuscaloosa, Alabama, dateline.

The headline: “Rose Bowl Fever falls on ’Bama”

The story highlighted Alabama’s pride in its Rose Bowl history. Curiously, though, the story also noted Bryant declined to answer questions about his Rose Bowl interest. Apparently, no one pressed him.

Two days later, though, Zimmerman’s Friday, Nov. 17 Times column made it clear Bryant wanted the Rose Bowl bid despite his silence. Zimmerman quoted Birmingham News sports editor Zipp Newman:

“The Crimson Tide would walk there if they had to, and that goes for Alabama’s president, Dr. Frank Rose, on down, although they can’t talk about it yet.”

In another story the Times published on Nov. 17, this one with a Miami dateline, the AP reported Rose Bowl and Orange Bowl scouts were attending the Nov. 18 Georgia Tech-Alabama game at Legion Field in Birmingham. Hamilton was indirectly quoted through the Orange Bowl’s executive director, Van C. Kussrow:

“Hamilton explained to me the Rose Bowl’s interest in Southeastern Conference teams,” Kussrow said. “He said their position had been made more difficult because Minnesota and Ohio State aren’t considered strong possibilities out there.”

That was more than Hamilton ever said directly to the Times or other Southern California media outlets.

By that same day, Friday, Nov. 17, Murray arrived in Birmingham for Alabama’s Saturday, Nov. 18 game. The Crimson Tide (9-0) beat Georgia Tech 10-0 to remain unbeaten.

In the Sunday, Nov. 19 Times, Murray’s column mocked Alabama’s Jim Crow society, fans and media deifying Bryant. They liked to say he could walk on water. Murray’s story led with the first reference to UCLAs protestations found in the Times archives.

The headline: “’Bama and Ol’ Bear”

“BIRMINGHAM — The University of Alabama just about wrapped up the all-white championship of the whole cotton-picking world here this weekend in a game quietly relegated to the 18th century before it began by a band of Negro students at UCLA.”

Murray, based on his column, seemed assured pressure would prevent Alabama from receiving a Rose Bowl invitation, but it wasn’t reflected elsewhere in his own paper. In the same Sunday edition, the Times’ college football roundup of Saturday game results touted Alabama’s hopes.

The headline: “’Bama scores Rosy win”

In the Monday, Nov. 20 poll, Alabama had climbed to No. 1 after former No. 1 Texas was upset by Texas Christian.

Murray saved his best writing – worthy of a 1961 Pulitzer vote recount — for the Monday, Nov. 20 edition.

The headline: “Bedsheets and ’Bama”

Murray labeled Birmingham as the “showplace of the South – gateway to the Ku Klux Klan.” He continued it was the place where, “when they say evening dress, they mean a bedsheet with eyeholes. And bring a match. We’re lighting a cross.”

Ouch! But it was fair.

Alabama in 1961 was known for the KKK bombing Black homes and churches. Birmingham, where Alabama played games at Legion Field, was known as “Bombingham.” Legion Field was located only blocks from the 16th Street Baptist Church that KKK members bombed two years later, killing “Four Little Girls.” The bombing was the KKK’s response to Martin Luther King’s “I have a Dream Speech” on Sept. 15, 1963 at the Lincoln Memorial.

“The bombed-out houses aren’t the work of the enemy,” Murray continued in his column. “White male Americans are the enemies of America here. The Constitution is being torn in half by people whose ancestors helped write it. It doesn’t make any sense. It’s worse than un-American. It’s un-human.”

Then Murray got down to Rose Bowl business, explaining he joined Alabama writers on Friday to interview Bryant on the upcoming game at his Bankhead Hotel suite. But Murray’s questions weren’t about X’s and O’s.

He wrote, “Coach, Bryant,” I asked. “What do you think of the announcement out of UCLA that the colored players would not take the field against your team if it got to the Rose Bowl?”

Murray described a silence that fell over the room. Alabama’s media wasn’t accustomed to hearing reporters press Bryant – and certainly not about segregation. Then Murray quoted Bryant’s response:

“Oh,” he says. “I would have nothing to say about that. Neither will the university, I am sure.”

That Bryant response, especially in retrospect, added new insight to the old joke Bryant didn’t have a boss.

Murray’s “Bedsheets and Bama” story continued, describing the Alabama’s sycophantic writers looking at the floor until one with a “beet red” face spoke up: “Tell them West Coast N-lovers to go lick your boots, Bear.”

With Murray having brought UCLA’s opposition into the open, two Alabama newspapers attempted to discredit the UCLA Black students.

Author Kurt Edward Kemper documents this in his 2009 book “College Football and American Culture in the Cold War.” The Montgomery Advertiser reported UCLA’s administration was unaware of a Black student organization planning a protest. The Birmingham News wrote the protest plans were “greatly exaggerated.”

Some context is needed here. The claims were specious with the perspective of time. Black student groups mobilizing and gaining recognition from campus administrators was a product of the late 1960s. African-Americans didn’t have a voice on campus until examples of the UCLA’s 1961 students spoke up as activists.

Bryant’s lack of comment to Murray suggested he still expected Admiral Hamilton to bring the USS Alabama to the Rose Bowl port.

On the West Coast, Hamilton matched Bryant’s silence. He had little to say about the Rose Bowl pairing, even though there was heightened interest over the upcoming Nov. 25 USC-UCLA game at the Coliseum to decide the AAWU title.

It’s interesting to note Murray broke a sports media custom in only his first year with the L.A. Times (he wrote from 1961 until his death in 1998 at age 78). He had previously worked for Time magazine as an entertainment writer and the founding of Sports Illustrated in 1954.

A search of the LA Times archives reveals Murray’s Nov. 20 column was only the second and last reference to the UCLA protestations prior to the Rose Bowl. His colleagues failed to pick up on the significance of winning a standoff with a segregationist coach.

“Jim always believed that calling out injustice in the sports world was more important than reporting the results of games,” said Linda Murray Hofmans, Murray’s wife at the time of is death who directs the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation. “He wasn’t intimidated by other sportswriters, angry readers who demanded he ‘stick to sports,’ or even legends like Bear Bryant. He was a trailblazer in that regard.

“Most sportswriters of ‘60s and ‘70s defended the status quo or looked the other way, but Jim used his column as a bullhorn to fight for civil rights whenever he deemed it necessary.”

The Black weekly L.A. Sentinel and the Daily Bruin, UCLA’s student paper, were two Southern California newspapers not as likely to follow a 1960s media custom avoiding race, yet they also lacked UCLA protest references.

The Sentinel published a story criticizing Alabama as a potential choice but without mentioning a threatened UCLA protest. Brad Pye Jr. wrote the Rose Bowl Committee would avoid “adverse publicity” if it picked Ohio State over Alabama.

The headline: Forget Alabama–Bring on Buckeyes

Pye wrote, “Alabama hasn’t seen fit to put integration in action before now, so there is no reason why it should get an invitation to the Rose Bowl until such a time when it decides to put the American way into action on its own soil.”

Melvin Durslag of the Los Angeles Examiner also wrote a column criticizing segregated Alabama as a Rose Bowl choice.

The headline: “Alabama—An Insult to the Bowl.”

But only Murray confronted Bryant about the reaction of UCLA Black students and Black players. Kermit Alexander, a junior halfback in 1961, explained the players’ stance in my 2015 interview with him for FanRagSports.com (now out of business).

“If we can’t play on their field in Alabama, why should they be able to play on our field in Pasadena?” Alexander said.

Alexander added no one in the 1960s media questioned him or his teammates about Alabama. Alexander’s recent health has prevented a follow-up interview.

The Alexander interview was framed around the 2015 Missouri protest. By then, an enlightened media thoroughly reported such news and hailed Missouri’s football team for threatening a boycott if racial issues on campus weren’t addressed. The players were successful, forcing the school’s president to resign.

UCLA’s 1961 response was fueled by the progress of the Civil Rights movement. Only six months earlier, May 14, 1961, a white mob in Anniston, Alabama, ambushed and firebombed a busload of 1961 Freedom Riders — including Civil Rights icon John Lewis — protesting segregation on busses and at terminals.

In the Nov. 2 edition of the Times, an AP story with an Atlanta dateline reported a federal judge ordered police in Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi – states where African Americans at bus terminals continued to be arrested — to uphold federal laws outlawing segregated busses.

But there were no follow-up sports stories hailing UCLA like there was for Missouri. Only a new narrative that Ohio State turned down the bowl bid. The Ohio State story remained entrenched in time.

The first Rose Bowl bid was decided on the field when UCLA-USC met Nov. 25 in a winner-take-all game marred by a rain-soaked Coliseum field. The unranked Bruins won the mud bath 10-7 to improve to 7-3.

UCLA’s students continued celebrating the Rose Bowl berth at a Monday, Nov. 27 campus rally. The Tuesday, Nov. 28 Times story covering the rally noted Hamilton “would not elaborate” on UCLA’s opponent.

