Coach Scott Frost was honored by the FWAA and the Allstate Sugar Bowl as the 2017 Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year at a reception on Saturday night in Atlanta. Frost took the UCF Knights to a 13-0 record, but it is now headed to Nebraska.
The FWAA Past Presidents’ Dinner, hosted by the National Football Foundation, was at the Capital City Club in Atlanta on Jan. 5. Past presidents in attendance were, back row, left to right, Kirk Bohls, Dennis Dodd, Mark Blaudchun, Chris Dufresne, Dick Weiss, Tony Barnhart, Tim Griffin. Front Row, left to right, Dave Jones. Bill Lumpkin, Ivan Maisel.
i6 and diDNA join the NFF as presenting sponsors of the event.
The National Football Foundation (NFF) & College Hall of Fame announced today it will host the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) Past Presidents’ Dinner for a seventh consecutive year, which will take place Jan. 5 in Atlanta, the site of the Jan. 8 College Football Playoff (CFP) National Championship between No. 3 Georgia (13-1) and No. 4 Alabama (12-1).
“There is no organization more committed to college football than the FWAA, and we are proud to show our support by hosting this special tradition again,” said NFF President and CEO Steve Hatchell. “The members of the FWAA, and especially the past presidents, represent the top writers in the country, providing fans all around the country a front row seat to the action as well as a behind-the-scenes look at the game. It’s a privilege to support this annual celebration as a show of our support and appreciation for their passion and hard work.”
The FWAA Past Presidents’ Dinner serves as the kickoff event for the writers covering the CFP National Championship, and the event includes a visit from CFP Executive Director Bill Hancock and the display of the iconic gold CFP trophy. i6, a leading ticketing design and packaging manufacturer, and diDNA, a technology company that helps publishers optimize their digital content, have partnered with the NFF as presenting sponsors of the event.
“College football fans rank among the most passionate of all the sports around the world, which completely aligns with our vision,” said Rodney Moore, Director of Sales for West Virginia-based company i6. “Showing our support for those who cover college football provides us a poignant way to acknowledge the role that the writers play in expanding interest in the game… because after all, Memories Matter.”
“Media outlets represent an important market for us, so it’s natural for us to support the men and women providing the content,” said diDNA Chief Financial Officer Bill Lutzen. “The FWAA Past Presidents’ Dinner brings together many of the best writers in the country, so it’s a real honor for us to be in the room with them, and not just from a business perspective but as fans too.”
Founded in 1941, the FWAA consists of journalists, broadcasters, publicists and key executives who cover college football. The FWAA’s efforts include advocating for appropriate game-day access and operations, bestowing several major awards and selecting an All-America team.
“We are extremely appreciative of the support from the NFF, CFP, i6 and diDNA,” said FWAA Executive Director Steve Richardson. “The Past Presidents’ Dinner provides a special opportunity for the FWAA to bring together the leaders of our organization. It is a cherished tradition, which is truly appreciated by our membership.”
The relationship between the NFF and the FWAA stretches back to the 1940s when both organizations where founded. Currently, the organizations partner on the FWAA-NFF Super 16 Poll, a weekly ranking of the teams playing the Football Bowl Subdivision. The FWAA also announces the finalists for the FWAA Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award as part of the NFF Annual Awards Press Conference each December in New York City.
About the Football Writers Association of America
The Football Writers Association of America, a non-profit organization founded in 1941, consists of 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 214-870-6516 or visit www.sportswriters.net/fwaa.
ABOUT The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame
Founded in 1947 with early leadership from General Douglas MacArthur, legendary Army coach Earl “Red” Blaik and immortal journalist Grantland Rice, The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame is a non-profit educational organization that runs programs designed to use the power of amateur football in developing scholarship, citizenship and athletic achievement in young people. With 120 chapters and 12,000 members nationwide, NFF programs include Football Matters®, the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta, The William V. Campbell Trophy® presented by Fidelity Investments, annual scholarships of more than $1.3 million and a series of initiatives to honor the legends of the past and inspire the leaders of the future. NFF corporate partners include Delta Air Lines, Fidelity Investments, Herff Jones, New York Athletic Club, Pasadena Tournament of Roses, PrimeSport, the Sports Business Journal, Under Armour and VICIS. Learn more at www.footballfoundation.org.
