FWAA selects ‘Super 11’ for 2017 season

DALLAS — Ten previous winners and one first-time winner comprise the Ninth Annual Super 11 Awards, which the Football Writers Association of America gives out annually to the best performing sports information departments in the Football Bowl Subdivision. The awards announced this week are for the 2017 season.

USC claimed its eighth Super 11 award and fourth straight overall. Georgia notched its sixth award. Clemson and Colorado each won for a fifth time. It was Clemson’s third straight award and Colorado’s fourth award in five seasons. Houston won for the third time

Oklahoma, Wyoming, Miami of Ohio, Rice and South Alabama each picked up their second award.

Ohio State is the lone first-time winner in the awards selection that dates back to the 2009 season.

“This is one of the most important honors that the FWAA as an organization awards,” said Tim Griffin, the Big 12 editor for Cox Media Group and the FWAA’s longtime chairman of the Super 11 committee.

”There are many strong sports information departments around the nation. We are grateful for all of them. But this award is meant to honor the best of the best. It’s for those SIDs who provide strong media services and go the extra mile to provide help above and beyond the call of duty.”

Criteria employed in determining the winners not only included how press boxes and media operations were operated, but also the quality and timeliness of information provided. Also judged was the amount of information presented and appropriately updated on websites, and personal responsiveness to media inquiries as well as the accessibility of a program’s players, coaches and assistant coaches. The ratings considered those departments that went the extra mile in servicing the media.

“We believe we have a great mix of schools here,” said FWAA Executive Director Steve Richardson. “Some schools which have been consistently good over the years, others who have had some history of being at the top and one new school. And there are several others who are on the cusp and could be in the Super 11 in future years.”

The Super 11 Committee received input from other FWAA members and others who covered college football during the 2017 season.

In January 2009, the FWAA formed the first Super 11 Committee. The concept has been supported and endorsed by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA), many of whom are members of the FWAA. The FWAA has awarded 56 different schools in this program over the years.

The Football Writers Association of America, a non-profit organization founded in 1941, consists of more than 1,300 men and women across North America who cover college football for a living. 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 gameday operations, major awards, a national poll and its annual All-America team.

For more information on the Super 11, contact committee chairman Tim Griffin (210-823-3666, timgriffin59@hotmail.com) or visit the association’s official website, footballwriters.com.

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Jim Harbaugh named keynote speaker for 2018 Bronko Nagurski banquet

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (May 3, 2018) — The Charlotte Touchdown Club in conjunction with the Football Writers Association of America, officially announced today Jim Harbaugh, Head Football Coach at the University of Michigan, as Keynote Speaker for the 2018 Bronko Nagurski Awards Banquet scheduled for Monday, December 3.

“I am honored to be asked to speak at an award banquet named after a fellow Chicago Bear, Bronko Nagurski, a college and pro football hall of fame player and legend in the Windy City,” Harbaugh said. “We have always prided ourselves on having a program with a strong defense and our Defensive Coordinator Don Brown has mentored some of the best defensive players in the game. The traits that the Nagurski award candidates display are the same ones that are fundamental to our success at Michigan. I look forward to attending this event as it’s always great to be around the game’s best defensive student-athletes and coaches.”

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh

On December 13, 2014, when named Michigan’s Head Football Coach Harbaugh said, “Throughout my life I have dreamed of coaching at the University of Michigan,” said Harbaugh, the J. Ira and Nicki Harris Family Head Football Coach. “Now I have the honor to live it.”

Harbaugh began coaching in 1994 during an impressive playing career. He served as volunteer assistant coach for his father, Jack Harbaugh, at Western Kentucky while still playing in the NFL (1994-2001). After finishing his playing career, Harbaugh was the Oakland Raiders Quarterbacks Coach (2002-03). Harbaugh was named Head Coach at the University of San Diego (2004-06) and Stanford University (2007-10) before becoming an NFL Head Coach for the San Francisco 49ers (2011-2014).  Harbaugh is now serving as the head coach of his alma mater, the University of Michigan. Harbaugh is one of four Big Ten coaches to win 10-plus games in each of his first two seasons directing a conference school.