Hamilton limited his comments to a list of five schools, two unnamed teams and three Big Ten schools, No. 2 Ohio State (8-0-1), No. 7 Minnesota (7-2) and No. 8 Michigan State (7-2).

Later in the day, Nov. 27, the Ohio State bombshell exploded. Ohio State’s Faculty Senate voted 28-25 in a secret ballot to reject the Rose Bowl.

Two days before the vote, the temperamental Hayes added to the professors’ perception of him in Ohio State’s 50-20 victory over Michigan to clinch the Big Ten title. Ohio State scored its final touchdown with five seconds to play, and Hayes ordered a successful two-point conversion. He repeated the rub-it-in tactic in 1968, scoring a two-point conversion to cap a 50-14 win. In the 1968 rout, Hayes explained to the media he went for two because he couldn’t go for three.

Hayes heard news of the faculty Rose Bowl vote upon arriving to speak at Cleveland hotel. He was reported to drop his bags and roam Cleveland’s streets without speaking. On the Columbus campus, police estimated students protest crowds of 5,000 on Nov. 27 and 4,000 on Nov. 28. Windows were broken and professors hung in effigy. The Columbus Dispatch printed a list of professors that voted.

On the second night of demonstrations, Ohio State team captain Mike Ingram told the students through a loudspeaker the players had accepted the vote and to go home before someone was hurt.

In retrospect, the student protests were another reason for the professors to believe their conclusions football was running amok weren’t unreasonable. The examples continued through the march of time. At the 1978 Gator Bowl, Hayes punched a Clemson player on the sideline and was fired, ending his career in disgrace.

Meanwhile, on the West Coast, the Daily Bruin reported on Nov. 28 Hamilton had watched the USC-UCLA game and returned to his San Francisco office, commenting only that the selection “might be withheld until after the games of Dec. 2.” UCLA athletic director Wilbur Johns said in the Nov. 28 Times he deferred all comments to Hamilton.

With Ohio State out, runner-up Minnesota, third-place Michigan State and fourth-place Purdue began lobbying for the Rose Bowl bid. Michigan State and Purdue hoped Minnesota would be skipped over in deference to the no-repeat Big Ten philosophy.

“If we get the bid, we’ll call the fastest meeting of our athletic council on record to accept it,” said Michigan State athletic director Biggie Munn.

Hamilton’s Dec. 2 games comment referred to Alabama playing its annual Iron Bowl against Auburn and Georgia Tech facing Georgia in their traditional rivalry game.

But Alabama president Frank Rose on Nov. 29 suddenly ended the speculation. Rose said if the Crimson Tide defeated Auburn, the school planned to accept a Sugar Bowl bid. Rose added the Sugar Bowl was the game the players preferred.

Alabama routed Auburn 34-0 and officially accepted the Sugar Bowl bid against Arkansas in New Orleans, but it’s difficult to accept Bryant, who coveted a Rose Bowl berth, left the bowl decision in the hands of a players vote.

Either way, unanswered questions remain.

When did Bryant and Hamilton back down? Did President Rose convince Bryant and Hamilton winning a national title in the Rose Bowl wasn’t worth the tradeoff. TV scenes would show UCLA’s Black students protesting outside the stadium and the Bruins’ Black players boycotting out of uniform. A largely world-of-mouth story would result in images leaping onto TV screens.

Alabama would be further portrayed nationally as a backwards state. And this time Bryant’s apologists couldn’t blame the KKK.

As the Rose Bowl announcement suspense mounted, Murray’s Dec. 1 column provided comic relief. He showed he was an equal-opportunity critic of Southern segregationists and Midwestern bullies.

The headline: “Love That Woody”

“So Woody Hayes is not coming to the Rose Bowl,” he wrote. “Dad rat it! Somebody’s always spoiling the fun.”

Murray added, “I have seen guys who were ungracious losers. But Woody was the most ungracious winner I have ever seen. He always broke me up. A loud, loveable character who went through life the way his fullbacks go through a line – knocking people down who get in his way. Once it was a couple of sportswriters.”

The Rose Bowl selection suspense ended on Dec. 2 with news topping the Sunday, Dec. 3 Times sports section.

The headline: “Minnesota to play UCLA in Rose Bowl”

In the story, UCLA captain Ron Hull said, “Most of the boys, after Ohio State and Alabama were ruled out, wanted to meet Minnesota. I’m sure we’ll give them a game.”

There remained no reference to a role played by UCLA’s Black students and Black players. Murray deserved a victory lap, but he didn’t write about the subject again. If the Alabama story wasn’t properly covered in Los Angeles, the deeper story also certainly was brushed aside in the Minneapolis media.

Minnesota All-American pick Bobby Bell, who played in the 1961 and 1962 Rose Bowl games, said in my recent interview with him he was unaware of the Alabama backstory.

“We never heard anything about the Alabama and a UCLA protest,” said Bell, a College and Pro Football Hall of Famer. “We only knew about Ohio State turning down the bid.”

The focus on the Ohio State narrative continued in a Dec. 4 Times column written by Braven Dyer. He noted comedian Bob Hope, with his Ohio ties, considered inviting Ohio State’s team to attend the Rose Bowl as his guests. Dyer’s column included a few jokes from Hope mocking Ohio State’s professors.

On New Year’s Day, 1962, No. 6-ranked Minnesota dominated the Bruins, 21-3. In the Sugar Bowl, No. 1 Alabama defeated No. 9 Arkansas, 10-3.

Arkansas’ players told reporters Alabama wasn’t worthy of its No. 1 ranking. At the time the Razorbacks were a Southwest Conference member, but their opinion didn’t matter. Alabama already had been named national champion in the final poll votes released on Dec. 4 at the end of the regular season, although it was a split title.

Among the four organizations the NCAA sanctions as designating a national champion in the poll era, Alabama (11-0-0) was voted No. 1 by the AP (writers), United Press International (coaches, now USA Today) and National Football Foundation. However, Ohio State (8-0-1) was named national champion by the Football Writers Association of America.

The Bear finally came clean 13 years later he had sought a 1962 Rose Bowl bid. He said so the release of his 1974 biography, “Bear,” written by John Underwood, an acclaimed Sports Illustrated writer.

Bryant not only admitted he both coveted the Rose Bowl berth and blamed Murray for costing him the invitation he went one step further. He claimed Murray’s two biting columns were motivated by revenge dating to 1955.

Bryant referenced his 1955 Texas A&M team losing to UCLA 21-0 at the L.A. Coliseum.

On Page 174, Underwood wrote Bryant stating: “… I snapped at a writer on the Los Angeles paper after the game. He asked if I had thought we could win, and I said, ‘You silly so-and-so, what do you think we came out here for?’

“Those things turn on you. Jim Murray came over and saw us play and made a fuss over our being considered for the Rose Bowl when we won the national championship in 1961. He wrote about segregation and the Alabama Ku Klux Klan and every unrelated scandalous thing he could think of, and we didn’t get the invitation.”

Murray didn’t work for the L.A. Times or any L.A. newspaper in 1955. In the early 1950s, he was with Time magazine and then began working for Sports Illustrated in 1953 as it prepared to launch in 1954. Murray’s 1961 motives were to offer a civics lesson to Bryant and a Jim Crow state.

Yet, Bryant wanted his readers to believe Murray’s motive was petty revenge. Bryant’s 1974 criticism of Murray also revealed how detached he was from the real world in 1974, not to mention 1961.

Alabama’s campus town of Tuscaloosa was the Alabama KKK headquarters. Joe Namath, Alabama’s legendary quarterback (1962-64), spoken in the 2013 Showtime film of his shock at spotting KKK billboards on his initial bus ride to campus from his home in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania.

“The first bus ride I took going back into Tuscaloosa, Alabama, scared me a bit,” Namath said, “Against the Tide. “You know how they have the signs at the side of he road, Lions Club Kiwanis Club. Uh, huh. … Ku Klux Klan, home of the Grand Imperial wizard. What? Because all I ever saw of guys in white capes and burning crosses was in the movies.”

By 1974, Bryant had plenty of time to reflect on dragging out his resistance to integration, but he never apologized. He never explained why he was apparently oblivious to President Lyndon B. Johnson having signed the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1965.

From 1962 through 1967, Alabama played only all-white southern teams. The exception was facing integrated Nebraska in the 1966 Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. The 1966 team played eight of its 10 regular-season games at one of three Alabama stadiums, Denny Stadium (now Bryant-Denny) on campus, Legion Field in Birmingham and Ladd-Pebbles Stadium in Mobile. The only road trips were to neighboring states, Mississippi and Tennessee.

Alabama’s first integrated regular-season opponent was SEC-rival Tennessee in 1968 in Knoxville. In 1969, Tennessee routed Alabama 41-14 at Legion Field. Kentucky led the SEC in desegregation a year ahead of Tennessee, but the Wildcats weren’t on Alabama’s schedule.

