McMurphy Named Steve Ellis FWAA Beat Writer of the Year

DALLAS — Veteran sports reporter Brett McMurphy of Stadium Network has been named the ninth annual Steve Ellis/FWAA Beat Writer of the Year for his work covering college football.

Brett McMurphy

McMurphy, 57, broke a huge sports story in 2018, concerning Courtney Smith and domestic violations against now ex-husband, ex-Ohio State assistant coach Zach Smith. His reporting also revealed that Urban Meyer, Ohio State’s head coach at the time, knew of the domestic violence despite his public denial of any knowledge.

After those disclosures, an Ohio State investigation confirmed McMurphy’s reporting, resulting in suspensions of Meyer and Athletic Director Gene Smith. McMurphy was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in the Investigative Category for the second time in his career, but he was not named a Pulitzer nominee finalist.

During the contest time period, McMurphy broke numerous news items (coaching and athletic director hiring/firings, new bowl affiliations/lineups, bowl bids, College Football Playoff news, etc.) From April 2017 to Aug. 13, 2018, McMurphy did all his reporting on Facebook/Twitter after being laid off by ESPN and bound by non-compete. He has been reporting for Stadium Network since Aug. 13, 2018.

McMurphy will be honored at the FWAA’s Annual Awards Breakfast on Jan. 13 in New Orleans at the Sheraton New Orleans, the Media Hotel in conjunction with the College Football Playoff National Championship Game. The late Ellis, for whom the award is named, was a longtime sports reporter for the Tallahassee Democrat who covered the Seminoles for three decades with tenacity.

Here’s an up-close-and-personal interview with Brett McMurphy:

PERSONAL: I am married to Susan, and we have a daughter, Chesney, a 15-year old high school sophomore. Susan and Chesney love traveling with me on my work assignments — especially if it’s Los Angeles, Pasadena, Destin or New York City.

I am an Oklahoma State graduate and this spring, OSU’s media and strategic communications department recognized me as the Paul Miller Journalism Lecturer of the Year. I have also won 10 FWAA Best Writing Contest Awards and twice have been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.

MENTORS: Look, if you’ve worked — and have been laid off — at as many places as I have, you have crossed paths with many great mentors and even better friends. Here are a few that have truly impacted my career and life: Tom Kensler, Steve Schoenfeld, Tim Allen, Chris Harry, Joey Johnston, Martin Fennelly, Andy Staples, David Whitley, Dennis Dodd, Bruce Feldman, Tony Barnhart, Mike Epstein, Jeff Goodman, Mike Harris and Matt Hayes.

In addition, when I was laid off at ESPN, my wife was incredible throughout that time, in providing support and encouragement for me to continue to break news, even it was only on Twitter/Facebook and without a media outlet.

Kim Postlick, my high school journalism teacher, also deserves a great deal of credit — or blame — for my career. My senior year, she forced me to apply for a journalism scholarship at Oklahoma State, which I received. That was extremely fortunate since my only other college option was a partial scholarship to play small college football at East Central University in Ada, Okla., where I undoubtedly would have torn my ACL at least twice and majored in “undecided.”

BEST STORIES: The biggest was my reporting about the domestic violence past of Ohio State assistant Zach Smith and then Urban Meyer’s mishandling of it throughout their time together and what Meyer knew about it. There are other “best stories” I could include, but this one had the biggest impact.

Based on my reports, Ohio State launched an investigation, which cost the school $1 million, verifying my reporting and ultimately leading to a three-game suspension of one of college football’s most powerful and successful coaches. What’s ironic is this would not have reached this magnitude if Meyer didn’t lie when initially asked about my reports at Big Ten Media Days. “I don’t know who creates a story like that,” Meyer said. Of course, none of my reporting would have seen the light of day without the incredible courage and tenacity of Courtney Smith. I am forever grateful for her trust and confiding in me during the entire process.

BEST ADVICE: The best advice I have received is that when a source tells you something is off-the-record, you may never — under any circumstance — use that information. If so, start pursuing a new profession, because you won’t be a journalist for long. Something else I stress to younger reporters is that “it’s better to get beat on a hundred stories, than to be wrong on one story.” It doesn’t matter if you’re first if you’re wrong.

BIGGEST CHANGE IN THE PROFESSION: You don’t have to work at a giant media company to make a real impact and be a credible, trusted and relevant reporter. Because of the non-compete clause in my ESPN contract after I was laid off, the biggest story of my life I broke on my Facebook page. With social media, podcasts and other outlets, if you consistently can provide legitimate news and information and/or entertaining content, people will find you. It may take a while but eventually, they will find you.

BEST INTERVIEW: Long before he was hawking grills, George Foreman visited Odessa, Texas, where I was a reporter for the Odessa American, only a year out of college. Foreman was incredibly open, patient and gracious with his time. He was unbelievable, especially recounting the Rumble in the Jungle fight with Muhammad Ali. Runner-up: perhaps my shortest — and most memorable — nterview was my freshman year at Oklahoma State, working in the school’s sports information office. OSU hosted defending national champ Louisville and I was required to get visiting players’ quotes. With 4 seconds left, UL, up one, missed a free throw and OSU’s Eddie Hannon hit a game-winning 40-footer at the buzzer for the 72-71 upset in which OSU may have benefited from a friendly home court clock operator. (No instant replay in the old days). I entered the UL locker room (yes, you could go in the locker room back then), and asked UL guard Jerry Eaves about the controversial ending. Eaves said: “Four seconds on the clock. Our guy misses the free throw and the ball bounces in the corner — click. Their little guy goes and grabs it and turns up court — click. He dribbles through traffic — click — and then you tell me he gets all the way past half-court and shoots before another second clicks off? Kiss my ass: Flash Gordon isn’t that fast!” I said, “thank you, Mr. Eaves” and quickly exited the locker room and wrote the best game story of my life.

LSU’s Orgeron wins 2019 Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award

Coach O to be honored on Jan. 11 in New Orleans

DALLAS — LSU coach Ed Orgeron has been named the 2019 Allstate Sugar Bowl Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year after the Tigers registered a perfect 13-0 regular season, won their 12th Southeastern Conference title, and earned the No. 1 ranking in the College Football Playoff.

LSU Coach Ed Orgeron

Selected by the Football Writers Association of America, Orgeron will be honored on the evening of Saturday, Jan. 11, during a reception in New Orleans, two days before his Tigers could be playing for the CFB Playoff National Championship at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. He is the first Eddie Robinson Award recipient to appear in the six years of the College Football Playoff.

The 58-year-old Orgeron will be receiving the iconic bust of another Louisiana native, the late Robinson, a College Football Hall of Fame coach at Grambling State University for 55 years and winner of 408 career games. Orgeron is from Larose in south Louisiana. Robinson was born in Jackson, in the northern part of the state, but later attended high school in Baton Rouge.

“Coach Orgeron is an incredibly deserving winner of this prestigious honor,” 2019 FWAA President Matt Fortuna said. “From the ways he has reinvented his program on and off the field, to the bonds he has formed with his players, it is easy to see how he has led LSU to a No. 1 ranking this season. (LSU quarterback) Joe Burrow’s Heisman speech alone made me want to run through a brick wall for Coach O.”

“On behalf of the Sugar Bowl Committee, I want to congratulate Coach O for his outstanding achievements this year,” said Judge Monique Morial, President of the Sugar Bowl Committee. “A perfect regular season, an SEC Championship and the No. 1 seed in the College Football Playoff. It’s been quite a year for the Tigers.”

Riding a 14-game winning streak, LSU has registered 13 victories in a season for only the second time and will meet No. 4 Oklahoma on Dec. 28 in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl in Atlanta in one of two national semifinal games. A win in Atlanta sends LSU to the title game in New Orleans.

This truly has been a magical season for LSU.

