President’s column: A few things before passing the torch

Mark Anderson (left) sits on the dais at the National Football Foundation Dinner on Dec. 6 in New York. FWAA member Ed Grom of the American Sports Network is seated beside Mark. (Photo Courtesy of the NFF)

Mark Anderson (left) sits on the dais at the National Football Foundation Dinner on Dec. 6 in New York. FWAA member Ed Grom of the American Sports Network is seated beside Mark. (Photo Courtesy of the NFF)

Can’t believe my term as FWAA President is about to end, but I knew it was over when I lost Pennsylvania.

So, I promise a smooth transition to David Jones, who covers Penn State for the Harrisburg Patriot-News and will become the 2017 FWAA President on Jan. 9 in Tampa, Fla.

If I have one piece of advice to pass along to David, it’s to try to change the seating arrangement for the National Football Foundation Dinner in New York. I was in camera view the entire night, which sounds good, but believe me, it’s the worst thing because you’re aware that people are watching. All night. And it didn’t help that my bowtie was a little askew. Not that anyone noticed, except the UNLV football SID, who posted a photo on Facebook.

But that was a fabulous trip and an honor to be there, representing the FWAA in a room full of dignitaries that included two-time Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin, who sat just across the aisle from me.

It also was a thrill to present the Bronko Nagurski Trophy the previous night in Charlotte, N.C., to Alabama’s Jonathan Allen. He was truly touched to receive the award, and I enjoyed spending time with those who were honored. I even told Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers that the Wolverines stopped Ohio State on fourth down in overtime. He didn’t argue, of course.

So now it’s time to look ahead, and there are some key events in Tampa before I hand the reins to David.

We will present the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award to Colorado’s Mike MacIntyre, who did a phenomenal job in turning around a program that had nearly reached bottom. He has some experience in that regard, winning 10 games one season at San Jose State, which is even tougher than winning in Boulder.

Then, at our FWAA Awards Breakfast the morning of the national championship game between Alabama and Clemson, we will honor the late Steve Ellis, the former Florida State beat writer for the Tallahassee Democrat, by permanently attaching his name to the FWAA Beat Writer of the Year Award.

I worked with Steve in Tallahassee, where I saw his great work ethic firsthand. It is most fitting the first presentation in Steve’s name is taking place in Florida and Steve’s alma mater, Clemson, is in the title game. Steve’s widow, Karen, will drive down from Tallahassee to present the award to Jason Kersey for his work covering Oklahoma for The Oklahoman during the 2015 season.

So I wish David Jones all the best as he takes over, though I wish I had asked for that recount in Pennsylvania.

Media schedule for the National Championship

(All times listed ET)

Friday, January 6

FWAA Past President’s Dinner — Tampa Club, 6:30 p.m. presented by the National Football Foundation (invitation only)

Saturday, January 7

Team A Media Day — Amalie Arena, 9 a.m.

Team B Media Day — Amalie Arena, 10:30 a.m.

*Higher ranked winner of the Playoff Semifinals will appear first

Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Reception — Jackson’s Waterfront Room, 5:30 p.m. presented by the Allstate Sugar Bowl

Sunday, January 8

Head Coaches News Conference — Tampa Convention Center, 9 a.m.

FWAA Board Meeting — Tampa Marriott Waterside, 3rd Floor, Meeting Room 11, 4 p.m.

Media Party — Amalie Arena, 7 p.m.

Monday, January 9

FWAA Awards Breakfast — Tampa Marriott Waterside (Champions Sports Bar), 9 a.m. presented by ESPN

College Football Playoff National Championship — Raymond James Stadium, 8 p.m.

Tuesday, January 10

Champions News Conference — Tampa Convention Center, 10 a.m.

Host Committee News Conference — Tampa Convention Center, 11 a.m.

Colorado’s MacIntyre named FWAA/Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year

eddie-all-stateDALLAS — Colorado’s Mike MacIntyre, whose Buffaloes claimed the Pac-12 South Division title and completed one of the best turnarounds in college football this season, has been named the 60th annual FWAA/Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year.

Presented for a third straight year by the Allstate Sugar Bowl, the FWAA/Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award honors the top coach in the FBS as selected by the membership of the 76-year-old writers’ organization.

“I’m honored and privileged to be the recipient of the Eddie Robinson Award,” MacIntyre said. “It is a testament to our players and coaches for all their hard work and dedication. Eddie Robinson was a trailblazer in our industry and was a man that was really respected throughout the college coaching world and is still highly regarded to this day.”

