Jason Kersey named Steve Ellis/FWAA Beat Writer of the Year

Jason Kersey

Jason Kersey

Former Oklahoman reporter Jason Kersey has been named the Steve Ellis/FWAA Beat Writer of the Year for the 2015 football season, when he was covering the Oklahoma Sooners for the newspaper.

Kersey, almost 30 and now a writer for SEC Country and covering the Arkansas Razorbacks, is the sixth annual winner of this award. He will be honored during the FWAA’s Annual Awards Breakfast on Jan. 9 in Tampa, Fla., at the media hotel for the CFP National Championship Game.

“I am genuinely stunned and overwhelmed,” Kersey said. “I want to thank the committee for this unbelievable honor. It means more to me than I can adequately express. I want to thank Ryan Aber (an FWAA member), who was my cohort on the OU beat. He was as perfect a beat partner as anyone working in this job could ever hope to have.

“Also, thanks to my dad for instilling in me a passionate love for sports. Thanks to my mom for how irrationally proud she is of any accomplishments, be it massive or minuscule. And a special thank you to my wife, Annie. This job can be tough on spouses, and Annie not only puts up with it but also encourages and supports me because she knows how much it means to me.”

For the first time, the FWAA Beat Writer of the Year Award will be known as the Steve Ellis/FWAA Beat Writer of the Year Award.  The late Ellis was a standout beat writer who covered Florida State football for the Tallahassee Democrat for a number of years.

Previous winners of this prestigious FWAA award: Doug Lesmerises (Cleveland Plain Dealer), Mark Blaudschun (Boston Globe), Steve Wieberg (USA Today), Jon Wilner (San Jose Mercury News), Tim May (Columbus Dispatch) and Chris Dufresne (Los Angeles Times).

“Jason was instrumental to The Oklahoman’s Sports section’s success in print and digitally,” said Mike Sherman, sports editor of the Tampa Bay Times and former sports editor of The Oklahoman. “He worked his way through various roles in our department, capitalizing on every opportunity to build skills, relationships and his capacity for great storytelling. His reporting broke news and ground.”

In his nomination folder, one fellow writer said: “Jason’s work during the 2015 season perfectly paralleled the play of the team he covered. Oklahoma was at the top of its game, and so was Jason. His versatility shines through on a daily basis, as he reports the good, the bad and the ugly.”

Kersey gave Sherman an assist for his award-winning coverage.

“Mike Sherman is the best sports editor in the country,” Kersey said. “He hired me as a part-timer when I was just an awkward, 19-year-old college sophomore. Throughout our almost decade-long working relationship, he always believed I could do better. I miss working for Mike Sherman every single day because he flat-out makes writers better.

“When I was little, I thought I would someday be a quarterback. I didn’t have the arm, so I tried wide receiver,” Kersey added. “And when I found my speed and athleticism lacking, I decided writing might be my ticket to a career involving football.”

KERSEY BIO

Jason Kersey joined The Oklahoman’s staff in November 2006 and worked as a part-time results clerk, a page designer/copy editor and a high school sports and recruiting reporter before spending four years on the OU football beat.

His work covering the Sooners twice resulted in national recognition as a top-10 beat writer from the Associated Press Sports Editors, as well as top-10 APSE honors for features, breaking news and multimedia. Jason has also won awards from the Tulsa Press Club and Society of Professional Journalists. During his time covering Oklahoma, Jason chronicled the Sooners’ monumental 2014 Sugar Bowl victory over Alabama, the rise of quarterback Baker Mayfield and OU’s run to the 2015 College Football Playoff.

His work at The Oklahoman also included extensive coverage of the racist fraternity video that shocked the entire country and spurred social change on OU’s campus; exclusive reporting on a Title IX sexual assault investigation involving a football player; and the Joe Mixon saga.

Jason left The Oklahoman in May 2016 to join Cox Media Group’s new venture, SEC Country, as its Arkansas beat writer. He is wrapping up his first season covering Bret Bielema and the Razorbacks.

