2021 Best Writing Contest winners announced Reply

The results for the 29th Annual FWAA Best Writing Contest presented by collegepressbox include one writer who claimed two first places and a total of five double placers.

Alex Scarborough of ESPN.com won first place in both Column and Enterprise; Glenn Guilbeau of USA Today took the Game Story category, and Dave Wilson of ESPN.com was tops in Feature.

Other double placers were Travis Hines of the Des Moines Register (second place and an honorable mention); Ryan McGee of ESPN.com (second place and an honorable mention); Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports (third place and an honorable mention); Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com (two honorable mentions), and Eric Hansen of the South Bend Tribune (two honorable mentions). 

First-place winners will receive game balls from Big Game and collegepressbox.  Finishers 1-3 receive cash prizes and certificates. Honorable mentions receive certificates. The first-place entries will be displayed in The Fifth Down.

Click on each first-place winner’s name below to read their stories. To go to a page with all the first-place stories, CLICK HERE.

GAME

First PlaceGlenn Guilbeau, USA TODAY

Second Place — Travis Hines, Des Moines Register

Third Place — Matt Baker, Tampa Bay Times

Honorable Mention — Ryan McGee, ESPN.com; Eric Hansen, South Bend Tribune; Dick Friedman, Harvard Magazine; Michael Lev, Arizona Daily Star/Tucson.com

FEATURE

First Place Dave Wilson, ESPN.com

Second Place — Andrea Adelson, ESPN.com

Third Place — David Jones, PennLive.com

Honorable Mention — Nate Mink, Syracuse Post-Standard; Ross Dellenger, Sports Illustrated; David Ubben,The Athletic

COLUMN

First PlaceAlex Scarborough, ESPN.com

Second Place — Ryan McGee, ESPN.com

Third Place — Reese Becker, Fifth Quarter

Honorable Mention — Eric Hansen, South Bend Tribune; Dennis Dodd, CBSSports.com; Pete Thamel, Yahoo Sports

ENTERPRISE

First PlaceAlex Scarborough, ESPN.com

Second Place — Audrey Snyder, The Athletic

Third Place — Pete Thamel, Yahoo Sports

Honorable Mention — Travis Hines, Des Moines Register; Dennis Dodd, CBSSports.com; Matt Fortuna, The Athletic

2021 Best Game Story: Glenn Guilbeau, USA Today Louisiana Reply

By Glenn Guilbeau

USA TODAY Louisiana

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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2021 Best Column: Alex Scarborough, ESPN.com Reply

By Alex Scarborough

ESPN.com

For going on 14 years, Alabama has beaten Tennessee every October, and every year coaches and players have enjoyed a traditional postgame cigar. You’ve probably seen the photos that pop up on social media around this time each year. The one of Derrick Henry puffing a stogie with his arm around Nick Saban is particularly memorable, the running back towering over his head coach.

Fans have gotten in on the action, too. Television cameras have often panned into the crowds in the fourth quarter to show plumes of smoke rising from the bleachers. And somewhere, whether in Bryant-Denny Stadium or at his home in town, Jimmy Tom Goostree has been watching it all with a smile on his face.

Jimmy Tom’s father, Jim Goostree, is the reason cigar shops in Tuscaloosa and Knoxville have a run of business the week of the rivalry that’s better known as the Third Saturday in October.

Jim was a longtime trainer at Alabama, but before that he was an assistant trainer at Tennessee. And like his boss, Paul “Bear” Bryant, he hated the Volunteers. So, the story goes, in the fall of 1961, Jim made a bet with the players on the team. Beat Tennessee for the first time in six years, he said, and he’ll dance around the locker room naked.

Whether by talent or precision or the promise of seeing Jim cut a rug, the Crimson Tide beat the Vols 34-3. And true to his word, Jim danced, albeit with a victory cigar pressed between his lips.

Thankfully, the stogie is the only part of the celebration that carried over.