By David Jones
What’s ever bad about a long weekend? But, of all the Friday-Monday spans of the calendar, this is right up there with my favorite, because I get to see so many familiar and friendly faces.
The final weekend of the college football season extends through all the usual events. And this year, they happen in what’s certain to be a blitzo-crazy Atlanta, what with two SEC teams and the local favorites playing for the College Football Playoff championship trophy. Take cover, Yankees.
We’ll have the usual fun with the Past Presidents Dinner on Friday night, then handing out the Eddie Robinson Award (to former Central Florida and now Nebraska coach Scott Frost) on Saturday evening.
But, to paraphrase Austin Powers, I want everyone to behave themselves as much as possible at the media party on Sunday night. That way, you’ll be fresh as an April azalea for our Football Writers Association of America awards breakfast on Monday morning. I have selfish interest involved here because some of my favorite people in the business are going to be both honored and handing out the hardware.
Actually, I don’t know the first honoree, only her dad, former FWAA president George Schroeder. But if his daughter Elizabeth can write anything like the old man at whichever university she picks (I’m told Oklahoma and Arkansas are in the running), she’ll honor the name of Okie legend Volney Meece, whose scholarship she’s won.
Then, Malcolm Moran, who’s only been everywhere and covered every event with his distinctive prose, will present the Best Writing Contest awards. I don’t wanna overemphasize any over others, but two of the biggest winners are two of my oldest friends in this biz, Glenn Guilbeau and Dennis Dodd.
Same goes for a very deserving winner of the Steve Ellis Beat Writer of the Year winner. Mike Griffith has been a giant on his beat everywhere he’s gone, now in an extremely newsy venue covering the Tennessee Volunteers. Tough beat, tough competitor. No surprise Mike won.
Ivan Maisel will then hand Steve Wieberg the Bert McGrane Award, our version of the FWAA ring of honor. Steve is more knowledgeable than any of us about exactly how the College Football Playoff works, for good reason. He’s the only one of us who’s ever served on the CFP selection committee.
And finally, it will be my distinct pleasure to introduce your new 2018 FWAA president, Stefanie Loh of The Seattle Times. You probably know Stef from her shining work on the Washington State and San Diego State beats (at the San Diego Union-Tribune). I’ve known her since she was a wonderful feature writer for us at PennLive. I’ll tell you about one story she wrote that blew me away.
But I’m saving that for the breakfast. I’m looking forward to all of you joining us in Atlanta.
|Dixon had three tackles in Wisconsin’s 34-24 victory over Miami, Fla in the Capital One Orange Bowl this past Saturday. The Badgers finished the season 13-1.
DALLAS – Wisconsin safety D’Cota Dixon is the winner of the 2017 Capital One Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award. Dixon, a 5-foot-10, 204-pound redshirt junior, overcame an unstable family situation and personal health issues to post his second straight all-Big Ten season for the 12-1 Badgers.
“I’ve always had to face trials and tribulations in some form or matter,” Dixon said in a UWBadgers.com video feature in October. “Though I had relatives and family that were close, and I knew they loved me – I know they always meant the best and loved me — but I felt like nothing was ever stable. I felt like it was always somebody leaving.”
Dixon had a brother convicted of attempted murder, and he was placed in foster care as his mother struggled to provide for the family.
Dixon’s father and his father’s girlfriend, Beth Coston, took Dixon and another brother in. But as Dixon’s father’s drug addiction grew intense, Coston assumed guardianship and moved the brothers away.
“I didn’t really know my dad but I knew who he was, but I never had a true relationship with him, even when I was in Miami,” Dixon said. “But I had comfort in my mom. She loved us very much. She had a manic depression illness, so there would be times where she wasn’t home. It was just real tough when we got taken from her, but by the grace of God it was a blessing in disguise because I do have a mother named Beth who I love very much. That’s my sweetheart.”