Harbaugh is one of only two head coaches to collect back-to-back 10-win seasons in their first two seasons at U-M. In his first two seasons as the Michigan head coach, Harbaugh guided the Wolverines to 10-win seasons. U-M has appeared in a bowl game in all three seasons with Harbaugh at the helm of the program, including a New Year’s Six Bowl with the 2017 Orange Bowl, and two other bowls played on New Year’s Day (2016 Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl; 2018 Outback Bowl).

As a former Michigan Wolverine quarterback, Harbaugh was one of Michigan’s all-time record holders for passing yards with 5,449. He also tallied 620 passing attempts, 387 completions, a 62.4% completion percentage, 31 touchdown passes and 22 interceptions. He held the career NCAA Division I-A passing efficiency record (149.6) for 12 years.

After his success in college Harbaugh moved on to play for six NFL teams including: the Chicago Bears, Indianapolis Colts, Baltimore Ravens, San Diego Chargers, Detroit Lions, and the Carolina Panthers. Harbaugh played in 177 league games with 140 starts in his NFL career. He completed 2,305 of 3,918 passes for 26,288 yards with 129 touchdowns.
Harbaugh earned a B.A. in communications from Michigan’s College of Literature, Science, and the Arts in 1986.

Harbaugh comes from a coaching family, and is the son of college football coach Jack Harbaugh and the brother of John Harbaugh, the head coach of the Baltimore Ravens.

About ACN, Inc.
Founded in 1993, ACN is the world’s largest direct seller of telecommunications and essential services for residential and business customers.  ACN provides the services people need and use every day including Home Phone Service, High Speed Internet, Wireless, Television, Home Security & Automation, Computer Support and Natural Gas and Electricity. ACN operates in 25 countries with offices located throughout North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia and the Pacific.  For more information, visit myacn.com. For information on ACN’s home-based business opportunity, visit acninc.com.
About The Independence Fund
The Independence Fund is a nonprofit organization that empowers our nation’s severely wounded veterans and the caregivers who support them to take control of their lives.  Through its dedicated mobility and treatment programs, the Fund assists veterans in transforming their lives toward a better future.  The Independence Fund believes we owe it to our veterans to provide the resources they need to move forward and build a strong foundation toward lasting emotional and physical healing in order to reestablish their independence.  To learn more, visit www.independencefund.org.

The Charlotte Touchdown Club is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization founded in 1990 for the purpose of promoting high school, collegiate, and professional football in the Charlotte, North Carolina region.  Since its inception, the club has grown as well as diversified boasting a sponsor team of more than (80) companies.  The Club’s activities and services focus community attention on the outstanding Citizenship, Scholarship, Sportsmanship, and Leadership of area athletes and coaches.  Through individual and corporate support, more than $2,000,000 has been raised to benefit the Touchdown Club’s scholarship efforts.

Founded in 1941, the Football Writers Association of America consists of the men and women across North America who cover college football for a living.  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 an All-America team.  Through its website, the FWAA works to improve communication among all those who work within the game. The FWAA also sponsors scholarships for aspiring writers and an annual writing contest.  Behind the leadership of President David Jones and Executive Director Steve Richardson and a board of veteran journalists, the FWAA continues grow and work to help college football prosper at all levels. There are now over 1,000 members.

The Bronko Nagurski Trophy is a member of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA), which was founded in 1997 as a coalition of the major collegiate football awards to protect, preserve and enhance the integrity, influence and prestige of the game’s predominant awards.  The NCFAA encourages professionalism and the highest standards for the administration of its member awards and the selection of their candidates and recipients.  For more information, visit the association’s official website, www.NCFAA.org.
The Bronko Nagurski Trophy is presented annually by the Charlotte Touchdown Club and the Football Writers Association of America to the nation’s most outstanding NCAA defensive football player at the Bronko Nagurski Awards Banquet in Charlotte, N.C.  All proceeds benefit the Charlotte Touchdown Club Scholarship Fund.  For more information call 704-347-2918 or www.touchdownclub.com.

Ohio State’s Cousineau will receive 2018 Bronko Nagurski Legends Award

 Charlotte, N.C. — The Charlotte Touchdown Club in conjunction with the Football Writers Association of America proudly announces Ohio State University great Tom Cousineau as the recipient of the 2018 Bronko Nagurski Legends Award, which recognizes outstanding defensive football players from the past 40 years.  The award will be presented formally during the annual Bronko Nagurski Trophy Awards Banquet presented by ACN on December 3, 2018.