“It’s a sense of pride for all of our family members,” Jimmy Tom said. “It means a lot that Dad is recognized this particular week.”

Bill Oliver was a senior on that 1961 team that started it all, and he remembers the elder Goostree as “a little short fella” and an excellent trainer. He had “a keen mind,” Oliver said, and he understood the rivalry with Tennessee better than almost anyone given his time with the program prior to coming to Alabama. Oliver said Goostree’s history paid off in that “the more knowledge you had, the more you could find out, the more we could smoke cigars.”

“Beating them was the ultimate,” Oliver recalled. “It really was.”

Jim Goostree died in 1999, and Jimmy Tom isn’t sure where all the time went. When he walks into his den, though, he’s reminded of his father. In a glass case, on the top shelf, is a football that’s nearly 50 years old. There are no markings on it to signify its importance, but Jimmy Tom knows.

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2021 Best Enterprise: Alex Scarborough, ESPN.com Reply

By Alex Scarborough

ESPN.com

Nick Saban was a nobody then. His players’ first impression was that the ex-Houston Oilers assistant was kind of short. Truth be told, they got a Tony Danza vibe because of his deep tan, well-coiffed hair and wide-open shirt collar. But when Saban spoke in that first meeting — when he screamed about financial aid checks and threatened to kick players off the team — he had their attention. Soon, his training program would have them doubled over and dropping like flies.

“It reminded me of the Junction Boys,” said former tight end Vince Marrow. “I watched at least six or seven guys quit. They just couldn’t take it.”

Looking back 30 years on, Saban said he learned two important lessons during his one season at Toledo in 1990: motivation and game management. The latter was the hardest pill to swallow, though, as a mistake cost his team a win and the outright conference title. It’s something he carries with him today — one of those myriad details he pores over during every pregame meeting, before or after receiving scouting reports on the referees.

He learned, quite literally, which way the wind blows.

“We got the ball and went ‘two-minute’ down the field at the end,” Saban recalled of that game against Central Michigan, a 13-12 result on Oct. 20, 1990 — and his first career loss. “It was a one-point game and we lined up to kick a field goal of like 25 yards or something. We had a pretty good kicker, and the ball just got about 5 yards from the crossbar and just stopped in midair.”

He took a deep breath, reliving a loss that still haunts him, and continued.

“A lot of people remember the Bluegrass Miracle when I was at LSU. Well, we had the wind in the fourth quarter, and it was a significant 30 mph wind probably. And when we threw the Hail Mary, they couldn’t judge the ball because it just kept going and going and going, and that’s how we won.

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2021 Best Feature: Dave Wilson, ESPN.com Reply

By Dave Wilson

ESPN.com

In the late 1990s, at a benefit 30 miles away from his East Texas hometown of Tyler, Earl Campbell sat at a table while the party’s host, a colorful businessman and one of Campbell’s best friends, summoned sheepish onlookers to come say hello to the legend.

“Well, what are you waiting for? Get on over here,” he said. “Earl don’t get up.”

Campbell wasn’t aloof, wasn’t too cool to get up, despite the darkened Wayfarers that made him look cool. “Earl don’t get up” because he couldn’t.

Campbell was once seen as the baddest man on the planet. He left tacklers and pieces of his tearaway jersey on the field behind him. Off the field, he wore Wranglers and giant belt buckles and did Skoal commercials. He was declared an official State Hero in 1981 by the Texas legislature, an honor previously bestowed upon only Stephen F. Austin, Sam Houston and Davy Crockett.

As time went on and he was out of public view, Campbell broke down. At the Heisman Trophy ceremony, he remained in his seat while his fraternity brothers lined up on stage behind the winner. At Texas football games, he was always in a golf cart or riding on a scooter. Fans would pity him, muttering “Poor Earl,” as they tried to reconcile their love of football with Campbell being seen as a cautionary tale of its ravages.

But years later, he would discover through a decades-long medical odyssey, that was only part of the story.

