Finalists for Freshman Player of the Year announced

NEW ORLEANS — The Football Writers Association of America is proud to announce the three finalists for the 2019 FWAA Shaun Alexander Freshman Player of the Year Award. This award recognizes the most outstanding freshman player in the FBS ranks. Redshirt freshmen are eligible to receive the award as well.

The 2018 winner, quarterback Trevor Lawrence, set the bar high with his performance at Clemson University. Lawrence completed 65.2% of his passes for 3,280 yards while leading the Tigers to a perfect 15-0 season that culminated with a victory in the College Football Playoff National Championship. His 30 touchdown passes set a new FBS record for passing touchdowns by a true freshman.

The Freshman of the Year, along with the Freshman Breakout Performance and Most Inspirational Freshman will be announced at the annual FWAA Awards breakfast on Monday, Jan. 13 in New Orleans.

The FWAA Freshman All-American Team and Stand Together will also recognize its inaugural Freshman Legend at the awards breakfast.

Here are the 2019 finalists:

Sam Howell, University of North Carolina, Quarterback — Howell finished the 2019 season with 3,641 passing yards, 38 touchdowns, and just 7 interceptions. His 38 passing touchdowns rank fourth in the FBS this season, and he broke the previous single-season record at North Carolina set by Mitchell Trubisky in 2016 (30). He also surpassed Trevor Lawrence’s 30 passing touchdowns from last season, giving him the most passing touchdowns by a true freshman in FBS history. Howell has been named the ACC’s Offensive Rookie and overall Rookie of the Year, as he led the conference in passing yards and touchdowns.

Derek Stingley Jr., Louisiana State University, Defensive Back — Stingley led the SEC and ranks fifth nationally with six interceptions this season, including two against Georgia in the SEC Championship Game. He also led the SEC and ranks second nationally in passes defended with 21. Stingley was named the 2019 SEC Newcomer of the Year by the AP. Born and raised in Baton Rouge, La., Stingley has helped his hometown team to a 14-0 record and a berth in the College Football Playoff National Championship.

Kenneth Gainwell, University of Memphis, Running Back, Redshirt — Gainwell was named the American Athletic Conference’s Rookie of the Year for his performance this season. His 1,459 rushing yards rank second among freshmen and 12th nationally. He has amassed 2,069 yards from scrimmage, which ranks first among freshmen and fourth nationally. Gainwell recorded 200+ yards from scrimmage in three consecutive games against Louisiana-Monroe (251), Temple (204), and Tulane (307). His efforts helped Memphis claim a berth in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic, the first New Year’s Six bowl appearance in school history.

 

Irv Moss, Denver Post sports reporter for 60 years, dies at 85

From The Denver Post

The man many consider to be the encyclopedic authority on Colorado sports, Irv Moss, died Wednesday night at the age of 85. He worked at The Denver Post for 60 years.

Moss died of complications from esophageal cancer, according to his close friend, Gary Sever.

Irv Moss of the Denver Post in 2016, when he received the FWAA’s Lifetime Achievement Award. (Photo by Melissa Macatee)

“The last of a vanishing breed in the newsroom,” said Mike Judson, a copy editor who worked alongside Moss at The Post for more than two decades.

“Irv covered it all and knew it all, from preps to colleges to pros to the Olympics, and he was the ultimate pro as a sports journalist,” Judson said. “He could tell you about University of Denver football, which played its last season in 1960, and knew that the annual CU-DU football game on Thanksgiving once was the biggest sports event in the state.”

Jim Saccomano, who served in the Denver Broncos front office for the better part of 40 years until his retirement in 2013, called Moss “a straight shooter and a man of principle.”

“There’s something to be said for packing your lunchbox and doing your job,” said Saccomano, who first met Moss in 1978 upon joining the Broncos organization. “Irv goes back to a time when the city was a different thing.”

Saccomano said when he arrived at Broncos headquarters Moss was there crunching statistics for the football team while also holding down his job with The Post. But Moss’ involvement in sports reporting in the city predated the Broncos’ arrival in the Mile High City.

“When this city was smaller, once upon a time the biggest events might have been the Denver Bears (minor-league baseball team) and the dog track,” said Saccomano, who often ran into Moss at the venerable but now-closed Pagliacci’s restaurant in Denver. “I think of Irv as the journalistic foundation of this city.”

Moss was born Dec. 14, 1934, in Denver and graduated from West High School 18 years later. He attended Colorado A&M (now Colorado State University) in Fort Collins for a while but left school when his father became ill.

In 1953, Moss debuted at The Post as a copy boy at a time when the paper was headquartered at 15th and California streets. After leaving the paper to do electrician work, he returned on Feb. 8, 1956, for what would be a 60-year run at the newspaper.

Then-Denver Post sports editor Chuck Garrity made Moss part of the paper’s coverage of the greyhound races at Mile High Kennel Club, along with the men’s fast-pitch softball league at City Park.

“It was an interesting time to watch, and in a way, be part of the changing of Denver as a sports city,” Moss told Post sports reporter Terry Frei in 2016 for a story about his retirement. “When I first started down here, City Park softball was the big story. And next thing you know, we’re one of the top sports markets in the country.”

After a stint with the Army’s 160th Signal Group in Germany in the late 1950s, Moss put his skills toward covering high school athletics and later college football at Wyoming and Air Force. He got a front-row seat to the Denver Nuggets franchise’s debut in Colorado, having covered the Denver Rockets in the upstart American Basketball Association.

But Dave Plati, longtime sports information director with the University of Colorado at Boulder who got to know Moss starting in 1982 when Plati did public relations for the Denver Bears, said Moss’ true love was baseball.

“He loved baseball and anything to do with baseball the most,” Plati said.

Starting in the mid-1980s, Moss got heavily involved covering the sinuous path to landing a Major League Baseball team in Denver.  He covered the twists and turns of the selection process until 1991 when Commissioner Fay Vincent announced Denver was getting the nod as an expansion city.

The team began play in Colorado in 1993, and Moss was a Rockies beat writer for 12 years.

“I’d see him in the press box at the Rockies and he always talked baseball,” Plati said. “He was assigned for years to do the minor-league reports on the Rockies farm system and truly enjoyed watching what prospects matured to the majors.”

After he retired, Moss rarely missed watching a Rockies game on TV. He attended his last Rockies game on Sept 17 last fall, Sever said, and in one of his last conversations, Moss asked Sever if the Rockies had made any moves this winter.

Moss was decidedly of the nondigital, pre-Facebook generation. Longtime Post sports columnist Mark Kiszla met Moss in 1983.

