2019 Best Column: Ivan Maisel

Comment by the judge: Suicide: Amazing story weaving the writer’s personal emotions and experience with that of the parents of the Washington State quarterback who committed suicide. “A club no parent ever wants to join” is an insightful empathy that only someone with intimate knowledge of the pain and heartache could put into words. Phenomenal.

By Ivan Maisel

ESPN.com

IRVINE, Calif. — I came of age in the wake of Woodward and Bernstein, when young journalists were taught to be as neutral as the painted highway stripe. After nearly four decades as a sportswriter, I have learned to negotiate a middle ground between my training and my life experience. Some stories demand more of the latter.

I understood that the moment I read last January that Washington State quarterback Tyler Hilinski ended his life. He was a college junior, 21 years old, the second of three children, hundreds of miles away from home.

Almost three years earlier, my son Max ended his life. He was a college junior, the second of three children, 21 years old, hundreds of miles away from home.

Like a winemaker trying to create a structured red, how much of the skin you leave in the juice changes the color and character of the final product. I’ve got a lot of skin in this one.

There’s often an immediate intimacy among parents whose children have ended their lives. We get it. The loss of a child is an awful subject, so awful that it makes people uncomfortable. They don’t know what to say. One of the many secrets of The Club No One Wants to Join is that we love to talk about the children we’ve lost. Talking about them keeps them present.

But people hesitate, sometimes under the guise of protecting the feelings of the bereaved. I would say, always with a smile to smooth the delivery of the sarcasm, “You know, if you hadn’t brought Max up, I wouldn’t have been thinking of him.”

When you live with the awful every moment of every day, the awful becomes everyday. It is no longer so daunting. When someone told me I was living “a parent’s worst nightmare,” I responded, “No, you wake up from nightmares.”

The first time I called Mark Hilinski, Tyler’s father, we spoke for 1 hour, 10 minutes. “I had never talked to anybody — in my spot,” Mark said later, with a mirthless laugh. “Got emails, got letters, got cards, read a ton. … But that was the first time I had talked to anybody that kinda sat over here, and I appreciated it.”

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2019 Best Feature: Bob Hammel

Comment by the judge: Usually don’t care for first person stories, but this one was exceptional. The writer subtlely worked his way in as merely an observer of one of the most significant, yet often unknown, players in college football history.  Good writing and presentation.      

By Bob Hammel

Bloomington Herald-Times retired

For years, for a full generation after them, they looked out from an honored spot on the northeast wall of The Gables restaurant, a humming place then with its own hallowed role in IU history. It was a picture as iconic in Indiana University football history as the one of the Four Horsemen is at Notre Dame. A black-and-white picture given color, of the starters on the 1945 team that had given Indiana – still – its best season in history. Four feet-by-twelve feet, posted for the first time the week of the Purdue game in 1945. You can still see that picture today, on the third floor of Henke Hall in Memorial Stadium’s north end zone, and they still look heroic.

And today, the 75th anniversary of their season just a couple of horizons away, they are almost all gone. Quarterback Ben Raimondi is the last one standing after the death Monday of George Taliaferro – maybe not the best of them, but if not, close; maybe not the reason they went unbeaten, but a reason; definitely, no maybe about it, the legendmaker of them all.

IU lost a whole lot more than a former football player Monday. George ruffled his share of feathers along the way but made a great university greater. Football was his starting point, but not his limit. He was a champion of integration and racial equality, but that didn’t fully define him, either. He was the first to admit he married “up,” and he and wife Viola gave Bloomington a community conscience regarding responsibility and genuine care for kids, kids coming along without Rockwellian families, kids who are our future. Black kids, white kids, kids. The Taliaferros, long after the last football stadium cheer died out, influenced that future in ways that will live long after both.

But today my own mind sees George on a football field, George in No. 44, George in the flame of youth playing a game but changing a world.

As events as recently as last week remind us, Bloomington, IU, the Big Ten, college athletics have not always been equal-opportunity symbols. George came to IU from Gary Roosevelt High, one of those all-black schools intended in metropolitan areas to do just that: take in all of a community’s black kids so the rest of the city could stay all-white. Those schools – Crispus Attucks in Indianapolis, Lincoln in Evansville two of them – were public but denied full entry into the Indiana High School Athletic Association until 1943, when George was already in high school. At Roosevelt, his teams rarely played hometown opponents, commonly routed out of state – sometimes long distances – to find teams that would play them.

