Photo gallery: Bronko Nagurski Trophy presentation

These pictures, from the Dec. 7 banquet for the presentation of the Bronko Nagurski Trophy to Temple senior linebacker Tyler Matakevich, were provided by the Charlotte Touchdown Club and Treasured Events of Charlotte.  Matakevich is the 23rd winner of the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, which goes annually to FWAA’s selection as the best defensive player in college football.

Omaha rolls out 19th Outland Trophy banquet

ffaw_redesignOMAHA — Join us for the presentation of the Outland Trophy to college football’s top interior lineman. The 19th consecutive Outland Trophy Award Dinner in Omaha will be on Thursday, Jan. 14 at 7 p.m. at the Downtown DoubleTree Hotel, 16th & Dodge Streets. Tickets are $75 each and tables of 10 sell for $750.

Stanford offensive guard Joshua Garnett, the 2015 Outland Trophy winner, and Stanford Coach, David Shaw, will be at the dinner.

This prestigious football evening will also feature former Outland Award Winner Randy White (Maryland ’74).  White, a member of the College Football Hall of Fame, went on to a tremendous career with the Dallas Cowboys.  Rotary Club of Omaha-Downtown is sponsoring his Outland Trophy.  From 1946 through 1989, the Outland winner was presented a plaque.
outland trophy bwThe second annual Tom Osborne Legacy Award, also sponsored by the Rotary Club of Omaha-Downtown, will be presented to Jim Ridlon Sr., a gifted artist and athlete who played halfback and defensive back for Syracuse from 1954 to 1957. He played six seasons with the 49ers and then with the Dallas Cowboys. Ridlon was named an All-Pro defensive back in 1964.

Coach Osborne will present his award.  Last year’s inaugural winner, Milt Tenopir, will be at the event.

Also appearing at the dinner for the 18th straight year will be the winners of Nebraska’s football senior awards: the Novak Trophy (Andy Janovich) the Chamberlin Trophy (Jack Gangwish) and the Cletus Fischer Native Son Award (Ryne Reeves).  Nebraska Coach Mike Riley and Cornhusker assistant Coaches have been invited to attend.

For information call (402) 346-8003.

 

Ivan Maisel named 2016 Bert McGrane Award winner 2

ffaw_redesignDALLAS — Veteran journalist Ivan Maisel, whose work has appeared in The Dallas Morning News, Newsday, Sports Illustrated and on ESPN.com, is the winner of the FWAA’s prestigious Bert McGrane Award. He will be honored next Monday at the FWAA’s Annual Awards Breakfast in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Celebrating  its 75th Anniversary — founded in 1941 — the FWAA will bestow the honor on Maisel, 55, an award-winning journalist who served as the FWAA’s President in 1995.

The Bert McGrane Award, symbolic of the association’s Hall of Fame, has been awarded to person who has performed great service to the organization and/or profession since 1974. McGrane is a former Des Moines, Iowa sportswriter-editor, who served as the association’s executive director from the early 1940s until 1973.

Ivan Maisel

Ivan Maisel

Maisel is the 43rd recipient of the Bert McGrane Award, which appears in the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta. He succeeds National Football Foundation President and CEO Steve Hatchell as winner of the award.

“I can’t imagine an award more worthy than one selected by your peers,” Maisel said. “The Bert McGrane Award winners are featured in the College Football Hall of Fame, and there can’t be anything cooler than that.”

A sportswriter since 1981, he has covered national college football at The Dallas Morning News (1987-94), Newsday (1994-97), Sports Illustrated (1997-2002) and ESPN.com (2002-present). Maisel, who hails from Alabama but graduated from Stanford, lists a long list of friends and associates who have boosted his career.

“Dan Jenkins, then and now;  the late Ron Fimrite, who not only wrote with a  clean grace and a man-about-town style, but showed me how to treat my subjects; Steve Wulf, who taught me how to make the little anecdote tell a bigger story; Dave Smith, who hired me at The Dallas Morning News and put me on the national college football beat, if not on the front of the Sunday sports section; and my friend and colleague for the last 13 years, David Duffey, who shares my passion and sensibility about what makes a story.