The FWAA/Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award will be highlighted during a reception beginning at 5:30 p.m. ET on Jan. 7, 2017, in Tampa in conjunction with the College Football Playoff National Championship. MacIntyre will accept the Eddie Robinson bust at Jackson’s Waterfront Room, near the championship game media hotel. MacIntyre is the second Colorado coach to win the award after Bill McCartney in 1989.

Colorado Coach Mike MacIntyre

Colorado Coach Mike MacIntyre

MacIntrye, 51, fashioned an FBS-best six-game turnaround (tied with Central Florida) after a 4-9 record in 2015. The Buffaloes (10-3) did it behind a stellar defense that has allowed just 20.2 points per game. Colorado, which was picked to finish last in its division before the season, will make its first bowl appearance since 2007 in the Valero Alamo Bowl vs. Oklahoma State on Dec. 29 in San Antonio. MacIntyre is just the second Pac-12 coach to win the award since 1997. Oregon’s Chip Kelly earned the honor in the 2010 season.

“The Sugar Bowl Committee is pleased to recognize Coach MacIntyre for the outstanding job he did with Colorado this year,” said Chuck Lapeyre, President of the Allstate Sugar Bowl. “After leading the Buffaloes to their first divisional championship since 2005 and their first 10-win season since 2001, there is little question he is very deserving of this honor. All of us here look forward to joining the Football Writers in honoring Coach MacIntyre next month in Tampa.”

“Congrats to Coach Mike MacIntyre and the Colorado University Buffaloes football program on his winning the ‘Eddie’ this year,” said Eddie Robinson III. “Coach MacIntyre represents all that this award stands for.”

“Simply put, Coach MacIntyre is one of the best stories in college football,” said 2016 FWAA President Mark Anderson of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “Enough can’t be said about taking a moribund program and turning it into a big winner. Colorado had patience to let him do the job. CU’s 2016 season bore the fruits of strong rebuilding job in Boulder.”

Previously, MacIntyre, now in his fourth season with the Buffaloes, was head coach at San Jose State, where he turned around that program before heading to Colorado. The son of former Vanderbilt head coach, the late George MacIntyre, Mike MacIntyre has a coaching resume dotted with several assistant coaching stops, including the Dallas Cowboys and New York Jets in the NFL.

“I had the opportunity to get to know Eddie Robinson through my dad when he was the head coach at Grambling,” MacIntyre said. “He was really just a distinguished man that I enjoyed being around. He had unbelievable teams and a lot of great players and invested in a lot of young men’s lives. Again, thank you to the Football Writers Association of America and the Allstate Sugar Bowl for selecting the University of Colorado and me being able to accept this honor on behalf of our team, our coaches and our fans.”

The entire FWAA membership had the opportunity to vote on the Coach of the Year Award, which was narrowed to five finalists earlier this month. The other finalists were Western Michigan’s P.J. Fleck, Penn State’s James Franklin, Washington’s Chris Petersen and Alabama’s Nick Saban.

The FWAA has honored a major-college coach with its Coach of the Year Award since 1957 when Ohio State’s Woody Hayes won the inaugural honor. Robinson, a coaching legend at Grambling State University, has been the FWAA’s coaching namesake since 1997.

Robinson, who passed away on April 3, 2007 won 70.7 percent of his games during his illustrious career. Robinson’s teams won or tied for 17 Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) championships after joining the league in 1959. His Tigers claimed nine Black College Football Championships during his career spent all at the same school.

Robinson, who was named by the FWAA in 1966 as “The Coach Who Made the Biggest Contribution to College Football in the Past 25 Years,” took his show often on the road to places such as the Louisiana Superdome, the Cotton Bowl, the Astrodome, Tiger Stadium and Yankee Stadium. And with his star-studded array of players, Robinson helped integrate professional football.

In 1949, Grambling standout Tank Younger was the first player from a Historically Black College to sign with an NFL Team (Los Angeles Rams). By 1963, Buck Buchanan became the first player from a Historically Black College to be selected first overall in the professional draft (American Football League by the Kansas City Chiefs). Over the years, Robinson produced a Who’s Who of professional football players, with more than 200 of his former players dotting professional rosters.

In 1975, with one of his greatest teams quarterbacked by eventual All-Pro Doug Williams, Robinson’s Grambling team and Alcorn State became the first college teams to play a game in the Louisiana Superdome. The next season, Robinson’s Tigers, along with Morgan State, became the first American college football teams to play in Japan.

