Cotton Bowl’s Charlie Fiss receives FWAA’s Bert McGrane Award 1

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Charlie Fiss, winner of the FWAA’s 2017 Bert McGrane Award. (Photo by Melissa Macatee)

TAMPA —The Cotton Bowl Athletic Association’s Charlie Fiss is in the unique position to accept a second Bert McGrane Award today at the FWAA’s Annual Awards Breakfast.

Only this Bert McGrane Award he gets to keep.

About 17 years ago, Fiss accepted the Bert McGrane Award on behalf of the late Field Scovell and then turned the plaque over to the family after he returned to Dallas from the presentation at the College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend, Ind.

Fiss, in his 33rd year working for the Cotton Bowl, becomes the fourth person from the CBAA to receive the Bert McGrane Award, which is presented annually to a member of the FWAA for distinguished service to the organization and college football. Wilbur Evans (1978), Jim Brock (1989) and Scovell (1999) are the other CBAA recipients.

“Charlie Fiss perhaps more than anyone has been part of the fabric of the FWAA for the last 30 years,” said FWAA Executive Director Steve Richardson, who made the introduction of Fiss in Tampa. “He nearly predates modern computers when it comes to putting together the FWAA Print Directory and mailing list.”

The Award was established in 1974 as a memorial to 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.

“The FWAA and the Cotton Bowl share a special relationship,” Rick Baker, CBAA President/CEO, said. “Charlie has been a leader with his steadfast approach to our partnership with the FWAA. Through his extraordinary efforts over three decades, he’s made a lasting impact on the Cotton Bowl, the FWAA and college football. No one is more deserving. I’m proud that Charlie joins an illustrious group of Cotton Bowl representatives to win the Bert McGrane Award.”

Richardson added: “He is meticulous. Period. End of story. He stews over the mailing list and all parts of the directory he is responsible for and some that he is not. He has been a champion of the FWAA in terms of what is provided during his bowl week — access to players and coaches and maintaining strict standards of decorum in the press box itself.

“Charlie runs a model press operation at the Cotton Bowl. For years the Cotton Bowl has been an example of how it should be done. He puts together a bowl operations staff that is second to none. I think most people in the profession, whether it be writers, sports information directions or other bowl executives, know that, but it also needs to be said.”

His first Cotton Bowl was in 1984, during which time he was serving as the Assistant Director of Media Relations for the Southwest Conference from 1984-1993. In 1994, Charlie was hired by the CBAA to serve as the Vice President of Communications and became a fulltime member of the staff.

Through his 30-plus years with the Cotton Bowl, he has worked with six Heisman Trophy winners, including Boston College’s Doug Flutie in his very first Cotton Bowl game.

Charlie is a graduate of the University of Arkansas, where he served as the Men’s Media Assistant from 1976-1980, and then as the Women’s Athletic Director of Media Relations from 1980-1984. As an avid racehorse fan, Charlie still volunteers for the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs, where he has done so for more than 25 years.

In between trips to Great Britain to feed his Beatles’ craze, annual pilgrimages to Disneyland to pay homage to Walt and strumming the guitar, Charlie still runs the Cotton Bowl Media operations by commuting from Phoenix, where he resides.

“Whoever would have dreamed I would have even seen one Heisman Trophy winner much less work around six,” Fiss said.  “I got to know Darrell Royal and Frank Broyles, all these people you read about in the sports pages, you know when you are growing up. … It really has been an interesting life. I have been blessed and pretty lucky to be involved in this business.

“We like to say in the Cotton Bowl we are in the business of making memories,” Fiss added. “If it wasn’t for the student athlete none of us would have jobs. I try to think of that every day. And I think when they are coming to the Cotton Bowl, they are just not thinking about playing in the Cotton Bowl, they are going to make memories which they are going to have forever.”

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Maisel gets place in NFF’s Bert McGrane display 2

 

Ivan Maisel, the 2016 Bert McGrane Winner, recently was presented the plate with his name on it to be placed in the Bert McGrane Award display which is housed at the National Football Foundation offices in Irving, Texas. Maisel, the 1995 FWAA President, was presented a larger commemorative plaque last January at the FWAA Annual Awards Breakfast. He will be featured in a story in the NFF Banquet Program in December. Each year the FWAA honors a member in recognition of contributions to the association and college football in the name of the former FWAA Executive Director. The honoree is also recognized in the National Football Foundation College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta. (Photo Courtesy of NFF)

