President’s column: Introducing the FWAA-NFF Grantland Rice Super 16 Poll

2014 FWAA President Kirk Bohls

2014 FWAA President Kirk Bohls

Hope you didn’t miss it with all the hubbub over Bob Costas’s eye infection at the Winter Olympics and Johnny Manziel’s 40 time at the NFL Combine, but our Football Writers Association of America recently announced – a little drum roll, please – a new college football poll.

I’m sure all of you have been scratching your heads wondering why there hasn’t been another football poll lately. As for enduring questions of our time, it’s right up there with the whereabouts of Sasquatch and Lane Kiffin’s memoirs.

Well, wonder no more. This is big news, folks.

We do have our reasons why our 1,350 member-strong FWAA has collaborated with the prestigious National Football Foundation, our long-time partner since the 1940s, to launch the first “FWAA-NFF Grantland Rice Super 16” poll this coming fall.

Why not? That could be one simple reason, but we had far better rationale behind our plan.

I think we would all agree this is a momentous time in the history of college football as the very first playoff for the major division will be ushered in with a four-team tournament culminating with the championship game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, next Jan. 12.

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New president Kirk Bohl’s column

2014 FWAA President Kirk Bohls

2014 FWAA President Kirk Bohls

INDIANAPOLIS — It’s the dawning of a new day for college football. I hope I don’t oversleep.

I wouldn’t want to miss it. By this time next year when we’ve celebrated our first champion from a real, live playoff culminating in Arlington, Texas, we might not even recognize the game. Change is coming, and, yes, it will be dramatic.

We enter 2014 with an appreciation for the rich past of this wonderful game we follow and an eye toward a future filled with equal parts anticipation of a historic season with the first College Football Playoff after the 2014 regular season. We also have a healthy concern for the direction of the sport. After all, the game is in a state of flux. Who knows when the Southeastern Conference will end its long drought and ever win another championship?

First, it’s a privilege to be your 2014 FWAA President. And I’d like to especially salute our 2013 President, Chris Dufresne, for his terrific service. I’d like to thank him for the great California weather for the final BCS game and the fact the game did not go into overtime

These are tumultuous times as college football wrestles with overwhelming issues: potential federation within the NCAA that could lead to a separate division and more distance between the haves and have-somes; Football Bowl Subdivision anxiety over uneven enforcement of penalties; players’ long-term health and safety; subsidies for players for the full cost of a scholarship; a tangled, complicated rulebook; and the controversial Ed O’Bannon lawsuit over payment for use of players’ likenesses for video games. And that doesn’t even count Lane Kiffin’s fascinating future, especially the week of the Alabama-Tennessee game.

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President’s column, by Chris Dufresne

Like a Capistrano swallow, Art Spander always finds his way to the Rose Bowl

FWAA President Chris Dufresne

FWAA President Chris Dufresne

Art Spander failed to attend the first Rose Bowl in 1902 only because, as the story goes, he hit the snooze alarm (a rooster) and missed the 7 a.m. stagecoach to Pasadena.

Or maybe that story is apocryphal.

This one is not: Spander will ring in 2014 by attending his 61st straight Rose Bowl…out of a 100.

Consider that, astonishingly, for a second.

People make a big deal about Joe DiMaggio’s hitting streak of 56-straight games. Shoot, that streak only spanned ONE season.

 Spander has attended 60% of all Rose Bowl games played. His career attendance percentage is higher than Shaquille O’Neal’s career free-throw percentage (52.7%).

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President’s Column, by Chris Dufresne

FWAA’s Wieberg joins very elite committee

FWAA President Chris Dufresne

FWAA President Chris Dufresne

We take care of our own.

One of my primary goals as FWAA President this year was to help facilitate the placement of a member on the new College Football Playoff Selection Committee.

I learned this was my goal when former FWAA President Mark Blaudschun pulled me aside last January in Florida and, with the lullaby gentleness of a New Jersey longshoreman, said  “Your job is to get member on the playoff selection committee. … Don’t screw it up.”

Mission accomplished.

The FWAA was thrilled in mid October when it was announced the new 13-member panel for the College Football Playoff would include former USA Today college writer Steve Wieberg.

Steve Wieberg

Steve Wieberg

Wieberg joins a prestigious group that includes the likes of former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, College Football Hall of Fame coach Tom Osborne and former Ole Miss quarterback Archie Manning, now chairman of the National Football Foundation.

It was almost surreal to hear Wieberg on the same conference call hook-up with Rice.

“To be a part of it is beyond humbling to me,” Wieberg said. “I feel a little bit like Ringo, and there are four Johns, four Pauls and four Georges in the band. But Ringo was a contributor, and I plan to be a contributor.”

Wieberg, who was co-winner of the FWAA’s Beat Writer of the Year Award in 2012, knows he will get a little bit a help from his friends.

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