A member of the College Football Hall of Fame, Robinson has the keys to cities all over the planet, has been awarded in every form and fashion and has honorary degrees from many schools. His bust is one of two coaching awards that are displayed in the National Football Foundation College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta.

The Eddie Robinson Museum is open in his honor in Grambling, Louisiana where numerous memorabilia reside, including another bust of the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award.

The Allstate Sugar Bowl has established itself as one of the premier college football bowl games, having hosted 27 national champions, 88 Hall of Fame players, 47 Hall of Fame coaches and 17 Heisman Trophy winners in its 82-year history. The 83rd Allstate Sugar Bowl Football Classic, featuring teams from the Big 12 and the SEC, will be played on January 2, 2017. In addition to football, the Sugar Bowl Committee annually invests over $1.3 million into the community through the hosting and sponsorship of sporting events, awards and clinics. Through these efforts, the organization supports and honors over 25,000 student-athletes each year, while injecting over $2.5 billion into the local economy in the last decade. For more information, visit www.AllstateSugarBowl.org.

The Football Writers Association of America, founded in 1941, consists of 1,400 men and women who cover college football. The membership includes journalists, broadcasters and publicists, as well as key executives in all the areas that involve the game. The FWAA works to govern areas that include game-day operations, major awards and its annual All-America team. For more information about the FWAA and its award programs, contact Steve Richardson at tiger@fwaa.com.

The Eddie Robinson Award is a member of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA) which encompasses the most prestigious awards in college football. The 22 awards boast more than 700 years of tradition-selection excellence. Visit ncfaa.org to learn more about our story.

Eddie Robinson Award

All-time winners

Photo gallery: Outland Trophy award on the College Football Awards Show on ESPN

Alabama offensive tackle Cam Robinson claimed the 71st Outland Trophy on Dec. 8 The Home Depot College Football Awards on ESPN from the College Football Hall of Fame.

Photo gallery: 2016 Bronko Nagurski Trophy presentation banquet

The 2016 Bronko Nagurski Trophy was awarded to Alabama defensive end Jonathan Allen on Dec. 5 at a banquet organized by the Charlotte Touchdown Club in Charlotte, N.C.

2016 FWAA All-America Team announced

DALLAS — The 2016 FWAA All-America Team was announced on Monday by the Football Writers Association of America. The 26-man first team is led by the Southeastern Conference with eight selections. Top-ranked Alabama of the SEC led all schools with four players on the team, including Outland Trophy winner (best interior lineman) Cam Robinson and Nagurski Trophy winner Jonathan Allen (best defensive player).

For the fifth straight season, the announcement of the team, the second-longest continuously published team in major college football, will be featured on SiriusXM Radio’s “College Football Nation.” A two-hour special hosted by Mark Packer and Matt Leinart airs today at 5 p.m. ET.

Also representing the 2016 FWAA All-America Team from Alabama, which is in the College Football Playoff semifinal against Washington at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, is linebacker Reuben Foster and defensive back Marlon Humphrey. The SEC’s other All-America players came from Auburn, LSU, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt.

There are two repeat first-team selections from the 2015 FWAA team: Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett and Florida State running back Dalvin Cook. Three other teams — PlayStation Fiesta Bowl-bound Ohio State, Florida State and Texas — each had two players on the first team.

The Mid-American Conference, a Group of Five league, produced two first-team FWAA All-Americans, including Western Michigan wide receiver Corey Davis, who will lead the Broncos against Wisconsin in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl on Jan. 2.

There were eight seniors, 10 juniors and eight sophomores selected to the first team. The conference breakdown for those players is as follows: SEC (8), ACC (5) Pac-12 (5), Big Ten (3) Big 12 (3), and Mid-American (2).

The FWAA’s All-America Committee selected this 73nd annual team based on nominations from the entire membership. This is just the fourth season in the modern era (post-1950) that the FWAA has named a second team.

For the second straight year, Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield was named the quarterback of the second team. Michigan defensive back Jourdan Lewis also made the second team a second straight year. Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey, a first-team kick returner in 2015, is a second-team running back in 2016. And Iowa’s Desmond King, a first-team defensive back in 2015, is on the second team as a kick returner in 2016.

LSU, Oklahoma, Stanford, Washington and West Virginia each had two second-team selections. LSU, Oklahoma, Texas and Washington each had three players on the first and second teams combined.