College Football Hall of Fame member Tom Cousineau.

“It’s so humbling all these years later to be remembered this way  I would never had imagined football would still be pouring incredible blessings into my life like they have the last couple years and I’m just so humbled,” commented Cousineau.

Cousineau joins a growing list of prestigious Bronko Nagurski Legends Award recipients including: Alan Page, Bubba Smith, Ted Hendricks, Roger Wehrli, Mike McCoy, Jack Youngblood, Larry Jacobson, Randy Rhino, Randy White, Randy Gradishar, Chet Moeller, and Ross Browner.  Tom Cousineau was one of the most dominant linebackers in Big Ten history. He played under legendary OSU coach, Woody Hayes, from 1975 to 1978.  During that span, Ohio State had an overall record of 36-10-2 and 28-4 in the Big Ten. They also went on to win three Big Ten championships, and compete in the Rose Bowl, Orange Bowl, Sugar Bowl, and Gator Bowl.  Cousinaeu was recognized as the 1977 Orange Bowl MVP after defeating the University of Colorado Buffaloes.

Cousineau’s 569 career tackles is second all-time in Ohio State history.  He still holds six school records, setting marks for single-season tackles and solo tackles during his senior campaign when he was named team MVP.  The 1978 team captain led Ohio State to three Big Ten championships, three top 12 finishes and four bowl berths, earning MVP honors after a win in the 1977 Orange Bowl.  A three-time All-Big Ten honoree, Cousineau owns six of the top 10 single-game tackling performances in school history, and he helped the Buckeyes lead the conference in total defense in 1977.  Following his senior season, he was invited to play in the Hula Bowl, where he earned Defensive MVP honors.

Cousineau became Ohio State University’s first number one overall pick in the NFL Draft when he was selected in 1979 by the Buffalo Bills.  He chose to play for Montreal of the Canadian Football League from 1979-82, earning the league’s Grey Cup MVP honor in 1979.  He would later return to the NFL, playing for the Cleveland Browns from 1982-85 and the San Francisco 49ers from 1986-87.

A 1995 Ohio State Sports Hall of Fame inductee, Cousineau was the recipient of the Silver Anniversary Butkus Award in 2003.  Cousineau was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2016.

About ACN, Inc.
Founded in 1993, ACN is the world’s largest direct seller of telecommunications and essential services for residential and business customers.  ACN provides the services people need and use every day including Home Phone Service, High Speed Internet, Wireless, Television, Home Security & Automation, Computer Support and Natural Gas and Electricity. ACN operates in 25 countries with offices located throughout North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia and the Pacific.  For more information, visit myacn.com

About The Independence Fund
The Independence Fund is a nonprofit organization that empowers our nation’s severely wounded veterans and the caregivers who support them to take control of their lives.  Through its dedicated mobility and treatment programs, the Fund assists veterans in transforming their lives toward a better future.  The Independence Fund believes we owe it to our veterans to provide the resources they need to move forward and build a strong foundation toward lasting emotional and physical healing in order to reestablish their independence.  To learn more, visit www.independencefund.org.

The Charlotte Touchdown Club is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization founded in 1990 for the purpose of promoting high school, collegiate, and professional football in the Charlotte, North Carolina region.  Since its inception, the club has grown as well as diversified boasting a sponsor team of more than (80) companies.  The Club’s activities and services focus community attention on the outstanding Citizenship, Scholarship, Sportsmanship, and Leadership of area athletes and coaches.  Through individual and corporate support, more than $2,000,000 has been raised to benefit the Touchdown Club’s scholarship efforts.

Founded in 1941, the Football Writers Association of America consists of the men and women across North America who cover college football for a living.  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 an All-America team.  Through its website, the FWAA works to improve communication among all those who work within the game. The FWAA also sponsors scholarships for aspiring writers and an annual writing contest.  Behind the leadership of President David Jones and Executive Director Steve Richardson and a board of veteran journalists, the FWAA continues grow and work to help college football prosper at all levels. There are now over 1,000 members.

The Bronko Nagurski Trophy is a member of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA), which was founded in 1997 as a coalition of the major collegiate football awards to protect, preserve and enhance the integrity, influence and prestige of the game’s predominant awards.  The NCFAA encourages professionalism and the highest standards for the administration of its member awards and the selection of their candidates and recipients  For more information, visit the association’s official website, www.NCFAA.org.