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Members: Nominate your daughter or son for the Volney Meece Scholarship

The FWAA is now accepting applications for the 23nd annual Volney Meece Scholarship.

For an application please contact Dave Sittler, 8314 S. Jamestown Ave, Tulsa, OK 74137. His email is davesitt@aol.com and his cell phone is 918-629-3851 (text).

Applications must be received by Dec. 15, 2019.

The scholarship is awarded annually by the FWAA and named for the late Volney Meece, who served 22 years as the FWAA’s Executive Director and was the organization’s President in 1971.

The $1,000 annual grant for four years is awarded to a deserving son or daughter of an FWAA member. Since the program started in 1997, the FWAA has distributed more than $90,000 in scholarship money to deserving children of FWAA members.

The winner will be announced at the FWAA’s Annual Awards Breakfast at the media hotel in conjunction with the College Football Playoff  National Championship Game.

Past winners of the Volney Meece Scholarship
1997  Brett Goering  Topeka, Kan.
1998  Kelly Brooks  Denver, Colo.
1999  James Butz  Schaumberg, Ill.
2000  Sara Barnhart  Atlanta, Ga.
2001  Patrick Davis  Coventry, Conn.
2002  Jacqueline O’Toole  Gaithersburg, Md.
2003  Garrett Holtz  Denver, Colo.
2004  Katie Hersom  Oklahoma City, Okla.
2005  Katie Wieberg  Lawson, Mo.
2006  Kaylynn Monroe  Winter Park, Fla.
2007  Nate Kerkhoff  Overland Park, Kan.
2008  Jack Caywood  Lawrence, Kan.
2009  Haley Dodd  Overland Park, Kan.
2010  Donald Hunt  Philadelphia, Pa.
2011  Alaina Martens  Papillion, Neb.
2012  Emily Alford  Tupelo, Miss.
2013  Sarah Helsley  Edmond, Okla.
2014 Robert Abramson Palos Verde, Calif.
2015 Danielle Hoover Tulsa, Okla.
2016 Dolen Helwagen Pataskala, Ohio
2017 Elizabeth Schroeder Norman, Okla.
2018 Mallory Rosetta Baton Rouge, La.

President’s column: Monitoring safety and access as the season begins

By Matt Fortuna

Greetings from game day, which in my case meant Death Valley for a primetime Thursday debut of the defending national champs, and in your case can mean anywhere from Minneapolis to College Station, with plenty of places in between.

2019 FWAA President Matt Fortuna

With talkin’ season over and the actual football season finally here, I wanted to check in with our membership and share some of the themes we have been gathering from across the country during both the media days circuit and the fall camp circuit.

We have heard plenty of good, such as the school that reached out to FWAA board member Nicole Auerbach to ask what the program could do to ensure the safety of women who cover night games there this season.

We have also heard some not so-good, such as the assistant coaches at one school who have reached out to multiple reporters on their beat to complain about protocols put in place by their media relations folks.

Conference media days are always tough events to measure when it comes to convenience, given the differing needs of so many different outlets in a short time span. I do want to single out the Pac-12’s operation, however, for running a first-class event. I went out to Los Angeles on behalf of the FWAA in July, and I have to say, whether your outlet was in print, on television or on radio, you were able to get every single thing you needed in a relaxed environment — all in a day’s span. Bravo.

Additionally, members of our access committee have kept their eyes and ears to the ground in reporting back to us about matters both good and bad that they have come across. It is important to remember that this is a two-way street between media and SIDs, and that we must be able to police ourselves if we see someone on one of our beats abusing the privileges that we receive as part of our jobs. As always, I am available for any questions or advice at mfortuna@theathletic.com.

With all of that being said, now the real fun (and pressure) begins. Games will be won and lost, which means that questions will become a little more specific, which in turn means that coaches and players will become a little more guarded in their answers. Let’s all remember how mutually beneficial all of our relationships can be. As ESPN’s CFB150 special, “Football Is Us,” reminded us last week, Knute Rockne — arguably the most famous coach of them all — was the absolute best when it came to PR.