Ivan Maisel, the 2016 Bert McGrane Winner, recently was presented the plate with his name on it to be placed in the Bert McGrane Award display which is housed at the National Football Foundation offices in Irving, Texas. Maisel, the 1995 FWAA President, was presented a larger commemorative plaque last January at the FWAA Annual Awards Breakfast. He will be featured in a story in the NFF Banquet Program in December. Each year the FWAA honors a member in recognition of contributions to the association and college football in the name of the former FWAA Executive Director. The honoree is also recognized in the National Football Foundation College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta. (Photo Courtesy of NFF)

Photo gallery: FWAA Awards Breakfast

These photos were taken at the FWAA’s annual Awards Breakfast on Jan. 11 in Scottsdale, Ariz.  Winners of the 2015 Best Writing Contest as well as the Bert McGrane Award winner were honored, among others.

Ivan Maisel named 2016 Bert McGrane Award winner 2

ffaw_redesignDALLAS — Veteran journalist Ivan Maisel, whose work has appeared in The Dallas Morning News, Newsday, Sports Illustrated and on ESPN.com, is the winner of the FWAA’s prestigious Bert McGrane Award. He will be honored next Monday at the FWAA’s Annual Awards Breakfast in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Celebrating  its 75th Anniversary — founded in 1941 — the FWAA will bestow the honor on Maisel, 55, an award-winning journalist who served as the FWAA’s President in 1995.

The Bert McGrane Award, symbolic of the association’s Hall of Fame, has been awarded to person who has performed great service to the organization and/or profession since 1974. McGrane is a former Des Moines, Iowa sportswriter-editor, who served as the association’s executive director from the early 1940s until 1973.

Ivan Maisel

Ivan Maisel

Maisel is the 43rd recipient of the Bert McGrane Award, which appears in the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta. He succeeds National Football Foundation President and CEO Steve Hatchell as winner of the award.

“I can’t imagine an award more worthy than one selected by your peers,” Maisel said. “The Bert McGrane Award winners are featured in the College Football Hall of Fame, and there can’t be anything cooler than that.”

A sportswriter since 1981, he has covered national college football at The Dallas Morning News (1987-94), Newsday (1994-97), Sports Illustrated (1997-2002) and ESPN.com (2002-present). Maisel, who hails from Alabama but graduated from Stanford, lists a long list of friends and associates who have boosted his career.

“Dan Jenkins, then and now;  the late Ron Fimrite, who not only wrote with a  clean grace and a man-about-town style, but showed me how to treat my subjects; Steve Wulf, who taught me how to make the little anecdote tell a bigger story; Dave Smith, who hired me at The Dallas Morning News and put me on the national college football beat, if not on the front of the Sunday sports section; and my friend and colleague for the last 13 years, David Duffey, who shares my passion and sensibility about what makes a story.

“And my writing colleagues: I learned reporting from Mark Blaudschun; fresh ideas, humor and integrity from Gene Wojciechowski; passion from Tony Barnhart; hard work from Dennis Dodd, and from our beat writer of the year, Chris Dufresne, just great wit.”

Maisel adds what the FWAA has meant to him:  “As our collective voice to the schools and conferences, as the publisher of the directory, which for its 20-year existence has remained in my bag, and as the gathering place for my friends and colleagues, the FWAA has developed into an invaluable professional resource.”

His year as FWAA President was tumultuous. The organization was in transition.

“I had not been president more than a few weeks when I received news that our executive director, Volney Meece, had died suddenly,” Maisel said. “My two greatest accomplishments as FWAA President were one, I picked up the phone when Steve Richardson called to inquire about replacing Volney; and two, I suggested that we create a directory similar to the NFL Black Book. Tiger made it happen, as he has made everything happen for the FWAA for more than 20 years.”

Maisel has had a working bag at most of the big college games during the last three decades, but two or those stand out even to him, a grizzled writing veteran who has adapted well to the new communications age. Maisel has served as host of the ESPN Championship Drive podcast since 2007.

“I was in the press box when Kordell Stewart threw the Hail Mary at the Big House in 1994,” he said. “Vahe Gregorian and I didn’t leave early for the locker room, and that taught me not to leave if the winner is in doubt. I saw Reggie Bush go off on Fresno State in 2005. I was in the press box in 2013 at Jordan-Hare Stadium for the Kick Six.”

He wrote a first-place story in the FWAA Best Writing Contest on that Auburn thriller over Alabama, one of six awards he has captured over the years in the FWAA Contest alone. He has won three straight game story first-place awards. The football for that one is already in his den back in Fairfield, Connecticut, where he resides with wife Meg. They have two daughters, Sarah, who lives in San Francisco, and Elizabeth, a freshman at Stanford. Their son Max, 21, died in February.