The Bronko Nagurski Trophy is presented annually by the Charlotte Touchdown Club and the Football Writers Association of America to the nation’s most outstanding NCAA defensive football player at the Bronko Nagurski Awards Banquet in Charlotte, N.C.  All proceeds benefit the Charlotte Touchdown Club Scholarship Fund.  For more information call 704-347-2918 or www.touchdownclubcom.

Photo gallery: Outland Trophy presentation dinner

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

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.

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.”

Mike Griffith named FWAA Beat Writer of the Year

ATLANTA-Mike Griffith of SEC County was named the Steve Ellis/FWAA Beat Writer of the Year during the association’s annual Awards Breakfast on Monday morning at the Sheraton Atlanta Hotel.

Griffith, FWAA President in 2007 and a frequent award winner in the association’s Best Writing Contest, becomes the eighth recipient of the Steve Ellis/FWAA Beat Writer of the Year Award, which annually honors one of the best beat writers in college football. The award is named after the late Steve Ellis, a standout beat writer who covered Florida State football for the Tallahassee Democrat for a number of years.

Mike Griffith

Griffith follows previous winners Doug Lesmerises, Cleveland Plain Dealer; Steve Wieberg, USA Today, and Mark Blaudschun, Boston Globe (co-recipients); Jon Wilner, San Jose Mercury News; Tim May, Columbus Dispatch; Chris Dufresne, Los Angeles Times;  and  Jason Kersey, Daily Oklahoman.

“Mike has been a relentless reporter on whatever beat he has covered over the years,” said FWAA Executive Director Steve Richardson. “Now that we are in an era of a myriad of reporting platforms, Mike has mastered the switch technique of adapting to the many different mediums.

“He’s also forever a guard of his and others’ job space in the press box. One time a couple of years ago, he was on the prowl when he was told a road SID was going to limit the time reporters could stay in the press box after a night game. The media and the FWAA are better off with a watch dog like Griff.”

Griffith fits in very well at SEC Country as its main Tennessee Vols reporter.

“On the Tennessee beat the past year, Mike has been a one-man wrecking crew,” wrote Ken Bradley, the SEC Country Deputy Sports Editor, in Griffith’s support letter. “Going up against competitors with multiple writers, he never backed down. In fact, he embraced the challenge. He stayed up late producing content to roll out the first thing the next morning. He thought of different ways to provide video content that others weren’t doing. He attacks every day the same way with the same goal — to inform, entertain and attract readers to SEC Country’s Tennessee coverage.

“A new job, with a new company mixed with modern-day digital journalism enabled me to cover college football a variety of ways this past year,” Griffith wrote.

Griffith’s duties on the Tennessee football beat include a daily podcast, attending and writing from football-related functions, Tuesday morning radio appearances on Huntsville and Nashville radio stations and Sunday morning appearances on Knoxville’s highest-rated local television sports show.

Special assignments involved travel to the homes of several signees as part of the “Next Generation” series, with Facebook Live presentation videos a part of the extensive interviews performed with recruits and their families.

In-season responsibilities also included taking pictures and setting up video to live-stream press conferences, team arrival at stadium and Facebook Live “stand-up” reports from after the head coach’s weekly press conference, as well as stand-ups from the pregame and post-game stadium field level and a co-host role on a Thursday night television show.

Griffith, a Michigan State graduate, was hired by Cox Media Group SEC Country in May 2016 after covering high-profile Michigan State football and basketball teams for MLive for four years. During his first stint in Knoxville, Griffith covered Tennessee football and basketball for the News-Sentinel for 14 years while also doing television and radio weekly.

Prior to Knoxville, Griffith covered Alabama for the Mobile Register for four years and Auburn for the Anniston Star, including Auburn’s unbeaten team in 1993. His first job out of college was covering Idaho State for the Idaho Falls Post Register. He worked all four years in college at the Lansing State Journal for Steve Klein, who went on to develop the blueprint for USA Today’s online product.

“When I think of Mike Griffith, eight words come to mind: talented, versatile, creative, hard-working, collaborative, professional and meticulous,” Bradley wrote. “If you were searching for a beat writer and could get half of those, you’d be happy. Mike brings all of that to the table every day.”