Orgeron’s 2019 team has set several school records, including points in a season (621), points per game (554.3) and passing yards (5,029). Senior All-America quarterback Joe Burrow is the FWAA’s first-team signal-caller along with receiver Ja’Marr Chase, who joins him in the first team honor. Center Lloyd Cushenberry III and cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. earned second-team FWAA honors.

“I’m very proud of our football team. In the spring I could see them coming together,” Orgeron said following LSU’s 37-10 victory over Georgia in the SEC Championship. “They were starting in their first season with the spread offense and having Joe (Burrow) run it, then having (passing game coordinator) Joe Brady here and to see the evolution of the spread offense, which our fans have been wanting for a long time. We’re finally gelling on defense that last couple of games. There was a lot of pride on the defense, I knew they were going to play their best ball. It’s just a good time at LSU, and everybody is pulling the same side of the rope.”

The 2019 Tigers’ offense is the only unit in SEC history to include a 4,000-yard passer, a 1,000-yard rusher and two 1,000-yard receivers in the same season. Burrow, the SEC’s Offensive Player of the Year, has broken league records for passing yards and touchdowns; and his completion percentage and passing efficiency ratings are on pace to break NCAA records.

“Coach Ed Orgeron and the LSU Tigers’ impressive 13-0 regular season record is a testament to Coach O’s relentless leadership and guidance of one of college football’s most storied programs,” said Eddie Robinson III, grandson of the legendary coach. “Congratulations Coach Orgeron from the Robinson Family on winning the 2019 ‘Eddie’!”

Orgeron becomes the third LSU coach to collect the FWAA Coach of the Year Award. Paul Dietzel claimed it in 1958, a year in which the Tigers won the national title and beat Clemson in the Sugar Bowl at the old Tulane Stadium. The other LSU wining coach was current Alabama coach Nick Saban, who led the Tigers to the national title in 2003, when LSU beat Oklahoma, 21-14 in the Bowl Championship Series, in the Sugar Bowl at the Superdome.

Orgeron is now one of four different Southeastern Conference coaches to win the FWAA honor since Robinson became the namesake in 1997, the year the legendary coach retired from coaching. The others were Tennessee’s Phillip Fulmer in 1998; Saban in 2003 at LSU and again in ’08 at Alabama; and Gus Malzahn at Auburn in 2013.

The affable Orgeron, with a thick Cajun drawl, receives the award after a vote of the FWAA membership. The other eight finalist coaches were in, alphabetical order: Ryan Day, Ohio State; Eliah Drinkwitz, Appalachian State; Sonny Dykes, SMU; P.J. Fleck, Minnesota; Bryan Harsin, Boise State; Mike Norvell, Memphis; Matt Rhule, Baylor; and Dabo Swinney, Clemson.

Orgeron, a defensive line coach by trade, started his college playing career at LSU but transferred to Northwestern (La.) State after his first year in Baton Rouge. He later was an assistant coach on national championship staffs at Miami (Fla.) and USC. He became head coach at Ole Miss in 2005 but lasted only three seasons before he was fired after a 3-9 season in 2007.

Eventually, he wound up back at USC in 2010, where he stayed though the 2013 season. Orgeron served as interim head coach most of that season after head coach Lane Kiffin was fired. When he didn’t get that job fulltime, he took an assistant’s job at LSU in 2015 and eventually became head coach in 2016 after Les Miles’ tenure ended there.

Along the way as head coach at LSU, one of Orgeron’s coaching moves was to accept Ohio State transfer quarterback Joe Burrow, who has become LSU’s second Heisman Trophy winner. Billy Cannon claimed the Heisman Trophy in 1959, the year after LSU won its first national title.

“I think at the end of the day you got to be a good fit,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said of Orgeron. “He certainly was a great fit for LSU. He’s put a good staff together. He’s provided great leadership and stability. But I think more importantly belief. He’s brought some passion into that program, not that they didn’t have it before, but I just think it’s been fun to watch.”

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 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, 93 Hall of Fame players, 50 Hall of Fame coaches and 18 Heisman Trophy winners in its 85-year history. The 86th Allstate Sugar Bowl Football Classic, featuring the Baylor Bears from the Big 12 and the Georgia Bulldogs from the SEC, will be played on January 1, 2020. 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, scholarships and clinics. Through these efforts, the organization supports and honors nearly 100,000 student-athletes each year and has injected over $2.5 billion into the local economy over the last decade. For more information, visit

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

Eddie Robinson Award
Nine finalists named for 2019 Eddie Robinson Award
Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award | All-time winners

2019 Courage Award goes to Arkansas State coach Blake Anderson

MIAMI LAKES, FL. — Arkansas State coach Blake Anderson is the winner of the 2019 Capital One Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award. Anderson coached the Red Wolves to a 7-5 record this fall following the death of his wife, Wendy, who passed away this summer after a two-year battle with breast cancer.

Arkansas State coach Blake Anderson

“The past two years have been the most difficult time our family has ever faced, especially these last few months since Wendy’s passing,” Anderson said. “I can only say that even in the midst of heartache, we have always felt the strength of Christ, the support of our coaching staff, players and administration, as well as the love of so many amazing people across the country lifting us up each step along the way. I pray that God will continue to use our journey in big ways to honor Him and the legacy of Wendy’s heart for God and others.”

In the spring of 2017, Wendy Anderson was diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer. The cancer was located in a spot where doctors could not operate. Wendy underwent a natural treatment approach, then had surgery late that summer. She was declared cancer-free on Aug. 31, 2017.

In the fall of 2018, the cancer returned at Stage 4, and her condition worsened in the ensuing months. In January, she had surgery to relieve the pressure of five large masses in her brain. She underwent radiation and chemotherapy, and she became oxygen-dependent 24 hours a day.

Blake and Wendy Anderson had three children together. Blake took a leave of absence from Arkansas State just before Wendy died on Aug. 19, at the age of 49. Assistant head coach and defensive coordinator David Duggan served as the Red Wolves’ interim head coach until Anderson’s return on Sept. 7.

“Coach Anderson has been the epitome of courage in the face of unimaginable adversity throughout these past two years,” 2019 FWAA President Matt Fortuna said. “The way that he cared for Wendy and

their children, and the example that he has continued set for both his players and the college community at-large, transcends sports.”

Anderson’s first game back on the sideline was a 43-17 win at UNLV in Week 2. The following week at Georgia, during Anderson’s second game back, thousands of Bulldogs fans wore pink in honor of Wendy.

“I know that there are so many inspiring stories of courage and perseverance that we see and hear each day, which is why I would like to express how completely honored and grateful I am to receive this award on behalf of myself, my family and the memory of my beautiful wife Wendy,” Anderson said.

Anderson is in his sixth season at Arkansas State, after becoming the Red Wolves’ fifth different head coach in five seasons. He has led the Red Wolves to a 46-30 overall record, with a 36-12 mark in Sun Belt play. The 46 overall wins are the most by an Arkansas State head coach across his first six years at the school. The 36 conference wins are the second-most ever by a Sun Belt head coach.

Arkansas State has won two conference titles under the 50-year-old Anderson. The program went 5-3 in league play this season, good for second in the West division, one year after winning the division title. Sixteen different Red Wolves players earned all-conference recognition this year.

Arkansas State will play Florida International this Saturday in the Camelia Bowl in Montgomery, Ala., marking a school-record ninth straight bowl appearance, which is the third-longest streak among Group of 5 programs.

“I think it’s an honor that the Orange Bowl recognizes the courage the Anderson family has shown while facing the challenges they’ve endured over the last couple of years,” Arkansas State athletic director Terry Mohajir said. “Blake is a great man with unwavering faith. The tremendous amount of love and care he demonstrated for his wife Wendy, while also running his football program, was quite a beautiful and moving sight. The example he has provided by his courage, love and communication to all has been quite an inspiration.”