“I walked into the sports department on California Street, and there Irv was at his desk, with a big phone (landline of course) stuck to his ear,” Kiszla recounted. “Nobody loved being a newspaperman more than Irv. Newspaperman. Old school. So old school I still think of him as a member of the cast from a black-and-white movie about newspapers.”

That included showing up to games with the Post softball team dressed in his office attire — a short-sleeve dress shirt and khaki slacks, Kiszla said. While he argued balls and strikes at the game, Moss didn’t share details about himself with others.

“Irv was an international man of mystery,” Kiszla said. “He did not like to reveal any details about himself. His age. His address. The name of family members.”

But he had no problems trying to extract information from sources — or even from friends and colleagues.

“Irv would appear out of nowhere, from a baseball dugout to the Press Club bar, when you least expected it, with a Cheshire cat grin on his face, and then he would ask: ‘What are you doing here?’” Kiszla recalled. “Bulldog does not begin to describe Irv as a reporter. He liked to begin questions with ‘Coach, would you say …’

“And he would ask the same question five different ways, often to the point of irritation of his interview subject, until he got that coach to say something worthwhile.”

Kiszla said Moss loved the Olympics. In 1972, with clearance from the Post, Moss accepted an invitation from the United States Olympic Committee to work as a public information officer at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich. It was the first of 10 Olympics working in that capacity.

“He would work as a press attache for the U.S. Olympic Committee,” Kiszla said. “And he would march in opening ceremonies.”

Former Post sports editor Kevin Dale, who worked with Moss for six years starting in 2000, was amazed by Moss’ passion for not only the games and teams but the athletes who played in those games.

“He had been witness to every major sports event in Colorado for the last half of the 20th century and well into the 21st,” Dale said. “Irv always amazed me with his knowledge of Colorado legends.”

But Dale said Moss didn’t get his head stuck in the clouds covering the big stuff. He also considered the lesser known players and aspiring athletes to be just as important and deserving of attention.

“Yes, he would want to be at the biggest Broncos or Rockies game, but he also told the stories of countless high school and college athletes,” Dale said. “Irv truly did touch all levels of Colorado sports journalism.”

 

 

Former Sugar Bowl leader Paul Hoolahan to receive FWAA Lifetime Achievement Award

DALLAS Paul Hoolahan, long-time chief executive officer of the Allstate Sugar Bowl, has been awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA).

Paul Hoolahan

Hoolahan will be honored at the FWAA’s Annual Awards Breakfast on Jan. 13 in New Orleans at the Sheraton New Orleans, the Media Hotel in conjunction with the College Football Playoff National Championship Game.

Hoolahan, who retired from his post before the 2019 football season, had been the bowl’s leader since the mid-1990s, running 25 Sugar Bowls from his position. During that time, the FWAA has held five of its annual meetings during national title games under Hoolahan’s watch at the Sugar Bowl.

“I am very honored to receive this recognition from the Football Writers,” Hoolahan said. “The writers and other media play a critical role in the world of college football and during my years at the Sugar Bowl, we recognized their importance. It means a lot to me for this group to take the time to recognize me. I’d also like to congratulate my longtime friend Wright Waters who is also being recognized.”

Previous recipients of this award: Art Spander (2013), Bill Little (2014), Irv Moss (2015), Buddy Davis (2016), Mike Finn (2017) and Dave Plati (2018).

Hoolahan, a former All-ACC lineman at North Carolina and later athletic director at Vanderbilt, has led the Sugar Bowl during a period of growth and excellence in which it has remained one of the top bowls despite changes in the post-season structure during the last 25 years.

Not only has the Sugar Bowl remained in the national title rotation, Hoolahan has directed “organizational efforts” which have generated well over $3 billion for the New Orleans economy. Hoolahan was inducted into Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame in 2015. Even though Hoolahan has stepped down from his role at the Sugar Bowl, he guided the New Orleans Host Committee’s successful bid in becoming the host for the 2020 College Football Playoff National Championship being played next Monday.

Under Hoolahan, the Sugar Bowl assumed sponsorship of the FWAA/Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award beginning with the 2014 season, the first year of the College Football Playoff when the championship game was held in Arlington, Texas, in January 2015. Thereafter the Sugar Bowl, the Eddie Robinson family and the FWAA have held very successful receptions in Glendale Ariz., Tampa, Fla., Atlanta, Ga., and San Jose, Caliuf., leading into New Orleans this season. The FWAA has named a Coach of the Year since 1957.

“The FWAA recognizes Hoolahan for a job well done in bestowing its Lifetime Achievement Award on a person who has provided excellent leadership at one of the top bowls in college football before his retirement last summer,” FWAA Executive Director Steve Richardson said.

“During Hoolahan’s regime as executive director-CEO, the FWAA successfully held its annual meeting at the Sugar Bowl several times in the national title rotation of the BCS and Alliance structures,” Richardson said. “Furthermore, under Hoolahan’s direction, the Sugar Bowl took over as the presenting sponsor of the FWAA’s Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award in 2014 and continues to be the sponsor of the ECOY Award to this day.”

Wright Waters to receive FWAA Lifetime Achievement Award in New Orleans

DALLAS — Wright Waters, current Football Bowl Association executive director and formerly commissioner of both the Southern and Sun Belt conferences, has been named a recipient of the Football Writers Association of America’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2019.

Wright Waters (Photo by Amelia B. Barton)

Waters, a longtime FWAA member, will be honored at the FWAA’s Annual Awards Breakfast on Jan. 13 in New Orleans at the Sheraton New Orleans, the Media Hotel in conjunction with the College Football Playoff National Championship Game.

Previous recipients of the FWAA Lifetime Achievement Award: Art Spander (2013), Bill Little (2014), Irv Moss (2015), Buddy Davis (2016), Mike Finn (2017) and Dave Plati (2018). The award goes to an FWAA member or someone close to the organization who has contributed greatly to college football and/or the FWAA.

“I am honored, humbled and flattered to be recognized by an organization that I admire so much,” Waters said. “I have always admired the FWAA’s standards of excellence and professionalism. Thank you for your consideration, I accept on behalf of so many people who have mentored and assisted me on this grand journey of a career.”

Waters will be retiring from his current post as the FBA’s executive director in April. The first executive director of the FBA, Wright has served in his current position since June 2012. His responsibilities for the FBA included the overall management of the non-profit organization: finances, administration, government relations, marketing, licensing and legal issues.

Prior to taking over as the FBA executive director, Waters was the commissioner of the Sun Belt Conference for 14 years and before that had a stint as the Southern Conference commissioner. He was instrumental in securing the Sun Belt’s status as a Bowl Championship Series conference and a place in Division I-A (now Football Bowl Subdivision). He was one of the original founders of the New Orleans Bowl, serving as a driving force in establishing the bowl as a landing spot for the Sun Belt’s football champion each year.