Since 1945, the FWAA All-America Team has been among the five teams used to formulate the NCAA’s annual consensus AllAmerica team, which will be announced later this week. Since the 2002 season, the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA), The Associated Press, The Sporting News and the Walter Camp Football Foundation have joined the FWAA as the five designated selectors by the NCAA.

The FWAA All-America Team was first selected in 1944, three years after the organization was formed. The FWAA’s inaugural team included Army’s Heisman Trophy tandem of Doc Blanchard and Glenn Davis and Georgia Tech’s Frank Broyles, who later became Arkansas’ head football coach and athletic director.

2016 FWAA ALL-AMERICA FIRST TEAM

OFFENSE

QB Lamar Jackson Louisville 6-3 205 So. Pompano Beach, Fla.
RB Dalvin Cook Florida State 5-11 213 Jr. Miami, Fla.
RB D’Onta Foreman Texas 6-1 249 Jr. Texas City, Texas
WR Corey Davis Western Michigan 6-3 213 Sr. Wheaton, Ill.
WR Dede Westbrook Oklahoma 6-0 176 Sr. Cameron, Texas
TE Michael Roberts Toledo 6-5 270 Sr. Cleveland, Ohio
OL Pat Elflein Ohio State 6-3 300 Sr. Pickerington, Ohio
OL Cody O’Connell Washington State 6-8 354 Jr. Wenatchee, Wash.
OL Ethan Pocic LSU 6-7 302 Sr Lemont, Ill.
OL Cam Robinson Alabama 6-6 310 Jr. Monroe, La.
OL Connor Williams Texas 6-6 288 So Coppell, Texas

DEFENSE

DL Jonathan Allen Alabama 6-3 291 Sr Leesburg, Va.
DL Myles Garrett Texas A&M 6-5 270 Jr Arlington, Texas
DL Carl Lawson Auburn 6-2 253 Jr Alpharetta, Ga
DL Christian Wilkins Clemson 6-4 310 So Springfield, Mass.
LB Zach Cunningham Vanderbilt 6-4 230 Jr. Pinson, Ala.
LB Reuben Foster Alabama 6-1 228 Sr Auburn, Ala.
LB Jabrill Peppers Michigan 6-1 205 Jr East Orange, N.J.
DB Budda Baker Washington 5-10 192 Jr Bellevue, Wash.
DB Malik Hooker Ohio State 6-2 205 Jr New Castle, Pa.
DB Marlon Humphrey Alabama 6-1 196 So. Hoover, Ala.
DB Tarvarus McFadden Florida State 6-2 198 So Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

SPECIALISTS

K Zane Gonzalez Arizona State 6-1 195 Sr. Deer Park, Texas
P Mitch Wishnowsky Utah 6-2 220 So Gosnells, Australia
KR Quadree Henderson Pittsburgh 5-8 190 So Wilmington, Del.
PR Adoreé Jackson USC 5-11 185 Jr Belleville, Ill.

 

2016 FWAA ALL-AMERICA SECOND TEAM

OFFENSE

QB Baker Mayfield Oklahoma
RB Christian McCaffrey, Stanford
RB Donnel Pumphrey San Diego State
WR Zay Jones East Carolina
WR John Ross Washington
HB Curtis Samuel Ohio State
OL Trey Adams Washington
OL Orlando Brown Oklahoma
OL Taylor Moton Western Michigan
OL Tyler Orlosky West Virginia
OL Ryan Ramczyk Wisconsin

DEFENSE

DL Derek Barnett Tennessee
DL Hunter Dimick Utah
DL Ed Oliver Houston
DL Solomon Thomas Stanford
LB Kendell Beckwith LSU
LB Ben Boulware Clemson
LB Micah Kiser Virginia
DB Rasul Douglas West Virginia
DB Jourdan Lewis Michigan
DB Jalen “Teez” Tabor Florida
DB Tre’Davious White LSU.

SPECIALISTS

K Daniel Carlson Auburn
P Michael Dickson Texas
KR Desmond King Iowa
PR Christian Kirk Texas A&M.

Over the years, the FWAA team has highlighted all the game’s great players in several media forums. From 1946-70, LOOK magazine published the FWAA team and brought players and selected writers to New York City for a celebration. During that 25-year period, the FWAA team was introduced on national television shows by such noted hosts as Bob Hope, Steve Allen and Perry Como.

After LOOK folded, the FWAA started a long association with NCAA Films (later known as NCAA Productions), which produced a 30-minute television program. The team was part of ABC-TV’s 1981 College Football Series. From 1983-90, the team was introduced on either ABC or ESPN. In 2002 and ‘03, the All-America team was honored with a banquet at the Citrus Bowl.