The Courage Award was first presented by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) in 2002. A select group of writers from the FWAA vote on the winner each year. The requirements for nomination include displaying courage on or off the field, including overcoming an injury or physical handicap, preventing a disaster or living through hardship. The winner of the award will be included in festivities during Capital One Orange Bowl week and receive his trophy at an on-field presentation.


2019 FWAA All-America Team unveiled

76th annual team is presented by Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic

DALLAS — The Football Writers Association of America, in partnership with the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic, is proud to announce its 2019 All-America Team, headlined by 12 players from the Big Ten Conference – nine of them on the first team – and 11 from the Southeastern Conference that includes Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Joe Burrow of LSU.

Fifty-four standout players were selected to two teams by the association’s All-America committee after voting from the entire membership. Since 2013, the FWAA has named a second team. Overall, there are 35 schools represented from eight Football Bowl Subdivision conferences, including 14 players who are competing in the College Football Playoff and three repeat selections.

The Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic is presenting the All-America Team as part of what has been a season-long campaign to promote the 75-year history of this prestigious honor. Each All-American will receive a commemorative football and the first-team selections will be presented with a custom All-America watch.

“We are honored to partner with the FWAA to recognize the very best athletes at their respective positions in our game,” said Rick Baker, Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic President/CEO. “These young men join a remarkable fraternity of college football greats before them, and now their names and accomplishments will forever be marked in history.”

Since 1945, the FWAA team has been among the five used in the NCAA’s selection of an annual consensus All-America team in college football. Since the 2002 season, the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA), The Associated Press, The Sporting News and the Walter Camp Football Foundation have joined the FWAA as the five designated selectors by the NCAA.

The top two teams in the College Football Playoff – Ohio State (5) and LSU (4) – lead all programs on the combined first and second teams. The Buckeyes tied for the national-high with three first-team members led by the Bronko Nagurski Trophy and Bednarik Award winner, defensive end Chase Young, along with defensive back Jeff Okudah and running back J.K. Dobbins, who was selected as an all-purpose player. Quarterback Justin Fields and offensive lineman Wyatt Davis are on the second team. LSU’s Burrow, who set multiple SEC passing records and is on pace to break more, is the first-team quarterback along with his main target, Biletnikoff Award-winning wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase. Burrow also won the Maxwell, Davey O’Brien and Walter Camp Awards, and joins offensive lineman Lloyd Cushenberry III and defensive back Derek Stingley Jr., who are second-team members.

Stingley is one of three freshmen on the team as part of 34 underclassmen. There are 19 seniors and 19 juniors on the roster along with one graduate student. Earning their second All-America honors from the FWAA are running backs Jonathan Taylor of Wisconsin (first team in 2018 as well) and Travis Etienne of Clemson (second team both seasons) and offensive lineman Calvin Throckmorton of Oregon (second team both seasons). The conference breakdown is: Big Ten (12), SEC (11), Big 12 and Pac-12 (9), ACC (8), Conference USA (2), Mountain West (2) and American Athletic (1). There are 11 players from Texas – seven on the first team – and five each from Florida and Louisiana.

It has been a big year for the Big Ten and its nine first-team members. Wisconsin ties Ohio State for the most first-teamers with three, highlighted by Taylor, the school’s career rushing record-holder and two-time Doak Walker Award winner, center Tyler Biadasz, the Rimington Trophy winner, and linebacker Zach Baun, one of the national leaders in tackles for loss. Wisconsin closes the decade having had an All-American in nine of 10 seasons, a string that began with offensive tackle Gabe Carimi winning the Outland Trophy in 2010. Ohio State’s five players are the most it has ever placed on an FWAA All-America team and the Buckeyes placed three on the first team for the first time since 2002. Their first-team trio ties four other seasons behind only the 1944 team’s four members for the most first-teamers in school history. Ohio State has had at least one FWAA All-America player in six of the last seven seasons.

Minnesota’s Winfield Jr. is the Gophers’ first All-American since 2014 and only their second since two-time All-America center Greg Eslinger won the Outland Trophy in 2005. He is Minnesota’s first All-America defensive back since 1999. Iowa offensive lineman Tristan Wirfs and kicker Keith Duncan give the Hawkeyes All-Americans in seven consecutive seasons and marks the second time in three seasons for them to have two first-teamers. Penn State, which takes on Memphis in this year’s Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic at Noon ET on Dec. 28 on ESPN, completes the Big Ten field with linebacker Micah Parsons on the second team.

LSU’s four All-Americans mark its highest total ever and, with Burrow and Chase on the first team, this is the 10th time for the Tigers to have at least two first-teamers in a season. LSU has had at least one All-American in three of the last four seasons. Georgia, with J.R. Reed in the secondary and Outland Trophy semifinalist Andrew Thomas on the offensive line, placed two on the first team for only the third time in its history and has now had an All-American in three straight seasons.

Kentucky, with Ray Guy Award winner Max Duffy on the first team, now has back-to-back first-teamers for the first time since 1949-50. Linebacker Josh Allen was the 2018 Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner and Bob Gain was a two-time All-America offensive tackle selection (1949-50) and the 1950 Outland Trophy winner. The Wildcats also have offensive lineman Logan Stenberg on the second team. Alabama punt returner Jaylen Waddle earned the Crimson Tide a first-team selection for a 12th consecutive season. Auburn’s Derrick Brown is the Tigers’ first first-team selection since 2016 and Florida defensive back C.J. Henderson is Florida’s first All-American since 2016.

The Big 12 tied the Pac-12 with nine selections but has the best distribution among all the conferences, as seven of its 10 schools are represented on the combined team. Oklahoma extended its All-America streak to six years and has had at least one first-teamer (wide receiver CeeDee Lamb this season) in four consecutive years. Sophomore center Creed Humphrey is on the second team. Oklahoma State running back Chuba Hubbard gives the Cowboys an eighth first-teamer this decade and 10th in the last 12 seasons. Baylor and TCU have their first All-Americans since 2015; Baylor’s James Lynch is the Bears’ third defensive All-America player since 1991, and this is only the third time (2015, 1955) for TCU to have two All-Americans (Jeff Gladney and Jalen Reagor) in the same season.

Utah defensive linemen Bradlee Anae marks the third time in the last four seasons that the Utes have had a defensive player on the first team and four of the last six, and also has defensive lineman Leki Fotu on the second team. Prior to 2014, Utah had only two All-Americans on defense. The Utes have had an All-American in five consecutive seasons with a Pac-12-high three this season with running back Zack Moss on the second unit. Oregon ends the decade with two All-America picks from its offensive line, Outland Trophy winner Penei Sewell and two-time selection Throckmorton. Evan Weaver is Cal’s first All-American since 2006 and the Bears’ fourth since 2000.

Clemson now has a first-team selection in five straight seasons with offensive lineman John Simpson and Butkus Award winner Isaiah Simmons making this year’s top unit; it’s the ninth time this decade for the Tigers to have an All-American and the fifth time for the Tigers to have two first-team selections. Virginia kick returner Joe Reed is the Cavaliers’ first first-team selection since 2007 but the program’s third straight All-America pick after only having two this century prior to 2016.

Tight end Harrison Bryant earned Florida Atlantic’s first All-America selection and the John Mackey Award winner is Conference USA’s sixth this decade. Louisiana Tech didn’t have its first All-America selection until 1992 but now has two in successive seasons as defensive back Amik Roberston becomes the Bulldogs’ fifth All-American.

Among the other second team members, James Proche reset SMU’s career receiving record books this season and becomes the Mustangs’ first All-American since running back Reggie Dupard in 1985. Boise State defensive lineman Curtis Weaver becomes the Broncos’ fourth All-American and first since 2015. San Diego State earned its fourth All-America nod this century and seventh overall as Luq Barcoo becomes the Aztecs’ first defensive player to be so honored.