I’d say that philosophy worked out pretty well for all parties he came across.

Happy football season, everyone! Look forward to hearing from you all.

Nominations sought 2019 Armed Forces Merit Award

FORT WORTH, Texas — Nominations are now being accepted for the 2019 Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the Football Writers Association of America.

Armed Forces Merit Award

Coordinated by the staff at the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl, the Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the FWAA was created in June 2012 “to honor an individual or a group with a military background and/or involvement impacting college football.”

Nominations for the 2019 Armed Forces Merit Award will be accepted through October 1. At that time, a selection committee of five FWAA members and two representatives from the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl will review the list of candidates. The 2019 recipient will be announced on Veteran’s Day, November 11.

“We are pleased to join with the Football Writers Association of America to honor an individual with a military background or group that works with our armed services that has an impact within college football,” said Brant Ringler, the Executive Director of the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl.

FWAA Executive Director Steve Richardson echoed Ringler’s sentiments, adding that the group “has an outstanding list of candidates each year, making it difficult to honor only one recipient when there are several individuals and programs so very deserving of the honor.”

From among 56 nominations considered for the 2018 award, Robert Morris President and Air Force veteran Dr. Chris Howard was selected as the seventh recipient of the Armed Forces Merit Award. A 1991 graduate of the United States Air Force Academy, Dr. Howard was a Rhodes Scholar and received the 1990 Campbell Trophy, the highest academic award in the nation presented to a senior college football player by the National Football Foundation.

To nominate an individual or group for the Armed Forces Merit Award, please click on the link below for the nomination form, which should be completed and returned to:

Tim Simmons
Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl
9655 Yellowstone Road
Longmont, CO 80504

Armed Forces Merit Award Nomination Form.

 

2019 Bronko Nagurski Trophy watch list unveiled

92 players get consideration for defensive player of the year

DALLAS – The Football Writers Association of America released its 2019 Bronko Nagurski Trophy Watch List today, selecting 92 defensive standouts from 65 schools in all 10 Division I FBS conferences plus independents on a roster that includes four returning players from last season’s FWAA All-America team.

Grant Delpit, a junior safety from LSU, tops the list as the lone returning Bronko Nagurski Trophy finalist and FWAA first-team All-American from last season. Joining him on the list are three other returning 2018 FWAA second-team All-Americans in Virginia cornerback Bryce Hall, Michigan State defensive end Kenny Willekes, and Stanford cornerback Paulson Adebo.

Alabama leads the team count with four representatives – linebackers Anfernee Jennings and Dylan Moses, end Raekwon Davis and cornerback Trevon Diggs. In addition to Delpit, LSU boasts linebacker Jacob Phillips and cornerback Kristian Fulton on the list to tie Iowa State, Notre Dame and Penn State with three members each. There are 16 schools with two members on the list.

Players may be added or removed from the watch list during the course of the season. As in previous years, the FWAA will announce a National Defensive Player of the Week each Tuesday this season. If not already on the watch list, each week’s honored player will be added at that time. The FWAA and the Charlotte Touchdown Club will announce five finalists for the 2019 Bronko Nagurski Trophy on Nov. 20.

The Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner will be chosen from those five finalists. The FWAA All-America Committee, after voting input from the association’s full membership, selects a 26-man All-America Team and eventually the Nagurski Trophy finalists. Committee members, by individual ballot, select the winner they regard as the best defensive player in college football.

This year’s watch list includes at least four players from eight of the 10 FBS conferences. The SEC (18) and Big Ten (15) have the most members and combine to make up more than one-third of the 92-man list. The ACC and Pac-12 (12 each) and Big 12 (11) also have double-digit representation, followed by the American Athletic (6), Independents (5), Conference USA (4), Mountain West (4), Mid-American (3) and Sun Belt (2). The list includes 36 linebackers, 28 backs, 21 ends and seven tackles.