Earlier in his career, Waters served on athletic staffs at Southern Mississippi, Southwestern Louisiana (now Louisiana) and Tulane.

Over the years Waters has served on several NCAA, bowl and athletic administrative committees and collected various awards on the state and national level. The Sun Belt renamed its regular season football championship trophy the H. Wright Waters Trophy in 2012.

Waters has worked closely with the FWAA over the years in trying to improve press conditions in media operations at major-college bowls.

“Wright Waters has worn several hats in the administration of college football, but he always has had an appreciation for the FWAA, the news media in general, and accommodating their needs to get the story out,” FWAA Executive Director Steve Richardson said. “Helping people understand college football in various areas has been a strong point of his. As both commissioner of the Sun Belt and Southern conferences and lately keeping the bowls under control from an organizational and promotional sense, Waters has always been top-notch.”

 

McMurphy Named Steve Ellis FWAA Beat Writer of the Year

DALLAS — Veteran sports reporter Brett McMurphy of Stadium Network has been named the ninth annual Steve Ellis/FWAA Beat Writer of the Year for his work covering college football.

Brett McMurphy

McMurphy, 57, broke a huge sports story in 2018, concerning Courtney Smith and domestic violations against now ex-husband, ex-Ohio State assistant coach Zach Smith. His reporting also revealed that Urban Meyer, Ohio State’s head coach at the time, knew of the domestic violence despite his public denial of any knowledge.

After those disclosures, an Ohio State investigation confirmed McMurphy’s reporting, resulting in suspensions of Meyer and Athletic Director Gene Smith. McMurphy was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in the Investigative Category for the second time in his career, but he was not named a Pulitzer nominee finalist.

During the contest time period, McMurphy broke numerous news items (coaching and athletic director hiring/firings, new bowl affiliations/lineups, bowl bids, College Football Playoff news, etc.) From April 2017 to Aug. 13, 2018, McMurphy did all his reporting on Facebook/Twitter after being laid off by ESPN and bound by non-compete. He has been reporting for Stadium Network since Aug. 13, 2018.

McMurphy will be honored at the FWAA’s Annual Awards Breakfast on Jan. 13 in New Orleans at the Sheraton New Orleans, the Media Hotel in conjunction with the College Football Playoff National Championship Game. The late Ellis, for whom the award is named, was a longtime sports reporter for the Tallahassee Democrat who covered the Seminoles for three decades with tenacity.

Here’s an up-close-and-personal interview with Brett McMurphy:

PERSONAL: I am married to Susan, and we have a daughter, Chesney, a 15-year old high school sophomore. Susan and Chesney love traveling with me on my work assignments — especially if it’s Los Angeles, Pasadena, Destin or New York City.

I am an Oklahoma State graduate and this spring, OSU’s media and strategic communications department recognized me as the Paul Miller Journalism Lecturer of the Year. I have also won 10 FWAA Best Writing Contest Awards and twice have been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.

MENTORS: Look, if you’ve worked — and have been laid off — at as many places as I have, you have crossed paths with many great mentors and even better friends. Here are a few that have truly impacted my career and life: Tom Kensler, Steve Schoenfeld, Tim Allen, Chris Harry, Joey Johnston, Martin Fennelly, Andy Staples, David Whitley, Dennis Dodd, Bruce Feldman, Tony Barnhart, Mike Epstein, Jeff Goodman, Mike Harris and Matt Hayes.

In addition, when I was laid off at ESPN, my wife was incredible throughout that time, in providing support and encouragement for me to continue to break news, even it was only on Twitter/Facebook and without a media outlet.

Kim Postlick, my high school journalism teacher, also deserves a great deal of credit — or blame — for my career. My senior year, she forced me to apply for a journalism scholarship at Oklahoma State, which I received. That was extremely fortunate since my only other college option was a partial scholarship to play small college football at East Central University in Ada, Okla., where I undoubtedly would have torn my ACL at least twice and majored in “undecided.”

BEST STORIES: The biggest was my reporting about the domestic violence past of Ohio State assistant Zach Smith and then Urban Meyer’s mishandling of it throughout their time together and what Meyer knew about it. There are other “best stories” I could include, but this one had the biggest impact.

Based on my reports, Ohio State launched an investigation, which cost the school $1 million, verifying my reporting and ultimately leading to a three-game suspension of one of college football’s most powerful and successful coaches. What’s ironic is this would not have reached this magnitude if Meyer didn’t lie when initially asked about my reports at Big Ten Media Days. “I don’t know who creates a story like that,” Meyer said. Of course, none of my reporting would have seen the light of day without the incredible courage and tenacity of Courtney Smith. I am forever grateful for her trust and confiding in me during the entire process.

BEST ADVICE: The best advice I have received is that when a source tells you something is off-the-record, you may never — under any circumstance — use that information. If so, start pursuing a new profession, because you won’t be a journalist for long. Something else I stress to younger reporters is that “it’s better to get beat on a hundred stories, than to be wrong on one story.” It doesn’t matter if you’re first if you’re wrong.

BIGGEST CHANGE IN THE PROFESSION: You don’t have to work at a giant media company to make a real impact and be a credible, trusted and relevant reporter. Because of the non-compete clause in my ESPN contract after I was laid off, the biggest story of my life I broke on my Facebook page. With social media, podcasts and other outlets, if you consistently can provide legitimate news and information and/or entertaining content, people will find you. It may take a while but eventually, they will find you.

BEST INTERVIEW: Long before he was hawking grills, George Foreman visited Odessa, Texas, where I was a reporter for the Odessa American, only a year out of college. Foreman was incredibly open, patient and gracious with his time. He was unbelievable, especially recounting the Rumble in the Jungle fight with Muhammad Ali. Runner-up: perhaps my shortest — and most memorable — nterview was my freshman year at Oklahoma State, working in the school’s sports information office. OSU hosted defending national champ Louisville and I was required to get visiting players’ quotes. With 4 seconds left, UL, up one, missed a free throw and OSU’s Eddie Hannon hit a game-winning 40-footer at the buzzer for the 72-71 upset in which OSU may have benefited from a friendly home court clock operator. (No instant replay in the old days). I entered the UL locker room (yes, you could go in the locker room back then), and asked UL guard Jerry Eaves about the controversial ending. Eaves said: “Four seconds on the clock. Our guy misses the free throw and the ball bounces in the corner — click. Their little guy goes and grabs it and turns up court — click. He dribbles through traffic — click — and then you tell me he gets all the way past half-court and shoots before another second clicks off? Kiss my ass: Flash Gordon isn’t that fast!” I said, “thank you, Mr. Eaves” and quickly exited the locker room and wrote the best game story of my life.