Kansas State has had only 14 All-Americans but has a current string of three in a row. Three of the last four have been return specialists, including Joshua Youngblood this season. Iowa State tight end Charlie Kolar is the Cyclones’ second All-American in the past three seasons and is Iowa State’s seventh all-time honoree. Texas Tech has had an All-American in consecutive seasons for a fifth time now with linebacker Jordyn Brooks.

Pitt defensive lineman Jaylen Twyman is the Panthers’ first defensive All-American since Aaron Donald won the Outland Trophy and Bronko Nagurski Trophy in 2013. Miami’s Greg Rousseau is the Hurricanes’ second All-American since 2005. Wake Forest has back-to-back All-America selections for the first time as kicker Nick Sciba earned this year’s nod, and punt returner Greg Dortsch earned it in 2018. Syracuse has had an All-American in three consecutive seasons thanks to its special teams; it has punter Sterling Hofrichter this year after placing kicker Andre Szmyt on the 2018 first team.

Michael Pittman Jr. is USC’s first All-American since a three-year run from 2014-16 and only the Trojans’ fourth choice this decade. Hamilcar Rashed is Oregon State’s sixth All-American and first since 2013. Brandon Aiyuk gives Arizona State an All-America selection in three of the last four seasons. Prior to that string, no Sun Devil had earned the honor since defensive end Terrell Suggs won the Bronko Nagurski Trophy in 2002.


QB Joe Burrow, LSU (6-4, 216, Sr., Athens, Ohio)
RB Chuba Hubbard, Oklahoma State (6-1, 207, So., Sherwood Park, Alberta)
RB Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin (5-11, 219, Jr., Salem, N.J.)
WR Ja’Marr Chase, LSU (6-1, 200, So., Metairie, La.)
WR CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma (6-2, 189, Jr., Richmond, Texas)
TE Harrison Bryant, Florida Atlantic (6-5, 240, Sr., Gray, Ga.)
OL Penei Sewell, Oregon (6-6, 325, So., Malaeimi, American Samoa)
OL John Simpson, Clemson (6-4, 330, Sr., North Charleston, S.C.)
OL Andrew Thomas, Georgia (6-5, 320, Jr., Lithonia, Ga.)
OL Tristan Wirfs, Iowa (6-5, 322, Jr., Mount Vernon, Iowa)
C Tyler Biadasz, Wisconsin (6-3, 321, Jr., Amherst, Wis.)

DL Bradlee Anae, Utah (6-3, 265, Sr., Laie, Hawaii)
DL Derrick Brown, Auburn (6-5, 318, Sr., Sugar Hill, Ga.)
DL James Lynch, Baylor (6-4, 295, Jr., Round Rock, Texas)
DL Chase Young, Ohio State (6-5, 265, Jr., Upper Marlboro, Md.)
LB Zack Baun, Wisconsin (6-3, 235, Sr., Brown Deer, Wis.)
LB Isaiah Simmons, Clemson (6-4, 230, Jr., Olathe, Kan.)
LB Evan Weaver, California (6-3, 235, Sr., Spokane, Wash.)
DB Jeff Okudah, Ohio State (6-1, 200, Jr., Grand Prairie, Texas)
DB J.R. Reed, Georgia (6-1, 194, Gr., Frisco, Texas)
DB Amik Robertson, Louisiana Tech (5-9, 183, Jr., Thibodaux, La.)
DB Antoine Winfield Jr., Minnesota (5-10, 205, So., The Woodlands, Texas)

K Keith Duncan, Iowa (5-10, 180, Jr., Weddington, N.C.)
P Max Duffy, Kentucky (6-1, 194, Jr., Perth, Australia)
KR Joe Reed, Virginia (6-3, 215, Sr., Charlotte Court House, Va.)
PR Jaylen Waddle, Alabama (5-10, 182, So., Houston, Texas)
AP J.K. Dobbins, Ohio State (5-10, 217, Jr., La Grange, Texas)


Offense: QB Justin Fields, Ohio State; RB Travis Etienne, Clemson; RB Zack Moss, Utah; WR Michael Pittman Jr., USC; WR James Proche, SMU; TE Charlie Kolar, Iowa State; OL Lloyd Cushenberry III, LSU; OL Wyatt Davis, Ohio State; OL Logan Stenberg, Kentucky; OL Calvin Throckmorton, Oregon; C Creed Humphrey, Oklahoma. Defense: DL Leki Fotu, Utah; DL Greg Rousseau, Miami; DL Jaylen Twyman, Pitt; DL Curtis Weaver, Boise State; LB Jordyn Brooks, Texas Tech; LB Micah Parsons, Penn State; LB Hamilcar Rashed, Oregon State; DB Luq Barcoo, San Diego State; DB Jeff Gladney, TCU; DB C.J. Henderson, Florida; DB Derek Stingley Jr., LSU. Specialists: K Nick Sciba, Wake Forest; P Sterling Hofrichter, Syracuse; KR Joshua Youngblood, Kansas State; PR Jalen Reagor TCU; AP Brandon Aiyuk, Arizona State.

The FWAA’s All-America Committee selected this 76th annual team based on nominations from the entire membership. This is just the seventh season in the modern era (post-1950) that the FWAA has named a second team. The FWAA also selected an all-purpose player for a third time, which made for a 54-man full team.

The FWAA All-America Team was first selected in 1944, three years after the organization was formed. The FWAA’s inaugural team included Army’s Heisman Trophy tandem of Doc Blanchard and Glenn Davis and Georgia Tech’s Frank Broyles, who later became Arkansas’ head football coach and athletic director.

Over the years, the FWAA team has highlighted all the game’s great players in several media forums. From 1946-70, LOOK magazine published the FWAA team and brought players and selected writers to New York City for a celebration. During that 25-year period, the FWAA team was introduced on national television shows by such noted hosts as Bob Hope, Steve Allen and Perry Como.

After LOOK folded, the FWAA started a long association with NCAA Films (later known as NCAA Productions), which produced a 30-minute television program. The team was part of ABC-TV’s 1981 College Football Series. From 1983-90, the team was introduced on either ABC or ESPN. In 2002 and ’03, the All-America team was honored with a banquet at the Citrus Bowl.

The same bowl also was a sponsor when the team was featured on ABC and ESPN from different locations on Disney properties from 2004-07. From 2008-10, the team had been the subject of a one-hour ESPN special.

For seven decades the FWAA has selected an All-America team with the help of its members and an All-America Committee, which represents all the regions in the country. From that All-America team, the FWAA also selects the Outland Trophy winner (best interior lineman) and the Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner (best defensive player).

Some of the true greats of the writing profession have helped to select this team over the years: Grantland Rice, Bert McGrane, Blackie Sherrod, Furman Bisher, Pat Harmon, Fred Russell, Edwin Pope, Murray Olderman, Paul Zimmerman – and the list goes on and on. The FWAA All-America team is steeped in tradition and history and is selected by a writers’ group with those same attributes.

The Cotton Bowl Classic was formed in 1937 with the mission of providing the most innovative of all college football bowl games and to be a leader in creating premier college sports experiences for universities, student athletes, sponsors and the community. Since the inaugural game in 1937, the Classic has contributed nearly a billion dollars to higher education. Each year, football fans attending the Cotton Bowl Classic generate more than $30 million in direct spending for the North Texas community.

The Football Writers Association of America, a non-profit organization founded in 1941, consists of more than 1,400 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 or call 214-870-6516.

2019 FWAA All-America Committee: Kirk Bohls, Austin American-Statesman; Ken Capps,; Scott Dochterman, The Athletic; Scott Farrell,; Bryan Fischer, NBC Sports; Suzanne Halliburton, Austin American-Statesman; Clay Henry, Hawgs Illustrated; Adam Hunsucker, Monroe News-Star; Doug Lesmerises,; Nate Mink, Syracuse Post-Standard; Dylan Montz, Ames Tribune; Tony Siracusa, Last Word on College Football; Phil Steele, Phil Steele Publications; Chris Vannini, The Athletic; John Wagner, Freelance.