“What happened over time is everybody just thinks I had football injuries,” says Campbell, who turned 65 in March. “They look at me and they think, ‘Oh, poor Earl.’ People really don’t know the truth about it.”

The truth came late to Campbell himself, which is why he hasn’t told this story in much detail before. Yet this year, he is deliberative as he relishes the biggest honor of a football life filled with so many of them. In July, the University of Texas announced it would immediately change the name of the football field at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium to Campbell-Williams Field to honor Campbell, who won the 1977 Heisman Trophy, and the Longhorns’ other Heisman winner, Ricky Williams (1998).

It is remarkable for several reasons. First, for how it happened: The field was previously named for Joe Jamail, a billionaire attorney and Texas mega-booster who was a close friend of Campbell’s. But amid a conversation about social justice led by Texas players on campus following George Floyd’s death in police custody in Minneapolis, Jamail’s three sons asked the university to remove their late father’s name and replace it with the names of the two Longhorns legends, replacing a wealthy booster’s name with two of the most prominent Black athletes in school history.

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Deadline for entries to the FWAA Best Writing Contest extended to July 15

FWAA members can submit entries in the 2020 Best Writing Contest until July 15.

CATEGORIES

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

In addition, we have created the Beat Writer of the Year Award for the top beat writer as judged by a special FWAA committee headed by FWAA board member Mark Blaudschun of The Media Guides. See separate nomination/entry procedure below.

BEST WRITING CONTEST RULES

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

Deadline: July 15, 2021. Entries sent after the deadline WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED.

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

Entries must have appeared in print or on line between Feb. 1, 2020, and Jan. 31, 2021.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Example: KenStephens-game.doc.

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

FWAA BEAT WRITER OF THE YEAR AWARD

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

Mark Blaudschun
TMG Sports
497 Country Way
Scituate. MA 02066
blauds@aol.com
Cell: 617-758-9011

Mark and his committee will then make inquiries into the FWAA members nominated. In order to qualify for this award the person nominated must have been an FWAA member during the 2020 football season.

Submit your entries to the FWAA Best Writing Contest; less than a month remains until deadline

FWAA members can submit entries in the 2020 Best Writing Contest until July 1.

CATEGORIES

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

In addition, we have created the Beat Writer of the Year Award for the top beat writer as judged by a special FWAA committee headed by FWAA board member Mark Blaudschun of The Media Guides. See separate nomination/entry procedure below.

BEST WRITING CONTEST RULES

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

Deadline: July 1, 2021. Entries sent after the deadline WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED.

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

Entries must have appeared in print or on line between Feb. 1, 2020, and Jan. 31, 2021.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Example: KenStephens-game.doc.

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

FWAA BEAT WRITER OF THE YEAR AWARD

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

Mark Blaudschun
TMG Sports
497 Country Way
Scituate. MA 02066
blauds@aol.com
Cell: 617-758-9011

Mark and his committee will then make inquiries into the FWAA members nominated. In order to qualify for this award the person nominated must have been an FWAA member during the 2020 football season.

28th Annual FWAA Best Writing Contest Results

DALLAS — Frequent past winners Ivan Maisel of ESPN.com and Christopher Walsh of BamaCentral.com joined David Hale of ESPN.com and Ross Dellenger of Sports Illustrated in claiming first-place honors in the 28th Annual FWAA Best Writing Contest. Four writers claimed awards in two categories and one writer took awards in three categories.

Maisel’s winning entry in Column on the late, legendary writer Dan Jenkins drew this response from the judge: “Love everything about it (the column). It’s a tall order to memorialize a writing legend. You tend to overwrite to impress. This one had just the right tone.”

Walsh’s expansive story in Enterprise explained how current-day Tide Coach Nick Saban rates versus the top coaches in the history of the game. From the judge: “Exhaustive research piece on how Alabama’s Nick Saban stacks up against the all-time field of great coaches. Well-written, with excellent perspective on the intangibles that make Saban one of the best.”