A Noble, Okla., native, Jason graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2009. He lives in Fayetteville, Ark., with his wife Annie and dog Buster.

Advertisements

Kentucky Outland Trophy winner Bob Gain dies

Bob Gain, 1950 Outland Trophy winner.

Bob Gain, 1950 Outland Trophy winner.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Bob Gain, one of the greatest players in the history of University of Kentucky football, passed away Monday in Willoughby, Ohio, at the age of 87.

Gain was a stalwart offensive and defensive lineman at UK from 1947-50 under Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant. Also a placekicker, he still holds the school record for most extra points in a game when he made 10-of-10 in a win over North Dakota in 1950. Coming to UK from Weirton, W.Va., Gain helped lead the Wildcats to a four-year record of 33-10-2 and was a member of the Cats’ first three bowl teams in school history.

Kentucky had an 8-3 record in 1947 and made its first postseason appearance with a victory over Villanova in the Great Lakes Bowl.  UK went 9-3 in the 1949 season and played in the Orange Bowl. The Wildcats were 11-1 in 1950, winning the Southeastern Conference championship. Gain capped his collegiate career with a 13-7 victory over Oklahoma in the 1951 Sugar Bowl, ending the Sooners’ 31-game winning streak. UK is recognized as the 1950 national champion by the Sagarin Computer Ratings.

In 1950, Gain became the first player in Southeastern Conference history to win the prestigious Outland Trophy as the nation’s best interior lineman.  He earned first-team All-America honors as a junior and senior. He was a three-year All-Southeastern Conference choice, first team as a junior and senior and second team as a sophomore.

Although a first-round selection of the National Football League’s Green Bay Packers (fifth pick overall), Gain played the 1951 season with the Ottawa Rough Riders in the Canadian Football League, winning the Grey Cup championship. He played for the NFL’s Cleveland Browns in 1952 before serving in Korea as a first lieutenant in the United States Air Force in 1953.

Gain returned to the Browns in 1954, where he played until 1964. He had a stellar career as a defensive lineman with the Browns.  He was named first-team All-Pro once, second-team All-Pro seven times, and played in the Pro Bowl five times. He continued to be part of champion teams, as the Browns won the NFL title in 1954, 1955 and in 1964.

Gain received numerous honors following his career.  He was named to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1980.  His UK jersey is retired and he is a member of the UK Athletics Hall of Fame. He was elected to the West Virginia Sports Hall of Fame, the Cleveland Sports Hall of Fame and the Kentucky chapter of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  He also was tabbed for the All-SEC Quarter-Century Team, covering the years 1950-74, by the Birmingham Quarterback Club.

Tony Neely

Asst. AD / Media Relations

University of Kentucky Athletics

Joe Craft Center

338 Lexington Avenue

Lexington, KY   40506

(859) 257-3838

FWAA member Bo Carter and co-authors have new book on Dizzy Dean

“Dizzy – Dean of Baseball & My Podnah” – Cool Cat Communications, October 2016 U.S. $24.95; Canada $27.95   

FWAA member Bo Carter and journalist Mark McDonald, a former Dallas area media member, have tri-authored a book with the late Gene Kirby (the play-by-play voice for Army football for several seasons) called “Dizzy: Dean of Baseball and My Podnah.”

Somewhere between heaven and second base, a tall skinny kid from the cotton fields of Arkansas —or was it Oklahoma?– emerged with a white-hot fastball and country cool. Meet Jay Hannah Dean. Folks called him “Dizzy.”

Dizzy Dean was a plain-spoken but colorful athlete who showed up on the big stage of professional baseball when the nation needed a light moment. Dizzy’s baseball and total persona were a high-wire act without a script, providing Americans relief from the struggles of everyday life during the Great Depression.