The same bowl, now the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl, also was a sponsor when the team was featured on ABC and ESPN from different locations on Disney properties from 2004-07. From 2008-10, the team had been the subject of a one-hour ESPN special.

For seven decades the FWAA has selected an All-America team with the help of its members and an All-America Committee, which represents all the regions in the country. From that All-America team, the FWAA also selects the Outland Trophy winner (best interior lineman) and the Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner (best defensive player).

Some of the true greats of the writing profession have helped to select this team over the years: Grantland Rice, Bert McGrane, Blackie Sherrod, Furman Bisher, Pat Harmon, Fred Russell, Edwin Pope, Murray Olderman, Paul Zimmerman — and the list goes on and on. The FWAA All-America team is steeped in tradition and history and is selected by a writers’ group with those same attributes.

Founded in 1941, the Football Writers Association of America consists of 1,400 men and women who cover college football. The membership includes journalists, broadcasters and publicists, as well as key executives in all the areas that involve the game. The FWAA works to govern areas that include game-day operations, major awards and its annual All-America team. For more information about the FWAA and its award programs, contact Steve Richardson at tiger@fwaa.com.

2016 FWAA ALL-AMERICA COMMITTEE

Nick Baumgardner, MLive.com (Big Ten)

Kirk Bohls, Austin American-Statesman (Chairman)

Tim Griffin, San Antonio Express-News (C-USA)

Clay Henry, Hawgs Illustrated (SEC)

Joey Johnston, TodaysU.com (American Athletic)

Steve Jones, Louisville Courier-Journal (ACC)

Matt Roberson, Jonesboro Sun (Sun Belt)

John Shinn, Norman Transcript (Big 12)

Dave Southorn, Idaho Statesman (Mountain West)

Phil Steele, Phil Steele Publications (Independents/National)

Ryan Thorburn, Eugene Register-Guard (Pac-12)

John Wagner, Toledo Blade (Mid-American)

 

 

 

 

 

Alabama’s Robinson wins 2016 Outland Trophy

outland trophy bwATLANTA — Alabama offensive tackle Cam Robinson claimed the 71st Outland Trophy on Thursday night during The Home Depot College Football Awards on ESPN from the College Football Hall of Fame.

It is the fifth time one school has swept the FWAA’s two major position awards in the same season: the Outland Trophy (best interior lineman in college football on offense or defense) and the Bronko Nagurski Trophy (best defensive player). But it is the first time two different players from the same school have won the awards in the same year.

In the four other sweeps, it was the same player. Alabama defensive end Jonathan Allen claimed the FWAA’s Bronko Nagurski Trophy on Monday night in Charlotte.

Ohio State senior center Pat Elflein and Washington State junior offensive guard Cody O’Connell were the other two finalists for the 2016 Outland Trophy.

robinson_cam-crop

Alabama offensive tackle Cam Robinson, winner of the 2016 Outland Trophy.

Robinson, a 6-6, 310-pound junior from Monroe, La., is the top offensive tackle on the No. 1-ranked team in college football. He has started every game at left tackle since he has been on campus (42 straight games). He had 28 knockdown blocks in the regular season. He has been selected a six-time offensive player of the week by the Alabama coaching staff. He played a great game in the 10-0 victory at LSU, with no sacks allowed and no penalties. He has blocked for 10 100-yard rushers this season. In the 30-12 victory over Auburn in the Iron Bowl, Robinson graded out at 89 percent and did not allow a quarterback hurry or sack. He cleared a path for 203 rushing yards in that game.

“He certainly is a dominant offensive lineman on the college scene and should have a great future in the NFL,” said Steve Richardson, FWAA Executive Director. “He follows in a long line of outstanding linemen for the Tide. He is the third under Nick Saban since (2008) to win the Ourland Trophy. Alabama runs the ball with authority against just about everybody, and Robinson is a big reason why.”

Alabama ties Ohio State and Iowa with Outland winners at four – the third highest total by one school. Alabama didn’t have a winner until 1999, but now has Robinson, Chris Samuels (1999), Andre Smith (2008) and Barrett Jones (2011). Nebraska leads all schools with eight different Outland Trophy winners (nine total), followed by Oklahoma with five then Alabama, Ohio State and Iowa with four each.

The Outland Trophy, which is named after the late John Outland, an All-America lineman at the University of Pennsylvania in the late 1800s, is the third oldest player award in major college football behind the Heisman Trophy and Maxwell Award. It has been awarded to the best interior lineman in college football on offense or defense since 1946 when Notre Dame’s George Connor was named the recipient.

