Pillars of the FWAA: Orville Henry (1925-2002), Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

ffaw_redesignThe Football Writers Association of America is celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2015. Founded in 1941, the FWAA has served the writing profession and college football during a time when the world has changed greatly and the sport of football has along with it. In an effort to tell the stories of the members of the organization, we will publish sketches of the FWAA’s most important leaders — all Bert McGrane Award winners.

The Bert McGrane Award, symbolic of the association’s Hall of Fame, is presented to an FWAA member who has performed great service to the organization and/or the writing profession. It is named after McGrane, a Des Moines, Iowa, writer who was the executive secretary of the FWAA from the early 1940s until 1973. The McGrane Award was first bestowed on an FWAA member in 1974.

For a list of all the winners go to:  http://www.sportswriters.net/fwaa/awards/mcgrane/index.html.

The following is the 23rd installment of the Pillars of the FWAA series. Orville Henry was the 2002 winner of the Bert McGrane Award. Thanks to FWAA member Gene Duffey for writing and researching this sketch.

By Gene Duffey

Even the toughest of times seemed to work out the best for Orville Henry.

With World War II raging in Europe and the Pacific, and many newspapermen serving overseas, Henry was named sports editor of the Arkansas Gazette in October 1943 at age 18 for the sum of $32 a week.

Orville Henry, 2002 winner of the Bert McGrane Award

Orville Henry, 2002 winner of the Bert McGrane Award

Butch Henry, the oldest of Orville’s four sons, said his father suffered from a stomach deficiency that made him 4F, ineligible to serve in the military. Orville couldn’t eat regular bread or gluten.

Orville grew up on the edge of Little Rock, the fourth of nine children and the son of a traveling salesman. He began working for the school paper in ninth grade at Pulaski Heights Junior High. His school ran a program that allowed students to volunteer at the Gazette. He finished high school at 16 in January 1942 and went to work as a copy boy at the Gazette, filling in at the switchboard.

Henry worked at the newspaper full time while continuing his education at Little Rock Junior College, which is now Arkansas-Little Rock. He graduated from the junior college at 18.

Butch remembered his father coming home for dinner, then returning to the office to put out the next morning’s newspaper, often not getting home again until 2 a.m. But Orville was up at 7, cooking breakfast for his four boys, often his special apple pancakes.

More…

Iowa’s Ferentz wins 2015 Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award

ffaw_redesignDALLAS – Kirk Ferentz, whose Iowa Hawkeyes won 12 games in a season for the first time in school history, has been named the first University of Iowa coach to win the 59th FWAA/Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award, it was announced on Wednesday by the Football Writers Association of America.

Presented for a second straight year by the Allstate Sugar Bowl, the FWAA/Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award honors the top coach in the Football Bowl Subdivision as selected by the membership of the 75-year-old organization.

“It is rewarding to see the hard work of our entire coaching staff and every member of our football program being recognized on the national level,” Ferentz said. “I appreciate the acknowledgement of our accomplishments. I am honored to share this recognition with our staff, our players, and our great fans, and I am grateful to the University of Iowa for providing the necessary support for our success.”

Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz

Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz

Ferentz’s team had a 7-6 record in 2014 and was selected fourth in a preseason 2015 Big Ten West Division media poll. But the Hawkeyes won their first 12 games in 2015 before falling to Michigan State, 16-13, in the Big Ten championship game. For the first time since the 1990 season, the Hawkeyes will play in the Rose Bowl and face Pac-12 champion Stanford.

The FWAA/Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award will be highlighted during a reception on Jan. 9, 2016, at the JW Marriott Scottsdale Camelback Inn Resort and Spa. Ferentz will accept the Eddie Robinson Award bust at the College Football Playoff National Championship media hotel.

Ferentz, 60, is in his 17th year at Iowa and has a 127-86 overall record in Iowa City. The dean of the current Big Ten coaches trails only Hayden Fry in terms of longevity as the Iowa head football coach. He has guided Iowa to 13 bowl games in 17 seasons.