In the Game Story Category, Dellenger completely captured the essence of LSU’s CFP semifinal victory over Oklahoma after a deadly game-day plane crash involving the daughter-in-law of LSU’s offensive coordinator. From the judge: “Writer depicts the emotions in LSU’s blistering of Oklahoma in a national semifinal that was tinged with tragedy. Great job of telling the story of the day and game that was like no other in LSU history.”

And Hale’s Feature Story on Arkansas State Coach Blake Anderson and his loss of wife Wendy to cancer prompted this from the judge: “Powerful. So detailed. After reading it, you want to go hug Blake Anderson, while wishing you’d known Wendy.”

Ryan McGee of ESPN.com picked up a second, third and an honorable mention in his trifecta. Dellenger, besides his first-place award, also picked up a second. Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports, David Ubben of The Athletic and Dave Wilson of ESPN.com each had two honorable mention awards.

First, second and third-place awards receive cash prizes as well as certificates. Honorable mentions receive certificates.

To read the first-place stories and a bio on the writers, click on their names below.

GAME

First Place — Ross Dellenger, Sports Illustrated

Second Place — Glenn Guilbeau, USA TODAY Network-Louisiana

Third Place — James Crepea, The Oregonian

Honorable Mention — John Bohnenkamp, HawkeyeMaven; Pete DiPrimio, IUhoosiers.com; David Ubben, The Athletic

FEATURE

First Place David Hale, ESPN.com

Second Place Ross Dellenger, Sports Illustrated

Third Place Nate Mink, Syracuse Post-Standard/Syracuse.com

Honorable Mention Ryan McGee, ESPN.com; Pete Thamel, Yahoo Sports; Dave Wilson, ESPN.com; Andrea Adelson, ESPN.com; Max Olson, The Athletic

 

COLUMNS

First Place Ivan Maisel, ESPN.com

Second Place Ryan McGee, ESPN.com

Third Place — David Teel, Daily Press, Newport News, Va.

Honorable Mention Anthony Gimino, AllSportsTucson.com; Pete Thamel, Yahoo Sports; Kirk Bohls, Austin American-Statesman

ENTERPRISE

First Place — Christopher Walsh, BamaCentral.com

Second Place — Stewart Mandel,The Athletic

Third Place – Ryan McGee, ESPN.com

Honorable Mention — Shehan Jeyarajah, Dave Campbell’s Texas Football; David Ubben, The Athletic; Dave Wilson, ESPN.com

2020 Best Feature: David Hale

Comment by the judge: Powerful. So detailed. After reading it, you want to go hug Blake Anderson, while wishing you’d known Wendy.

By David Hale

ESPN.com

It was quiet inside the truck as Arkansas State coach Blake Anderson drove along Interstate 55. He wasn’t sure what to say. Usually he could count on his wife, Wendy, to fill any silence. She loves talking to people, and even the most mundane subject will spiral in a dozen different directions only vaguely related to the last. Blake calls it “spiderwebbing,” one thread thinly connected to another. He’s the face of the football program, but at events, Wendy is the star. A booster or fan will corner him, then he’ll introduce Wendy. She spiderwebs, and he sneaks away, leaving Wendy to charm even the dullest of companions.

Now, in early July, Wendy is in the seat next to him, frail and tired and sore from an hour bumping along the highway between Memphis, Tennessee, and Jonesboro in the passenger seat, silently deliberating the news they’d just gotten from her doctors.

A few weeks earlier, scans showed her latest round of chemotherapy was working. She’d first been diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of breast cancer in 2017, recovered, then got sick again. The initial prognosis was bleak, but she was a fighter, and until today, she thought she was winning. But she’d skipped her last dose of chemo, too tired and too sick to plug herself into another bag of poison. Her doctor ordered tests. The tests showed the tumors were growing again. They’d gone to meet with her oncologist in Memphis, and he offered no good options.