Dixon later repaired his relationship with his father, but his father passed away. Dixon and Coston were then evicted from their home during Dixon’s senior year of high school. Dixon’s girlfriend, Grace, and her mother took Dixon in.
“The time that I had with him, that solid probably from seventh grade to ninth grade, was the best years ever,” Dixon said. “So it just hit me. It hurt me so much when he died my freshman year in high school, and really for me I felt like it was like: Here we go again. I was kind of just real numb and just real angry.
“I didn’t go to school for like two weeks. I was real mad, just frustrated.”
In the spring of 2016, Dixon spent a week in the hospital with a life-threatening infection that left him in pain and unable to walk. He recovered in time to start the season opener, which he punctuated with an interception with 57 seconds left to seal a win against No. 5 LSU. Dixon started all 14 games for the Badgers, who went 11-3 and won the Cotton Bowl.
He recorded 60 tackles, four interceptions and four pass break-ups en route to third-team All-Big Ten honors, in addition to Academic All-Big Ten honors.
Dixon picked up where he left off in 2017, fighting through a hamstring injury to play in 10 games, start eight and earn first-team All-Big Ten honors from the league’s coaches. (He was named second-team all-conference by the media.) He tallied 52 tackles, including 3.5 for loss and 1.5 sacks, to go with one interception, three breakups, one hurry and one forced fumble. He posted a game-best 12 tackles in a Sept. 30 win against Northwestern in the Big Ten opener, including a safety in the final minute to help preserve the victory – a victory that ended up being the deciding factor in the Big Ten West race.
Dixon was again an Academic All-Big Ten honoree, and the No. 6 Badgers ran the regular-season table before the Big Ten title game. They entered bowl season with the nation’s No. 1 defense (253.2 yards per game).
“This is a tremendous honor for D’Cota,” Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst said. “I really admire the way he approaches and appreciates life. With what he has gone through, for him to have such a positive outlook and be so willing to help others is a real testament to his character and his faith. He is intent on maximizing all of his opportunities. The best thing I can say about D’Cota is that if you spend any amount of time around him, he makes you want to be a better person, because of how he carries himself and his genuine care for others.”
Though Dixon had eventually moved with his brother and Coston to Oak Hill, Florida, he is a South Florida native. And he will be returning to the area for the Badgers’ finale, as they take on No. 11 Miami on Dec. 30 in the Capital One Orange Bowl.
“I feel like my hardships and trials have built me to who I am today and I’m proud of them,” Dixon said. “I wouldn’t take nothing back. I wouldn’t change one thing, not one single event that ever happened in my life. I’m grateful for them, in all honesty.”
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. James Conner will be included in festivities during Capital One Orange Bowl week and receive his trophy at an on-field presentation during the Capital One Orange Bowl game between No. 6 Michigan and No. 11 Florida State on Dec. 30.
Previous winners of the Capital One Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award are Pittsburgh running back James Conner (2016), Miami offensive lineman Hunter Knighton (2015), Duke offensive lineman Laken Tomlinson (2014), San Jose State defensive lineman Anthony Larceval (2013), Clemson wide receiver Daniel Rodriguez (2012), Michigan State offensive lineman Arthur Ray Jr. (2011), Rutgers defensive tackle Eric LeGrand (2010), the University of Connecticut football team (2009), Tulsa’s Wilson Holloway (2008), Navy’s Zerbin Singleton (2007), Clemson’s Ray Ray McElrathbey (2006), the Tulane football team (2005), Memphis’ Haracio Colen (2004), San Jose State’s Neil Parry (2003) and Toledo’s William Bratton (2002).