“And my writing colleagues: I learned reporting from Mark Blaudschun; fresh ideas, humor and integrity from Gene Wojciechowski; passion from Tony Barnhart; hard work from Dennis Dodd, and from our beat writer of the year, Chris Dufresne, just great wit.”

Maisel adds what the FWAA has meant to him:  “As our collective voice to the schools and conferences, as the publisher of the directory, which for its 20-year existence has remained in my bag, and as the gathering place for my friends and colleagues, the FWAA has developed into an invaluable professional resource.”

His year as FWAA President was tumultuous. The organization was in transition.

“I had not been president more than a few weeks when I received news that our executive director, Volney Meece, had died suddenly,” Maisel said. “My two greatest accomplishments as FWAA President were one, I picked up the phone when Steve Richardson called to inquire about replacing Volney; and two, I suggested that we create a directory similar to the NFL Black Book. Tiger made it happen, as he has made everything happen for the FWAA for more than 20 years.”

Maisel has had a working bag at most of the big college games during the last three decades, but two or those stand out even to him, a grizzled writing veteran who has adapted well to the new communications age. Maisel has served as host of the ESPN Championship Drive podcast since 2007.

“I was in the press box when Kordell Stewart threw the Hail Mary at the Big House in 1994,” he said. “Vahe Gregorian and I didn’t leave early for the locker room, and that taught me not to leave if the winner is in doubt. I saw Reggie Bush go off on Fresno State in 2005. I was in the press box in 2013 at Jordan-Hare Stadium for the Kick Six.”

He wrote a first-place story in the FWAA Best Writing Contest on that Auburn thriller over Alabama, one of six awards he has captured over the years in the FWAA Contest alone. He has won three straight game story first-place awards. The football for that one is already in his den back in Fairfield, Connecticut, where he resides with wife Meg. They have two daughters, Sarah, who lives in San Francisco, and Elizabeth, a freshman at Stanford. Their son Max, 21, died in February.

“We miss Max every day,” Maisel said. “My life is not as full as it had been for 21 years, and I expect it never will be. You learn to carry the pain and loss, because they are just … there. We are going about the task of putting one foot in front of the other.”

Maisel’s FWAA Awards

  • 1993, Enterprise: The state of minority coaches in I-A football.
  • 2002, Column: Dennis Franchione’s sudden departure from Alabama
  • 2005, Feature: the Tulane football team in the days after Katrina
  • 2012, Game: No. 1 Kansas State is stunned at Baylor
  • 2013, Game: The Kick Six
  • 2014, Game: Oregon embarrasses Florida State.

Pillars of the FWAA: Bob Hammel (1936-), Bloomington Herald-Times

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 24th installment of the Pillars of the FWAA series. Bob Hammel  was the 1996 winner of the Bert McGrane Award. Thanks to FWAA member Gene Duffey for writing and researching this sketch.

By Gene Duffey

In 1967, Bob Hammel’s second year at the Bloomington Herald-Telephone and first season full-time on the beat, John Pont coached Indiana to a Big Ten title and a Rose Bowl berth. For a guy such as Hammel, who grew up in Indiana with its nasty winters, a week in Pasadena, Calif., in late December was more than welcome.

Bob Hammel, 1996 winner of the Bert McGrane Award

Bob Hammel, 1996 winner of the Bert McGrane Award

“This is kind of fun,” Hammel said to himself. “We ought to do this every few years.”

Nearly a half century later the Hoosiers still hadn’t made it back to Pasadena. But Hammel made it to plenty of other places in his 42 years as a sports writer. He retired from sports at the same paper with a different name, the Herald-Times,  in 1996, never wanting to work anywhere but Bloomington, where, for much of his career, he covered the exploits of  Indiana basketball coach Bob Knight.

“It was a great spot,” he said. “The paper was awfully good to me. If I wanted to go somewhere, I went. Bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better.”

Hammel covered five Olympics and 23 Final Fours. His final assignment was writing about the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. But the most meaningful, undoubtedly, had to be the 1972 Summer Games in Munich, infamously remembered for the Black September terrorist group that murdered Israeli athletes and coaches.

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President’s column: Championship week includes several FWAA events in Arizona

ffaw_redesignBy Lee Barfknecht

OMAHA — Don’t close the door on college football’s 2015 season just yet. Multiple events during the College Football Playoff’s championship week in Arizona will involve the Football Writers Association of America.