2019 BRONKO NAGURSKI TROPHY PRESEASON WATCH LIST (92)
DB DeMarkus Acy, Missouri DE Mustafa Johnson, Colorado
DB Paulson Adebo, Stanford DE Patrick Johnson, Tulane
DE Bradlee Anae, Utah LB Clay Johnston, Baylor
LB Rayshard Ashby, Virginia Tech DB Brandon Jones, Texas
LB Joe Bachie, Michigan State LB Antonio Jones-Davis, NIU
DE JaQuan Bailey, Iowa State DE Khalid Kareem, Notre Dame
LB Markus Bailey, Purdue LB Nate Landman, Colorado
DB Essang Bassey, Wake Forest LB Sage Lewis, FIU
LB Shaun Bradley, Temple DT Ray Lima, Iowa State
DB Antoine Brooks Jr., Maryland LB Bryan London II, Texas State
LB Jordyn Brooks, Texas Tech LB Jordan Mack, Virginia
DT Derrick Brown, Auburn DT Justin Madubuke, Texas A&M
DB Myles Bryant, Washington DB Kevin McGill, Eastern Michigan
DB Andre Cisco, Syracuse DB Josh Metellus, Michigan
DE Nick Coe, Auburn LB Dylan Moses, Alabama
LB Carter Coughlin, Minnesota LB Kenneth Murray, Oklahoma
DB Cameron Dantzler, Mississippi State DE Julian Okwara, Notre Dame
DE Raekwon Davis, Alabama LB Micah Parsons, Penn State
DB Grant Delpit, LSU LB Jacob Phillips, LSU
DB Trevon Diggs, Alabama LB Shaquille Quarterman, Miami
DE Victor Dimukeje, Duke DB J.R. Reed, Georgia
LB Troy Dye, Oregon DB Elijah Riley, Army
LB Cooper Edmiston, Tulsa DB Amik Robertson, Louisiana Tech
DE A.J. Epenesa, Iowa LB Merlin Robertson, Arizona State
LB Jordan Fehr, Appalachian State DE Alton Robinson, Syracuse
LB Paddy Fisher, Northwestern LB Colin Schooler, Arizona
DB Jordan Fuller, Ohio State DT Jordon Scott, Oregon
DB Kristian Fulton, LSU LB Isaiah Simmons, Clemson
LB Lawrence Garner, Old Dominion LB Marcel Spears, Iowa State
LB Cale Garrett, Missouri DB Caden Sterns, Texas
DE Jonathan Garvin, Miami LB Darrell Taylor, Tennessee
DE Joe Gaziano, Northwestern LB Kyahva Tezino, San Diego State
DB Alohi Gilman, Notre Dame DE Xavier Thomas, Clemson
DB Jeff Gladney, TCU LB Erroll Thompson, Mississippi State
DB Richie Grant, UCF DT Khyiris Tonga, BYU
DB A.J. Green, Oklahoma State DE Jay Tufele, USC
DE Yetur Gross-Matos, Penn State LB Mykal Walker, Fresno State
DB Javon Hagan, Ohio DE Curtis Weaver, Boise State
DB Bryce Hall, Virginia LB Evan Weaver, California
LB Ky’el Hemby, Southern Miss DB James Wiggins, Cincinnati
DB CJ Henderson, Florida DE Kenny Willekes, Michigan State
DB Lavert Hill, Michigan DT Marvin Wilson, Florida State
DE Wyatt Hubert, Kansas State DT Robert Windsor, Penn State
LB Bryce Huff, Memphis LB David Woodward, Utah State
LB Anfernee Jennings, Alabama DE Chase Young, Ohio State
DB Jaylon Johnson, Utah DE Jabari Zuniga, Florida

By conference: SEC 18, Big Ten 15, ACC 12, Pac-12 12, Big 12 11, American Athletic 6, Independents 5, Conference USA 4, Mountain West 4, Mid-American 3, Sun Belt 2.

By position: Linebackers 36, Backs 28, Ends 21, Tackles 7.

Players may be added or removed from the list before or during the season

The 25th Annual Bronko Nagurski Trophy Banquet will be held on Dec. 9 at the Charlotte Convention Center. In addition to the 2019 Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner’s announcement, the banquet will also celebrate former UCLA All-American Jerry Robinson, the recipient of the Bronko Nagurski Legends Award. Ohio State head coach Ryan Day is the keynote speaker.