For the 20th consecutive year, the presentation of the Outland Trophy will occur in Omaha, on Jan. 11, 2017, at a banquet sponsored by the Greater Omaha Sports Committee. At the same banquet, Oklahoma offensive lineman Greg Roberts, will receive an Outland Trophy. Roberts was the 1978 winner of the award before trophies were handed out by the FWAA. His Oklahoma coach, the legendary Barry Switzer, will receive the third annual Tom Osborne Legacy Award during the evening.

The Outland Trophy is a member of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA). The NCFAA encompasses the most prestigious awards in college football. The 22 awards boast more 700 years of tradition-selection excellence. Visit ncfaa.org to learn more about our story.

The Football Writers Association of America, a non-profit organization founded in 1941, consists of more than 1,300 men and women who cover college football. The membership includes journalists, broadcasters and publicists, as well as key executives in all the areas that involve the game. The FWAA works to govern areas that include game-day operations, major awards and its annual All-America team. For more information about the FWAA and its award programs, contact Steve Richardson at tiger@fwaa.com or call 214-870-6516.

The Greater Omaha Sports Committee, founded in 1977, is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, consisting of more than 900 men and women from the City of Omaha, the State of Nebraska and others. The membership serves to communicate, develop, initiate and promote sports activities in the Greater Omaha sports area. In addition to the Outland Trophy Award Dinner, the Greater Omaha Sports Committee promotes high school, college, and professional sports in the Greater Omaha area and the Midwest.

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O.K. “Buddy” Davis honored with FWAA Lifetime Achievement Award

Editor’s Note: Buddy already has his football, but he will be honored long-distance during the FWAA’s Annual Awards Breakfast om Jan. 9 in Tampa.

By Teddy Allen

RUSTON, La. — On the fake turf in Louisiana Tech’s otherwise empty Aillet Stadium, his wheelchair toed the goalline on this mid-morning Monday. O.K. “Buddy” Davis,  recipient of the 2016 FWAA Lifetime Achievement Award, was about to illustrate yet again his determination and spirit.

He cocked his head toward a friend and said, “Time me.”

And then he eyed his goal, inhaled, paused, hit the forward button and leaned into it. Forty yards and a cloud of rubber pellets later, he’d clocked an 18.79 — not much slower than he’d have run it before the summer of 2014 and the stroke and the fancy wheelchair.

O.K. "Buddy" Davis received a commemorative football in recognition of the 2016 FWAA Lifetime Achievement Award. (Photo by .onny J Crowe),Copyright:Louisiana Tech University.All Rights Reserved.(dcrowe@latech.edu) 318-257-4854 Buddy Davis,

O.K. “Buddy” Davis received a commemorative football in recognition of the 2016 FWAA Lifetime Achievement Award. (Photo by Donny Crowe, head of photographic services, Louisiana Tech University)

So he’s slowed down. But not much.

The sports editor of the Ruston Daily Leader since pre-Watergate — 50 years and an estimated 43,000 bylines — Buddy has been a one-man show in an athletic community that’s long drawn a spotlight. A quarter of the members of the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame — Buddy was honored with its Distinguished Service Award in Sports Journalism in 2009 — have Lincoln Parish ties.

In 2010, this year’s FWAA honoree was even named Mr. Louisiana Basketball, even though he’s taller than 5-foot-7 only if he stands on his typewriter.

“He plays like he’s 7-3,” said Northwestern State basketball coach Mike McConathy, one of the many All-Americans Buddy has covered in his role as a one-man sports staff, photographer and athletic almanac.

Although there are occasional get-togethers in the house he grew up in and owns, Buddy’s main residence since the stroke is a Ruston assisted living center, Room 58. His friends refer to it as “The Jack Lambert Suite,” a nod to one of the greats on the Pittsburgh teams quarterbacked by Louisiana Tech’s Blond Bomber, Terry Bradshaw.

Although he’s now limited to the use of his right arm and hand, Buddy still cranks out his weekly “O.K.’s Corral” Sunday column and 1,,500-word blog, still tweets and “Facebooks” and goes to as many Tech, Grambling State University, high school games and events as he can.