About the Orange Bowl
The Orange Bowl is a 360-member, primarily-volunteer non-profit sports organization that promotes and serves the South Florida community. With its primary mission since being created in 1935 to bring tourism to South Florida through an annual football game and events, it has also maintained a legacy of charitable contributions and community outreach. Orange Bowl community outreach efforts are comprised of four pillars: youth sports, fundraising and community events, academic programs and scholarships, and legacy gifts. The Orange Bowl features a year-round schedule of events culminating with the Capital One Orange Bowl on December 30, 2017. For more information on the 2017-18 Orange Bowl events, including promotional and volunteer opportunities through the Ambassador Program presented by Panera Bread, log on to orangebowl.org. Follow Orange Bowl: @OrangeBowl, Facebook and Instagram.
I suppose we’re susceptible to award fatigue this time of year. All of the shows and the speech-making and tux-wearing and glad-handing and back-slapping can get a little much, especially when bowl season is already upon us.
It can almost make you turn into one of those cynical iconoclasts, the type who refuse to attend such functions for all their self-congratulation. I have been close to so afflicted at times.
But, then… nahhh. See, I’m a sucker for a gratuitous grip-n-grin shot. I even do them with friends. Which made my duties the past couple of weeks a pleasure.
I have to say, the six young men the FWAA honored earlier this month at the Bronko Nagurski Trophy gala in Charlotte both surprised me and altered my thinking about awards shows. They all not only seemed to enjoy their honor with a sense of humility, but they also appeared to genuinely enjoy the experience.
And I feel like I made some new friends. At one time or another, I was able to have a conversation with all of the Nagurski finalists as well as Virginia Military’s Greg Sanders (the Defender of the Nation Award recipient) during the two days of various functions in Charlotte.
Though it was the end of a long and grueling regular season, I think Alabama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick, Georgia’s Roquan Smith, Houston’s Ed Oliver, Iowa’s Josey Jewell and the Nagurski winner, North Carolina State’s Bradley Chubb, all got a real kick out of both meeting new people and each other. They even managed to make the best of spending a disproportionate amount of time in formal attire.
When you meet those who have the stuff to excel in any walk of life, it’s always fun to see what makes them tick. That’s how a simple question to Jewell about his major at Iowa resulted in a comprehensive explanation of a business plan he has in the works for a new way to graze cattle. It periodically moves them onto fresh ground with the use of global positioning satellite tracking. You’ll just have to trust me on this, it was actually fascinating.
A couple of nights later, I represented the FWAA at the National Football Foundation dinner in New York and found myself at one point standing in a line between Jerry Jones and Steve Spurrier as dozens of us waited to be introduced to the assembled multitudes at the Midtown Hilton ballroom. Talk about, “Which of these is not like the others?”
Ready or not, the postseason honors are coming fast and furious now. Houston’s Oliver, a mere sophomore, did find himself the winner of the Outland Trophy, which we helped announce last week at the Home Depot College Awards on ESPN. He’ll be formally honored on Jan. 10 in Omaha at the presentation banquet.
Outgoing Central Florida head coach Scott Frost, who’s headed to Nebraska, his alma mater, after the Knights’ Peach Bowl match against Auburn, was just announced as our FWAA Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year. I’ll have the pleasure of presenting him with that trophy in Atlanta on Jan. 6.
You may already have perused the FWAA 2017 All-America Team, released on Monday. And this year’s Orange Bowl Courage Award winner will be announced late this year, on Dec. 29.
Of course, we’re all looking forward to the FWAA Awards Breakfast on Jan. 8 in Atlanta when I’ll help hand out the Bert McGrane Award, the Steve Ellis Beat Writer of the Year Award, the Lifetime Achievement Award and the Volney Meece Scholarship.
And I’m personally very much anticipating the introduction then of your new FWAA president for 2018, Stef Loh from The Seattle Times. She’s not just one of my favorite people in this business, she’s a terrific writer and reporter who’ll represent this office with honor.
More about all that in my final missive in a few weeks. Until then, let’s go bowling! And if I come up to you somewhere these next few weeks and arbitrarily demand a grip-n-grin shot, look, just humor me.
Wright Waters, executive director of the College Bowl Association, says that “everybody wins” in the 40 bowl games, even in those games some of us consider meaningless.