President’s column: Remembering a colleague, thanking a couple of coaches

By Matt Fortuna

Greetings, fellow FWAA members. Here’s hoping the holiday season is treating you all as well as can be expected.

2019 FWAA President Matt Fortuna

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 mfortuna@theathletic.com.

Safe travels to all this bowl season. Look forward to seeing everyone on the road.

LSU’s Orgeron wins 2019 Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award

Coach O to be honored on Jan. 11 in New Orleans

DALLAS — LSU coach Ed Orgeron has been named the 2019 Allstate Sugar Bowl Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year after the Tigers registered a perfect 13-0 regular season, won their 12th Southeastern Conference title, and earned the No. 1 ranking in the College Football Playoff.

LSU Coach Ed Orgeron

Selected by the Football Writers Association of America, Orgeron will be honored on the evening of Saturday, Jan. 11, during a reception in New Orleans, two days before his Tigers could be playing for the CFB Playoff National Championship at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. He is the first Eddie Robinson Award recipient to appear in the six years of the College Football Playoff.

The 58-year-old Orgeron will be receiving the iconic bust of another Louisiana native, the late Robinson, a College Football Hall of Fame coach at Grambling State University for 55 years and winner of 408 career games. Orgeron is from Larose in south Louisiana. Robinson was born in Jackson, in the northern part of the state, but later attended high school in Baton Rouge.

“Coach Orgeron is an incredibly deserving winner of this prestigious honor,” 2019 FWAA President Matt Fortuna said. “From the ways he has reinvented his program on and off the field, to the bonds he has formed with his players, it is easy to see how he has led LSU to a No. 1 ranking this season. (LSU quarterback) Joe Burrow’s Heisman speech alone made me want to run through a brick wall for Coach O.”

“On behalf of the Sugar Bowl Committee, I want to congratulate Coach O for his outstanding achievements this year,” said Judge Monique Morial, President of the Sugar Bowl Committee. “A perfect regular season, an SEC Championship and the No. 1 seed in the College Football Playoff. It’s been quite a year for the Tigers.”

Riding a 14-game winning streak, LSU has registered 13 victories in a season for only the second time and will meet No. 4 Oklahoma on Dec. 28 in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl in Atlanta in one of two national semifinal games. A win in Atlanta sends LSU to the title game in New Orleans.

This truly has been a magical season for LSU.

Orgeron’s 2019 team has set several school records, including points in a season (621), points per game (554.3) and passing yards (5,029). Senior All-America quarterback Joe Burrow is the FWAA’s first-team signal-caller along with receiver Ja’Marr Chase, who joins him in the first team honor. Center Lloyd Cushenberry III and cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. earned second-team FWAA honors.

“I’m very proud of our football team. In the spring I could see them coming together,” Orgeron said following LSU’s 37-10 victory over Georgia in the SEC Championship. “They were starting in their first season with the spread offense and having Joe (Burrow) run it, then having (passing game coordinator) Joe Brady here and to see the evolution of the spread offense, which our fans have been wanting for a long time. We’re finally gelling on defense that last couple of games. There was a lot of pride on the defense, I knew they were going to play their best ball. It’s just a good time at LSU, and everybody is pulling the same side of the rope.”

The 2019 Tigers’ offense is the only unit in SEC history to include a 4,000-yard passer, a 1,000-yard rusher and two 1,000-yard receivers in the same season. Burrow, the SEC’s Offensive Player of the Year, has broken league records for passing yards and touchdowns; and his completion percentage and passing efficiency ratings are on pace to break NCAA records.

“Coach Ed Orgeron and the LSU Tigers’ impressive 13-0 regular season record is a testament to Coach O’s relentless leadership and guidance of one of college football’s most storied programs,” said Eddie Robinson III, grandson of the legendary coach. “Congratulations Coach Orgeron from the Robinson Family on winning the 2019 ‘Eddie’!”

Orgeron becomes the third LSU coach to collect the FWAA Coach of the Year Award. Paul Dietzel claimed it in 1958, a year in which the Tigers won the national title and beat Clemson in the Sugar Bowl at the old Tulane Stadium. The other LSU wining coach was current Alabama coach Nick Saban, who led the Tigers to the national title in 2003, when LSU beat Oklahoma, 21-14 in the Bowl Championship Series, in the Sugar Bowl at the Superdome.

Orgeron is now one of four different Southeastern Conference coaches to win the FWAA honor since Robinson became the namesake in 1997, the year the legendary coach retired from coaching. The others were Tennessee’s Phillip Fulmer in 1998; Saban in 2003 at LSU and again in ’08 at Alabama; and Gus Malzahn at Auburn in 2013.

The affable Orgeron, with a thick Cajun drawl, receives the award after a vote of the FWAA membership. The other eight finalist coaches were in, alphabetical order: Ryan Day, Ohio State; Eliah Drinkwitz, Appalachian State; Sonny Dykes, SMU; P.J. Fleck, Minnesota; Bryan Harsin, Boise State; Mike Norvell, Memphis; Matt Rhule, Baylor; and Dabo Swinney, Clemson.

Orgeron, a defensive line coach by trade, started his college playing career at LSU but transferred to Northwestern (La.) State after his first year in Baton Rouge. He later was an assistant coach on national championship staffs at Miami (Fla.) and USC. He became head coach at Ole Miss in 2005 but lasted only three seasons before he was fired after a 3-9 season in 2007.

Eventually, he wound up back at USC in 2010, where he stayed though the 2013 season. Orgeron served as interim head coach most of that season after head coach Lane Kiffin was fired. When he didn’t get that job fulltime, he took an assistant’s job at LSU in 2015 and eventually became head coach in 2016 after Les Miles’ tenure ended there.

Along the way as head coach at LSU, one of Orgeron’s coaching moves was to accept Ohio State transfer quarterback Joe Burrow, who has become LSU’s second Heisman Trophy winner. Billy Cannon claimed the Heisman Trophy in 1959, the year after LSU won its first national title.

“I think at the end of the day you got to be a good fit,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said of Orgeron. “He certainly was a great fit for LSU. He’s put a good staff together. He’s provided great leadership and stability. But I think more importantly belief. He’s brought some passion into that program, not that they didn’t have it before, but I just think it’s been fun to watch.”

The FWAA has presented a coaching award since the 1957 season when Ohio State’s Woody Hayes was named the first recipient. Beginning in 1997, the FWAA Coach of the Year Award has been named in honor of the late Robinson, a coaching legend at Grambling State University for 55 seasons.