History showed Bryant was a follower, not a leader, in his own conference. Kentucky, Tennessee, Florida, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt and in-state rival Auburn all recruited Black athletes by 1969, prior to Bryant. That was 60 percent of what was then a 10-team league.

Hall-of-Fame sportswriter Frank Deford noted Bryant’s reluctance to take a stance in a 1981 Sports Illustrated story:

“Given the Bear’s surpassing popularity, he had it within his power to assume a burden of leadership. Yet he held back on race and let other–and less entrenched–Southern coaches stick their necks out first. ”

The world passed by Bryant while he remained in the cocoon of the segregated South. Alabama’s 1970 schedule, which was planned years in advance, turned out to have seven integrated opponents by the turn of the decade. Oklahoma made it eight for the season in the Astro-Bluebonnet Bowl.

SEC schools also were ahead of Bryant scheduling teams outside the Mason-Dixon Line. Kentucky played at Indiana in 1967; Tennessee traveled to UCLA in 1967; and Vanderbilt played at Army West Point in 1968 and Michigan in 1969.

Florida didn’t travel above the Mason-Dixon Line prior to Alabama in 1971, but the Gators faced integrated opponents in three home games in the 1960s: Northwestern, 1966; Illinois, 1967; and Air Force, 1968. Tennessee played host to two integrated teams in 1965, Houston and UCLA, and one in 1966, Army.

Hyperbole, myths and fiction surrounding the 1970 USC-Alabama game at Legion Field in Birmingham led to another bewildering revisionist history twist gaining a hold in college football lore.

A false narrative crediting Bryant as a crusader and aggrandizing USC’s role portrayed the game as an integration tipping point. Bryant as a crusader is like crediting Robert E. Lee for ending slavery. Murray as the bad guy is like blaming the Antifa for the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

Historical memory also has overlooked 30 of 33 southern major programs had recruited their first Black player by 1970. The 30 included Alabama. Integration in the South was fait accompli. The last three holdouts were Georgia, LSU and Mississippi. However, books and films, most of them in the 21st century, regurgitated a rote storyline.

In “Rising Tide: Bear Bryant, Joe Namath and Dixie’s Last Quarter,” a 2013 book written by Randy Roberts and Ed Krzemienski, Murray is taken to task for his Alabama columns.

On Page 135, Murray is described as “a reporter with thick bookish glasses …”

Of the trip to Birmingham, the book states on pages 136 and 137: “Murray’s claims for going to Birmingham were undoubtedly disingenuous. He was a confirmed and accomplished big league pot stirrer, and a minor league social crusader.”

What’s “disingenuous” about pointing out to a segregationist coach it’s 1961, not 1861. What’s “minor league” about confronting Bryant face-to-face on social justice on Bryant’s own turf?

UCLA’s forgotten 1961 role also led decades later to another great irony. The wrong Los Angeles school, USC, was cast as a college football integration leader in the sport’s lore. UCLA, long before USC, truly played a pioneering role in the 1960s. USC, like Alabama in the SEC, led from behind. USC shunned Black athletes in the 1930s. In the 1960s, the program followed an unwritten quota limiting the roster to a half-dozen or so Black athletes through the 1960s.

The oversights from the sports media avoiding race created a 1960s blank canvas. By the late 1980s and early 1990s, the blank canvas was painted with a false narrative Bryant secretly scheduled integrated USC in 1970 with the aid of McKay, his old friend, as a game to lose. His grand scheme was to convince his bigoted fans with a loss it was time to let him recruit Black athletes.

However, neither coach mentioned such a grand plan in their books published in 1974. In a 1980 Time cover story fawningly reflecting on Bryant’s career, there was not a single word about the 1970 USC-Alabama game changing history. Bryant apologists consider the 1970 USC-Alabama myth Bryant’s crowning moment and proof he wasn’t a segregationist.

It’s true USC routed all-white Alabama 42-21, but it’s also true a year earlier integrated Tennessee routed Alabama at Legion Field, 41-14.

The linchpin to the 1970 USC-Alabama myths easily spreading was a fictional scene portraying Bryant inviting USC’s Sam Cunningham, a Black fullback, into the Alabama locker room to show his players “what a football player looked like.”

Cunningham admitted in 2003 it didn’t happen. He explained he got caught up in the story. The fictional scene was created by John Papadakis, a 1970 USC linebacker, for a screen play. The movie was never made, but retelling the scene, with its perceived humor, spread the myth into lore.

Those guffaws overlooked the racial overtones of a slave market – white players studying Cunningham’s body as he stood on a bench.

The regurgitated and unvetted stories also overlook USC was among the schools following an unwritten quota of a half-dozen or so Black players. The Trojans’ 1962 national title team had only five Black players and the 1967 national championship roster only seven.

UCLA’s eight Black players in 1961 grew into double figures later in the decade. The Associated Press reported in 1962 Michigan State’s 17 Black players was the most in major college football history. In the 1966 Game of the Century, Michigan State lined up 20 Black players and 11 Black starters against Notre Dame’s one Black athlete, Alan Page.

Schools like USC and Notre Dame were behind the times.

The 1970 Trojans were stilling shedding the residue of the quota years. USC had only five Black starters that night in Birmingham. Most of the 18 Black players on the roster had been recruited in the previous couple of years, including Cunningham, a sophomore playing his first varsity game.

Another fact omitted from the myth was Bryant didn’t need to lose to USC to convince his fans it was time to recruit Black athletes. He had already signed Wilbur Jackson the previous winter. Jackson watched the 1970 USC-Alabama game from the stands with the freshmen team.

Oddly enough, Alabama authors shaped narratives that also blamed Murray’s 1961 stories for costing Bryant a national title five years later when the Crimson Tide finished No. 3 to No. 1 Notre Dame and No. 2 Michigan State.

The Irish and Spartans, after a season-long buildup, played to a 10-10 tie in the Game of the Century on Nov. 19, 1966 at Spartan Stadium. Notre Dame and Michigan State retained their 1-2 rankings in the final poll at the end of the regular season.

One of the Alabama authors claiming reverse racism was Keith Dunnavant, who wrote “The Missing Ring: How Bear Bryant and the 1966 Crimson Tide Were Denied College Football’s Most Elusive Prize.”

Bryant author Allen Barra (“The Last Coach,” 2005) reviewed Dunnavant’s book on Sept. 2, 2006 in the L.A. Times. Barra wrote Dunnavant’s bias claim “is based far more on emotion than logic and some of that emotion is borderline irrational.”

Nevertheless, Dunnavant’s stance gained platforms in HBO’s 2008 “Breaking the Huddle,” Showtime’s 2013 “Against the Tide” and ESPN 2019 and 2020 films portraying Bryant as a crusader.

A segment in “Against the Tide” juxtaposes a quote from Murray’s 1961 column as if it was written in the 1966 season. As narrator Tom Selleck read his lines suggesting the 1966 vote was biased, Selleck describes Murray as “the lead voice.” The screen then flashes a quote from Murray’s 1961 story – “An all-white team has no business being No. 1.”

Selleck needed to send the sloppily researched film back to rewrite.

When Murray was awarded the 1990 Pulitzer Prize, he humbly deflected praise with a quip.

He said winning for commentary, “should have to bring down a government or expose major graft or give advice to prime ministers. Correctly quoting Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda shouldn’t merit a Pulitzer Prize.”

Murray didn’t bring down a government with his 1961 Alabama stories, but he set back a segregationist coach. He exposed Bryant’s ’s plot and credited the courage of UCLA students and players to challenge Bryant.

If not for Murray’s stories, Hamilton doesn’t meet resistance and likely extends Bryant’s wish for an Alabama invitation. Another way to put it, though, what if Burt Hooten had not spoken of Ohio State and Minnesota possibly declining a Rose Bowl bid? The prospect spurred the reaction at UCLA and then Murray’s attention. That’s another reason to think Bryant would have gained his desired bid.

And finally, the unanswered question that no doubt would have generated the most humorous response: What would have been Murray’s reaction to Bryant and his apologists years later casting Murray as the bad guy?

We can only imagine his humble quip. There was only one Jim Murray.

He might even have had something to say about the 2022 Rose Bowl broadcast Ohio State won 48-45 over Utah. The ESPN crew failed to mention the 1962 Rose Bowl and its 60th anniversary during the game or pre-game shows.

Chris Fowler, the play-by-play broadcaster, made a historical reference about the 1922 Rose Bowl, although the broadcasters are limited by the topics and research editors and producers present to be aired. Fowler noted in the first half of the game Washington and Jefferson’s Charles Fremont West was the first Black quarterback to play in the Rose Bowl in a 0-0 tie against Cal.

That may be technically correct, but it overlooks Brown’s Fritz Pollard, a quarterback and halfback in his career, played for Brown in the 1916 Rose Bowl.