 

Wieberg named winner of Bert McGrane Award

ATLANTA — On the day of the fourth College Football Playoff National Championship Game, Steve Wieberg receives the FWAA’s prestigious Bert McGrane Award, tantamount to the organization’s Hall of Fame.

Wieberg will accept the McGrane Award at the FWAA’s Annual Awards Breakfast at the Sheraton Atlanta Hotel. It was an honor well-deserved not only for his ground-breaking role on the CFP Selection Committee, which helped determine the four playoff teams the last four years, but for his long career at USA Today from 1982 to 2012.

Steve Wieberg

“Stunned, incredibly grateful and humbled by the greats who have won it and just as much by those who haven’t,” Wieberg said upon learning he was the recipient of the award that goes to a person who has performed great service to the FWAA and/or the writing profession.

In 2014, Steve Wieberg became a past media member on the first CFP Selection Committee. After completing a four-year stint on the committee, he undoubtedly has paved the way for future past media members to be a part of one of college sports’ most influential bodies.

“Steve’s position on the committee was, well, sort of a breakthrough in college sports,” said FWAA Executive Director Steve Richardson. “But it goes to show you there are those in the media who generate great respect from those they have covered over the years.

“He is certainly a person someone entering or now in the journalism field should try and emulate. He wrote stories and covered subjects with tenacity. His ability to explain complex issues in clear terms was classical. And, at the end of the day, the readers of USA Today and our profession were the big winners.”

The McGrane Award was established in 1974 as a memorial to Bert McGrane, long-time Des Moines Register-Tribune sports writer who was one of the founding members of the FWAA. He was the FWAA’s executive director from the early 1940’s until 1973.

“When we decided it would be great to have a former reporter on the selection committee, Steve came to mind immediately,” CFP Executive Director Bill Hancock said. “And he exceeded our high expectations. He contributed with his wisdom, analytical mindset and thorough research.

“Steve wasn’t labeled as a reporter by his colleagues on the committee — he was simply a respected peer,” Hancock added. “And besides all that, his self-effacing humor made working with him a real pleasure. You all know this — Steve is a great guy.”

Wieberg, editor in the public affairs department of the Kansas City Public Library since 2013, recalls what one of his fellow CFP Selection Committee members noted. “Condoleezza Rice has said repeatedly — and I think sincerely — that this is the best committee she has ever been a part of,” Wieberg said. “If it was the best for her, you can be certain it is for me.”

Wieberg said he went on the committee with two priorities. Getting the selections right would reinforce the new playoff system. “I also have been keenly aware that I would represent the writers and other media on this committee, and it has been important to me to do a good enough job to validate the CFP’s decision to give us that seat at the table,” he said.

Wieberg forged an award-winning career in journalism at USA Today. He was a frequent winner in FWAA, USBWA and Associated Press Sports Editors contests as well as a recipient of several other awards. A University of Missouri graduate, Wieberg was able to build an extensive network of relationships across the country that had few equals. He could break stories on the national stage as well provide the reader with insight as to why they were happening.

“As an original staff writer, I also took great pride and satisfaction in seeing USA Today grow form a startup in 1982 to a publication with a circulation of more than 2 million and influence on the way newspapers nationwide came to look,” he said. “I knew we’d made it when I saw a USA Today box in a street scene in Ghostbusters in 1984.”

Elizabeth Schroeder to receive Volley Meece Scholarship

Elizabeth Schroeder of Norman, OK., has been named the 21tst winner of the Volney Meece Scholarship.

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 17-year-old Schroeder is the daughter of long-time FWAA member George Schroeder.

Elizabeth has compiled an impressive list of academic and extracurricular achievements in her four years at Community Christian School and in her church. She has maintained a 4.0 GPA throughout high school and ranks first academically in her class.

A member of the National Honor Society, student council and class treasurer, she has made the Principal’s Honor Roll her entire high school career. Elizabeth has also spent three summers working with children while on missions to Guatemala, which inspired her to pursue a degree in elementary education at the University of Oklahoma.

CCS faculty member Lee Ann Wimer wrote in her letter of recommendation: “Elizabeth is one of those extremely gifted students who cross a teacher’s classroom only a few times in their career. She is working towards top honors at graduation as Valedictorian.”

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