A Hall of Fame baseball career was just the start. Once Dizzy migrated to the broadcast booth he teamed with the likes of Pee Wee Reese and producer Gene Kirby to deliver the wildly popular CBS Game of the Week.

Here, at long last, is a book that takes you behind the scenes and behind the television cameras.

Of the many books written on Dizzy, none is told from such an intimate perspective, nor with the shared sense of playful mischief. Gene Kirby’s text and photo collection show why the pitcher was a baseball phenom, but more importantly, show why Dizzy remains an enduring legend.

To order copies, please contact:

Cool Cat Communications

Box 701713

San Antonio, TX 78270-1713

Email: Coolcatcomm@att.net

Bo Carter phone: 214-418-6132

Former Outland Trophy winner Bill Stanfill dies

Bill Stanfill, winner of the Outland Trophy in 1968.

Bill Stanfill, winner of the Outland Trophy in 1968.

University of Georgia All-American, Outland Trophy winner, and College Hall of Fame inductee Bill Stanfill died Thursday night in Albany, Ga.

Born Jan. 13, 1947, the Cairo native followed his stellar college career as one of the NFL’s greatest players as a member of the Miami Dolphins who selected him in the first round of the 1969 NFL draft. In 1969, he was named the AFL Rookie of the Year runner-up and during his career was named All-Pro four times. He was a starter on the 1972 and ’73 Miami Dolphin Super Bowl championship teams.

CLICK HERE to read the entire store at GeorgiaDogs.com.

 

 

 

Two FWAA members have new book on 2015 Michigan State-Michigan game

EDITOR’S NOTE:  FWAA members Jack Ebling and Joe Rexrode co-authored a book about the 2015 Michigan State-Michigan football game. Rexrode has since left the Michigan State beat and is now a columnist at the The Nashville Tennessean. But his former paper printed an excerpt from the book, “The Perfect :10”, about the stunning ending to the game and the people involved. Ebling, a media staple of the Michigan State sports scene for years as a writer and now a broadcaster, has been to every Michigan State-Michigan game since 1969.)

 

Obituary: John HIcks, Ohio State’s 1973 Outland Trophy winner

John Hicks won the FWAA’s Outland Trophy in 1973. He is one of four Ohio State players to claim the Outland Trophy. Jim Parker (1956), Jim Stillwagon (1970) and Orlando Pace (1996) are the others.

October 30, 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Ohio State Contacts: Jerry Emig (614-203-2766 and emig.2@osu.edu);

Adam Widman (614-572-6903 and widman.12@osu.edu)

Buckeye Family Loses a Legend: All-Time Great John Hicks

Woody Hayes called Hicks “the greatest interior lineman I have ever coached”

COLUMBUS, Ohio – John Hicks, a two-time All-American and major award winner and undeniably one of the most outstanding Ohio State football players of all time, died Saturday after a long illness. Hicks’ wife, Cindy, contacted the Department of Athletics with the news. He was 65.

An offensive guard from Cleveland’s John Hay High School, Hicks was a three-year starter for Woody Hayes-coached teams that won Big Ten Conference championships in 1970, 1972 and 1973 and advanced to the Rose Bowl in each of those seasons. Hicks was the first player to start in three Rose Bowls and in 2009 he was inducted into the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame.

“I was stunned and saddened to hear the news of John Hicks’ passing,” Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said. “He was truly one of the all-time greats for this university who was always good to this football program and the community. He will truly be missed and my thoughts and prayers go out to his family.”

Freshmen were ineligible in 1969, Hicks’ first year on campus, but in 1970 he helped the Buckeyes to a 9-1 record, a 7-0 mark in the Big Ten, including a 20-9 win over Michigan, and the national championship as awarded by the National Football Foundation.

Ohio State was 3-1 in 1971 before a knee injury sidelined Hicks and caused him to miss the final six games of what would become a 6-4 campaign.