American sports can provide a stage for social change but telling the stories about race in American sports after often complicated. Major media platforms avoid tangled race stories, especially if one implicates a legend such as Bear Bryant.

The 1962 Rose Bowl remained forgotten on its 60th anniversary.

Tom Shanahan

Tom Shanahan

TomShanahan.Report

Age: 67

College: Michigan State

Background: I grew up in Big Rapids, a small Michigan town, captivated by Michigan State’s 1965 and 66 football teams. I knew they were different with the number of Black players on the roster and Jimmy Raye as a Black quarterback long before I understood why. Eventually, my curious, young mind and career came full circle following four fun decades writing for the Oceanside Blade-Tribune, San Diego Tribune and San Diego Union-Tribune.  I researched and wrote, “RAYE OF LIGHT, Jimmy Raye, Duffy Daugherty, the 1965-66 Michigan State Spartans and integration of college football.” I also will have two more books out on the subject. As for my winning FWAA entry, it befits a David Maraniss quote I list in my email signature: “History writes people out of the story. Our job is to write them back in.” Hopefully, I wrote UCLA’s eight Black players back into history. With the support of Jim Murray, they stared down a segregationist coach before the 1962 Rose Bowl. My previous awards include the National Football Foundation San Diego Chapter’s Distinguished American Award; James S. Copley Ring of Truth newspapers first-place award; multiple wins in the San Diego Press Club; the San Diego-Imperial USATF’s President’s Award; and the Southern California Football Coaches Association’s Brevin “Bud” Dyer Award.

Deadline for entries in FWAA Best Writing Contest extended until July 15

FWAA members can begin submitting entries in the 30th Annual Best Writing Contest immediately.  The deadline is July 15.

CATEGORIES

  • Game Story (Immediate Deadline)
  • Feature Story/Profile
  • Enterprise/Investigative
  • Column/Analysis/Commentary

In addition, we have the Beat Writer of the Year Award for the top beat writer as judged by a special FWAA committee headed by FWAA Executive Director Steve Richardson. See separate nomination/entry procedure below.

BEST WRITING CONTEST RULES

You must be an FWAA member in good standing to enter.

Deadline: July 15, 2022. Entries sent after the deadline WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED.

Limit: One (1) article per category, although a series of articles may be submitted in the enterprise category.

Entries must have appeared in print or on line between Feb. 1, 2021, and Jan. 31, 2022.

Entries must be submitted electronically to contest@fwaa.com. Entries not sent to this e-mail address will not be accepted.

Send MS Word or text files only. DO NOT SEND HTML files, Word Perfect files, stories in other word processing software or links to stories on the Internet or electronic libraries.

Make your entry easy to read by taking out unnecessary carriage returns (They can give your entry an odd look when opened by a judge’s word processing program).

Delete any embedded advertising, photos and cutlines from the files (The file should contain only your story and your identifying information).

At the top of each entry, the following information should be included:

  • Writer(s)
  • Publication or online service
  • Category
  • Date of publication
  • E-mail address and telephone number for the writer(s) of the entry.

The entries will be sorted and stripped of identifying information and forwarded to the judge(s).

Files containing your entries should follow this naming convention: yourname-category.doc

The category must be one of these four words: Game, Feature, Enterprise or Column

Example: KenStephens-game.doc.

Questions on the Best Writing Contest? E-mail Ken Stephens at ken.stephens@sbcglobal.net.

FWAA BEAT WRITER OF THE YEAR AWARD

If you have a nomination of a beat writer who covers major college football (either a team or a conference) or you want to nominate yourself, please send an e-mail/letter explaining the qualifications of the person (no more than 250 words) to:

  • Steve Richardson
  • FWAA
  • 18652 Vista Del Sol
  • Dallas, TX 75287
  • tiger@fwaa.com
  • Cell: 214-870-6516

Steve and his committee will then make inquiries into the FWAA members nominated. In order to qualify for this award the person nominated must have been an FWAA member during the 2021 football season.

FWAA names finalists for First-Year Coach and Freshman Player of the Year Awards

GAINESVILLE, FLA.  – The Football Writers Association of America is pleased to announce the finalists for the Steve Spurrier First Year Coach Award, which goes to the best coach in his first year at a school, and the FWAA Freshman of the Year Award. Both awards are sponsored and presented by Chris Doering Mortgage, with the winners announced in January.

“I’m excited to honor my former coach (Spurrier) with the naming of the First Year Coach Award,” said Chris Doering, former college and NFL player and current football analyst for SEC Network. “It means a lot to me knowing how passionate he is about this award and what it stands for. In most cases as a first year coach, you’re basically being asked to turn around a program with a largely inherited roster. Coach Spurrier took great pride in each of his first year head coaching opportunities with an innate ability to get those around him to buy into the culture and what they’re being asked to do. I think it speaks to the essence of what a good coach is.”

Steve Spurrier First Year Coach Award finalists presented by Chris Doering Mortgage:

Shane Beamer, South Carolina: Beamer, the son of first-ballot College Football Hall of Famer Frank Beamer, helped the Gamecocks improve from 2-8 to 6-6 in his first season as a head coach. Beamer had to win games with three different quarterbacks – two apiece – one a former FCS quarterback and another a former graduate assistant coach.

Josh Heupel, Tennessee: Heupel led the Vols to a 7-5 record after taking over a program that went 3-7 the year before and was mired in an NCAA investigation left over from the previous staff. Heupel, a national championship quarterback and Heisman Trophy runner-up as a player at Oklahoma, is vying to become the first two-time winner of the Spurrier Award, having won it at Central Florida in 2018.

Gus Malzahn, UCF: Malzahn led the Knights to an 9-4 season including a Gasparilla Bowl victory over Florida, a three-game improvement from the 6-4 mark they ran up last season despite losing several key players, including QB Dillon Gabriel. Malzahn finished the season coaching with a broken tibia after being injured in a sideline collision, working some games from a sideline platform rather than going up into the coach’s box and just finished off the highest recruiting class in school history.

“This award is given to the coach in his first year at his school who comes in and exceeds expectations,” said Steve Spurrier. “All three of these coaches got their programs heading in the right direction and they didn’t make any excuses. They took what was there and started running with it and they all had outstanding seasons.”

Chris Doering Mortgage is also honored to present the Freshman Player of the Year award. Doering said this award is of particular interest to him because compared to his days as a player when you would typically get red-shirted and a chance to acclimate, today’s players are expected to come in and immediately contribute.

TE Brock Bowers, Georgia: The SEC Newcomer of the Year and a second-team All-American, Bowers set Georgia all-time tight end records for receiving yards (791) and touchdowns (11), and he enters the College Football Playoff needing three catches to set the receptions record. Bowers had a career-high 10 catches in the SEC Championship Game and recorded his fourth game with more than 100 yards receiving.

Chris Doering on Brock Bowers: “The tight end position has been something that has been a way to create a mismatch at the NFL level for 10 plus years. It’s now creeping into the college ranks and they can do it all, hands on the ground, the ability to run block, run routes to create matchup issues among the linebackers and safety’s. Brock definitely tasks opposing defensive coordinators with figuring out how to defend him.”

DE Collin Oliver, Oklahoma State: The Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year tied for seventh in the nation with 11.5 sacks for an Oklahoma State team that led the Big 12 and finished eighth in the nation in scoring defense. Oliver came through with two sacks in the Cowboys’ win over Oklahoma, and two more in the Big 12 Championship Game against Baylor.

Chris Doering on Collin Oliver: “You talk to defensive coordinators and they’re looking for a game-wrecker guy who can impact the opposing offense and their quarterback’s passing game. Oliver is that game wrecker and is a large part of Oklahoma State’s resurgence to one of the top defensive units in the country.”

QB CJ Stroud, Ohio State: The Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year currently has the best Ohio State single-season mark for passing efficiency (182.2), completion percentage (70.9) and passing yards per game (351.1). The Buckeyes led the nation in total offense and scoring offense with Stroud under center, and Stroud was a finalist for the Davey O’Brien national quarterback of the year award.

Chris Doering on CJ Stroud: “The quarterback position at Ohio State came with a lot of expectations and competition heading into the season. They were not sure who was going to start, let alone how much success that player would have. Stroud took this offense and the opportunity and ran with it. He served as great leader for the Ohio State Buckeyes.”