The FWAA has chosen a National Defensive Player of the Year since 1993. In 1995, the FWAA named the award in honor of the legendary two-way player from the University of Minnesota. Nagurski dominated college football, then became a star for professional football’s Chicago Bears in the 1930s. Bronislaw “Bronko” Nagurski is a charter member of both the College Football and Pro Football Halls of Fame.

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

About the Football Writers Association of America
Founded in 1941, the non-profit Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) consists of more than 1,300 members, including journalists, broadcasters, publicists and key executives in all areas of college football. Led by current President Matt Fortuna of The Athletic, longtime Executive Director Steve Richardson, and a board of veteran journalists, the association continues to grow and work to help college football prosper at all levels. Visit footballwriters.com for more information about the FWAA and its award programs.

About the Charlotte Touchdown Club
The Charlotte Touchdown Club is a non-profit organization founded in 1991 for the purpose of promoting high school, collegiate, and professional football in the Charlotte, N.C., region. The club’s activities and services focus community attention on the outstanding citizenship, scholarship, sportsmanship, and leadership of area athletes and coaches. Since 1991, the club has raised more than $2 million to benefit area high school and collegiate athletics. For more information, contact John Rocco (704-347-2918 or jrocco@touchdownclub.com). The official website of the Charlotte Touchdown Club is touchdownclub.com.

Related link:
Download the 25th Anniversary Bronko Nagurski Trophy logo

2019 Outland Trophy watch list unveiled

83 players get consideration for nation’s top interior lineman

DALLAS — The Football Writers Association of America has announced the preseason watch list for the 2019 Outland Trophy presented by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases. This season’s list presents a rare wide-open field following the departure of all eight Outland Trophy semifinalists from a year ago and the return of only one FWAA All-American, offensive tackle Calvin Throckmorton of Oregon. The Ducks, along with Michigan, top the list with four selections among the 83 standout interior linemen representing all 10 Division I FBS conferences and independents.

This is the second year of a partnership with the NFID to present the Outland Trophy as part of a public awareness campaign focused on the importance of influenza (flu) prevention during the 2019-20 flu season. The award honoring the top interior lineman in college football will continue to be selected by the FWAA membership and has been rebranded as the Outland Trophy presented by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases with a social media hashtag of #FightFlu.

Throckmorton, a senior from Bellevue, Wash., was a second-team FWAA All-American and is the lone member of the 2018 FWAA All-America Team on either interior line to return this season. He is joined by three teammates, center Jake Hanson, guard Shane Lemieux and defensive tackle Jordon Scott. Michigan has four members of its offensive front on the list – center Cesar Ruiz, guards Michael Onwenu and Ben Bredeson, and tackle Jon Runyan. Georgia has three players and 15 other schools have two representatives on the list of standouts.

University of Pittsburgh All-American Mark May, the 1980 Outland Trophy winner, will serve as the Outland Trophy #FightFlu ambassador for the upcoming season. May will make media appearances on behalf of the #FightFlu public awareness campaign to remind people to get their annual flu shots.

The recipient of the 74th Outland Trophy will be announced during ESPN’s The Home Depot College Football Awards on Dec. 12, live from the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta. The official presentation to the winner will be made at the NFID Outland Trophy Awards Dinner sponsored by Werner Enterprises and produced by the Greater Omaha Sports Committee on Jan. 15, 2020. Up to eight semifinalists will be named on Nov. 20 in Omaha and three finalists for the award will be announced on Nov. 25.

Candidates may be added or removed during the season. The distribution of watch list candidates is spread well among the conferences, with the Big Ten and SEC leading the way with 13 each. The Big 12 and Pac-12 are just behind with 12 apiece, followed by the ACC with 10 as well as the American Athletic (6), Independents and Mountain West (4 each), and Conference USA, Mid-American and Sun Belt (3 each). The list includes 32 offensive tackles, 19 defensive tackles, 18 guards and 14 centers.