Hicks would come back stronger than ever. In 1972 he was a first-team All-American for an Ohio State team that went 9-2 and 7-1 in the Big Ten with a 14-11 victory over Michigan. This was the year he began paving the way to greatness for a freshman running back from Columbus named Archie Griffin.

In 1973 the Buckeyes were 10-0-1 with Hicks earning unanimous All-American honors. The Buckeyes were awarded the Rose Bowl berth after a 10-all tie with Michigan, and Hicks’ last game as a Buckeye was a 42-21 dismantling of USC in the 1974 Rose Bowl game.

Hicks made history in 1973. Not only was he a unanimous All-American, but he won both the Lombardi Award and the Outland Trophy as the best interior lineman in the nation and he finished second – second! – in the Heisman Trophy voting to Penn State’s John Cappelletti. Teammates Griffin and linebacker Randy Gradishar were fifth and sixth, respectively, in the Heisman voting that year.

Hicks would go on to become a first-round NFL Draft pick of the New York Giants, who he played for from 1974 to 1977.

Hicks was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2001 and the Ohio State Sports Hall of Fame in 1985. His careers after football included running his real estate development company and “paying forward” through community service initiatives such as the Boys and Girls Club of Central Ohio and the Central Ohio Diabetes Association.

Obituary: Lynne Draper, founder of the Thorpe Award

Lynne Draper, a member and supporter of the Football Writers Association of America for many years, died Thursday Oct. 27. He was one of the founders of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA) of which the Outland Trophy, Bronko Nagurski Trophy and FWAA/Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award are members.

 

The story behind sportswriters’ addiction to Marriott hotels

On a typical college football weekend dozens of FWAA members are staying at Marriott Properties across the country. For years the FWAA tapped into the  Marriott VIP Program with the hotel chain until it became so popular with writers, the demand for discounted rooms became overwhelming. Now, the VIP rate is available to only coaches and athletic officials
Mike Lopresti and John Henderson, both mentioned in the Vocative.com story below, are former FWAA members who benefited from the VIP program. The Frequent Stay Program is still in effect for anyone who signs up. And sportswriters are on the road a lot, so they can still collect points for future stays in bundles.
For years the FWAA has held its national meeting at a Marriott property in conjunction with the national title football game. It will again this year in early January in Tampa at the College Football Playoff’s National Championship Game.
As luck would have it one year when the game was at the Orange Bowl, the FWAA was meeting at a Marriott property in Ft. Lauderdale and Bill Marriott, Mr. Marriott, was staying there. Like Mike in the story mentioned here, FWAA members showed him a lot of  appreciation. Quite simply he is the man whose hotel’s Frequent Stay program  has made vacations a lot less expensive.
Steve Richardson, FWAA Executive Director 

Funeral mass for Kensler will be Saturday in Wheat Ridge, Colo.

Tom Kensler

Tom Kensler

Former FWAA board member Tom Kensler will be remembered Saturday Aug. 6 at memorial services in Colorado.

A funeral mass will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Archdiocese of Denver Mortuary Chapel, 12801 W. 44th Avenue in Wheat Ridge, Colo.

Kensler suffered a brain aneurysm on July 6 at his home in Arvada, Colo., and died on July 22.

Kensler, 64, retired after a long tenure at the Denver Post in June 2015. He had previously worked at newspapers in Oklahoma and Texas.

1958 Outland Trophy winner Zeke Smith passes away

Zeke Smith, 1958 winner of the Outland Trophy.

Zeke Smith, 1958 winner of the Outland Trophy.

Zeke Smith, winner of the FWAA’s Outland Trophy in 1958, died Friday at the age of 79.

Smith was a two-way player and a member of Auburn’s 1957 national championship team.

After Auburn, he played in the NFL in 1960 and 1961 and the CFL in 1962 and 1963. He was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 1982.

Today Auburn’s top defensive player each season is given the Zeke Smith Award.

CLICK HERE to read Smith’s obituary at AuburnTigers.com.