ALL-TIME FWAA FIRST-YEAR COACHES OF THE YEAR

2002 Tyrone Willingham, Notre Dame2012 Urban Meyer, Ohio State
2003 Steve Kragthorpe, Tulsa2013 Gus Malzahn, Auburn
2004 Mike Price, UTEP2014 Bryan Harsin, Boise State
2005 Steve Spurrier, South Carolina2015 Tom Herman, Houston
2006 Chris Petersen, Boise State2016 Justin Fuente, Virginia Tech; Clay Helton, USC
2007 Jeff Jagodzinski, Boston College2017 Lincoln Riley, Oklahoma
2008 Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech2018 Josh Heupel, UCF
2009 Chip Kelly, Oregon2019 Ryan Day, Ohio State
2010 Jimbo Fisher, Florida State2020 Karl Dorrell, Colorado
2011 Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia 

ALL-TIME FWAA FRESHMAN PLAYERS OF THE YEAR

2018 Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson2020 Will Anderson Jr., LB, Alabama
2019 Kenny Gainwell, RB, Memphis 

This will be the 21st straight season in which the FWAA has named a Freshman of the Year and the 20th consecutive year for the First Year Coach Award, although the first time with a namesake for the award, Steve Spurrier. The winner of each award will be announced in January 2022.

Spurrier, along with former player Chris Doering of Chris Doering Mortgage, is planning a February dinner to honor the winners. The site of the dinner in the state of Florida will be announced at a future time.

Founded in 1941, the Football Writers Association of America consists of journalists, broadcasters, publicists, photographers and key executives in all areas of college football. The FWAA works to govern media access and gameday operations while presenting awards and honors, including an annual All-America team. For more information about the FWAA and its programs and initiatives, contact Executive Director Steve Richardson at 214-870-6516 or tiger@fwaa.com.

Chris Doering Mortgage, based in Gainesville, Fla., was established in April 2007 as a residential lending company providing mortgage products including conventional, FHA, USDA and VA loans. The branch is a division of MortgageAdvisors.com – 3940 NW 16th Blvd., Suite A, Gainesville, FL 32605 – NMLS 70168/1937321. FHA Lender ID 2631500094. Chris Doering Mortgage is committed to skillfully and ethically delivering the highest quality customer service throughout the mortgage process, with a team of professionals that strive to exceed the expectations of clients and business partners while continually educating and adapting to the changing needs of the industry. For more information, visit ChrisDoeringMortgage.com.

2021 Best Game Story: Glenn Guilbeau, USA Today Louisiana

By Glenn Guilbeau

USA TODAY Louisiana

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – On Saturday morning, LSU freshman reserve tight end Kole Taylor had one reception for three yards. 

By late Saturday night, Taylor had the most famous shoe in college football – a size 14 Nike Vapor Edge Pro 360, to be exact, that sells for $120 to $140.

It left a deep footprint all over LSU’s 37-34 upset of No. 6 and 22-point favorite Florida in the fog and mist of The Swamp.

Taylor, the No. 9 tight end in the nation from Central High in Grand Junction, Colorado, finally got some decent playing time. This was because starting tight end Arik Gilbert “opted out” for the rest of the season last week after a 55-17 loss to Alabama that dropped LSU to 3-5.

Taylor had two catches for seven yards going into a third-and-10 play in a 34-34 game with under two minutes to play. Freshman quarterback Max Johnson, who started for the first time, completed a short pass to Taylor, who was stopped by safety Tre’vez Johnson and cornerback Marco Wilson six yards short of the first down.

Florida would have nearly a minute and 30 seconds to attempt a drive for a game-winning field goal if LSU elected to punt. But something happened.

“I saw three flags on the ground,” LSU coach Ed Orgeron said. “And I was happy.”

In the process of that tackle, one of Taylor’s Nike Vapor Edge Pro 360s slipped off. Wilson picked it up and threw it more than 20 yards in celebration. Referee James Carter threw a flag for unsportsmanlike conduct. This gave LSU a first down at its 44-yard line with 1:24 to play and another chance.

If Taylor’s laces were tighter, LSU likely would have punted, and Florida could have driven to the winning score. But LSU equipment manager Greg Stringfellow inadvertently took care of that.

More…

Outland Trophy History: offensive tackle Andre Smith, Alabama, 2008 recipient

This is the third in a series of stories on Outland Trophy winners from 2006-2020.  From 1946-2005, the first 60 Outland Trophy winners were profiled in the book 60 Years of the Outland Trophy by Gene Duffey. In celebration of the Outland Trophy’s 75th Anniversary we are catching up with the last 15 recipients.

(Andre Smith became Alabama’s second Outland Trophy recipient when he anchored the offensive line of a 12-2 Alabama team that lost in the SEC title game to Florida and fell to Utah in the Sugar Bowl. He then was selected No. 6 overall in the 2009 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals. Besides the Bengals, Smith has played for Minnesota, Arizona and will suit up for a third season for Baltimore this coming fall.)    

By Gene Duffey, Author

Andre Smith’s career at running back could best be described as brief.

He first played football in fifth grade for the Pinson Valley Youth Club in Birmingham, Alabama. He played in the Unlimited Division, facing guys two and three years older. Because of his size, even at that age, Smith was destined to be a lineman. “I was bigger than most people,” he said. “I took it as a positive.”

Smith played for championship teams in Youth leagues and Little League. During one blowout win, he lined up at running back.

“I carried the ball one time and I fumbled,” he remembered. “They had the scrubs in (on the line). I got hit really hard.”

Back to the line.

Smith did well on the defensive line. He collected several quarterback hurries and tackles for losses. But it never quite felt like home.

“I liked offense way more,” he said. “With offense you have the element of surprise.”

Smith helped his middle school teams win titles in seventh and eighth grade, but didn’t get carried away with the success. “I just sat back and chilled,” he said.

When he started on the offensive line as a freshman at Huffman High School in Birmingham college coaches started to notice.

Huffman Coach Curtis Coleman soon began hearing from the recruiters.

“College coaches thought I was a senior when I was a freshman,” said Smith. “They would inquire about me.”

“He’s just a stinking freshman,” Coleman told them.

Huffman won a key game against J.O. Johnson High School in September 2004, Smith’s junior year. Smith literally knocked over the opposition, credited with 18 pancake blocks.

More…

2020 FWAA Freshman All-America Team unveiled

DALLAS – The 2020 Football Writers Association of Freshman All-America Team features two defensive starters from national champion Alabama, a quarterback-receiver tandem that helped Oklahoma win the Big 12 championship, the two national interception leaders amid a top-flight secondary and six schools that have a pair of players on the roster.

This is the 20th season the FWAA has honored Freshmen All-Americans.

Perhaps in no other season have freshmen played such an important part of a college football season than in 2020. Teams were constantly stretched on their depth charts and player participation varied by the day. It was a challenge that no other freshman class has had to face starting their collegiate careers in the middle of a pandemic. Their learning curve and adjustments had to come fast, and so many delivered. So as the FWAA recognizes the impressive seasons from 32 first-year players, it also salutes all the true and redshirt freshmen who contributed to start, and finish, the oddest and most challenging college football season on record.

The Southeastern Conference led all conferences with eight members followed by the Atlantic Coast’s five and four from the Big 12. The American Athletic, Big Ten and Sun Belt each had three representatives among all 10 conferences and one independent represented. Of the 32 players, 15 are redshirt freshmen.

A 13-person panel of nationally-prominent college football experts represented each of the FBS conferences along with independents in the selecting the team. Both true freshmen (17 players) and redshirt freshmen (15 players) were considered for the team and are so noted. Following is the complete, 32-man 2020 FWAA Freshman All-America Team:

2020 FWAA FRESHMAN ALL-AMERICA TEAM

OFFENSE (13)

QB Grayson McCall, Coastal Carolina 6-3 200 Indian Trail, N.C.
QB Spencer Rattler, Oklahoma 6-1 205 Phoenix, Ariz.
RB Ulysses Bentley IV, SMU 5-10 184 Houston, Texas
RB Kyren Williams, Notre Dame 5-9 195 St. Louis, Mo.
WR • Kayshon Boutte, LSU 6-0 185 New Iberia, La.
WR • Marvin Mims, Oklahoma 5-11 177 Frisco, Texas
WR Tahj Washington, Memphis 5-11 175 Marshall, Texas
OL Matt Goncalves, Pitt 6-6 315 Manorville, N.Y.
OL Jeremy James, Ole Miss 6-5 330 Cumming, Ga.
OL • Willie Lampkin, Coastal Carolina 6-1 295 Lakeland, Fla.
OL Warren McClendon, Georgia 6-4 320 Brunswick, Ga.
OL • Peter Skoronski, Northwestern 6-4 294 Park Ridge, Ill.
OL Tyler Smith, Tulsa 6-5 332 Fort Worth, Texas

DEFENSE (14)

DL Ricky Barber, WKU 6-3 290 Louisville, Ky.
DL • Khari Coleman, TCU 6-2 224 New Orleans, La.
DL Calijah Kancey, Pitt 6-0 270 Miami, Fla.
DL • Myles Murphy, Clemson 6-5 275 Marietta, Ga.
LB • Will Anderson Jr., Alabama 6-4 235 Hampton, Ga.
LB • Tyler Grubbs, Louisiana Tech 6-1 221 New Orleans, La.
LB • Noah Sewell, Oregon 6-3 250 Malaeimi, American Samoa
LB • Stefon Thompson, Syracuse 6-0 235 Charlotte, N.C.
DB Derrick Canteen, Georgia Southern 5-11 185 Evans, Ga.
DB Jalen Catalon, Arkansas 5-10 189 Mansfield, Texas
DB • Emmanuel Forbes, Mississippi State 6-0 180 Grenada, Miss.
DB Brandon Joseph, Northwestern 6-1 192 College Station, Texas
DB • Malachi Moore, Alabama 6-0 182 Trussville, Ala.
DB • Eli Ricks, LSU 6-2 196 Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.