2019 OUTLAND TROPHY PRESENTED BY NFID PRESEASON WATCH LIST (83)
OT Trey Adams, Washington OG Shane Lemieux, Oregon
OT Hakeem Adeniji, Kansas DT Ray Lima, Iowa State
OL Tremayne Anchrum, Clemson OT Walker Little, Stanford
OG Jack Anderson, Texas Tech OT Abraham Lucas, Washington State
OT Mekhi Becton, Louisville DL James Lynch, Baylor
C Tyler Biadasz, Wisconsin DT Justin Madubuike, Texas A&M
DT Ross Blacklock, TCU DT Garrett Marino, UAB
DT Quinton Bohanna, Kentucky OT Colton McKivitz, West Virginia
OG Parker Braun, Texas OG John Molchon, Boise State
OG Ben Bredeson, Michigan C Jimmy Morrissey, Pitt
DT Derrick Brown, Auburn OT Thayer Munford, Ohio State
OL Jake Brown, UCF DT Larrell Murchison, N.C. State
C Levi Brown, Marshall DT Lorenzo Neal, Purdue
C Cohl Cabral, Arizona State OT Jake Nelson, Nevada
OT Brady Christensen, BYU OT Lucas Niang, TCU
OT Ezra Cleveland, Boise State OT Marcus Norman, USF
DT Doug Costin, Miami OG Michael Onwenu, Michigan
OT Coy Cronk, Indiana OT Miles Pate, WKU
OG Navaughn Donaldson, Miami DT John Penisini, Utah
OT Liam Eichenberg, Notre Dame OT Benjamin Petrula, Boston College
OG Jovahn Fair, Temple C Cesar Ruiz, Michigan
DT Leki Fotu, Utah OT Jon Runyan, Michigan
DT Neville Gallimore, Oklahoma DT Jordon Scott, Oregon
C Jake Hanson, Oregon C Zach Shackelford, Texas
C Bryce Harris, Toledo OL Josh Sills, West Virginia
C Nick Harris, Washington OG John Simpson, Clemson
OT Charlie Heck, North Carolina OT Rashawn Slater, Northwestern
OT Justin Herron, Wake Forest OG Logan Stenberg, Kentucky
C Creed Humphrey, Oklahoma OT Prince Tega Wanogho, Auburn
OT Robert Hunt, Louisiana OT Andrew Thomas, Georgia
OL Keith Ismael, San Diego State OT Calvin Throckmorton, Oregon
OT Alaric Jackson, Iowa DT Khyiris Tonga, BYU
C Jordan Johnson, UCF OG Tre’Vour Wallace-Sims, Missouri
OT Victor Johnson, Appalachian State C Darryl Williams, Mississippi State
OT Josh Jones, Houston DT Raequan  Williams, Michigan State
OG Luke Juriga, Western Michigan OT Jedrick Wills Jr., Alabama
OG Kirk  Kelley, Troy OL Isaiah Wilson, Georgia
OL Solomon Kindley, Georgia DT Marvin Wilson, Florida State
DT Javon Kinlaw, South Carolina DT Robert Windsor, Penn State
OG Tommy Kraemer, Notre Dame OT Tristan Wirfs, Iowa
OG Gus Lavaka, Oregon State C Dustin Woodard, Memphis
OG Alex Leatherwood, Alabama

By conference: Big Ten 13, SEC 13, Big 12 12, Pac-12 12, ACC 10, American Athletic 6, Independents 4, Mountain West 4, Conference USA 3, Mid-American 3, Sun Belt 3.

By position: Offensive Tackles 32, Defensive Tackles 19, Offensive Guards 18, Centers 14.

Tackles, guards and centers are eligible for consideration Candidates may be added or removed during the season

The Outland Trophy winner is chosen from three finalists who are a part of the annual FWAA All-America Team. The FWAA All-America Committee, after voting input from the entire membership, selects a 26-man first team and eventually the three Outland finalists. Committee members, then by individual ballot, select the winner. Only interior linemen on offense or defense are eligible for the award; ends are not eligible.

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

The Outland Trophy, now in its 74th year, is the third-oldest major college football award. Created in 1946 when Dr. John Outland presented the FWAA with a financial contribution to initiate the award, the Outland Trophy has been given to the best interior lineman in college football ever since. Dr. Outland, an All-American at the University of Pennsylvania in the late 1890s, eventually took up practice in Kansas City, Mo. An avid outdoorsman, Dr. Outland believed linemen did not get the credit they deserved and wanted an award to recognize them.