If anything, the physical setback only has elevated his status as rock star. Before the stroke, the bachelor and hometown lifer had admirers like Fort Knox has gold bars. But now …

“If we could have Buddy daily at the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Museum, he would be our best and most popular interactive exhibit,” said Doug Ireland, chairman of the Hall and its Foundation’s executive director. “Autograph hounds around Ruston would be smart to sit in the hallway outside the Lambert Suite to catch the sports celebs who drop by to visit our hero, because he’s not only a great journalist, he’s an even better human.”

In the months immediately after the stroke, friends took turns going by daily to check his phone and give him his messages. One day, the first three messages were from Bradshaw, Archie Manning and former Grambling All-American/Super Bowl MVP Doug Williams, who sounded like a child explaining why the DVDs he’d promised to deliver hadn’t been dropped off yet. (They were in Buddy’s room the next day.)

“He’s a north Louisiana guy, but he loves all of Louisiana,” Manning said. “He’s a dear friend, such a good man, a sweet man. Louisiana is blessed – we’re all blessed — to have him.”

“In a business full of egos and abrasiveness and cynicism and sarcasm, Buddy fits none of those categories,” said his former Tech colleague and longtime sportswriter and editor Nico Van Thyn. “He’s pretty much the same as he was at Ruston High and Tech in the 1960s — dedicated and hard-working and likeable, almost naïve-like in his approach to life. If he had tough stories to report, he did it, but without making enemies, without tearing down someone or some institution.”

For years, Buddy has kept this note on his bedside table, a reminder of what he felt his daily duty has been: “Positive Uplifting Inspirational Messages.”

“In many ways he represents a throwback to a time when more of us wanted to see the best in others,” said sportscaster Tim Brando, who lives an hour from Ruston in Shreveport and joins Bradshaw, Bert Jones, Kim Mulkey, Willie Roaf, Karl Malone, Willis Reed and dozens of others who’ve visited The Lambert Suite. “Hopefully, we’ll see a rebirth to Buddy’s way of covering the game, not just here but around the country. His approach was to say, ‘It’s OK to love not just the game, but the people who play it, coach it, and pay to see it.’ ”

The late legendary Grambling coach Eddie Robinson was quoted in Sports Illustrated saying Buddy “was like a son to me.” Bert Jones still has the clippings Buddy wrote about the six consecutive no-hitters Bert threw one long-ago summer for the Atlas Construction team in Dixie Baseball, before Buddy had nicknamed him “The Ruston Rifle.”

And when the Smithsonian’s “Hometown Heroes” exhibit was in town this fall, one night was set aside to honor a local athletic legend. But which one? Several attended, including Bert and his father (Cleveland Browns receiver great Dub Jones), former Braves-Mets pitcher George Stone, basketball stars Aaron James and Willis Reed among them. Unsurprisingly, they were there to take part in “The Buddy Davis Story.”

Speaking for the crowd, Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer Leon Barmore told Buddy that night, “We can all learn from you.”

“Buddy has always been known for his humble nature and passion for good journalism,” said Ruston Daily Leader publisher Rick Hohlt. “But more importantly, Buddy has loved the opportunities throughout his 52 years at the Ruston Daily Leader to help athletes succeed and thrive in their careers. His work ethic and love of the game is beyond reproach.”

”As long as I can remember, back during my days as a young sports scribe coming out of Tech’s journalism department, I’ve been sending in my FWAA dues, reading the Fifth Down, voting on All-American teams, looking forward to receiving my directory and keeping up with my fellow members,” Buddy said. ”Hard to believe that the years since I mailed in my first membership dues have sprinted by faster than Lamar Jackson making it to the end zone again.

”But may I extend a heartfelt thanks and appreciation to the FWAA and all who were responsible for making this honor possible.”

Buddy is the one who made it most possible. He has been the perfect person in the perfect place at the perfect time.

“Buddy has the ability to deal with both the biggest stars in the game and junior varsity with equal enthusiasm,” said fellow Louisiana Distinguished Service in Sports Journalism honoree Ted Lewis. “That is why he has the most appropriate name in the world – Buddy.”

Five finalists named for FWAA Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award

eddie-all-state

NEW YORK — The Football Writers Association of America, in conjunction with the Allstate Sugar Bowl, has announced five finalists for the 2016 Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award. The winner of the award will be revealed on Dec. 15.

In alphabetical order, the finalists are: Western Michigan’s P.J. Fleck, Penn State’s James Franklin, Colorado’s Mike MacIntyre, Washington’s Chris Petersen and Alabama’s Nick Saban.

“This is an especially strong field of candidates,” said FWAA President Mark Anderson of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “Each one of these coaches could win the award and probably would in most other seasons. They all set the bar extraordinarily high, and whoever does win Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year will further honor the great man for whom we present this award.”