SPECIALISTS (5)

K • John Hoyland, Wyoming 5-10 162 Broomfield, Colo.
P • Tory Taylor, Iowa 6-4 225 Melbourne, Australia
KR • Trayvon Rudolph, NIU 5-10 179 Crete, Ill.
PR Demario Douglas, Liberty 5-8 165 Jacksonville, Fla.
AP • Deuce Vaughn, Kansas State 5-5 168 Round Rock, Texas

HEAD COACH

Karl Dorrell, Colorado

• Denotes true treshman

National champion Alabama stands out with two starters from its defense punctuated with jack linebacker Will Anderson Jr. earning the Shaun Alexander National Freshman Player of the Year Award. Anderson started every game and led the SEC and all national freshmen with 7.0 sacks while also adding 10.5 tackles for loss. His 52 total QB pressures were second nationally.

Four of the SEC’s eight members make up the six-man secondary. Alabama’s star (nickel) back Malachi Moore was an every-game starter and grabbed three interceptions to earn All-SEC Freshman honors. The last ‘Bama secondary member on the Freshman All-America team was in 2018, Patrick Surtain II, who this year was a Bronko Nagurski Trophy finalist and a consensus All-American. Alabama has had a pair of selections in three consecutive seasons.

LSU continues to produce outstanding young cornerbacks. Eli Ricks’ four interceptions were second in the SEC and tied for eighth nationally and he gives the Tigers a third Freshman All-American in the last four seasons at corner (Derek Stingley Jr. in 2019, Greedy Williams in 2017). The SEC’s leading pick-man is also on the team, Emmanuel Forbes of Mississippi State, who had five in 10 games, returning two for scores. Forbes’ 617 defensive snaps played were sixth in the nation among true freshmen. Forbes is only the third Bulldog to earn Freshman All-America status. Arkansas safety Jalen Catalon had 99 tackles, more than any other freshman. Catalon is the first Arkansas defensive back to be a Freshman All-American since Lawrence Richardson on the initial team in 2001 and the Hogs’ first overall since 2015.

Also in the secondary is Brandon Joseph, one of two Northwestern players and the Big Ten Freshman of the Year. Joseph’s six interceptions tied for the national lead. Derrick Canteen of Georgia Southern also had six picks and added 10 PBU’s in eight games to become the first Eagles player to receive any postseason honor from the FWAA.

The Sun Belt trio also boasts its Player of the Year in redshirt quarterback Grayson McCall, who keyed Coastal Carolina’s upstart 11-1 season with 29 total touchdowns against just two interceptions. He led the Sun Belt in passing efficiency and passing yards. Willie Lampkin, Coastal’s left guard, is on the team as an every-game starter for the nation’s 15th-best rushing offense who allowed just one sack this season. It’s been quite an FWAA postseason debut for Coastal Carolina – McCall and Lampkin join head coach Jamey Chadwell (Eddie Robinson Award as Coach of the Year) and defensive end Tarron Jackson (First Team All-American) as the Chanticleers’ first postseason honorees by the FWAA.

Oklahoma’s tandem of Spencer Rattler and Marvin Mims helped the Sooners claim another Big 12 title. Rattler joins McCall at the helm of the team after an All-Big 12 and Big 12 Newcomer of the Year season, leading the nation’s freshmen in passing touchdowns (25), passing offense (278.4 ypg) and total offense (290.4 ypg). Mims became his prime target, as the Big 12 second-teamer led the Sooners with 37 catches and an Oklahoma freshman-record nine touchdowns. Oklahoma has freshman All-America selections for a fourth straight season and seventh of the last eight.

Kayshon Boutte is LSU’s first receiver to be a Freshman All-American and gives the Tigers (along with Ricks) at least one member on five of the last seven teams. Boutte finished with three straight 100-yard games against Alabama, Florida and Ole Miss, where he set the SEC’s single-game record with 308 yards on 14 catches with three touchdowns – which is the FWAA’s Freshman Performance of the Year. Memphis’ Tahj Washington is the school’s fourth Freshman All-American in the last five seasons and follows Kenneth Gainwell, last year’s Shaun Alexander National Freshman Player of the Year. Washington had 670 receiving yards and six touchdowns.

The All-America backfield has the ACC Rookie of the Year, Notre Dame’s Kyren Williams, and the American Athletic Offensive Rookie of the Year, Ulysses Bentley IV of SMU. Williams led all FBS freshmen in rushing yards (1,061) and touchdowns (12) in helping take the Irish to the College Football Playoff. He is only Notre Dame’s second Freshman All-American on offense and its first since 2006. Bentley led the Mustangs with 913 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns to set a SMU freshman single-season record. He is SMU’s first Freshman All-American.

Joining Lampkin on the line is Northwestern’s Peter Skoronski, the Wildcats’ first Freshman All-American (along with Joseph) since 2017 and its first on offense since 2005. Skoronski allowed only two sacks in 587 snaps filling in at left tackle after veteran Rashawn Slater opted out. From the SEC is Ole Miss’ Jeremy James, the Rebels’ first Freshman All-American since 2012 who started all nine games at right guard for an offense that averaged 40.7 points per game. Georgia’s Warren McClendon was an All-SEC Freshman selection and gives the Bulldogs a freshman All-American in five straight seasons and an All-American offensive lineman in three of the last four.

Tulsa left tackle Tyler Smith started all eight games for a team that was picked eighth in its conference but closed playing for The American title. Tulsa’s last Freshman All-American came in 2018 with linebacker Zaven Collins, this year’s Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner as the nation’s top defensive player. Matt Goncalves is Pitt’s first Freshman All-American on offense since 2015.

Pitt’s other honoree is Calijah Kancey, part of an impressive foursome of young pass rushers who already stand out among the national leaders. Kancey gives the Panthers a defensive lineman on both the First Team All-America squad (Rashad Weaver) and its Freshman All-America Team after he filled into the starting lineup when 2019 All-American Jaylen Twyman opted out for the season. He answered with 21 quarterback pressures, 27 tackles and 7.0 TFL’s. TCU’s Khari Coleman, the Big 12 Co-Defensive Freshman of the Year, led all freshmen nationally and was seventh overall with 15.0 TFL’s to go with 3.0 sacks. He had at least two TFL’s in six of his last seven games. TCU has had a Freshman All-American in three of the last four seasons.

Clemson’s defense is restocked on the line with tackle Myles Murphy, who finished fourth on the team with 34 tackles, led the Tigers with 9.0 TFL’s and had three forced fumbles. The ACC’s Co-Newcomer of the Year is Clemson’s first Freshman All-American since quarterback Trevor Lawrence in 2018. WKU’s Ricky Barber finished as perhaps the top pass rusher from the Group of Five programs. Barber’s 43 tackles were ninth nationally among defensive linemen to go with 6.0 TFL’s and four sacks in 10 games. He is the fourth Freshman All-American at WKU, which now has two in the last three seasons.

Anderson leads the four-man linebacking crew but watch out west for another name to rise next season. Noah Sewell at Oregon made an immediate impact posting sacks in his first two games and finishing with 44 tackles and 6.5 TFL’s in just seven games. The Pac-12 Defensive Freshman of the Year and the younger brother of 2019 Outland Trophy winner Penei Sewell, Noah Sewell is only the second Oregon linebacker to be named a Freshman All-American (Troy Dye in 2016) and gives the Ducks a freshman All-American in four of the last five seasons. Stefon Thompson is Syracuse’s sixth Freshman All-American and its first at linebacker. He set the Orange record for a freshman with 4.0 TFL’s against Louisville, the most in a single game by a rookie there since the statistic has been kept (1994).

Tyler Grubbs made the Conference USA All-Freshman team, leading Louisiana Tech and finishing 25th in the FBS with 9.9 tackles per game (99 total) with 9.5 TFL’s. He posted 16 tackles in his collegiate debut and had double-digit totals in five of 10 games. Grubbs is Louisiana Tech’s fourth Freshman All-American and its first since 2017.

Deuce Vaughn lit up Big 12 defenses from multiple positions and closed the regular season as one of two FBS players to have at least 600 rushing yards and 400 receiving yards, the other being the FWAA’s all-purpose First-Team All-American, Travis Etienne of Clemson. The Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year racked up 1,221 all-purpose yards that including a K-State freshman-record 642 rushing yards and a team-leading 434 receiving yards. Of the Wildcats’ eight Freshman All-Americans, four have been on special teams or all-purpose.