Robinson, who passed away in 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 Eddie Robinson Award is a member of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA), which encompasses college football’s most prestigious awards. Founded in 1997, the NCFAA and its 25 awards now boast over 800 recipients, dating to 1935. Visit ncfaa.org to learn more about our story.

The Allstate Sugar Bowl has established itself as one of the premier college football bowl games, having hosted 28 national champions, 93 Hall of Fame players, 50 Hall of Fame coaches and 18 Heisman Trophy winners in its 85-year history. The 86th Allstate Sugar Bowl Football Classic, featuring the Baylor Bears from the Big 12 and the Georgia Bulldogs from the SEC, will be played on January 1, 2020. In addition to football, the Sugar Bowl Committee annually invests over $1.6 million into the community through the hosting and sponsorship of sporting events, scholarships and clinics. Through these efforts, the organization supports and honors nearly 100,000 student-athletes each year and has injected over $2.5 billion into the local economy over the last decade. For more information, visit AllstateSugarBowl.org.

The Football Writers Association of America, founded in 1941, consists of 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.

Eddie Robinson Award
Nine finalists named for 2019 Eddie Robinson Award
Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award | All-time winners

2019 Courage Award goes to Arkansas State coach Blake Anderson

MIAMI LAKES, FL. — Arkansas State coach Blake Anderson is the winner of the 2019 Capital One Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award. Anderson coached the Red Wolves to a 7-5 record this fall following the death of his wife, Wendy, who passed away this summer after a two-year battle with breast cancer.

Arkansas State coach Blake Anderson

“The past two years have been the most difficult time our family has ever faced, especially these last few months since Wendy’s passing,” Anderson said. “I can only say that even in the midst of heartache, we have always felt the strength of Christ, the support of our coaching staff, players and administration, as well as the love of so many amazing people across the country lifting us up each step along the way. I pray that God will continue to use our journey in big ways to honor Him and the legacy of Wendy’s heart for God and others.”

In the spring of 2017, Wendy Anderson was diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer. The cancer was located in a spot where doctors could not operate. Wendy underwent a natural treatment approach, then had surgery late that summer. She was declared cancer-free on Aug. 31, 2017.

In the fall of 2018, the cancer returned at Stage 4, and her condition worsened in the ensuing months. In January, she had surgery to relieve the pressure of five large masses in her brain. She underwent radiation and chemotherapy, and she became oxygen-dependent 24 hours a day.

Blake and Wendy Anderson had three children together. Blake took a leave of absence from Arkansas State just before Wendy died on Aug. 19, at the age of 49. Assistant head coach and defensive coordinator David Duggan served as the Red Wolves’ interim head coach until Anderson’s return on Sept. 7.

“Coach Anderson has been the epitome of courage in the face of unimaginable adversity throughout these past two years,” 2019 FWAA President Matt Fortuna said. “The way that he cared for Wendy and

their children, and the example that he has continued set for both his players and the college community at-large, transcends sports.”

Anderson’s first game back on the sideline was a 43-17 win at UNLV in Week 2. The following week at Georgia, during Anderson’s second game back, thousands of Bulldogs fans wore pink in honor of Wendy.

“I know that there are so many inspiring stories of courage and perseverance that we see and hear each day, which is why I would like to express how completely honored and grateful I am to receive this award on behalf of myself, my family and the memory of my beautiful wife Wendy,” Anderson said.

Anderson is in his sixth season at Arkansas State, after becoming the Red Wolves’ fifth different head coach in five seasons. He has led the Red Wolves to a 46-30 overall record, with a 36-12 mark in Sun Belt play. The 46 overall wins are the most by an Arkansas State head coach across his first six years at the school. The 36 conference wins are the second-most ever by a Sun Belt head coach.

Arkansas State has won two conference titles under the 50-year-old Anderson. The program went 5-3 in league play this season, good for second in the West division, one year after winning the division title. Sixteen different Red Wolves players earned all-conference recognition this year.

Arkansas State will play Florida International this Saturday in the Camelia Bowl in Montgomery, Ala., marking a school-record ninth straight bowl appearance, which is the third-longest streak among Group of 5 programs.

“I think it’s an honor that the Orange Bowl recognizes the courage the Anderson family has shown while facing the challenges they’ve endured over the last couple of years,” Arkansas State athletic director Terry Mohajir said. “Blake is a great man with unwavering faith. The tremendous amount of love and care he demonstrated for his wife Wendy, while also running his football program, was quite a beautiful and moving sight. The example he has provided by his courage, love and communication to all has been quite an inspiration.”

The Courage Award was first presented by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) in 2002. A select group of writers from the FWAA vote on the winner each year. The requirements for nomination include displaying courage on or off the field, including overcoming an injury or physical handicap, preventing a disaster or living through hardship. The winner of the award will be included in festivities during Capital One Orange Bowl week and receive his trophy at an on-field presentation.

 

2019 FWAA All-America Team unveiled

76th annual team is presented by Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic

DALLAS — The Football Writers Association of America, in partnership with the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic, is proud to announce its 2019 All-America Team, headlined by 12 players from the Big Ten Conference – nine of them on the first team – and 11 from the Southeastern Conference that includes Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Joe Burrow of LSU.

Fifty-four standout players were selected to two teams by the association’s All-America committee after voting from the entire membership. Since 2013, the FWAA has named a second team. Overall, there are 35 schools represented from eight Football Bowl Subdivision conferences, including 14 players who are competing in the College Football Playoff and three repeat selections.

The Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic is presenting the All-America Team as part of what has been a season-long campaign to promote the 75-year history of this prestigious honor. Each All-American will receive a commemorative football and the first-team selections will be presented with a custom All-America watch.

“We are honored to partner with the FWAA to recognize the very best athletes at their respective positions in our game,” said Rick Baker, Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic President/CEO. “These young men join a remarkable fraternity of college football greats before them, and now their names and accomplishments will forever be marked in history.”

Since 1945, the FWAA team has been among the five used in the NCAA’s selection of an annual consensus All-America team in college football. 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 top two teams in the College Football Playoff – Ohio State (5) and LSU (4) – lead all programs on the combined first and second teams. The Buckeyes tied for the national-high with three first-team members led by the Bronko Nagurski Trophy and Bednarik Award winner, defensive end Chase Young, along with defensive back Jeff Okudah and running back J.K. Dobbins, who was selected as an all-purpose player. Quarterback Justin Fields and offensive lineman Wyatt Davis are on the second team. LSU’s Burrow, who set multiple SEC passing records and is on pace to break more, is the first-team quarterback along with his main target, Biletnikoff Award-winning wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase. Burrow also won the Maxwell, Davey O’Brien and Walter Camp Awards, and joins offensive lineman Lloyd Cushenberry III and defensive back Derek Stingley Jr., who are second-team members.