Related links:
All-Time FWAA All-America Teams (.pdf)
Download the 2019 FWAA All-America logo

Nine finalists named for 2019 FWAA Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award

Winner to be announced on Dec. 20

DALLAS — The Football Writers Association of America, in conjunction with the Allstate Sugar Bowl, announced nine finalists for the 2019 Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award on Tuesday. Among the finalists are three previous finalists and three of the four head coaches competing in the College Football Playoff.

In alphabetical order the finalists are: Ryan Day, Ohio State; Eliah Drinkwitz, Appalachian State; Sonny Dykes, SMU; P.J. Fleck, Minnesota; Bryan Harsin, Boise State; Mike Norvell, Memphis; Ed Orgeron, LSU; Matt Rhule, Baylor; and Dabo Swinney, Clemson.

Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award

This is the third consecutive season for Swinney to be a finalist and the fifth time overall (also 2015 and ’11). Fleck was a finalist in 2016 at Western Michigan and Harsin was a finalist in 2014 at Boise State. The 2019 recipient will be announced on Friday, Dec. 20.

“These nine coaches have had outstanding seasons,” 2019 FWAA President Matt Fortuna said. “We could not be happier to present this award next month in New Orleans, as each individual exemplifies the values embodied by the award’s namesake, Eddie Robinson.”

The official presentation reception will be on Jan. 11, 2020, in New Orleans where the winning coach will be handed the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year bust during a reception hosted by the Allstate Sugar Bowl in conjunction with the College Football Playoff National Championship.

“The Allstate Sugar Bowl is proud each year to recognize the top college football coach in the nation while at the same time honoring the great accomplishments of a Louisiana legend, Coach Eddie Robinson,” said Monique Morial, the President of the Sugar Bowl Committee. “And we’re excited that this year we will be recognizing the winner right here in New Orleans as part of the College Football Playoff National Championship festivities that we’re hosting in January.”

The nine finalists have been placed on a ballot which has been sent to the entire FWAA membership. Ballots will be accepted through 5 p.m. ET on Friday, Dec. 13.

The FWAA has presented a coaching award since the 1957 season when Ohio State’s Woody Hayes was named the first recipient. The FWAA coaching award is named after the late Robinson, a coaching legend at Grambling State University for 55 seasons.

The 2019 Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year finalists:

Ryan Day, Ohio State: Day was the media’s choice for Big Ten Coach of the Year. The last time Ohio State had a coach named Big Ten Coach of the Year was 1979, the year Day was born. The 40-year drought ended last week as the first-year coach guided Ohio State to a 13-0 season with a Big Ten Championship win and a berth into the College Football Playoff. The Buckeyes dominated the Big Ten this season powered by the nation’s No. 1 scoring offense (48.7), No. 5 total offense (531.0), No. 2 total defense (247.6) and No. 2 (tied) scoring defense (12.5).

Eliah Drinkwitz, Appalachian State: In Drinkwitz’s one season at the helm, Appalachian State (12-1) won its fourth straight Sun Belt Conference title and made history as the first 12-win Sun Belt team and earned the highest national ranking in school and conference history. The No. 20 Mountaineers became the first Sun Belt team to beat two Power Five teams (North Carolina and South Carolina, both on the road) in the same season. Drinkwitz has accepted the same position at Missouri.

Sonny Dykes, SMU: In his second year with the Mustangs, Dykes led SMU to its first 10-win season (10-2) since 1984 and its first perfect home season (6-0) since 1968. The Mustangs are No. 6 nationally in scoring offense (43.0, currently a school record), No. 9 in total offense (495.3, currently a school record) and No. 12 in passing offense (309.3, second all-time at the school), while the defense set school records with 50 sacks (second nationally, one behind Ohio State) and 105 tackles for loss (fourth nationally, 8.75 per game).

P.J. Fleck, Minnesota: The Gophers won 10 games (10-2) in the regular season for the first time since 1905 and won seven Big Ten games for the first time in school history. Minnesota’s 31-26 home win over Penn State was its first against a top five opponent since 1999 and its first home win against a top five team since 1977. The Gophers reached as high as No. 7 in the AP poll, their highest ranking since 1962. Fleck was the coaches’ selection as the Big Ten Coach of the Year, marking the third time in the last seven seasons, Fleck has earned a conference coach of the year nod.

Bryan Harsin, Boise State: Harsin has led the Broncos to a 12-1 record and a second conference title in three seasons following a 31-10 win over Hawaii in the Mountain West Championship Game. The 12 wins are the most in a season for Boise State since Harsin’s first season in 2014 and the Broncos went a perfect 8-0 in Mountain West play for the first time since joining the conference in 2011. Boise State reached as high as No. 19 in the CFP rankings.

Mike Norvell, Memphis: Norvell has Memphis headed to the Goodyear Cotton Bowl as the Group of 5 representative after the Tigers (12-1) captured their first outright conference championship in 50 years. Memphis is No. 17 in the final CFP rankings following a regular season that saw the Tigers in the top 10 in scoring offense (No. 8, 40.5) and post 87 plays gaining 20-plus yards (tied for 6th nationally). Norvell has accepted the same position at Florida State.

Ed Orgeron, LSU: Orgeron has the Tigers at 13-0 for just the second time in school history and taking their SEC Championship into their first College Football Playoff game as the top-ranked team to face No. 4 Oklahoma in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. LSU defeated five top-10 teams in the regular season – Texas, Florida, Auburn, Alabama and then Georgia last week in the SEC Championship Game – behind the play of record-setting quarterback Joe Burrow, and is only the second team (Notre Dame, 1943) to do that prior to its bowl game. The Tigers have won 14 straight dating back to last year’s Fiesta Bowl and have scored in 49 of 52 quarters this season.

Matt Rhule, Baylor: The Bears (11-2) reached their first Big 12 Championship Game before falling to CFP No. 4-ranked Oklahoma and will play in the 2020 Allstate Sugar Bowl against Georgia. Defense guided Baylor’s fortunes as the Bears forced at least two takeaways in nine of their 13 games, including 16 interceptions in their last 10 games and at least one takeaway in their last 15 overall. The Bears have a school-record 43.0 sacks through 13 games after totaling only 25 in 2018. Baylor was 1-11 two years ago and 7-6 last season.

Dabo Swinney, Clemson: The Tigers became the first school to win five straight conference championship games last week with a 62-17 dismantling of Virginia in the ACC Championship Game, Clemson’s sixth under Swinney and 19th ACC title overall. Clemson is near the top of every major statistical category, leading the country in total defense (244.7) and scoring defense (10.6) while also posting the No. 3 total offense (547.7) and No. 4 scoring offense (46.5). The Tigers held eight of 13 opponents to 10 points or less while scoring 40 or more points 10 times and 50-plus seven times.

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 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, 93 Hall of Fame players, 50 Hall of Fame coaches and 18 Heisman Trophy winners in its 85-year history. The 86th Allstate Sugar Bowl Football Classic, featuring the Baylor Bears from the Big 12 and the Georgia Bulldogs from the SEC, will be played on January 1, 2020. 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, scholarships and clinics. Through these efforts, the organization supports and honors nearly 100,000 student-athletes each year and has injected over $2.5 billion into the local economy over the last decade. For more information, visit

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

Eddie Robinson Award
Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award | All-time winners, finalists

Ohio State’s Young wins 2019 Bronko Nagurski Trophy

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Ohio State defensive end Chase Young was named the recipient of the 2019 Bronko Nagurski Trophy on Monday night before a sold-out banquet crowd of 1,200 people at the Charlotte Convention Center.

Young, a team captain and a 6-5, 265-pound junior from Upper Marlboro, Md., accepted the award given to the best defensive player in college football by the Football Writers Association of America and the Charlotte Touchdown Club. He becomes Ohio State’s second winner, joining linebacker James Laurinaitis in 2006. Laurinaitis was a finalist again in ’07 and Ohio State linebacker Andy Katzenmoyer was also a finalist in 1997.

