By Matt Fortuna
Greetings, fellow FWAA members. Here’s hoping the holiday season is treating you all as well as can be expected.
Obviously, this week has been a rough one for our industry, as we lost beloved ESPN reporter Edward Aschoff. Edward was as kind of a soul as you would find in this business, as he never hesitated to compliment you on a story or reach out to a younger reporter with words of encouragement. He was often good for a nice remark about your wardrobe, too, even if all of us — including him — knew that simply no one was going to out-dress him in the press box.
Colleague Bruce Feldman came up with the fabulous idea of honoring Edward this bowl season by asking those who are covering games to wear a flower stick lapel pin, which was a staple of Edward’s game-day attire. (You can find all sorts of options on Amazon.)
As Bruce said, we may not be able to make it look as good as you did, Ed, but your impact has been felt on all of us. You will be missed.
I’m as guilty as anyone of asking more of ourselves and of the schools we cover when it comes to access and the like, so I want to use this space to recognize a couple of noteworthy acts late in the season:
On Nov. 13, Arizona State defensive coordinator Danny Gonzales opened up his post-practice media session informing the public that his mother had passed away the night before. She had gone into cardiac arrest near midnight after an extended hospital stay. Gonzales was at practice the next day and was scheduled to speak to the press, as he does on Wednesdays.
ASU senior associate AD for media relations Mark Brand told Gonzales that he did not need to speak that day, but Gonzales insisted on handling his media responsibilities, which ended up lasting almost 25 minutes.
“I just thought in an era where everyone’s shutting down and backing away, this guy had every reason to not (speak),” Brand said. “I thought that was a stud move.”
Condolences to Danny on the passing of his mother, Becky. And congrats to him on landing the New Mexico head coaching job shortly afterward.
Elsewhere, retiring Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster, fresh off a shutout win over Pitt in his Nov. 23 home finale, ended his postgame press conference by thanking the assembled media for their treatment of him over his 33-year career in Blacksburg.
“Let me say this: I know we’ve got a couple more opportunities, but I can’t thank you guys enough for how you’ve treated me over the years,” Foster said, according to the Roanoke Times. “You guys have always been fair and I respect that, too, as I know you guys have a tough job to do. You guys have been very kind to me. I know there’s times you could’ve probably ripped my (butt) — excuse my language — but no, I mean that whole-heartedly. I appreciate how kind and fair you’ve been to me and I mean that, and I just want to thank you guys.”
As past USBWA president David Teel of the (Newport News) Daily Press said: “We should be thanking him for accessibility and candor.”
Some listening and reading that is worth your time …
First, former Michigan SID Bruce Madej joined Nick Baumgardner and Brendan Quinn last month on their Wolverines-based podcast, The Beat. It is a long listen, but it is definitely a great one, as the trio talks for more than 90 minutes about all the good that each side does for the other, along with a handful of memorable football and basketball stories from Madej’s heyday. I feel like I learned more about the mission of the business from listening to Madej speak at length than I do from most on-site experiences today.
Secondly, pick up a copy of FWAA board member Malcolm Moran’s book “History of The Bowls: Celebrating The Good of The Game,” produced by the Football Bowl Association. From the words to the images to the replica tickets of memorable games that are inserted in the pages, this is a fun trip down memory lane.
Last, but not least: Please, give us feedback. Communication is the currency that we run on. We are particularly interested in hearing about any unsafe parking conditions after games, especially for night contests.
As always, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Safe travels to all this bowl season. Look forward to seeing everyone on the road.