The only previous winner in the group is Saban, who has his team poised for a fifth national title in eight years. He claimed the FWAA Coach of the Year Award previously in 2008 (at Alabama) and in 2003 (at LSU), when the Tigers claimed a piece of the national title. Petersen has been a four-time finalist while at Boise State in 2006 and ‘08, ‘09 and ‘10.

The finalists have been placed on a ballot, which has been sent to the entire FWAA membership. Ballots will be accepted through Friday at 5 p.m. ET.

The official presentation reception will be on Jan. 7, 2017, in Tampa, where the winning coach will be handed the FWAA/Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year bust during a reception in conjunction with the College Football Playoff National Championship.

Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award

Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award

The FWAA has presented a coaching award since the 1957 season when Ohio State’s Woody Hayes was named the first recipient. The award is named for the late Robinson, a coaching legend at Grambling State University for 55 seasons.

Robinson, who passed away on April 3, 2007, won 70.7 percent of his games during his illustrious career. Robinson’s teams won or tied for 17 Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) championships after joining the league in 1959. His Tigers won nine Black College Football Championships during his career spent all at the same school.

The 2016 Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year finalists:

P.J. Fleck, Western Michigan: The former NFL player and assistant coach has taken the Broncos (13-0) to their first unbeaten regular season in school history and back-to-back-to-back bowl appearances for the first time. The Broncos have scored a school record number of points (566) this season and were the last team in the country to commit a turnover. The Mid-American Conference champions are headed to the Goodyear Cotton Bowl to face Wisconsin.

James Franklin, Penn State: After a 2-2 start, the Nittany Lions won nine straight games to win the Big Ten Conference in Franklin’s third season in Happy Valley. The Nittany Lions rallied from a 21-point deficit to beat Wisconsin, 38-31, in the Big Ten title game. During the nine-game winning streak, Penn State was the only team to beat College Football Playoff-bound Ohio State. Franklin will take Penn State to the Rose Bowl Game to play USC.

Mike MacIntyre, Colorado: The Buffaloes had won only two of their previous 27 Pac-12 Conference games prior to this season, when they won eight league games to claim the South Division title. The Buffaloes were picked to finish last in the South, but won ten games for the first time since 2001. The son of former college head coach George MacIntyre has authored perhaps the best turnaround story in college football this season.

Chris Petersen, Washington: After 8-6 and 7-6 seasons which produced minor bowl trips for the Huskies, Petersen’s team has made a breakthrough nationally, earning a spot in the College Football Playoff with a 12-1 record. Still one of the younger teams in the Pac-12, the Huskies defeated Colorado, 41-10, in the Pac-12 title game to win their first league title since 2000. The Huskies, whose lone loss was to Rose Bowl-bound USC, face Alabama in a College Football Playoff semifinal.

Nick Saban, Alabama: He has put together a continuing dynasty in Tuscaloosa, Ala., where the Crimson Tide is vying for its fifth national title in eight years. Alabama is currently riding a 25-game winning streak, the longest in the FBS. The nation’s top-ranked team team dominated the SEC with an unbeaten record (13-0) led by one of the nation’s best defenses. Alabama begins its quest to repeat as national champions in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl vs. Washington.

The Allstate Sugar Bowl has established itself as one of the premier college football bowl games, having hosted 27 national champions, 88 Hall of Fame players, 47 Hall of Fame coaches and 17 Heisman Trophy winners in its 82-year history. The 83rd Allstate Sugar Bowl Football Classic, featuring teams from the Big 12 and the SEC, will be played on January 2, 2017. In addition to football, the Sugar Bowl Committee annually invests over $1.3 million into the community through the hosting and sponsorship of sporting events, awards and clinics. Through these efforts, the organization supports and honors over 25,000 student-athletes each year, while injecting over $2.5 billion into the local economy in the last decade. For more information, visit www.AllstateSugarBowl.org.

The Football Writers Association of America, founded in 1941, consists of 1,400 men and women who cover college football. The membership includes journalists, broadcasters and publicists, as well as key executives in all the areas that involve the game. The FWAA works to govern areas that include game-day operations, major awards and its annual All-America team. For more information about the FWAA and its award programs, contact Steve Richardson at tiger@fwaa.com.

The Eddie Robinson Award is a member of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA) which encompasses the most prestigious awards in college football. The 22 awards boast more than 700 years of tradition-selection excellence. Visit ncfaa.org to learn more about our story.