Stingley is one of three freshmen on the team as part of 34 underclassmen. There are 19 seniors and 19 juniors on the roster along with one graduate student. Earning their second All-America honors from the FWAA are running backs Jonathan Taylor of Wisconsin (first team in 2018 as well) and Travis Etienne of Clemson (second team both seasons) and offensive lineman Calvin Throckmorton of Oregon (second team both seasons). The conference breakdown is: Big Ten (12), SEC (11), Big 12 and Pac-12 (9), ACC (8), Conference USA (2), Mountain West (2) and American Athletic (1). There are 11 players from Texas – seven on the first team – and five each from Florida and Louisiana.

It has been a big year for the Big Ten and its nine first-team members. Wisconsin ties Ohio State for the most first-teamers with three, highlighted by Taylor, the school’s career rushing record-holder and two-time Doak Walker Award winner, center Tyler Biadasz, the Rimington Trophy winner, and linebacker Zach Baun, one of the national leaders in tackles for loss. Wisconsin closes the decade having had an All-American in nine of 10 seasons, a string that began with offensive tackle Gabe Carimi winning the Outland Trophy in 2010. Ohio State’s five players are the most it has ever placed on an FWAA All-America team and the Buckeyes placed three on the first team for the first time since 2002. Their first-team trio ties four other seasons behind only the 1944 team’s four members for the most first-teamers in school history. Ohio State has had at least one FWAA All-America player in six of the last seven seasons.

Minnesota’s Winfield Jr. is the Gophers’ first All-American since 2014 and only their second since two-time All-America center Greg Eslinger won the Outland Trophy in 2005. He is Minnesota’s first All-America defensive back since 1999. Iowa offensive lineman Tristan Wirfs and kicker Keith Duncan give the Hawkeyes All-Americans in seven consecutive seasons and marks the second time in three seasons for them to have two first-teamers. Penn State, which takes on Memphis in this year’s Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic at Noon ET on Dec. 28 on ESPN, completes the Big Ten field with linebacker Micah Parsons on the second team.

LSU’s four All-Americans mark its highest total ever and, with Burrow and Chase on the first team, this is the 10th time for the Tigers to have at least two first-teamers in a season. LSU has had at least one All-American in three of the last four seasons. Georgia, with J.R. Reed in the secondary and Outland Trophy semifinalist Andrew Thomas on the offensive line, placed two on the first team for only the third time in its history and has now had an All-American in three straight seasons.

Kentucky, with Ray Guy Award winner Max Duffy on the first team, now has back-to-back first-teamers for the first time since 1949-50. Linebacker Josh Allen was the 2018 Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner and Bob Gain was a two-time All-America offensive tackle selection (1949-50) and the 1950 Outland Trophy winner. The Wildcats also have offensive lineman Logan Stenberg on the second team. Alabama punt returner Jaylen Waddle earned the Crimson Tide a first-team selection for a 12th consecutive season. Auburn’s Derrick Brown is the Tigers’ first first-team selection since 2016 and Florida defensive back C.J. Henderson is Florida’s first All-American since 2016.

The Big 12 tied the Pac-12 with nine selections but has the best distribution among all the conferences, as seven of its 10 schools are represented on the combined team. Oklahoma extended its All-America streak to six years and has had at least one first-teamer (wide receiver CeeDee Lamb this season) in four consecutive years. Sophomore center Creed Humphrey is on the second team. Oklahoma State running back Chuba Hubbard gives the Cowboys an eighth first-teamer this decade and 10th in the last 12 seasons. Baylor and TCU have their first All-Americans since 2015; Baylor’s James Lynch is the Bears’ third defensive All-America player since 1991, and this is only the third time (2015, 1955) for TCU to have two All-Americans (Jeff Gladney and Jalen Reagor) in the same season.

Utah defensive linemen Bradlee Anae marks the third time in the last four seasons that the Utes have had a defensive player on the first team and four of the last six, and also has defensive lineman Leki Fotu on the second team. Prior to 2014, Utah had only two All-Americans on defense. The Utes have had an All-American in five consecutive seasons with a Pac-12-high three this season with running back Zack Moss on the second unit. Oregon ends the decade with two All-America picks from its offensive line, Outland Trophy winner Penei Sewell and two-time selection Throckmorton. Evan Weaver is Cal’s first All-American since 2006 and the Bears’ fourth since 2000.

Clemson now has a first-team selection in five straight seasons with offensive lineman John Simpson and Butkus Award winner Isaiah Simmons making this year’s top unit; it’s the ninth time this decade for the Tigers to have an All-American and the fifth time for the Tigers to have two first-team selections. Virginia kick returner Joe Reed is the Cavaliers’ first first-team selection since 2007 but the program’s third straight All-America pick after only having two this century prior to 2016.

Tight end Harrison Bryant earned Florida Atlantic’s first All-America selection and the John Mackey Award winner is Conference USA’s sixth this decade. Louisiana Tech didn’t have its first All-America selection until 1992 but now has two in successive seasons as defensive back Amik Roberston becomes the Bulldogs’ fifth All-American.

Among the other second team members, James Proche reset SMU’s career receiving record books this season and becomes the Mustangs’ first All-American since running back Reggie Dupard in 1985. Boise State defensive lineman Curtis Weaver becomes the Broncos’ fourth All-American and first since 2015. San Diego State earned its fourth All-America nod this century and seventh overall as Luq Barcoo becomes the Aztecs’ first defensive player to be so honored.

Kansas State has had only 14 All-Americans but has a current string of three in a row. Three of the last four have been return specialists, including Joshua Youngblood this season. Iowa State tight end Charlie Kolar is the Cyclones’ second All-American in the past three seasons and is Iowa State’s seventh all-time honoree. Texas Tech has had an All-American in consecutive seasons for a fifth time now with linebacker Jordyn Brooks.

Pitt defensive lineman Jaylen Twyman is the Panthers’ first defensive All-American since Aaron Donald won the Outland Trophy and Bronko Nagurski Trophy in 2013. Miami’s Greg Rousseau is the Hurricanes’ second All-American since 2005. Wake Forest has back-to-back All-America selections for the first time as kicker Nick Sciba earned this year’s nod, and punt returner Greg Dortsch earned it in 2018. Syracuse has had an All-American in three consecutive seasons thanks to its special teams; it has punter Sterling Hofrichter this year after placing kicker Andre Szmyt on the 2018 first team.