Tory Taylor of Iowa finished with a 44.1-yard average to lead all FBS freshmen. The 23-year-old Australian is only the fourth Freshman All-American at Iowa and its first non-lineman. John Hoyland of Wyoming was tops in the country in field goals made per game (2.17) missing only one kick, which was sixth nationally by percentage (92.9) and he averaged 9.2 points per game. He is the Cowboys’ first special teams Freshman All-American and gives them a member for a third consecutive season and fifth in the last six years.

NIU’s Trayvon Rudolph was a MAC first-teamer and led the nation in kickoff return yards (717) averaging 23.9 yards per return with six returns of 30 or more yards. Rudolph is NIU’s first Freshman All-American since 2015 and its first on special teams. Demario Douglas gave Liberty its first punt return touchdown in five seasons and was 10th nationally with an 11.1-yard average. He is Liberty’s second Freshman All-American.

The Freshman Coach of the Year is Colorado’s Karl Dorrell, who led the Buffaloes to their first winning record since 2016 at 4-2 after Colorado started its conference season 3-0 for the first time since 2002.

From this Freshman All-America team, Texas was the home state for seven of the players – each playing for a different program – to lead all others, followed by Georgia’s five and Florida and Louisiana with three each. The team also included a player (Noah Sewell) from an American territory for the first time, and Iowa’s Taylor is the fifth Australian to earn a Freshman All-America honor. No freshmen made the FWAA All-America Team this season.

About Shaun Alexander

Shaun Alexander is a former All-Pro running back with the Seattle Seahawks (2000-07) and Washington Redskins (2008) and a former All-SEC player at Alabama (1995-99). He finished a four-year career with the Crimson Tide holding 15 records including 3,565 career rushing yards and most touchdowns (5) in a game. He was drafted by Seattle as the 19th overall pick in the 2000 NFL Draft, and in his second season had a breakout year with 1,318 yards and 14 touchdowns, including a franchise-record 266 yards on 35 carries in a memorable ESPN Sunday Night Football game against Oakland. Today Alexander travels the country speaking and teaching people about the things he is passionate about – his Christian faith, marriage, fatherhood, football, winning, leading and love.

About the Football Writers Association of America

The FWAA consists of 1,300 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 at tiger@fwaa.com.

Related link:

Sid Hartman posthumously named recipient of FWAA Lifetime Achievement Award

DALLAS, TexasSid Hartman, who first joined the Football Writers Association of America in 1945, has posthumously been named the recipient of the association’s Lifetime Achievement Award for the 2020 season.

Sid Hartman

At 100 years of age, Hartman was still a columnist for the Minneapolis Star Tribune and did a weekly sports radio show until his death. He turned 100 on March 15, 2020, and passed away on October 18, 2020, still working at his craft.

The FWAA started naming a Lifetime Achievement Award winner eight years ago.  The first recipient in 2013 was Art Spander of the San Francisco Examiner, followed by Bill Little (University of Texas) in 2014, Irv Moss (Denver Post) in 2015, OK (Buddy) Davis (Ruston Daily Leader) in 2016, Mike Finn (ACC) in 2017, Dave Plati (University of Colorado) in 2018 and Wright Waters (Football Bowl Association) and Paul Hoolahan (Sugar Bowl) in 2019.

Hartman is by far the oldest person to receive the award in its relatively short history.  The award goes to an FWAA member or someone close to the organization who has contributed greatly to either college football, the writing profession or the FWAA.

“He was an ageless wonder,” said FWAA Executive Director Steve Richardson. “At an age when most people were well into retirement, he still punched a time clock and performed every week. He was older by decades than most of the people he was interviewing, but one would have never known it. He was plugged into the Minnesota sports scene. It is truly a remarkable story.”

Bob Hammel, 1992 FWAA President and 1996 Bert McGrane recipient, remembers Hartman when each summer he attended the FWAA Annual Meetings around the now defunct Chicago Charities College All-Star Game (ended in 1976). Hammel recognizes Hartman as a great promoter of the FWAA during those years.

Indeed, Hartman was a legend in his own time during his 65 years of working in Minneapolis. Here is a link to an Associated Press obituary on Hartman: Longtime Minnesota sports columnist Sid Hartman dies at 100 (apnewscom).

Alabama’s Leatherwood wins Outland Trophy

DALLAS – Alabama offensive tackle Alex Leatherwood was named the recipient of the 75th Outland Trophy on Thursday night during The Home Depot College Football Awards on ESPN. The Outland Trophy is awarded annually to the nation’s best college interior lineman on offense or defense and Leatherwood is the third Alabama lineman of the last five seasons to win it and the sixth overall.

Leatherwood, a 6-6, 312-pound senior from Pensacola, Fla., was selected by the All-America Committee of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) from three finalists that also included Notre Dame offensive tackle Liam Eichenberg and Iowa defensive tackle Daviyon Nixon.

Of Alabama’s five previous Outland winners – Quinnen Williams (2018), Cam Robinson (2016), Barrett Jones (2011), Andre Smith (2008) and Chris Samuels (1999) – five of them were also offensive tackles. The Outland Trophy now has consecutive offensive winners (Oregon guard Penei Sewell last year) after two defensive tackles in 2017 (Ed Oliver of Houston) and 2018 (Williams).

Leatherwood will be honored as the recipient of the 2020 Outland Trophy on Jan. 13 in Omaha at a dinner hosted by the Greater Omaha Sports Committee and sponsored by Werner Enterprises.

A backbone on the left side of top-ranked Alabama’s line, Leatherwood is the best lineman on the season’s best team to date. The Crimson Tide has consensus All-Americans at quarterback, running back and wide receiver this season – some of the credit must start up front where its left tackle is providing protection for the nation’s second-highest scoring offense at 48.2 points per game that is also fifth in passing at 349.3 yards per game and sixth in total offense averaging 535.0 yards per game.

He has an overall blocking grade of 91.1 by the Alabama coaching staff having given up two sacks and three quarterback hurries this season. Leatherwood and Alabama center Landon Dickerson were co-winners of the SEC’s Jacobs Blocking Trophy as the league’s top linemen. He was a First Team choice on all four All-America teams by the organizations that decide consensus status and can become a unanimous selection from the Walter Camp Foundation tonight. Named a permanent team captain by the Alabama players last month, the Bama coaches honored him as well making Leatherwood one of their four Offensive Achievement Award winners having earned their Player of the Week selection four times, including after last week’s Rose Bowl playoff semifinal.

Leatherwood’s ability was on display that night in Bama’s 31-14 win over Notre Dame. The Crimson Tide racked up 437 yards, averaging 5.6 yards per carry on the ground en route to 140 rushing yards. His protection allowed quarterback Mac Jones to complete 25-of-30 passes for 297 yards and four touchdowns on the day. In Monday night’s National Championship against Ohio State, Leatherwood and the Alabama front faces perhaps the best defensive line they’ve seen yet this season.

The Outland Trophy, which has been awarded annually by the FWAA since 1946, is named after the late John Outland, an All-America lineman at the University of Pennsylvania in the late 1800s. The Outland Trophy is the third-oldest award in major college football behind the Heisman Trophy and Maxwell Award.

The Outland Trophy is a member of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA), which encompasses the most prestigious awards in college football. Founded in 1997, the NCFAA and its 25 awards now boast over 800 recipients, dating to 1935. Visit ncfaa.org to learn more about our story.

Founded in 1941, the Football Writers Association of America consists of 1,300 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 at tiger@fwaa.com.

Related links:
• Preseason Watch List | Semifinalists | Finalists
• All-time Outland Trophy winners, candidates
• Download 75th Anniversary Outland Trophy logo: Primary (.jpg) | Dark background (.jpg) | Illustrator (.ai)

Coastal Carolina’s Chadwell wins 2020 Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award

DALLAS  – Coastal Carolina coach Jamey Chadwell led his team to historic heights this season within its program, its conference, the national rankings and even the College Football Playoff with an 11-win season that captured the country’s imagination and brought immeasurable attention to the school in Conway, S.C. For his achievements in leading the Chanticleers to so many historic program firsts, Chadwell was named the 2020 Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year by the Football Writers Association of America and the Allstate Sugar Bowl.

Chadwell is a first-time winner of the Eddie Robinson Award and the first coach from the Sun Belt Conference to win the honor. He was selected from voting by the entire FWAA membership from a field of eight other finalists from seven FBS conferences and the nation’s top independent program.

“Jamey Chadwell had an outstanding season that would have impressed even Coach Robinson,” Sugar Bowl president Ralph Capitelli said. “While going from being picked last in the conference in the preseason to winning its first Sun Belt Championship and reaching the national Top-10, Coastal Carolina became one of the feel-good stories of the season during a very tough year. Congratulations to Coach Chadwell and his Chanticleers.”