Ferentz has twice before been a finalist for the FWAA coaching award, in 2002 and ’04. But the last Big Ten Conference coach to win it was Ohio State’s Jim Tressel in 2002, the year the Buckeyes won the national championship in the Fiesta Bowl with an overtime victory over Miami.

Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award

Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award

What they are saying about Coach Ferentz:

“On behalf of the Eddie Robinson family, I want to extend congratulations to coach Kirk Ferentz, his family and the Iowa Hawkeyes’ football program on him becoming the 2015 Eddie Robinson Award winner,” said Eddie Robinson III. “This is so special to me because my grandfather, coach Eddie Robinson, was an Iowa Hawkeye (obtaining a master’s degree from the school). Coach Ferentz is well deserving of this award and is an institution at Iowa.”

“Kirk Ferentz’s Hawkeyes, in a preseason poll of writers compiled by cleveland.com, were picked to finish fourth in the seven-team Big Ten West Division,” said 2015 FWAA President Lee Barfknecht of the Omaha World-Herald. “They garnered zero first-place votes. By the end of the regular season, Iowa was 12-0, ranked nationally in the Top 5 and was the undisputed West champion. Ferentz’s success in retooling his program after a 7-6 season has earned him the FWAA’s national coaching honor.”

More…

Pillars of the FWAA: Bob Hentzen (1932-2000), Topeka Capital-Journal 2

ffaw_redesignThe Football Writers Association of America is celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2015. Founded in 1941, the FWAA has served the writing profession and college football during a time when the world has changed greatly and the sport of football has along with it. In an effort to tell the stories of the members of the organization, we will publish sketches of the FWAA’s most important leaders — all Bert McGrane Award winners.

The Bert McGrane Award, symbolic of the association’s Hall of Fame, is presented to an FWAA member who has performed great service to the organization and/or the writing profession. It is named after McGrane, a Des Moines, Iowa, writer who was the executive secretary of the FWAA from the early 1940s until 1973. The McGrane Award was first bestowed on an FWAA member in 1974.

For a list of all the winners go to:  http://www.sportswriters.net/fwaa/awards/mcgrane/index.html.

The following is the 22nd installment of the Pillars of the FWAA series. Bob Hentzen was the 1993 winner of the Bert McGrane Award. Thanks to FWAA member Gene Duffey for writing and researching this sketch.

By Gene Duffey
Bob Hentzen, 1993 winner of the Bert McGrane Award.

Bob Hentzen, 1993 winner of the Bert McGrane Award.

His license plate probably described Bob Hentzen best. It read “GOBBH,” which stood for Good ‘Ol Boy Bob Hentzen.

He worked in a different era, when access to athletes was much easier, when writers and coaches could become friends, and the smaller the paper you worked for, the more you did.

“His idea of a perfect weekend was covering a prep game Friday night, a college game Saturday and a Chiefs or Royals game Sunday,” said Rick Dean, a colleague of Hentzen’s for years with the Topeka Capital- Journal. “He got to know coaches really well, when you could do that, without ever being a homer.”

Hentzen was named sports editor of the Topeka paper in 1968 and didn’t retire until 1996. He wrote approximately 8,500 columns in those years, in addition to writing game stories and still working the desk one night a week into his 50s. He continued to write a weekly column in retirement.

He covered the first Super Bowl in January 1967 at the Los Angeles Coliseum between Kansas City and Green Bay. The game was known as the World Championship Game: NFL vs. AFL. The term Super Bowl hadn’t been invented yet.

“He interviewed (Chiefs coach) Hank Stram in his hotel room the week of the game,” said Dean.

More…

Stanford’s Joshua Garnett wins 2015 Outland Trophy

ffaw_redesignATLANTA — Offensive guard Joshua Garnett was announced as Stanford’s first Outland Trophy winner on Thursday evening during The Home Depot College Football Awards on ESPN.