About the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases
Founded in 1973, the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to educating the public and healthcare professionals about the burden, causes, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of infectious diseases across the lifespan. Visit nfid.org for more information.

About the Football Writers Association of America
Founded in 1941, the non-profit Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) consists of more than 1,300 members, including journalists, broadcasters, publicists and key executives in all areas of college football. Led by current President Matt Fortuna of The Athletic, longtime Executive Director Steve Richardson, and a board of veteran journalists, the association continues to grow and work to help college football prosper at all levels. Visit footballwriters.com for more information about the FWAA and its award programs.

On the web
OutlandTrophy.com, FootballWriters.com, nfid.org/flu

Twitter
@NFIDvaccines, @OutlandTrophy, @TheFWAA, @Mark_May, #FightFlu

Related links:
Download high-resolution Outland Trophy logo for editorial use

 

President’s column: It’s the most wonderful time of the year

By Matt Fortuna

A funny thing happens every Fourth of July at my in-laws’ cookout. And no, I’m not talking about my cousin annually rigging the family cornhole tournament in his favor.

2019 FWAA President Matt Fortuna

Sure, it is the peak of summer; who doesn’t love food, family, fireworks and fun? But the conversations for me — and I’m sure for most of you — inevitably shift to college football season. It turns out that when a majority of your family has graduated from two of last year’s Playoff schools (but, alas, not the two finalists), it is never too early to start the hype machine, and the questions are aplenty.

For those of us in the FWAA, Independence Day is a reminder that our summers are darn near over, and that that is perfectly fine if you are fortunate enough to make a living writing about this great sport.

It may be hard to believe, but media days — our preseason — are upon us. Four of the five Power conferences will hold their annual kickoff events next week across the country, and the FWAA will be out and about at each of them — along with the Pac-12 the following week — looking to spread the word about our message.

We recently announced our new access/press relations committee, a collaborative effort between a talented and experienced group of writers and media relations pros who will help ensure a healthier dialogue between the media and the schools that they cover.

We will celebrate the 75th anniversary of our All-America Team this season, with a sponsor that will be announced Aug. 31 in conjunction with the Auburn-Oregon game in Arlington, Texas.

We will name our 63rd Coach of the Year, with Coach Eddie Robinson serving as the namesake of the award since the 1997 season. We will name our 74th Outland Trophy recipient, with the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) serving as the presenting sponsor for a second straight year.

We will select the 27th FWAA Defensive Player of the Year (Bronko Nagurski Trophy) in 2019, with the presentation being hosted by the Charlotte Touchdown Club for a 25th straight year. And we will partner with Shaun Alexander for a second straight year to name a Freshman of the Year. We will announce an additional sponsor for that award and the 2019 FWAA Freshman All-America Team soon.

It is membership season — or #SZN, as the recruits of today would tweet — and we ask that you join or renew by July 12 to guarantee your inclusion in the 2019-20 FWAA print directory. It takes less than three minutes to join here, and your active membership will grant you access to everything on collegepressbox.com once the new and expanded site is unveiled this summer.

This really is the most wonderful time of the year — when us in the Midwest can enjoy our brief period of sunshine, when Notre Dame and Oklahoma fans can gather ‘round the grill and resist temptation to insult each other, and, most importantly, when all of us in the press can get back to doing what we love.

Nominations sought 2019 Armed Forces Merit Award

FORT WORTH, Texas — Nominations are now being accepted for the 2019 Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the Football Writers Association of America.

Armed Forces Merit Award

Coordinated by the staff at the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl, the Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the FWAA was created in June 2012 “to honor an individual or a group with a military background and/or involvement impacting college football.”

Nominations for the 2019 Armed Forces Merit Award will be accepted through October 1. At that time, a selection committee of five FWAA members and two representatives from the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl will review the list of candidates. The 2019 recipient will be announced on Veteran’s Day, November 11.