Michael Pittman Jr. is USC’s first All-American since a three-year run from 2014-16 and only the Trojans’ fourth choice this decade. Hamilcar Rashed is Oregon State’s sixth All-American and first since 2013. Brandon Aiyuk gives Arizona State an All-America selection in three of the last four seasons. Prior to that string, no Sun Devil had earned the honor since defensive end Terrell Suggs won the Bronko Nagurski Trophy in 2002.

2019 FWAA ALL-AMERICA FIRST TEAM

OFFENSE
QB Joe Burrow, LSU (6-4, 216, Sr., Athens, Ohio)
RB Chuba Hubbard, Oklahoma State (6-1, 207, So., Sherwood Park, Alberta)
RB Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin (5-11, 219, Jr., Salem, N.J.)
WR Ja’Marr Chase, LSU (6-1, 200, So., Metairie, La.)
WR CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma (6-2, 189, Jr., Richmond, Texas)
TE Harrison Bryant, Florida Atlantic (6-5, 240, Sr., Gray, Ga.)
OL Penei Sewell, Oregon (6-6, 325, So., Malaeimi, American Samoa)
OL John Simpson, Clemson (6-4, 330, Sr., North Charleston, S.C.)
OL Andrew Thomas, Georgia (6-5, 320, Jr., Lithonia, Ga.)
OL Tristan Wirfs, Iowa (6-5, 322, Jr., Mount Vernon, Iowa)
C Tyler Biadasz, Wisconsin (6-3, 321, Jr., Amherst, Wis.)

DEFENSE
DL Bradlee Anae, Utah (6-3, 265, Sr., Laie, Hawaii)
DL Derrick Brown, Auburn (6-5, 318, Sr., Sugar Hill, Ga.)
DL James Lynch, Baylor (6-4, 295, Jr., Round Rock, Texas)
DL Chase Young, Ohio State (6-5, 265, Jr., Upper Marlboro, Md.)
LB Zack Baun, Wisconsin (6-3, 235, Sr., Brown Deer, Wis.)
LB Isaiah Simmons, Clemson (6-4, 230, Jr., Olathe, Kan.)
LB Evan Weaver, California (6-3, 235, Sr., Spokane, Wash.)
DB Jeff Okudah, Ohio State (6-1, 200, Jr., Grand Prairie, Texas)
DB J.R. Reed, Georgia (6-1, 194, Gr., Frisco, Texas)
DB Amik Robertson, Louisiana Tech (5-9, 183, Jr., Thibodaux, La.)
DB Antoine Winfield Jr., Minnesota (5-10, 205, So., The Woodlands, Texas)

SPECIALISTS
K Keith Duncan, Iowa (5-10, 180, Jr., Weddington, N.C.)
P Max Duffy, Kentucky (6-1, 194, Jr., Perth, Australia)
KR Joe Reed, Virginia (6-3, 215, Sr., Charlotte Court House, Va.)
PR Jaylen Waddle, Alabama (5-10, 182, So., Houston, Texas)
AP J.K. Dobbins, Ohio State (5-10, 217, Jr., La Grange, Texas)

2019 FWAA ALL-AMERICA SECOND TEAM

Offense: QB Justin Fields, Ohio State; RB Travis Etienne, Clemson; RB Zack Moss, Utah; WR Michael Pittman Jr., USC; WR James Proche, SMU; TE Charlie Kolar, Iowa State; OL Lloyd Cushenberry III, LSU; OL Wyatt Davis, Ohio State; OL Logan Stenberg, Kentucky; OL Calvin Throckmorton, Oregon; C Creed Humphrey, Oklahoma. Defense: DL Leki Fotu, Utah; DL Greg Rousseau, Miami; DL Jaylen Twyman, Pitt; DL Curtis Weaver, Boise State; LB Jordyn Brooks, Texas Tech; LB Micah Parsons, Penn State; LB Hamilcar Rashed, Oregon State; DB Luq Barcoo, San Diego State; DB Jeff Gladney, TCU; DB C.J. Henderson, Florida; DB Derek Stingley Jr., LSU. Specialists: K Nick Sciba, Wake Forest; P Sterling Hofrichter, Syracuse; KR Joshua Youngblood, Kansas State; PR Jalen Reagor TCU; AP Brandon Aiyuk, Arizona State.

The FWAA’s All-America Committee selected this 76th annual team based on nominations from the entire membership. This is just the seventh season in the modern era (post-1950) that the FWAA has named a second team. The FWAA also selected an all-purpose player for a third time, which made for a 54-man full team.

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.

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 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.

The Cotton Bowl Classic was formed in 1937 with the mission of providing the most innovative of all college football bowl games and to be a leader in creating premier college sports experiences for universities, student athletes, sponsors and the community. Since the inaugural game in 1937, the Classic has contributed nearly a billion dollars to higher education. Each year, football fans attending the Cotton Bowl Classic generate more than $30 million in direct spending for the North Texas community.

The Football Writers Association of America, a non-profit organization founded in 1941, consists of more than 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 or call 214-870-6516.

2019 FWAA All-America Committee: Kirk Bohls, Austin American-Statesman; Ken Capps, TexasFootball.com; Scott Dochterman, The Athletic; Scott Farrell, collegepressbox.com; Bryan Fischer, NBC Sports; Suzanne Halliburton, Austin American-Statesman; Clay Henry, Hawgs Illustrated; Adam Hunsucker, Monroe News-Star; Doug Lesmerises, Cleveland.com; Nate Mink, Syracuse Post-Standard; Dylan Montz, Ames Tribune; Tony Siracusa, Last Word on College Football; Phil Steele, Phil Steele Publications; Chris Vannini, The Athletic; John Wagner, Freelance.

Related links:
All-Time FWAA All-America Teams (.pdf)
Download the 2019 FWAA All-America logo

Nine finalists named for 2019 FWAA Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award

Winner to be announced on Dec. 20

DALLAS — The Football Writers Association of America, in conjunction with the Allstate Sugar Bowl, announced nine finalists for the 2019 Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award on Tuesday. Among the finalists are three previous finalists and three of the four head coaches competing in the College Football Playoff.

In alphabetical order the finalists are: Ryan Day, Ohio State; Eliah Drinkwitz, Appalachian State; Sonny Dykes, SMU; P.J. Fleck, Minnesota; Bryan Harsin, Boise State; Mike Norvell, Memphis; Ed Orgeron, LSU; Matt Rhule, Baylor; and Dabo Swinney, Clemson.

Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award

This is the third consecutive season for Swinney to be a finalist and the fifth time overall (also 2015 and ’11). Fleck was a finalist in 2016 at Western Michigan and Harsin was a finalist in 2014 at Boise State. The 2019 recipient will be announced on Friday, Dec. 20.