DALLAS — It took Scott Frost only two seasons to turn what was a winless UCF team into an unbeaten one. For finishing a complete turnaround this season that includes a conference championship and a New Year’s Day bowl bid, Frost earned the 2017 Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award, the association and the Allstate Sugar Bowl announced Thursday.
UCF (12-0) was the only unbeaten team in the Football Bowl Subdivision in the regular season, and will meet Auburn (10-3) in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl on New Year’s Day. Five days later he will return to Atlanta to be honored as the FWAA’s coach of the year. It will be Frost’s final game at UCF before taking over as head coach at his alma mater, Nebraska. As a senior quarterback, Frost helped lead the Cornhuskers to a perfect 13-0 record and a national championship in 1997.
“Scott Frost is one of the up-and-coming coaches in college football,” said 2017 FWAA President Dave Jones of the PA Media Group. “What he did at UCF was nothing short of remarkable in just two seasons.”
In conjunction with presenting sponsor, the Allstate Sugar Bowl, the Football Writers Association of America selected Frost over seven other finalists: Bill Clark of UAB; Lane Kiffin of Florida Atlantic; Jeff Monken of Army; Lincoln Riley of Oklahoma; Kirby Smart of Georgia; Dabo Swinney of Clemson; and Jeff Tedford of Fresno State.
Frost became the first coach whose school is not currently among the Power Five conferences to win the FWAA Coach of the Year Award since Air Force’s Fisher DeBerry in 1985.
“The Allstate Sugar Bowl is proud to be able to honor Coach Robinson, a Louisiana legend, by sponsoring this award,” said Stanley Cohn, the President of the Allstate Sugar Bowl Committee. “I would also like to congratulate Scott Frost on earning this honor. To take a team that was winless two years ago all the way to an undefeated season and the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl is a very impressive feat. We look forward to officially presenting the trophy to him in Atlanta next month.”
The official presentation will be on Jan. 6, 2018, at the Sheraton Atlanta Hotel where Frost will be handed the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year bust during a reception in conjunction with the College Football Playoff National Championship.
The season prior to Frost’s arrival in Orlando from his post as Oregon’s offensive coordinator, the Knights were 0-12. In Frost’s first season in 2016, the Knights finished 6-7 and played in the AutoNation Cure Bowl in Orlando after making dramatic improvements on offense and defense.
That set the stage for 2017 and the Knights’ undefeated run to win the American Athletic Conference title. UCF led the FBS in scoring (49.4 points per game) with its “UCFast” offense and was tied for second in the country in turnover margin (plus-1.25 per game).
“I’m very proud of what this group of student-athletes and coaches has accomplished during my tenure at UCF,” Frost said last week. “The Knights should be in the conversation for the American Athletic Conference championship year in and year out. UCF should be a Top 25 program year in and year out. I believe this program is well on its way to establishing that level of success.
“The next head coach at UCF is inheriting an incredible group of young men and is more fortunate than he probably knows to be working at this place.”
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.
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 Coach of the Year Award 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 24 awards now boast over 800 recipients, dating to 1935. Visit ncfaa.org to learn more about our story.
The Football Writers Association of America, a non-profit organization founded in 1941, consists of more than 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 email@example.com or call 214-870-6516.
The Allstate Sugar Bowl has established itself as one of the premier college football bowl games, having hosted 27 national champions, 92 Hall of Fame players, 48 Hall of Fame coaches and 17 Heisman Trophy winners in its 83-year history. The 84th Allstate Sugar Bowl Football Classic, which will double as a College Football Playoff Semifinal, will be played on January 1, 2018. 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, awards and clinics. Through these efforts, the organization supports and honors nearly 100,000 student-athletes each year, while injecting more than $2.5 billion into the local economy in the last decade. For more information, visit AllstateSugarBowl.org.
Tommy Nobis, who won the FWAA’s Outland Trophy while playing for Texas in 1965 and went on to a long and storied career with the Atlanta Falcons, died at his suburban Atlanta home on Wednesday. He was 74.