Bagnato, Pflipsen Take Next Step

Andy Bagnato and Kristen Pflipsen, long-time FWAA members, have formed Bagnato Pflipsen Communications LLC, a full-service communications consulting firm in the Phoenix area.

“After writing the successful bid for Arizona’s 2016 College Football National Championship Game last fall, we both felt a sense of closure,” they wrote in a press release. “We had seen the Fiesta Bowl organization through its crisis and needed a new challenge. As the Fiesta Bowl went through its reorganization, the timing could not have been better.”

The Phoenix Final Four, an attempt to land an NCAA men’s national basketball semifinals, was their first client.

“Working on the Phoenix Final Four bid has given us an opportunity to expand our reach and work within both the sports and tourism industries,” they wrote. “Although there is always uncertainty starting a new business, we have been energized by working on a variety of projects.  Our website, http://www.bagnatopflipsen.com, will launch soon.”

More Comings and Goings

Arnie Sgalio of  ESPN and ERT  has retired after 19 years. … Christopher Walsh is now a beat writer/columnist for Saturdays Down South. … Stewart Mandel has moved from Sports Illustrated to FoxSports.com. … Tony Barnhart has switched from CBS Sports to the SEC Network. … Gina Mizzel has traveled from The Daily Oklahoman all the way to Oregon to cover Oregon State for the Oregonian. … More…

FWAA accepting weekly nominations for Courage Award

The FWAA is now accepting nominations for the 2014  FWAA/Orange Bowl Courage Award, which is annually given to a player, coach or support person in college football such as a trainer, cheerleader or a member of an athletic department’s staff.

The requirements for nomination for the weekly award include displaying some sort of courageous act (on or off the field). These would include overcoming an injury, sickness or physical handicap, preventing a disaster, or living through a lifetime of hardships.

At the end of 2014 season, a select group of FWAA members will choose the winner of the award who will be honored during the Orange Bowl Week.

Please email all nominations with supporting information to FWAA Executive Director Steve Richardson at tigerfwaa@gmail.com

UGA fortunate to have collegiate sports’ premier publicist, Claude Felton

By Tim Gardner

UGA Athletics Historian

Webster defines pre-eminent as: excelling above all others.

Pre-eminent aptly describes the University of Georgia’s Claude Felton.

Serving the UGA Athletics Association for more than 30 years, the legendary Felton is generally regarded by knowledgeable observers as the standard by which collegiate sports information directors are measured.

Claude Felton received the FWAA's Bert McGrane Award in 2008.

Claude Felton received the FWAA’s Bert McGrane Award in 2008.

Aptly aided by a staff of full-time, part-time and student assistants, Felton’s primary responsibility is to chronicle and disseminate information about the UGA intercollegiate sports teams and student-athletes to media on local, state, regional, and national levels as well as Bulldogs fans and all others who request it.   He is the consummate professional — well-organized, thorough at handling details and performing his job with an objective approach.  Felton is quick to deflect any credit for his efforts while devoting his attention to getting out information about the Bulldogs’ newsworthy deeds.

Felton’s career has spanned the glory days of UGA Athletics.  He has directed the overall publicity operation for thirty-plus national championship teams, including the school’s fifth national football championship, as well as numerous individual national champions. During his tenure, UGA Athletics highlights have also included the greatest play in Bulldogs Football history (the Buck Belue-to-Lindsay Scott 93-yard miracle touchdown pass that helped push UGA past hated Florida, 26-21 in 1980 and propelled the Bulldogs to the national title), running back Herschel Walker winning the 1982 Heisman Trophy and the men’s basketball team making its only appearance in the NCAA Tournament’s Final Four (1982-83 season).

More…

O.K. ‘Buddy’ Davis to be honored by Ark-La-Tex Sports Museum of Champions

Still recovering from a near-fatal stroke suffered a year ago, O.K. “Buddy” Davis of the Rustin Daily Leader is one of six people who will be honored on Aug. 2 by the Ark-La-Tex Sports Museum of Champions.  Click here to read a profile of Buddy by Jimmy Watson of the Shreveport Times. 

 

2014 FWAA Pressbox Conference Committees

The FWAA has regionalized its press committees for your convenience. If you encounter difficulties during the season in regards to game coverage, including access during the week, please contact the chairman of your conference by email. He will get back to you in a reasonable time. Please explain the problem in DETAIL, so the conference chairman can better understand the situation.

C—Chairman

Pac-12

C-Chris Dufresne, Los  Angeles Times   (chris.dufresne@latimes.com)

Jon Wilner, San Jose Mercury

Lindsay Schnell, SI.com

Mountain West

C-Mark Anderson Las Vegas   (manderson@reviewjournal.com)

Chadd Cripe, Idaho Statesman

Kelly Lyell, Fort Collins Coloradoan

Big Ten 

C-Malcolm Moran, National Sports Journalism Center (moranma@iupui.edu)

David Jones,  PA Media Group

Lee Barfknecht, Omaha World-Herald
More…

President’s column: SEC madness kicks off 2014 season

2014 FWAA President Kirk Bohls

2014 FWAA President Kirk Bohls

It’s begun.

And it began in SEC Country naturally.

Anytime you see a 47-year-old wedding photographer from Australia spend $8,000 to fly himself and his Alabama graduate wife to the States and salivating over getting a glimpse and maybe an autograph from the Crimson Tide royal family, you know SEC fans are rabid. And maybe something else, too.