Wendy wasn’t prone to outbursts. Perhaps it was the voice, a Betty Boop approximation, she said, that always endeared her to kids and made Blake laugh when she’d get excited. She didn’t curse much, either. She’d say things like, “Cancer really kicked me in the fanny.” But after the doctor went over the test results, he’d left the room, closed the door, and Wendy screamed.

“F—!”

They didn’t talk much after that, just drove along in silence while Wendy’s mind raced. Why had she gotten her hopes up? Why did cancer keep pulling the rug out from under her? Why couldn’t these doctors see that all this bad news wasn’t helping? The more she thought, the angrier she got. Twisting in the passenger seat to face her husband, she erupted.

“I’m sick and tired of getting bad news,” she shouted. “Don’t give me any more bad news. I don’t want to hear it. I don’t want to see it. I’m going to beat this, and all these things they keep showing me be damned!”

Blake took her hand. She wasn’t mad at him. He knew that. It just needed to be said.

“I’ve never doubted you,” he said.

More…

2020 Best Column: Ivan Maisel

Comment by the judge: When you’re writing the obituary of an iconic writer, the tendency is to over write and impress, rather than get out of the way and allow the story to tell itself. Loved all the anecdotes. It all worked. Dan Jenkins would be pleased. 

By Ivan Maisel

ESPN.com

Dan Jenkins is gone, and everyone who loves college football, golf and the crisply struck one-liner will raise a glass. Preferably of J&B.

If you don’t know the work of Jenkins, who died Thursday night in his beloved Fort Worth, Texas, at age 90, you are in for a treat. He didn’t invent sportswriting, but with his combination of reporting and humor, perspective and confidence, he changed my business for the better. Much better.

In the pages of Sports Illustrated, Dan made human the legendary sports gods of his era. Figures such as Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Bear Bryant and Darrell Royal no longer loomed larger than life. And Dan did it with a sharp eye, a smartass grin and very fast typing. What he didn’t tell us in his reporting, he told us in barely disguised fiction in best-selling novels like “Semi-Tough.” My favorite had nothing to do with football. I bet I haven’t read “Baja Oklahoma” more than 10 times.

Sportswriters of my era have their go-to Jenkins lines, maybe like an earlier generation does with Noel Coward, or the way that Stephen Colbert goes viral today. For personal reasons, mine remains the lead of his story about the 1984 U.S. Open at Winged Foot:

“Maybe Fuzzy Zoeller plays golf the way everybody should. Hit it, go find it, hit it again. Grin, have a smoke, take a sip, make a joke and every so often win a major championship.”

I spent that Open as Dan’s assistant, the fact-checker who helped him gather material for his story. I was 24 years old and barely could find the first tee without a map. I think the only actual assistance I provided Dan was driving him from Manhattan to Mamaroneck for the Monday playoff between Zoeller and Greg Norman.

Sports Illustrated issues closed on Monday, and 35 years ago, most copy had to be buttoned up by Sunday night. They held the magazine for the Open to conclude. Dan, having cut his teeth at the Fort Worth Press, always had been impervious to deadline pressure. At a magazine where writers were known for dripping out copy like an IV, Dan wrote as if he were late for a cocktail party.

In that lead, Dan captured Zoeller’s personality perfectly, in language that sounded like he leaned over the bar to say it. To witness that up close taught me more about journalism than any class I ever took.

In those days, Dan was known for not appearing on the golf course. He worked the locker room a little. Mostly he held court in the dining area of the club, swapping information and one-liners with agents, writers, golfers, you name it. Dan would walk out onto Augusta National on Sunday to watch the golfers play the short par-4 3rd, a nod to his reverence for the Masters, but otherwise he stayed indoors.

But Dan wanted to see a U.S. Open playoff. We walked out to the fifth green. As Norman prepared to putt, Zoeller, standing at the side of the green, glanced over and saw Dan standing there. Their eyes met, and Zoeller clutched his chest, feigning a heart attack. Make a joke, and every so often win a major.