“We miss Max every day,” Maisel said. “My life is not as full as it had been for 21 years, and I expect it never will be. You learn to carry the pain and loss, because they are just … there. We are going about the task of putting one foot in front of the other.”

Maisel’s FWAA Awards

  • 1993, Enterprise: The state of minority coaches in I-A football.
  • 2002, Column: Dennis Franchione’s sudden departure from Alabama
  • 2005, Feature: the Tulane football team in the days after Katrina
  • 2012, Game: No. 1 Kansas State is stunned at Baylor
  • 2013, Game: The Kick Six
  • 2014, Game: Oregon embarrasses Florida State.

Photo gallery: FWAA annual meeting, breakfast

There photos by Melissa Macatee were shot at the FWAA’s annual meeting and breakfast on Tuesday Jan. 13, 2015, in Dallas.

NFF’s Steve Hatchell named recipient of FWAA Bert McGrane Award

At FWAA Past Presidents Dinner on Friday night at the Dallas Country Club, the National Football Foundation's Steve Hatchell (left) was surprised with the word he was the 2015 FWAA Bert McGrane winner. FWAA Executive Director Steve Richardsonl (center) and Ivan Maisel, an FWAA Past President, look on.  (Melissa Macatee photo)

At FWAA Past Presidents Dinner on Friday night at the Dallas Country Club, the National Football Foundation’s Steve Hatchell (left) was surprised with the word he was the 2015 FWAA Bert McGrane winner. FWAA Executive Director Steve Richardsonl (center) and Ivan Maisel, an FWAA Past President, look on. (Melissa Macatee photo)

DALLAS — The Football Writers Association of America announced Tuesday that National Football Foundation President and CEO Steve Hatchell has been named the 2015 recipient of the FWAA Bert McGrane Award.

“Steve Hatchell has been a great friend of the FWAA for a number of years,” said FWAA Executive Director Steve Richardson. “The National Football Foundation has sponsored a Past Presidents Dinner for the Association for several years and now is a co-sponsor of the Grantland Rice Super 16 Poll, which had a successful first-year run. The two organizations have partnered to stage a Football Forum in the past. That’s not to mention the association the FWAA has with several awards in the College Football Hall Fame, for a long time in South Bend and now in Atlanta, and the NFF Annual Awards Dinner at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City.”

The official announcement was made during the annual FWAA Annual Awards Breakfast at the Renaissance Dallas Hotel in front of the FWAA members and the national media that had assembled to cover the College Football Playoff National Championship Game, which had taken place the previous day.

“We have a small but powerful team at the National Football Foundation that has been together for more than eight years and cares deeply about the sport, including Matthew Sign, Ron Dilatush, Hillary Jeffries, Philip Marwill, Will Rudd and Sue Tuggle,” said Hatchell. “The success of the Foundation has only been possible because of the support and vision of a great board of directors, and they have has allowed us to keep the staff together and make it happen.

“I am deeply touched by this honor. I have watched the presentation of this award since the early 1970s working at the Big 8 Conference, and never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I would be recognized alongside some of the greatest writers and advocates in college football. My appreciation of this honor is beyond words. All I can say is thank you, and I feel blessed to be able to count many of the football writers among my dear friends.”

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USC’s Tessalone named winner of Bert McGrane Award

USC Sports Information Director Tim Tessalone

USC Sports Information Director Tim Tessalone

USC’s Tim Tessalone is the 41st winner of the Bert McGrane Award, which is annually bestowed on a member of the Football Writers Association of America.

He has served college football for more than three decades as the Trojans’ sports information director, helping writers in their jobs as well as promoting the school’s athletic teams — both in exemplary fashion.

The McGrane Award, symbolic of the association’s Hall of Fame, is presented to an FWAA member who has performed great service to the organization or the writing profession. It is named after McGrane, a Des Moines, Iowa, writer who was the executive secretary of the FWAA from the early 1940s until 1973.

The Bert McGrane Award

The Bert McGrane Award

Tessalone will receive the award during the FWAA’s Annual Awards Breakfast on Jan. 6 at the Newport Beach Marriott Hotel and Spa, the media hotel for the VIZIO BCS National Championship game, played at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.

“I am humbled and honored to receive an award that not only is named after a man who served the FWAA so well, but that has been presented previously to icons who are well above me in stature and ability,” Tessalone said. “It is a privilege to be in their company.  Thank you to the FWAA membership, with particular gratitude to Chris Dufresne (2013 FWAA President) and Mark Blaudschun (1999 FWAA President).

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