Garnett, a 6-5, 321-pound senior from Puyallup, Wash., claimed the 70th annual Outland as the nation’s most outstanding interior lineman over two other finalists — Baylor offensive tackle Spencer Drango and Alabama defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson — at the 25th annual show, which was held for the first time at the College Football Hall of Fame.

Garnett, a human biology major, is the first offensive guard to win the Outland Trophy since Nebraska’s Aaron Taylor in 1997.

outland trophy bwGarnett has been a dominant run blocker for the Pac-12 champions, who have scored 30 or more points in each of its past 12 games. He has started 28 straight games for Stanford, which has rushed for at least 100 yards in 47 of its last 50 games. Garnett, a team captain, is a great finisher of blocks and through 13 games has 104 pancakes. He has helped Stanford win the time of possession battle in 17 of the last 19 games with his consistent offensive line play.

Overall, Stanford (11-2) leads the nation in time of possession this season. Stanford ranks 19th in the Football Bowl Subdivision in rushing offense and 18th in scoring heading into a Rose Bowl battle with Iowa.

Garnett, Stanford’s Player of the Game in a 55-17 victory over Arizona, is one of the highest-rated guards for the NFL Draft next spring. He is only Stanford’s second Outland Trophy finalist after offensive guard David DeCastro (2011), a NFL first-round pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers. And he is the first West Coast player to win the Outland Trophy since Washington State defensive tackle Rien Long in 2002.

Joshua Garnett

Joshua Garnett

More…

Temple’s Matakevich wins 2015 Bronko Nagurski Trophy

broko logosCHARLOTTE, N.C. — Temple senior linebacker Tyler Matakevich was named the 2015 Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner on Monday night, a feat paralleling his team’s rise to its first Top 25 ranking since 1980 and record-tying 10-victory season in which the Owls won the American Athletic Conference’s East Division crown.

The Football Writers Association of America and the Charlotte Touchdown Club made the announcement at a gala banquet presented by ACN at the Westin Hotel in downtown Charlotte, N.C. Matakevich, the school’s all-time tackle leader, is the first major award winner for Temple (10-3), which is headed to the Marmot Boca Raton Bowl to play Toledo on Dec. 22. 

This year’s banquet marks the 21st anniversary of the event in Charlotte, where Matakevich beat out the other finalists: Duke safety Jeremy Cash, Clemson end Shaq Lawson, Penn State end Carl Nassib and Alabama linebacker Reggie Ragland.

The 6-1, 232-pound Matakevich, the first, first-team defensive All-American in Temple history, now has collected the title as the best defensive player in college football. Adding to the story, Temple was the only Football Bowl Subdivision school to recruit him out of Stratford, Conn.

“They (most recruiters) told me I was too small, too slow and I could not play at this level,” Matakevich said. “It was everybody.”

But current Temple head coach Matt Rhule, who was an assistant on the staff at the time, looked at him differently. More…

Writer laments declining access to players 2

Editor’s note: Ed Sherman, former Chicago Tribune, was FWAA President in 1994. This column was written for his web site, The Sherman Report, http://www.shermanreport.com.

By Ed Sherman

ffaw_redesignDuring my early days as the new national college football writer for the Chicago Tribune, I went to Florida State to do a story on Deion Sanders in 1988. He was the big star for the Seminoles, already showing the memorable antics that complemented his incredible talent.

I was invited to have lunch with Sanders at the team’s training table. Nobody from the sports information department sat in on our interview. It was just me and “Neon” Deion.

I recall a memorable moment. While making small talk, and being more than a bit naïve, I asked, “How’s school going?”

Keep in mind, Sanders was a senior bound for the NFL and he already had a big-money contract to play baseball for the Yankees. School wasn’t exactly high on his agenda. A few of his teammates overheard the question and began ribbing him. “Yes, Deion, tell us about your classes…”

“Oh, school’s great, just great,” said Sanders while losing the battle to keep a straight face.