On Jan. 8, a dinner to salute past presidents of the FWAA is set at Paradise Valley Country Club. Last year, 11 former chiefs attended and we look for strong attendance and story-telling again this year.

On Jan. 9, a reception is set to honor Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz as the 59th winner of the FWAA/Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award presented by the Allstate Sugar Bowl. The event will be at the media hotel, the JW Marriott Camelback in Scottsdale.

FWAA 2015 President Lee Barfknecht.

FWAA 2015 President Lee Barfknecht.

Ferentz’s Hawkeyes, who were 7-6 in 2014, were picked fourth in the Big Ten West Division in a preseason media poll. Iowa instead rolled to the division title, going 12-0 in the regular season.

Ferentz was a finalist for the Eddie Robinson Award in 2002 and 2004. He is the first Big Ten coach to win it since Ohio State’s Jim Tressel in 2002. The FWAA has honored a coach of the year since 1957. The first winner was Ohio State’s Woody Hayes. The Eddie Robinson name began to grace the award in 1997.

On Jan. 10, the FWAA’s board of directors will gather for its annual meeting. Among the ongoing topics our organization has high interest in and will discuss are access for news media, bowl game operations, our player and team of the week awards and the growth of the FWAA.

On Jan. 11, the morning of the championship game, the annual FWAA awards breakfast is set. Among those to be saluted:

Irv Moss of the Denver Post will be honored with the FWAA’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Moss, at 81, is still covering the college football beat.

Chris Dufresne, the FWAA beat writer of the year. The 2013 FWAA President recently took a buyout after 40 years at The Los Angeles Times.

Bret Robertson, U.S. Army veteran and a junior strong safety at Westminster (Mo.) College, as the Armed Services Merit Award winner presented by the FWAA and coordinated by the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl. Robertson earned a Purple Heart (he was wounded in Iraq) and the Army Commendation Medal.

The winners of the Bert McGrane Award (FWAA Hall of Fame) and Volney Meece Award (academic scholarship for a son or daughter of an FWAA member) will be announced in the coming days.

Dufresne to be honored as FWAA Beat Writer of the Year; read his farewell column after 40 years at the LA Times

2013 FWAA President Chris Dufresne

2013 FWAA President Chris Dufresne

Chris Dufresne, president of the Football Writers Association of America in 2013, will be honored as the FWAA’s Beat Writer of the Year and receive a commemorative football at our annual Awards Breakfast on Jan. 11 at the JW Marriott Scottsdale Camelback Inn Resort and Spa.

Dufresne also recently retired after 40 years at The Los Angeles Times. CLICK HERE to read his Farewell Column, published on Dec. 8 in The Times.

 

 

 

 

Pillars of the FWAA: Don Bryant (1929-2014), University of Nebraska SID

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 24th installment of the Pillars of the FWAA series. Don Bryant was the 1998 winner of the Bert McGrane Award. Thanks to FWAA member Gene Duffey for writing and researching this sketch.

By Gene Duffey

Don Bryant’s football and track career never progressed much past his days at Lincoln High School.

Bryant, known as “Fox,” joined the Marines right out of school in 1946. He enrolled at Nebraska in the fall of 1948 and went out for the freshman football team.

Don Bryant, 1998 winner of the Bert McGrane Award

Don Bryant, 1998 winner of the Bert McGrane Award

“I wasn’t worth a damn,” he said. “I couldn’t run for a bus.”

Bryant had weighed 156 pounds in high school and expanded to 190 by his first year at Nebraska. His days as a miler were behind him. But another door soon opened. Bryant shared a Spanish class with Norris Anderson, who was sports editor of the Lincoln Star.

“Fox, you aren’t worth (anything) in football and you’re too fat to run track,” Anderson told him one day. “Why not come to work for me?”

The Marines recalled Bryant in 1950 when the Korean Conflict began heating up. “I was told I was going to Tokyo,” said Bryant. “They canceled that.” He ended up in Cherry Point, North Carolina, working for the base newspaper.

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Photo gallery: College Football Awards Show in Atlanta

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.

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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.”

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