The nation’s sack leader (16.5, 1.5 per game) also leads in sack yardage (117 yards) at the helm of a defense that finished the regular season as the country’s top unit, giving up just 232.2 yards per game. The 16.5 sacks is the Ohio State record for a single season and the most by a Big Ten player in 21 seasons.

“I think he embodies everything on and off the field what this award embraces,” Ohio State head coach Ryan Day said. “In college football, not many people dominated play the way Chase has played this year.” Day was the keynote speaker at the banquet.

Young has produced one of the most dominant individual defensive seasons. He is second in the nation with 21.0 tackles for loss, and his 129 yards lost on those plays are also second. The Big Ten’s Defensive Player of the Year is tied for fourth with 1.91 TFL’s per game, having added another 1.5 to his total in Saturday’s 34-21 win over Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game.

His combined 246 yards lost on his sacks and TFL’s are more than any other player in the nation. He has forced six fumbles that are second in the nation, only one off the national leader. He has made 43 total tackles, has four quarterback hurries and one blocked kick.

Young was the Bronko Nagurski Trophy’s National Player of the Week for the weekend of Oct. 26 following the best game of his season when he tied career highs with four sacks and five tackles for loss in Ohio State’s 38-7 win over Wisconsin. He also two forced fumbles in the game.

Young has 30.5 career sacks and needs 5.5 more to tie Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel for the school record as the Buckeyes head into the College Football Playoff and a Dec. 28 semifinal matchup against Clemson in the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl. Paced by Young, Ohio State is three sacks away from its single-season team record of 52 set in 2000. Young and Vrabel are the only Ohio State players in program history to have 10 or more sacks in multiple seasons.

The FWAA All-America Committee made Young the selection as this year’s Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner. Young was selected from a list of finalists that included Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown, Georgia defensive back J.R. Reed, Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons and Minnesota defensive back Antoine Winfield Jr, all of whom were in hand in Charlotte tonight.

In addition to the 2019 Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner’s announcement, the banquet, presented by LendingTree, celebrated UCLA’s Jerry Robinson as the recipient of the Bronko Nagurski Legends Award.

The FWAA has chosen a National Defensive Player of the Year since 1993. In 1995, the FWAA joined with the CTC and named the award in honor of the legendary two-way player from the University of Minnesota. Nagurski dominated college football then became a star for professional football’s Chicago Bears in the 1930s. Bronislaw “Bronko” Nagurski is a charter member of both the College Football and Pro Football Halls of Fame.

The Bronko Nagurski Trophy 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 24 awards now boast over 800 recipients, dating to 1935. Visit to learn more about our story.

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

The Charlotte Touchdown Club is a non-profit organization founded in 1991 for the purpose of promoting high school, collegiate, and professional football in the Charlotte, N.C., region. The club’s activities and services focus community attention on the outstanding citizenship, scholarship, sportsmanship, and leadership of area athletes and coaches. Since 1991, the club has raised more than $2,000,000 to benefit area high school and collegiate athletics. For more information, contact John Rocco (704-347-2918 or The official website of the Charlotte Touchdown Club is

LendingTree, Inc.
LendingTree is the nation’s leading online marketplace that connects consumers with the choices they need to be confident in their financial decisions. LendingTree empowers consumers to shop for financial services the same way they would shop for airline tickets or hotel stays, by comparing multiple offers from a nationwide network of over 500 partners in one simple search and choosing the option that best fits their financial needs. Services include mortgage loans, mortgage refinances, auto loans, personal loans, business loans, student refinances, credit cards, insurance and more. Through the My LendingTree platform, consumers receive free credit scores, credit monitoring and recommendations to improve credit health. My LendingTree proactively compares consumers’ credit accounts against offers on our network and notifies consumers when there is an opportunity to save money. In short, LendingTree’s purpose is to help simplify financial decisions for life’s meaningful moments through choice, education and support.

Related links:
Bronko Nagurski Trophy (All-Time Winners, Finalists and Players of the Week)
Download the 25th Anniversary Bronko Nagurski Trophy logo

Oregon’s Sewell wins 2019 Outland Trophy

ATLANTA — Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell was named the recipient of the 74th Outland Trophy on Thursday night during The Home Depot College Football Awards from the College Football Hall of Fame.

The 2019 Outland Trophy, presented by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID), is awarded annually to the nation’s best college interior lineman on offense or defense. NFID is presenting the trophy to help increase awareness about the importance of influenza (flu) prevention. Getting vaccinated each year is your best first line of defense against flu.

Sewell is the first Outland Trophy winner from Oregon and the third consecutive sophomore to receive the prestigious award. Sewell is just the eighth winner from a Pac-12 school and the third since 2000. He was selected by the All-America Committee of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) from three finalists, including Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown and Wisconsin center Tyler Biadasz. The Ducks had two previous finalists in Jake Fisher (OT, 2014) and Haloti Ngata (DT, 2005).

The official presentation to the winner will be made at the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases Outland Trophy Award Dinner sponsored by Werner Enterprises on Jan. 15, 2020 in Omaha, Neb.

The 6-6, 325-pound true sophomore originally from Malaeimi, American Samoa and then Desert Hills High School in St. George, Utah, showed his dominance at left tackle early in the season. He was the Outland Trophy Offensive Player of the Month for September as the Ducks became the Pac-12’s third-leading offense (26th nationally) behind quarterback Justin Herbert. In 466 pass-blocking snaps this season, Sewell allowed just seven quarterback pressures and no sacks. He had eight games without allowing a pressure, hit and hurry on the quarterback.

Sewell is the top-graded offensive lineman at any position by Pro Football Focus, which gave him a national-best 95.5 run-blocking grade and a 92.2 in pass-blocking, second nationally. The Pac-12 named him its Offensive Lineman of the Week award four times.

Oregon (11-2) is 16-3 over the last two seasons with Sewell in the starting lineup and heads to its fourth Rose Bowl appearance since 2010 and eighth overall on Jan. 1, 2020, where it will take on Wisconsin.

Former University of Pittsburgh tackle Mark May, the 1980 Outland Trophy winner, has served as the 2019 Outland Trophy #FightFlu ambassador on behalf of NFID. May is making media appearances on behalf of the NFID #FightFlu public awareness campaign to remind everyone age six months and older to get vaccinated annually against flu.

The Outland Trophy is the third-oldest major college football award. Created in 1946 when Dr. John Outland presented the FWAA with a financial contribution to initiate the award, the Outland Trophy has been given to the best interior lineman in college football ever since. Dr. Outland, an All-American at the University of Pennsylvania in the late 1890s, eventually took up practice in Kansas City, Mo. An avid outdoorsman, Dr. Outland believed linemen did not get the credit they deserved and wanted an award to recognize them.

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 to learn more about our story.

About the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases
Founded in 1973, the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) is a non-profit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to educating the public and healthcare professionals about the burden, causes, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of infectious diseases across the lifespan. Visit for more information.

About the Football Writers Association of America
Founded in 1941, the non-profit Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) consists of more than 1,300 members, including journalists, broadcasters, publicists and key executives in all areas of college football. Led by current President Stefanie Loh of the Seattle Times, longtime Executive Director Steve Richardson, and a board of veteran journalists, the association continues to grow and work to help college football prosper at all levels. Visit for more information about the FWAA and its award programs.

Media Contacts
Doug Drotman ( or 631-462-1198)
Steve Richardson ( or 214-870-6516)
Diana Olson ( or 301-656-0003, Ext. 140)

On the web,,

@NFIDvaccines, @OutlandTrophy, @TheFWAA, @Mark_May, #FightFlu

Related links:
• All-Time Outland Trophy winners, finalists
Download high-resolution Outland Trophy logo for editorial use

Wally Hall will receive 2020 Bert McGrane Award

By Bob Holt
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Wally Hall is in his 40th consecutive year writing about sports as a columnist for the Arkansas Democrat and Democrat-Gazette.