“We are pleased to join with the Football Writers Association of America to honor an individual with a military background or group that works with our armed services that has an impact within college football,” said Brant Ringler, the Executive Director of the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl.

FWAA Executive Director Steve Richardson echoed Ringler’s sentiments, adding that the group “has an outstanding list of candidates each year, making it difficult to honor only one recipient when there are several individuals and programs so very deserving of the honor.”

From among 56 nominations considered for the 2018 award, Robert Morris President and Air Force veteran Dr. Chris Howard was selected as the seventh recipient of the Armed Forces Merit Award. A 1991 graduate of the United States Air Force Academy, Dr. Howard was a Rhodes Scholar and received the 1990 Campbell Trophy, the highest academic award in the nation presented to a senior college football player by the National Football Foundation.

To nominate an individual or group for the Armed Forces Merit Award, please click on the link below for the nomination form, which should be completed and returned to:

Tim Simmons
Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl
9655 Yellowstone Road
Longmont, CO 80504

Armed Forces Merit Award Nomination Form.

 

FWAA Launches New ‘Access/Press Relations Committee’

DALLAS — The Football Writers Association of America is establishing a new Access/Press Relations Committee to oversee press relations with FBS Conferences moving into the 2019 football season.

This is a broad-based effort by the FWAA to improve press relations and accessibility with schools in terms of coach, assistant coach and player availability during the regular season and the off-season.

“We are excited to bring together a talented, experienced, and diverse group of reporters and SIDs to work together to ensure a healthier dialogue between the media and the schools that they cover,” said Matt Fortuna, 2019 FWAA President. “Our hope is that this collaborative effort will lead to better opportunities to tell the stories of the subjects that we cover, while giving our members a better platform to highlight good and bad practices when it comes to access.”

The FWAA will have two representatives for each of the Power Five Conferences, in which many of the issues arise in terms of accessibility. The Group of Five Conferences/Independents will have three representatives. In addition, there will be nine at-large committee members from different groups affiliated with college football.

The process would be for individual FWAA members to report to the representatives of their conference any issues in their league as brought up by Sports Information Directors or FWAA members. This process will also occur with bowl games. The Committee would attempt to keep a running record of incidents reported to them and try to improve conditions as well as commend outstanding access and conditions.

“In many ways this can also be a learning experience on both sides,” said Steve Richardson, FWAA Executive Director. “We can document thoroughly why a school would or wouldn’t be a Super 11 winner simply by comparing a school’s list of press availability or polices to the FWAA’s list of standards. If there are complaints about media members, these also will be considered by the Committee. It can be a two-way street here.”

The discussions will also extend to game-day: press box conditions, interview area conditions, press parking issues and safety concerns around and in the stadium. The committee could have running dialogues with schools where problems in access occur and coverage conditions are questionable.

This committee will help in the decision making for the FWAA’s annual Super 11 Awards, which honor outstanding Sports Information Departments each year. Committee members will be encouraged to interact with Sports Information Directors in their respective conferences during the course of the year.

FWAA ACCESS/PRESS RELATIONS COMMITTEE

SEC

  • Ron Higgins, Rivals
  • Anthony Dasher, UGASports.com

ACC

  • Gene Wang, Washington Post
  • Andrea Adelson, ESPN.com

Big 12

  • Randy Peterson, Des Moines Register
  • John Hoover, TheFranchiseOK.com

Pac-12

  • Jon Wilner, San Jose Mercury News
  • Chris Dufresne, TMG

Big Ten

  • Adam Rittenberg, ESPN.com
  • Shannon Ryan, Chicago Tribune

Group of Five/Independents

  • Chris Vannini, The Athletic
  • Dick Weiss, Blue Star Media
  • Mark Anderson, Las Vegas Review-Journal

At-Large

  • Edward Aschoff, ESPN.com, FWAA
  • Matt Fortuna, The Athletic, FWAA
  • George Schroeder, USA Today, FWAA
  • Doug Vance, CoSIDA
  • Shelly Poe, Auburn
  • Dave Plati, Colorado
  • Vince Thompson, AFCA
  • Gine Lehe, CFP
  • Doug Kelly, FBA

The Football Writers Association of America, a non-profit organization founded in 1941, consists of more than 1,000 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.