More…

Three finalists for Outland Trophy named

ffaw_redesignOMAHA — Three finalists for the 2015 Outland Trophy — two offensive linemen and one defensive tackle — were announced on Tuesday afternoon on The Home Depot College Football Awards Nomination Special on ESPNU.

The Football Writers Association of America, in a vote of its 2015 All-America Committee, has determined the following three finalists for the award, in alphabetical order: Baylor offensive tackle Spencer Drango, Stanford offensive guard Joshua Garnett and Alabama defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson.

The winner of the 70th Outland Trophy, awarded to the best interior lineman in college football on offense or defense, will be revealed Thurs., Dec. 10 on ESPN on The Home Depot College Football Awards. For the first time the show will originate from the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta from 7 to 9 p.m. ET.

outland trophy bwHere is a look at the three finalists:

Spencer Drango, OT, Baylor (6-6, 320, Sr., Cedar Park, Texas): Drango has a team-high 45 career starts (23 consecutive) for the powerful Bears’ offensive line. He is also a William V. Campbell Trophy finalist (top academic player). He is in his fourth season as a starting left tackle for an offense that is on pace to break an FBS record for total yards gained per game and is close to the all-time scoring record in points per game. The Bears’ offense is No. 1 in scoring and yards gained per game in the FBS in 2015. Drango is grading out at 93 percent and has 36 knockdowns. The veteran Baylor offensive line has allowed just 12 sacks in 10 games.

Joshua Garnett, G, Stanford (6-5, 321, Sr., Puyallup, Wash.): A dominant run blocker for the Cardinal, which has scored 30 or more points in each of its past 10 games. He has started 26 straight games for Stanford, which has rushed for at least 100 yards in 45 of its last 48 games. Garnett, a team captain, is a great finisher of blocks and through 11 games had 82 pancakes. He has helped Stanford win the time of possession battle in 15 of its last 17 games with his consistent play. Stanford is 15th in the FBS in rushing offense and 21st in scoring.

A’Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama (6-4, 312, Jr., Fort Worth, Texas): A talented defender on the Crimson Tide’s line who has been one of the Alabama coaches’ defensive players of the game five times this season. He set the tone in the Crimson Tide’s recent 31-6 victory at Mississippi State with a career-high 2.5 sacks and leads the team with eight quarterback hurries to go with a career-high 36 tackles. He has seven tackles for 23 yards in losses this season and has broken up two passes, recovered a fumble and blocked a kick. Alabama is tied for third in scoring defense and is third in total defense in the FBS.

More…

Writer recalls an unseen side of Mizzou coach Gary Pinkel

As Missouri coach Gary Pinkel prepares to coach his last game at Faurot Field, Dave Matter of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch relates a story about Pinkel he has kept to himself for 15 years, when Pinkel, usually aloof the media, showed a side Matter didn’t suspect he had, offering his support in a moment of tragedy, after Matter’s boss at the Columbia Daily Tribune was murdered in the newspaper’s parking lot. CLICK HERE to read Matter’s column.

Dufresne leaving LA Times

2013 FWAA President Chris Dufresne

2013 FWAA President Chris Dufresne

All the news that’s fit to print — in 140 characters.  Chris Dufresne, president of the Football Writers Association of America in 2013, announced on Twitter this week that he is leaving the Los Angeles Times.

“News that will thrill some, sadden others: Buyout application accepted today from L.A. Times. Sorry, 140 characters can’t wrap up 40 years.”

Dufresne, a long-time national football and basketball reporter, started at the paper when he was 18 years old. His departure will come within the next couple of months.

FWAA names semifinalists for Outland Trophy

ffaw_redesignOMAHA Six semifinalists for the 2015 Outland Trophy five offensive linemen and one defensive tackle were announced on Thursday night during a reception hosted by the Greater Omaha Sports Committee.