Dan left Sports Illustrated a few weeks later, more a clash of personality than anything. The magazine editor decided Dan had lost his fastball. Maybe so; he only had another 35 years of relevant journalism left in him.

I first met Dan in the fall of 1978 in the office of The Stanford Daily. I was a sophomore, sitting in front of a Royal typewriter. Dan walked in looking for his daughter, Sally, a freshman who intended to join our staff. I’m pretty sure Dan was holding a cigarette. I’m pretty sure I couldn’t speak in his presence. Think of LeBron James walking into your gym, Beyoncé showing up at your corner bar for karaoke.

On that day, I entered his orbit, and I never left. We bonded because any friend of Sally was a friend of his. You could say the same about any friend of college football. Dan stopped covering football nearly 50 years ago, but his love for the sport never wavered.

It began as a 6-year-old, when he attended the battle of two undefeateds, TCU and SMU, at the end of the 1935 season. So did Grantland Rice. The Rose Bowl would invite the winner, and Dan’s beloved hometown TCU lost a heartbreaker. A few years ago, I visited Dan at his Fort Worth home, and on one wall of his office, he had blown up a photo of Amon Carter Stadium that day, with arrows pointing to where he sat, and where Granny Rice sat. Birth of a Sportswriter.

His coverage of college football for Sports Illustrated in the 1960s opened an entire world to the magazine’s readers, and especially to its Ivy League-bred editors. Dan brought college football to the national mainstream and shone a light on all of the color and pageantry of Saturday’s America, a phrase he gleefully stole for a book title from TCU coach Abe Martin, a tobacco-chewin’ rascal from the very old school.

Dan had the idea to spend a weekend in Dallas with two couples as they attended three college football games. He had the idea to chronicle an entire recruiting season in the home of a blue-chip quarterback, Oklahoma-bound Jack Mildren. He had the idea and the gall to take on all of Notre Dame Nation when he mocked Ara Parseghian, coach of the No. 1 Irish, for settling for a 10-10 tie against No. 2 Michigan State in 1966. The story began, “Old Notre Dame will tie over all,” a brilliant takedown of the Irish fight song.

 

Dan may have stopped writing about college football, but he continued to love it as if it were his fourth child. He faithfully attended TCU football games, his parking space underneath Amon Carter Stadium directly next to the one reserved for the university chancellor. TCU named its press box for Dan in May 2017, and of all the many honors he received in his long and glorious career, that one stayed close to his heart.

A few months later, I went to Arlington to cover the Florida-Michigan game on opening weekend. The day before the game, I met Dan for lunch at Colonial Country Club, home of the longtime PGA Tour stop. Dan held court there. He was physically frail, but his mind remained keen. We talked college football for 90 minutes, and he made sure to show me the encased display of memorabilia from his career on the wall next to the pro shop.

I dropped him an email now and again, and he always answered within minutes. It’s hard to swallow that I can’t do that again. Instead, I’ll swallow a J&B in his honor, and curl up with “Baja Oklahoma” for the 11th read.

IVAN MAISEL

Ivan Maisel

ESPN.com

Age: 60

College: Stanford

Background: This is the eighth first-place finish in the FWAA Best Writing Contest for Maisel, who won the FWAA’s prestigious Bert McGrane Award in 2016. Maisel, the FWAA President in 1995, has covered college football since 1987 for The Dallas Morning News (1987-94), Newsday (1994-97) and Sports Illustrated (1997-2002). He is delighted to have been the first college football writer hired at ESPN.com, where he has been a senior writer since November 2002. Maisel served as editor-at-large of ESPN College Football 150, the company’s initiative to commemorate the sport’s 150th anniversary in 2019. In that role, he served as writer and host of the Down & Distance podcast, and as a producer on three series and two documentaries. Ivan and his wife, Meg Murray, live in Fairfield, Conn. They have two daughters, Sarah, 28, and Elizabeth, 23. Their son Max died in 2015 at age 21. Ivan is writing a book about Max and the nature of grief that will be published in 2021.