“Coach Eddie Robinson’s family sends congratulations and well-wishes to Coach Jamey Chadwell on his becoming the 2020 FWAA Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year,” said Eddie Robinson III, the grandson of the legendary coach. “His 2020 season at Coastal Carolina has been a phenomenal one not only for the school and for the Sun Belt Conference but for all of college football and its rich history.”

Jamey Chadwell led his Coastal Carolina program to an 11-1 season in just his second full season in Conway. (Photo: Icon Sportswire)

Chadwell, in his second full season as head coach at Coastal Carolina, will receive the iconic bust of the late Robinson, a College Football Hall of Fame coach at Grambling State University for 55 years and winner of 408 career games. Chadwell took over as interim head coach for Joe Moglia in the 2017 season and the was named the fulltime head coach replacing Moglia before the 2019 season. Moglia missed the 2017 season with health issues.

“This award is a direct reflection of the sacrifices that the Coastal Carolina University administration, staff, coaches, and student-athletes made to help our team have a historic season,” Chadwell said. “It’s an absolute privilege to represent Coach Robinson and I would like to thank the Football Writers Associations of America and the Sugar Bowl committee for the opportunity to accept this prestigious award.”

Chadwell, the Sun Belt Coach of the Year, first caught the nation’s attention as Coastal Carolina, picked to finish last in the SBC’s East Division, took a 28-3 lead into halftime of its Sept. 12 season opener at Kansas. CCU eventually won 38-23 to lead off a banner day for the Sun Belt that helped grab national headlines. A home win over Campbell then led into conference play, where a runaway 52-23 win over Arkansas State was followed by a notable 30-27 win at two-time West Division champion and nationally-ranked Louisiana with a field goal in the final seconds. It was Coastal’s first win over a top-25 team and began a string of eight straight conference wins that guaranteed Coastal’s first division championship, its first bowl berth and later its first conference championship at the FBS level.

As the wins mounted, so too did the attention as the win at Louisiana earned Coastal its first national ranking in both polls and it hasn’t left the top 25 since. Coastal, which had climbed to No. 14 in the polls, thought it lost a big opportunity when its home game Dec. 5 against No. 25 Liberty had to be cancelled late in the week. But the magical season got a rare coup when it was able to quickly replace it only two days prior to kickoff with another home game against No. 8 BYU. Once again the country’s attention turned to Conway and a rare late-season meeting between two of the top three ranked Group of 5 schools. The game drew one of the day’s largest television ratings as the Chants won, 22-17, tackling a BYU receiver at their 1-yard line as time expired.

It was one of two wins Coastal had over top 25 opponents, another program first, and earned them a No. 9 ranking in the Associated Press poll, the highest ranking ever for any Sun Belt school. It also brought the Chants up to No. 12 in the College Football Playoff rankings, a first for the program and another Sun Belt record high for a program playing only its fourth season as a full-time FBS and Sun Belt member.

A Sun Belt Conference Championship Game rematch with Louisiana had to be cancelled due to COVID concerns, sending Coastal into the bowl season with its first undefeated regular season still intact. The Chants placed 10 players on the All-Sun Belt First Team and had 16 players on the team in all. Five of the six individual awards went to Coastal players: Player and Freshman of the Year (quarterback Grayson McCall); Defensive Player of the Year (defensive end Tarron Jackson); Newcomer of the Year (cornerback D’Jordan Strong) and Coach of the Year (Chadwell).

A rematch of sorts with Liberty came Dec. 26 in the FBC Mortgage Cure Bowl in Orlando. Coastal scored with 3:01 left and got a two-point conversion to take the game to overtime. Liberty’s first possession ended with a 44-yard field goal, and the Flames blocked Coastal’s field goal try on its possession to take a 37-34 win to hand the Chants their lone loss of the season.

The Eddie Robinson Award is the second of two FWAA postseason honors won by Coastal Carolina this season. Senior defensive end Tarron Jackson is a first team FWAA All-American, the Chanticleers’ first player to earn that status or any FWAA postseason honor. Jackson was also a Bronko Nagurski Trophy finalist as FWAA’s National Defensive Player of the Year.

The other eight finalists for the award were Tom Allen of Indiana, Brent Brennan of San Jose State, Matt Campbell of Iowa State, Karl Dorrell of Colorado, Luke Fickell of Cincinnati, Nick Saban of Alabama, Kalani Sitake of BYU and Dabo Swinney of Clemson.

The FWAA has presented a coaching award since the 1957 season when Ohio State’s Woody Hayes was named the first recipient. Beginning in 1997, the FWAA Coach of the Year Award has been named in honor of the late Robinson, a coaching legend at Grambling State University for 55 seasons.

Robinson, who passed away in 2007, won 70.7 percent of his games during his illustrious career. Robinson’s teams won or tied for 17 Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) championships after joining the league in 1959. His Tigers won nine Black College Football Championships during his career spent all at the same school.

The Eddie Robinson Award is a member of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA), which encompasses college football’s most prestigious awards. Founded in 1997, the NCFAA and its 25 awards now boast over 800 recipients, dating to 1935. Visit ncfaa.org to learn more about our story.

The Allstate Sugar Bowl has established itself as one of the premier college football bowl games, having hosted 28 national champions, 97 Hall of Fame players, 50 Hall of Fame coaches and 18 Heisman Trophy winners in its 87-year history. The 2022 Allstate Sugar Bowl, which will feature top teams from the SEC and the Big 12, is scheduled to be played on January 1, 2022. In addition to football, the Sugar Bowl Committee annually invests over $1.6 million into the community through the hosting and sponsorship of sporting events, awards and clinics. Through these efforts, the organization supports and honors thousands of student-athletes each year, while injecting over $2.7 billion into the local economy in the last decade. For more information, visit AllstateSugarBowl.org.

The Football Writers Association of America, founded in 1941, consists of 1,300 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 at tiger@fwaa.com.

Related links:
• All-time Eddie Robinson Award winners, finalists
• Eddie Robinson Award: Logo (.jpg) | Photo

Sarah Shatel named recipient of Volney Meece Scholarship

Sarah Shatel, winner of the 2020 Volney Meece Scholarship

Sarah Shatel, a freshman at the University of Missouri, was named the 24th winner of the Volney Meece Scholarship on Monday.

 

The scholarship is awarded annually by the Football Writers Association of America and named for the late Volney Meece. Meece served 22 years as the FWAA’s executive director and was the organization’s president in 1971.

 

The scholarship is a $1,000 annual grant for four years. It is awarded to a deserving son or daughter of an FWAA member.

 

The 19-year-old Shatel is the daughter of long-time FWAA member Tom Shatel, Omaha World-Herald sports columnist and 2000 FWAA President. 

 

Sarah compiled an impressive list of academic and extracurricular achievements as a student at Elkhorn (NE) South High School. She has continued along that path at Mizzou.

 

At Elkhorn South, Sarah maintained a weighted 4.105 GPA while taking several advanced placement and honors courses. A member of the National Honor Society, she was cited for outstanding academic excellence by the President’s Education Awards Program.

 

She helped organize a church mission to Costa Rica, served as a peer tutor through the National Honor Society, was involved in SADD (Student Against Destructive Decisions), was web editor and writer for the student newspaper, and volunteered for extracurricular activities while working several part-time jobs. 

 

Sarah is majoring in mathematics at Mizzou with a minor in Spanish.

 

Past winners of the Volney Meece Scholarship  

  •   1997 Brett Goering Topeka, Kan.  
  •   1998 Kelly Brooks Denver, Colo.  
  •   1999 James Butz Schaumberg, Ill.  
  •   2000 Sara Barnhart Atlanta, Ga.  
  •   2001 Patrick Davis Coventry, Conn.  
  •   2002 Jacqueline O’Toole Gaithersburg, Md.  
  •   2003 Garrett Holtz Denver, Colo.  
  •   2004 Katie Hersom Oklahoma City, Okla.  
  •   2005 Katie Wieberg Lawson, Mo.  
  •   2006 Kaylynn Monroe Winter Park, Fla.  
  •   2007 Nate Kerkhoff Overland Park, Kan.  
  •   2008 Jack Caywood Lawrence, Kan.  
  •   2009 Haley Dodd Overland Park, Kan.  
  •   2010 Donald Hunt Philadelphia, Pa.  
  •   2011 Alaina Martens Papillion, Neb.  
  •   2012 Emily Alford Tupelo, Miss.  
  •   2013 Sarah Helsley Edmond, Okla.  
  •   2014 Robert Abramson Palos Verde, Calif.  
  •   2015 Danielle Hoover Tulsa, Okla.  
  •   2016 Dolen Helwagen Pataskala, Ohio  
  •   2017 Elizabeth Schroeder Norman, Okla.  
  •   2018 Mallory Rosetta Baton Rouge, La.  
  •   2019 Alexandra Haley Hamilton, N.J.