“Whenever anything big happens in sports in Arkansas, everybody waits to see what Wally says. I can’t say that for any other state in the nation,” said Ron Higgins, who has covered the SEC for several newspapers and is now editor of Tiger Rag, a magazine and website that focuses on LSU sports. “In Arkansas, when you say, ‘Wally,’ people don’t ask, ‘Wally who?’ They know it’s Wally Hall.”

Hall, who was born in Searcy and grew up in Little Rock, has covered all sports since becoming a columnist in 1979, but college football has been a focal point.

Wally Hall, winner of the 2020 Bert McGrane Award, the FWAA’s highest honor. (Photo by Melissa Macatee.)

A member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) for 33 years, including serving as president in 2003, Hall is being recognized by the organization with its highest honor.

Hall will receive the Bert McGrane Award at the FWAA Awards Breakfast on Jan. 13, 2020, in New Orleans before the College Football Playoff Championship Game is played in the Superdome.

“This is our lifetime achievement award,” said Steve Richardson, the FWAA Executive Director. “It’s the Football Writers’ Hall of Fame.”

The McGrane Award is presented in recognition of contributions to the FWAA and college football with the recipients being displayed in the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta.

McGrane was a sports writer and editor at the Des Moines Register for 45 years and served as the FWAA’s Executive Director from the early 1940s until 1973.

“Wally is an iconic figure in college football writers’ circles for his longevity and the fact he’s been so passionate about all college sports for so many years,” said Richardson, also a McGrane recipient. “Recognizing him with the McGrane Award is really a no-brainer. He has been very supportive of the FWAA. He’s fought for his newspaper and for writers everywhere as far as coverage and access.”

The McGrane Award has been presented annually since 1974 and is a Who’s Who of sports writers, with past winners including Paul Zimmerman, Furman Bisher, Blackie Sherrod, Edwin Pope, Tony Barnhart and Ivan Maisel.

“Looking at the list of past winners of this award puts me in awe,” Hall said. “I do share one thing in common with everyone who has won this award — a passion for college football.”

Hall is the third Arkansan to win the McGrane Award along with Orville Henry and Charlie Fiss.

Henry, who wrote for the Arkansas Gazette and later the Democrat and Democrat-Gazette and Donrey Media Group, won in 2002.

Fiss, a Springdale native and longtime vice president of communications for the Cotton Bowl, was the award’s recipient in 2017.

“Wally has done it all in his career as a reporter, columnist and editor,” Fiss said. “He has developed an extraordinary following in Arkansas by earning the trust and loyalty of his readers.

“People want to know what Wally is thinking when it comes to the world of sports, and particularly the news of the day about the Razorbacks. I’m one of those readers. His column is like a magnet for me because it’s the first thing I turn to when picking up the newspaper or going online.

“The impact he has made as a journalist and his contributions to the profession are immense The Bert McGrane Award is one of the highest honors a journalist could ever receive and it’s gratifying to see the FWAA recognize Wally in such a special and meaningful way.”

Herb Vincent, the SEC’s associate commissioner of communications, is a North Little Rock native and graduate of Little Rock Catholic High School.

“I grew up reading Wally,” Vincent said. “Even after I left Little Rock, my dad knew that I liked to read him so much that he’d clip out his columns and send them to me in the days before the Internet.

“Then even after the Internet, he kept mailing them to me. It became a tradition where I’d get a package in the mail every week with Wally’s columns.

“My dad would write comments with the columns — and sometimes he didn’t agree with Wally. But he always read Wally, just like I have and so many other people have all these years. Reading Wally always helped me keep up with what was going on back home.”

Along with being a columnist, Hall added the sports editor’s duties in 1981.

“Wally’s a throwback to the old days when the sports editor was the columnist as well as running the department,” Richardson said. “He’s maintained a unique standing in the industry.

“Think of all the coaches Wally has covered at Arkansas. In this day and age someone who has the history and knowledge of the Arkansas program and sports in his state in general like Wally does is very hard to find.

“He’s a wealth of knowledge and has strong opinions. I don’t think anyone has to wonder how Wally feels about a topic he’s writing about. You know how he feels after you read his column.”

Vincent said Hall’s reputation and influence have extended well beyond Arkansas.

“Wally is really a legend in the sports writing industry,” Vincent said. “People across the country know Wally. He’s obviously got a great perspective on the world of sports.

“Wally writes with passion and he writes with an educated point of view. He writes with humor.

“Wally’s always had a great perspective on Arkansas sports through the good and the bad, through the winning and losing. He’s consistently been a sportswriter’s sportswriter.

“Wally knows his audience. He knows who he’s writing for. He’s been around sports for so long now that he knows what people want to know and he addresses that.”

Hall often has had to file his column within minutes — sometimes seconds — of a game ending to make deadline.

“Wally has so much impact with what he writes — and he writes faster than any human being I’ve ever seen,” Higgins said. “He’s given so much not just to the business of journalism in general, but to the Football Writers Association in particular. He’s always been a great advocate for our organization.

“He’s always concerned about how press boxes are run and the media operations part of our business.”

Higgins, then with the Memphis Commercial-Appeal, was covering the Arkansas-Michigan game at the 1998 Citrus Bowl.

“Somebody announced they’d be closing the press box an hour after the game,” Higgins said. “Wally went ballistic, and they said we could stay as long as we needed.

“That’s Wally. He’s never afraid to stand up for what he believes, never afraid to take a stand.

“Wally embodies what a good columnist should be about — ‘I don’t care if you like me or not, but you can respect me.’ That’s probably the essence of Wally right there.”

Hall, who was inducted into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame in 2017, has said he has no plans to retire.

“Through all the changes newspapers and journalism have gone through, Wally has stood the test of time,” Richardson said. “I think that’s one of his greatest attributes. He probably has a better feel for what’s going on in Arkansas than anyone else through all these years.”

The best defense wins championships and helps fight the flu

By Bob Herzog

Even in this age of offense-driven football at all levels, many coaches still embrace the adage that “defense wins championships.” That saying could easily apply to influenza (better known as flu) prevention.

“The first line of defense against the flu is for everyone age 6 months and older to get vaccinated annually,” said Marla Dalton, CAE executive director and CEO of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID). NFID wants everyone to know that flu can be serious—even for healthy people, flu-related complications can result in hospitalization and even death. Unfortunately, flu vaccination rates in the United States continue to fall short of public health goals, both for football players and the public at large.

To promote the importance of flu prevention, NFID is in the second year of a sponsorship of the Outland Trophy, awarded each season to the nation’s best college football interior lineman. The NFID and the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) have joined forces in a national campaign (#FightFlu) to remind football fans and players to get vaccinated every year. They have even recruited former Outland Trophy winners Joe Thomas (Wisconsin, 2006), Barrett Jones (Alabama, 2011) and Mark May (Pittsburgh, 1980) for a public service campaign to remind football fans of the importance of annual flu shots.

“We provide free flu shots for the varsity football team and coaching staff. But it’s hard to get 90 men to come in to get a shot,” said University of Rhode Island (URI) head athletic trainer Andy Llaguno. “Why? Because they are scared of the needle! They’ll say, ‘No, I don’t want any part of it.’ We highly encourage them to do it, but participation has not been as good as we’d like it.”

Llaguno attributed college football players’ reluctance to get flu shots, despite medical evidence that it most definitely helps, to common myths about the flu shot. According to Llaguno, “Some of them think they will get the flu from the shot. The other thing is that they’re just scared of needles.”

Mark May, the 1980 Outland Trophy recipient from Pitt, shown here getting his annual flu shot, will be the 2019 spokesperson for the Outland Trophy presented by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID).

