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.

More…

A fireside chat with your 2014 president, Kirk Bohls

2014 FWAA President Kirk Bohls

2014 FWAA President Kirk Bohls

(Ed. Note:  Executive Director Steve Richardson recently asked Kirk Bohls several questions about his life and a couple of topics so we could get to know him better.)

ATHLETIC BACKGROUND:  “I am a Taylor Duck (High School is 29 miles northeast of Austin) once and forever. I played every sport they had at Taylor, including football where I played Monster Man (strong safety) and was a 150-pound terror — at least in my mind. I also broke my neck in the first half of our homecoming game against Rockdale (we won) and played the entire second half. You can’t get much more stupid than that.”

WORK HISTORY:  “It can be summed up pretty simply. I graduated from the University of Texas in May 1973, went to work for the Austin American-Statesman that same month after coming within an hour of taking a job in Lubbock at the Avalanche Journal. I have been there ever since. My first year on the Texas beat was Darrell Royal’s last year. We broke the OU spying story the week of the 1976 OU game, and that’s still the most memorable Texas-OU game ever. My first year on the Texas baseball beat was 1977. Texas won the national championship. I’m thinking these beats are kind of cool. I think I’ll stick around. Some 40 years later…”

More…

AFCA convention offers alternative view on concussions

Dennis Dodd

Dennis Dodd

By Dennis Dodd/CBSSports.com

INDIANAPOLIS — College football coaches’ answer to the concussion crisis is a former University of Texas cheerleader who believes brains can heal themselves.

Hey, why not? Not much else has seemed to soothe the nation’s fears. The concussion crisis has resulted in a public relations crisis. The numbers of those playing youth football are dwindling. Lawsuits are hitting the NCAA, NFL — even the national high school association — from all sides.

The American Football Coaches Association on Monday morning presented Dr. Sandra Chapman as a rebuttal in an ongoing debate that continues to erode the profession’s credibility.

“If you haven’t sensed it,” AFCA executive director Grant Teaff told an audience of about 500 coaches, “our game’s under attack.”

Chapman, then, was part of the counterattack. The founder and chief director of the Center for Brain Health at the University of Texas-Dallas, is a cognitive neuroscientist. Her suggestion to Monday’s group was things aren’t as bad as the national narrative suggests.

“I want to change the conversation that you’re hearing,” she said during a session titled: The Future of Football: A Dose of Reality. “We’re showing a [positive] brain change [after injury], not in months and years but in literally hours.”

More…

Volney Meece Scholarship goes to Oklahoma youth

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. — Sarah Helsley, a senior at Edmond Santa Fe High School in Edmond, Okla., was named as the 17th winner of the Volney Meece Scholarship.

The scholarship is awarded annually by the Football Writers Association of America and named for the late Volney Meece. Meece served 22 years as the FWAA’s executive director and was the organization’s president in 1971. The announcement came at the FWAA’s annual awards breakfast.

The scholarship is a $1,000 annual grant for four years. It is awarded to a deserving son or daughter of an FWAA member.

The 17-year-old Helsley is the daughter of long-time FWAA member John Helsley of The Oklahoman in Oklahoma City.

More…

Congratulations to the ‘Magnificent Seven’ 1

The only seven writers who have covered all 16 BCS championship games.

The only seven writers who have covered all 16 BCS championship games.

Only seven writers — all of them FWAA presidents past or present — have covered all 16 BCS championship games. The group gathered for this photo on the field at the Rose Bowl early Monday evening before the title game between Florida State and Auburn. They are, left to right, Tony Barnhart, Ivan Maisel, current president Chris Dufresne, Dick Weiss, Dennis Dodd, Mark Blaudschun and Blair Kerkhoff.

San Jose State’s Larceval receives FWAA Courage Award

Courage Award 2013

San Jose State’s Anthony Larceval (left), the 2013 winner of the FWAA’s Courage Award, joins 2012 Courage Award winner Daniel Rodriguez of Clemson after the award presentation at the Orange Bowl Coaches Luncheon on Jan. 2 in Miami. Photo by Ken Ruinard of the Anderson (S.C.) Mail Call.

From the San Jose Mercury News

MIAMI — Anthony Larceval is shaking a lot of hands, meeting a lot of people and his whereabouts are being constantly monitored by chauffeurs.

And the now former San Jose State defensive lineman is enjoying all of it.

“It’s been great,’ said Larceval, who on Thursday was formally awarded the Football Writers Association of America Courage Award at a luncheon previewing Friday’s Orange Bowl between Clemson and Ohio State.

“After going through such a tough year — probably the toughest of my young life — it’s been great,” he said. “It’s been awkward to be rewarded and recognized like this for such adversity, but I’ll take it.”

More…

USC’s Tessalone named winner of Bert McGrane Award

USC Sports Information Director Tim Tessalone

USC Sports Information Director Tim Tessalone

USC’s Tim Tessalone is the 41st winner of the Bert McGrane Award, which is annually bestowed on a member of the Football Writers Association of America.

He has served college football for more than three decades as the Trojans’ sports information director, helping writers in their jobs as well as promoting the school’s athletic teams — both in exemplary fashion.

The McGrane Award, symbolic of the association’s Hall of Fame, is presented to an FWAA member who has performed great service to the organization or the writing profession. It is named after McGrane, a Des Moines, Iowa, writer who was the executive secretary of the FWAA from the early 1940s until 1973.

The Bert McGrane Award

The Bert McGrane Award

Tessalone will receive the award during the FWAA’s Annual Awards Breakfast on Jan. 6 at the Newport Beach Marriott Hotel and Spa, the media hotel for the VIZIO BCS National Championship game, played at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.

“I am humbled and honored to receive an award that not only is named after a man who served the FWAA so well, but that has been presented previously to icons who are well above me in stature and ability,” Tessalone said. “It is a privilege to be in their company.  Thank you to the FWAA membership, with particular gratitude to Chris Dufresne (2013 FWAA President) and Mark Blaudschun (1999 FWAA President).

More…

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%).

More…

Dick Weiss reinvents himself after layoff

Dick Weiss

Dick Weiss

Former FWAA President Dick Weiss was interviewing Penn State coach Bill O’Brien last May in New York when he got a call from his office at the New York Daily News, informing him that he was being laid off.

But what seemed at the time to be a devastating end to a distinguished career soon proved instead to be merely a reset.

You’ve heard of survival of the fittest? This is survival of the nicest.

To read the Seth Davis’ entire story for SI.com, click here.