The Football Writers Association of America, in a call of its 2015 All-America Committee, has determined the following six players as semifinalists for the award, in alphabetical order: Baylor offensive tackle Spencer Drango, Stanford offensive guard Joshua Garnett, Alabama center Ryan Kelly, Alabama defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson, Indiana offensive tackle Jason Spriggs and Notre Dame offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley.

outland trophy bwThe field for the Outland Trophy, which is awarded to the best interior lineman in college football on offense or defense, will be reduced to three players early next week. Those finalists will be announced the evening of Nov. 24 on ESPNU at 5 p.m. ET during The Home Depot College Football Awards Nomination Special. The winner of the 70th Outland Trophy will be revealed on Dec. 10 from 7-9 p.m. ET on ESPN on The Home Depot College Football Awards, for the first time live from the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta.

Here is a look at the semifinalists:

Spencer Drango, OT, Baylor (6-6, 320, Sr., Cedar Park, Texas): An Outland Trophy semifinalist in 2014, Drango has 44 career starts for the powerful Bears offense. He is also a William V. Campbell Trophy finalist (top academic player). The veteran Baylor offensive lineman has allowed just 11 sacks in nine games. He is in his fourth season as a starting left tackle for an offense that is currently on pace to break FBS records for scoring in a season and total yards gained per game. The Baylor offense is No. 1 in scoring and fifth in rushing this season in the FBS and Drango is the unquestioned leader on the line.

Joshua Garnett, OG, Stanford (6-5, 321, Sr., Puyallup, Wash.): A veteran guard who has been a dominant run blocker for the Cardinal, which has scored 30 points in each of its past nine games. He has started 25 straight games for Stanford, which has rushed for at least 100 yards in 44 of its last 47 games. A team captain, Garnett is a great finisher of blocks and through eight games had 64 “pancakes.” He has helped Stanford win the time of possession battle in 15 of the last 16 games with consistent line play. Stanford is 16th in the FBS in rushing offense and 22nd in scoring.

Ryan Kelly, C, Alabama (6-5, 297, Sr., West Chester, Ohio): A William V. Campbell Trophy (top academic player) semifinalist, Kelly is the leader of Alabama’s offensive line, which paves the way for Heisman Trophy candidate running back Derrick Henry. Kelly, a third-year starter at center and captain, was named the Southeastern Conference Offensive Lineman of the Week after Alabama’s 30-16 victory over LSU in which the Tide gained 250 yards rushing. In that game, Kelly graded out at 92 percent. He also was one of the Alabama coaches’ offensive players of the game against Wisconsin, Georgia, Tennessee and LSU.

A’Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama (6-4, 312, Jr., Fort Worth, Texas): A talented defender on the Crimson Tide’s line who has been one of the Alabama coaches’ defensive players of the game five times this season. He set the tone in the Crimson Tide’s 31-6 victory at Mississippi State last week with 2.5 sacks. He leads the team with eight quarterback hurries and has made a career-high 34 tackles this season, including seven tackles for 23 yards in losses. In addition, he has broken up two passes, recovered a fumble and blocked a kick.

Jason Spriggs, OT, Indiana (6-7, 305, Sr., Elkhart, Ind.): In his senior season for the Hoosiers, he has allowed just two sacks in 365 called pass plays. He has started in 44 of 45 career games and has 56 pancakes in 805 snaps this season. The Hoosiers lead the Big Ten in total offense, are second in passing offense, third in rushing offense and fourth in scoring offense.

Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame (6-5, 315, Sr., Las Vegas, Nev.): Considered a top NFL prospect for a team that is 23rd in the nation in rushing offense and 30th in scoring. Stanley has started every game this season at left tackle and has started 36 straight games overall for the Fighting Irish, whose only loss this season came at now top-ranked Clemson, 24-22.

More…