Flu vaccines are made with flu viruses that are either weakened or killed, and only broken up parts of the killed virus are included in the vaccine. Therefore, the flu vaccine cannot cause the flu. And for those who are afraid of needles, flu vaccine is available as a nasal spray. The pain associated with flu is much worse than the pain of a needle.

Llaguno worked with the football programs at Penn State, Boston College and West Virginia before coming to URI and said, “It was absolutely very similar there. The difference is that at a place like Penn State, the coaching staff does have a little more influence to make sure the players get the shots.”

If football players studied the history of the flu as much as they study their playbooks, getting vaccinated would be a no-brainer.

A lengthy 2018 story in The Athletic detailed how a world-wide flu pandemic struck in 1918, during World War I, decades before a flu vaccine became available. Roughly one-third of the world’s population was infected and an estimated 50 million people died from the flu.

So even though the declared co-national champions Michigan and Pittsburgh played only five games because of the war and quarantines related to the flu scare, sports historian S.W. Pope told The Athletic that the 1918 season, “effectively helped transform the game of college football. It became a national sport.”

Joe Thomas, the 2006 Outland Trophy recipient from Wisconsin, shown here getting his annual flu shot, was the 2018 spokesperson for the Outland Trophy presented by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID).

Thanks to flu vaccines that have been publicly available in the United States for more than 50 years, flu vaccination has prevented millions of illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths.

But NFID reminds us that the flu is still a serious illness, and vaccines don’t work if they sit on the shelf. Though the very young and very old are most vulnerable, even healthy football players and coaches are at risk. The acronym, FACTS (Fever, Aches, Chills, Tiredness, and Sudden Onset), helps remind people of the symptoms of flu.

NFID supports the ‘Take 3’ approach to flu prevention recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): 1) Get a flu vaccine each year, 2) practice healthy habits—cover coughs and sneezes, wash your hands, and stay home if you are sick; and 3) take flu antiviral drugs if prescribed.

Limiting contact with others, however, is exactly the opposite of what football players do. So football and the flu continue to converge. In September of 2009, more than 40 University of Wisconsin football players showed flu-like symptoms the week leading up to the Badgers’ game against Fresno State. They all suited up for a double-overtime victory, but one starter played only briefly before leaving the game with an illness. It was later reported that some of the team got infected by a rare swine flu virus. All recovered within a week, according to news reports.

That fall, football teams at Washington State, the University of Mississippi, Tulane and Duke also were hit hard by the flu, further raising awareness of flu and its symptoms and treatment.

The Ravens defeated the New England Patriots in the AFC championship game, staying at a hotel in Providence instead of Boston, which had declared a state of emergency because of the flu outbreak which affected some Patriots’ players that week.

You would think such incidents would make it an easy sell for athletic trainers to convince football players to get vaccinated against flu. But in many instances, that is not the case.

“Even these big, tough guys are still afraid of needles,” Llaguno said of his Rhode Island Rams. “In some ways it’s comical, but it’s not funny that we haven’t gotten the participation that we want. It is getting better though. We started with a dozen players, got it up to a couple of dozen last year, and we’re hoping for more than 60 percent this year.”

After all, the best way offense in combatting the disease is a good defense.

(Bob Herzog retired from Newsday in 2018 after a 46-year career as a sportswriter and editor. He lives in Rhode Island, where he teaches at URI.)

Viti named 2019 Armed Forces Merit Award recipient

Armed Forces Merit Award

FORT WORTH, Texas — Army West Point coach and military veteran Mike Viti has been selected as the eighth recipient of Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA).

Coordinated by the staff at the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl, the Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the FWAA was created in June 2012 “to honor an individual and/or a group within the realm of the sport of football.”

Brant Ringler, executive director of the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl, and Matt Fortuna, FWAA president, announced Monday during a teleconference that Viti was selected from a list of 38 nominations (33 individuals and five programs) as the 2019 recipient by a seven-person committee made up of FWAA members and Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl officials.

Mike Viti

“Coach Viti has distinguished himself as a collegiate football player, an Army veteran and now as a coach,” said Ringler. “More importantly, Coach Viti has given of himself with his work with Legacies Alive in support of families of our nation’s fallen heroes.”

Fortuna added, “Coach Viti joins a list of remarkable individuals and programs that have been recipients of the Armed Forces Merit Award. He has been successful in each phase of his life as a player and coach at Army West Point, along with his service in the military and his support of Legacies Alive. With so many deserving individuals and programs, it is difficult to honor only one recipient annually.”

Viti, who is in his fourth season as an assistant coach with the Army West Point football, co-founded Legacies Alive (LA), a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. The mission of the Legacies Alive is to strengthen and support the Gold Star families of our nation’s fallen heroes and brings national awareness to the life and character of all service members who paid the ultimate sacrifice. Viti oversees the strategic and executive direction of the organization.

“Legacies Alive has allowed me to passionately honor the sacrifice and service of my heroes,” said Viti. “The interactions I have had with their Gold Star Families are some of the most powerful and influential experiences I have had in my life. It has inspired me to continue to connect our mission with more Americans so that our country’s sons and daughters forever connect the freedoms and liberties they are afforded, with the sacrifice and service our fallen and their families.”

As a student-athlete at Army West Point (2004-2007), Viti earned four varsity letters and was a team captain. As a fullback used primarily as a blocker, he carried the ball 91 times during his career for 321 yards and three scores while catching 30 passes for 198 yards. Viti also served as a Regimental Commander during his senior year.

Following graduation from the U.S. Military Academy in 2008, Viti was stationed in Oklahoma and Colorado after being commissioned as a second lieutenant in the United States Army. He served with the 4th Infantry Division as well as the 214th Fires Brigade. He served in combat in Afghanistan where he was a platoon leader in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Viti has earned a bronze star and a combat action badge.

After retiring from the military as a captain, Viti embarked on Mike’s Hike For Heroes, a cross country trek where he walked one kilometer for every service member killed in action in the global war on terror. He concluded the walk covering 7,100 kilometers or 4,400 miles beginning in Washington and wrapping up at the Army-Navy Game presented by USAA in Baltimore, Md.

Robert Morris University president Dr. Chris Howard was named last November as the seventh recipient. A 1991 graduate of the United States Air Force Academy, Dr. Howard was a Rhodes Scholar and received the 1990 Campbell Trophy, the highest academic award in the nation presented to a senior college football player. He currently serves on the selection committee for the College Football Playoffs.

Nate Boyer of the University of Texas, Austin was the initial recipient in 2012. Other recipients were Brandon McCoy of the University of North Texas in 2013, Daniel Rodriguez from Clemson University in 2014, Bret Robertson of Westminster College (Fulton, Mo.) in 2015 and Steven Rhodes from Middle Tennessee State University in 2016.

Kansas State and its football team were honored in November 2017 as the sixth recipient of the Armed Forces Merit Award for the university’s partnership with the United States Army that created a bond between the school’s athletic department and the Iron Rangers at Fort Riley.

ESPN Events, a division of ESPN, owns and operates a large portfolio of 35 collegiate sporting events worldwide. The roster includes three Labor Day weekend college football games, the FCS opening-weekend game, 16 college bowl games, 11 college basketball events, a college softball event, an esports event and two college award shows, which accounts for approximately 375-plus hours of live programming, reaches almost 64 million viewers and attracts over 800,000 attendees each year. With satellite offices in Albuquerque, Birmingham, Boca Raton, Boise, Dallas-Fort Worth, Honolulu, Las Vegas, Montgomery and Tampa, ESPN Events builds relationships with conferences, schools and local communities, as well as providing unique experiences for teams and fans. For more information, visit the official website, Facebook, Twitter or YouTube pages.

The Football Writers Association of America (FWAA, consists of the men and women across North America who cover college football for a living. Founded in 1941, 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 Matt Fortuna of The Athletic, 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 1,400 members.

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