Antony Hands was among hundreds who crowded into the hotel lobby getting autographs or just a momentary peek at their favorite Alabama players.

He did get signatures from Landon Collins, Amari Cooper and Christion Jones. And has Hands met Nick Saban yet?

“Oh, God no,” he said, practically swooning.

He carried a colorful, handmade sign he made with seven bucks from Wal-Mart that read: “I Flew All the Way from Australia to Meet Nick Saban.”

I just flew from Austin, but was feeling no less passionate about the experience.

More…

President’s column: FWAA committees formed in every conference to head off problems

2014 FWAA President Kirk Bohls

2014 FWAA President Kirk Bohls

Greetings, colleagues.

I trust many of you have thawed out from the harsh winter by now and are planning your vacation retreats to Barbados. My advice: Take plenty of SPF 50 sun screen and every preseason college football magazine you can get your hands on.

We’re still dabbling in the college baseball season and awaiting the NBA and NHL Finals to end before the Fourth of July, but we all have one thing on our mind. No, besides the Kim and Kanye wedding. It’s college football, the reason we were put on this planet.

Yes, spring football is over, and the official countdown to the 2014 season, the historic first playoff and the Lane Kiffin soap opera in Alabama has begun. And I think we all admit the marriage of Kiffin and Nick Saban is even more intriguing than the latest Kardashian nuptials and would make for a much more riveting reality show.

As I write this, it’s less than 90 days until Abilene Christian travels to Georgia State to kick off the season on Aug. 27. Fourteen more games, headlined by Texas A&M at South Carolina in the debut game on the SEC Network, follow the next day.

Before you start overhauling your golf game, please make sure you get your Football Writers Association of America membership current and pay your FWAA dues. As president, I even remembered to pay mine before spring drills began. Our membership last season grew to a record 1,350 and we’d like to push that even further. Also don’t forget to mail in your entries for the annual FWAA Best Writing Contest. Dennis Dodd and Ivan Maisel can’t win all of them every year.

More…

FWAA names ‘Super 11’ sports information departments

The Football Writers Association of America has announced its fifth “Super 11” field of sports information departments deemed the best in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision during the 2013 season.

The winners in alphabetical order are: Colorado (Pac-12), Duke (ACC), Fresno State (Mountain West), Georgia (SEC), Middle Tennessee (Conference USA), Nebraska (Big Ten), Ole Miss (SEC),  SMU (American Athletic Conference), South Alabama (Sun Belt), Southern California (Pac-12) and Texas Tech (Big 12).

Georgia is a five-time winner, USC, a four-time winner and Colorado and Nebraska, multiple winners of the Super 11 Award. Duke, Fresno State, Middle Tennessee, Ole Miss, SMU, South Alabama and Texas Tech are first-time winners. Over the five-year period, the FWAA has honored 42 schools.

Since the FWAA’s inception in 1941, one of the organization’s charges is to provide better working conditions for writers across the country. Over the years, the FWAA has given out press box commendations to deserving schools and has conducted ratings of sports information departments.

“We know there are many outstanding sports information departments representing schools across the country,” said Tim Griffin, 2010 FWAA President and Chairman of the Super 11 Committee. “But we continue to believe it is imperative to honor the best of the best, including some that we have honored repeatedly over the years. These 11 departments are consistently exemplary in all that we ask.

“The FWAA’s commitment is to continue honoring the best departments in future years which recognize the demands of our jobs and strive to do what they can to help all media members on a consistent basis.”

Criteria in determining the winners included not only how press boxes and operations were run but also the quality and timeliness of information provided, the amount of information presented and appropriately updated on websites, personal responsiveness to media inquiries as well as the accessibility of players, head coaches and their assistants. The ratings also took into consideration the departments that went the extra mile in servicing the media.

The Super 11 Committee received input from other FWAA members covering college football during a period from Feb. 1, 2013, through Jan. 31, 2014.

“The significance of this award cannot be overstated in this current climate of limited access and mounting restrictions,” said 2014 FWAA President Kirk Bohls.

“At a time when some schools are making it formal policy to join the established media rather than assist it and almost put the press in a competing mode, it is imperative that we salute those among us who value their strong working relationships with football writers and go the extra mile in serving those interests. So to all these departments who have separated themselves, well done.”

In January 2009, at its board meeting, the FWAA formed the first Super 11 Committee. The concept is supported by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA), many of whom are members of the FWAA.

For more information on the Super 11, contact committee chairman Tim Griffin at 210-823-3666 or click here to Email Tim Griffin!

Award for Nebraska continues tradition of excellence. CLICK HERE.

FWAA taking nominations for Armed Forces Merit Award

armed forces merit awardWe are now taking nominations for the Armed Forces Merit Award. From those teams and conferences you cover please keep an eye out for the following:

WHO QUALIFIES?: An Individual with an armed forces background who is currently involved as an athletic administrator, football coach, staff member or player and has brought distinction and recognition to both his or her armed forces service and the sport. These include Individuals or groups that have created, developed or produced football-related programs that provide care, concern and support for past or present members of the United States armed forces or their families.

DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSION: Sept. 30, 2014

SELECTION PROCESS: A blue-ribbon committee will take the nominations and select a winner during the fall.

Send nominations to FWAA Member Tim Simmons at bfishinc@aol.com or call 720-244-6580.