“These nine coaches have had outstanding seasons,” 2019 FWAA President Matt Fortuna said. “We could not be happier to present this award next month in New Orleans, as each individual exemplifies the values embodied by the award’s namesake, Eddie Robinson.”

The official presentation reception will be on Jan. 11, 2020, in New Orleans where the winning coach will be handed the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year bust during a reception hosted by the Allstate Sugar Bowl in conjunction with the College Football Playoff National Championship.

“The Allstate Sugar Bowl is proud each year to recognize the top college football coach in the nation while at the same time honoring the great accomplishments of a Louisiana legend, Coach Eddie Robinson,” said Monique Morial, the President of the Sugar Bowl Committee. “And we’re excited that this year we will be recognizing the winner right here in New Orleans as part of the College Football Playoff National Championship festivities that we’re hosting in January.”

The nine finalists have been placed on a ballot which has been sent to the entire FWAA membership. Ballots will be accepted through 5 p.m. ET on Friday, Dec. 13.

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

The 2019 Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year finalists:

Ryan Day, Ohio State: Day was the media’s choice for Big Ten Coach of the Year. The last time Ohio State had a coach named Big Ten Coach of the Year was 1979, the year Day was born. The 40-year drought ended last week as the first-year coach guided Ohio State to a 13-0 season with a Big Ten Championship win and a berth into the College Football Playoff. The Buckeyes dominated the Big Ten this season powered by the nation’s No. 1 scoring offense (48.7), No. 5 total offense (531.0), No. 2 total defense (247.6) and No. 2 (tied) scoring defense (12.5).

Eliah Drinkwitz, Appalachian State: In Drinkwitz’s one season at the helm, Appalachian State (12-1) won its fourth straight Sun Belt Conference title and made history as the first 12-win Sun Belt team and earned the highest national ranking in school and conference history. The No. 20 Mountaineers became the first Sun Belt team to beat two Power Five teams (North Carolina and South Carolina, both on the road) in the same season. Drinkwitz has accepted the same position at Missouri.

Sonny Dykes, SMU: In his second year with the Mustangs, Dykes led SMU to its first 10-win season (10-2) since 1984 and its first perfect home season (6-0) since 1968. The Mustangs are No. 6 nationally in scoring offense (43.0, currently a school record), No. 9 in total offense (495.3, currently a school record) and No. 12 in passing offense (309.3, second all-time at the school), while the defense set school records with 50 sacks (second nationally, one behind Ohio State) and 105 tackles for loss (fourth nationally, 8.75 per game).

P.J. Fleck, Minnesota: The Gophers won 10 games (10-2) in the regular season for the first time since 1905 and won seven Big Ten games for the first time in school history. Minnesota’s 31-26 home win over Penn State was its first against a top five opponent since 1999 and its first home win against a top five team since 1977. The Gophers reached as high as No. 7 in the AP poll, their highest ranking since 1962. Fleck was the coaches’ selection as the Big Ten Coach of the Year, marking the third time in the last seven seasons, Fleck has earned a conference coach of the year nod.

Bryan Harsin, Boise State: Harsin has led the Broncos to a 12-1 record and a second conference title in three seasons following a 31-10 win over Hawaii in the Mountain West Championship Game. The 12 wins are the most in a season for Boise State since Harsin’s first season in 2014 and the Broncos went a perfect 8-0 in Mountain West play for the first time since joining the conference in 2011. Boise State reached as high as No. 19 in the CFP rankings.

Mike Norvell, Memphis: Norvell has Memphis headed to the Goodyear Cotton Bowl as the Group of 5 representative after the Tigers (12-1) captured their first outright conference championship in 50 years. Memphis is No. 17 in the final CFP rankings following a regular season that saw the Tigers in the top 10 in scoring offense (No. 8, 40.5) and post 87 plays gaining 20-plus yards (tied for 6th nationally). Norvell has accepted the same position at Florida State.

Ed Orgeron, LSU: Orgeron has the Tigers at 13-0 for just the second time in school history and taking their SEC Championship into their first College Football Playoff game as the top-ranked team to face No. 4 Oklahoma in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. LSU defeated five top-10 teams in the regular season – Texas, Florida, Auburn, Alabama and then Georgia last week in the SEC Championship Game – behind the play of record-setting quarterback Joe Burrow, and is only the second team (Notre Dame, 1943) to do that prior to its bowl game. The Tigers have won 14 straight dating back to last year’s Fiesta Bowl and have scored in 49 of 52 quarters this season.

Matt Rhule, Baylor: The Bears (11-2) reached their first Big 12 Championship Game before falling to CFP No. 4-ranked Oklahoma and will play in the 2020 Allstate Sugar Bowl against Georgia. Defense guided Baylor’s fortunes as the Bears forced at least two takeaways in nine of their 13 games, including 16 interceptions in their last 10 games and at least one takeaway in their last 15 overall. The Bears have a school-record 43.0 sacks through 13 games after totaling only 25 in 2018. Baylor was 1-11 two years ago and 7-6 last season.

Dabo Swinney, Clemson: The Tigers became the first school to win five straight conference championship games last week with a 62-17 dismantling of Virginia in the ACC Championship Game, Clemson’s sixth under Swinney and 19th ACC title overall. Clemson is near the top of every major statistical category, leading the country in total defense (244.7) and scoring defense (10.6) while also posting the No. 3 total offense (547.7) and No. 4 scoring offense (46.5). The Tigers held eight of 13 opponents to 10 points or less while scoring 40 or more points 10 times and 50-plus seven times.

The Eddie Robinson Award is a member of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA), which encompasses college football’s most prestigious awards. Founded in 1997, the NCFAA and its 25 awards now boast over 800 recipients, dating to 1935. Visit ncfaa.org to learn more about our story.

The Allstate Sugar Bowl has established itself as one of the premier college football bowl games, having hosted 28 national champions, 93 Hall of Fame players, 50 Hall of Fame coaches and 18 Heisman Trophy winners in its 85-year history. The 86th Allstate Sugar Bowl Football Classic, featuring the Baylor Bears from the Big 12 and the Georgia Bulldogs from the SEC, will be played on January 1, 2020. In addition to football, the Sugar Bowl Committee annually invests over $1.6 million into the community through the hosting and sponsorship of sporting events, scholarships and clinics. Through these efforts, the organization supports and honors nearly 100,000 student-athletes each year and has injected over $2.5 billion into the local economy over the last decade. For more information, visit AllstateSugarBowl.org.

The Football Writers Association of America, founded in 1941, consists of 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.

Eddie Robinson Award
Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award | All-time winners, finalists