ACN Bronko Nagurski Report — Oct. 22

broko logosSince 1995, the Football Writers Association of America and the Charlotte Touchdown Club have partnered to bring you the Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner each year.  The Best Defensive Player in the entire country is announced at the Westin Hotel in downtown Charlotte each December before sellout crowds, with this year’s 21st  straight banquet, sponsored by ACN and slated for Dec. 7. Auburn Coach Gus Malzahn will deliver the keynote speech.

Five finalists for the award, named after the legendary Minnesota Gopher and Chicago Bears lineman, will  appear on stage before the winner is announced by 2015 FWAA President Lee Barfknecht of the Omaha World-Herald. During the evening, the winner of the Bronko Nagurski Legends Award, sponsored by East Coast Railways, will also be feted–Ohio State linebacker Randy Gradishar (1971-73).

Arizona’s junior linebacker  Scooby Wright III will attempt to become only the second player to win back-to-back Nagurski Trophies after Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald in 1995 and 1996. Wright is just the second sophomore to win the award after Ohio State linebacker James Laurinatis in 2006.

The weekly ACN Bronko Report will bring to you updates on what is happening on the defensive side of the ball during the 2015 season, top matchups and also provide links to stories on Bronko Nagurski Alumni and occasional feature stories about current top defensive players who might wind up in Charlotte the first week of December

MATCHUP OF THE WEEK

Temple at East Carolina on Thursday night. The 22nd-ranked Owls (6-0) are in the Associated Press Top 25 for the first time since 1979 and will receive a test on the road in Greenville, N.C. Temple linebacker Tyler Matakevich has 52 tackles, three sacks, 6.0 tackles for loss, three interceptions and four pass breakups in six games and is the NCAA’s active career leader in total tackles (406). The Owls lead The American in scoring defense (14.7 points per game). East Carolina has won 13 of its last 14 home conference games. If Temple falls behind the Pirates in the first half, the Owls could have a rough night. ECU has won 26 straight games in which it has led at halftime. 

BRONKO NAGURSKI BANQUET NEWS

 Adam Zucker Selected Master of Ceremonies

RANDY GRADISHAR NAMED CHARLOTTE TOUCHDOWN CLUB’s 2015 BRONKO NAGURSKI LEGENDS AWARD RECIPIENT

Gus Malzahn named keynote speaker for 2015 Bronko Nagurski Awards Banquet

Bronko Nagurski Awards Banquet Reservation Form

AutoNation FWAA DEFENSIVE PLAYERS OF WEEK 

Minkah Fitzpatrick

Minkah Fitzpatrick

Alabama’s defense rewrote part of the school’s record book, returning three interceptions for touchdowns and outscoring its offense in a 41-23 win at Texas A&M. Minkah Fitzpatrick and Eddie Jackson, teammates in the secondary, combined for four interceptions and all three scoring returns to earn the AutoNation FWAA Defensive Players of the Week honor for games the weekend of Oct. 17, as selected by the Football Writers Association on America.

Fitzpatrick, a 6-1, 195-pound freshman cornerback from Old Bridge, N.J., became the only player in Alabama history (in records they have back to 1948) to return two interceptions for touchdowns in the same game. His first pick and return of 33 yards to the end zone gave Alabama a 7-0 lead. His 55-yard interception and touchdown return provided the Crimson Tide’s final score, which put the game out of reach with 5:18 left.

Eddie Jackson

Eddie Jackson

Jackson, a 6-0, 194-pound junior safety from Lauderdale Lakes, Fla., also had two interceptions in the game, and returned one of them 93 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter to give Alabama with a 28-6 lead. The 93-yard return is the third-longest in school history. Jackson also had a 26-yard return on his other interception to the Texas A&M 28-yard line, setting up another score. Jackson’s 119 return yards are the most return yards in a game by an Alabama player.

The Crimson Tide’s 207 interception return yards is an Alabama single-game record, the third-most in SEC history and the most since Tennessee had 214 against South Carolina in 1971.

“The four interceptions were huge in the game,” Alabama head coach Nick Saban said. “Three scores on defense is unprecedented and probably some kind of record. Minkah (Fitzpatrick) having two is fantastic for a freshman. The thing I’m probably most proud of with our players is when we lost the momentum of the game in the second quarter, when we dominated the game in the first quarter, the players really responded well in the second half to go out there and compete.”

MEMORABLE DEFENSIVE PERFORMANCES FROM LAST WEEK 

Utah State senior linebacker Kyler Fackrell:  He recorded a season-high 11 stops (four unassisted), including 2.5 tackles for loss, in Utah State’s 52-26 against then-ranked Boise State. He recovered two fumbles as part of eight takeaways by Utah State. He also forced a fumble and had two quarterback hurries. The Aggies scored 35 first-half points off Boise State turnovers. Fackrell helped anchor a Utah State defense that limited the Broncos to just 34 yards rushing. His first fumble recovery led to a late first-quarter touchdown that gave the Aggies a 17-3 lead. With less than two minutes remaining in the first half, Fackrell forced a fumble that was recovered by Utah State. The Aggies scored one play later.

Oklahoma junior cornerback Zack Sanchez:   He intercepted two passes and returned one for a touchdown in Oklahoma’s 55-0 victory at Kansas State. Sanchez and the Oklahoma defense held the Wildcats to 110 total yards (fewest by an OU opponent on their home field since 2005) and just seven first downs. It was OU’s first shutout against a Big 12 opponent since 2010 and the first time K-State was held scoreless at home since 1991.  Sanchez recorded his first interception with 6:38 left in the second quarter. On K-State’s opening possession of the second half, the junior cornerback stepped in front of the intended receiver for his second interception and returned it 38 yards for a score. It was his third career interception returned for a touchdown, tying an OU record.

LSU junior end Lewis Neal: He shattered his career highs with 10 tackles, 3.5 tackles for a loss (including three sacks) in a 35-28 victory over Florida.  His three sacks rank as the second-most in a game in LSU history.   His 3.5 tackles for loss were the most in a game by a Tiger since defensive end Sam Montgomery had 3.5 at Auburn in 2012. Neal led an LSU defensive effort that limited Florida to 55 rushing yards on 31 carries, an average 1.8 yards per rush.  Neal ranks second in the SEC in sacks and seventh in tackles for a loss.

Michigan State senior end Shilique Calhoun: Recorded five tackles, including a career-best 3.5 tackles for loss, in Michigan State’s 27-23 victory over Michigan. His tackles for loss totaled 11 yards, including a pair of sacks for a loss of six yards. He was part of a Michigan State defense that forced the Wolverines to go three-and-out on six possessions. He earned his third career Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week honor and second this season

Florida State sophomore linebacker Jacob Pugh:  He had two sacks and a game-high seven tackles in the Seminoles’ 41-21 victory over Louisville. Pugh led a defensive effort that recorded a season-high five sacks – FSU’s most since 2013 – and held Louisville to just 99 yards rushing. Pugh’s two sacks and seven total tackles also marked career highs.

Old Dominion junior linebacker TJ Ricks: He set a school record with 18 tackles and added two tackles for loss, a sack, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery in ODU’s 37-34 victory over Charlotte. Ricks notched his first sack of the season and forced a fumble that ODU recovered to thwart a Charlotte drive. He also recovered a fumble and returned it 28 yards to set up an Old Dominion field goal. The 18 tackles in a game are tied for the seventh most in the country this season.

Washington State junior safety Shalom Luani:  He recorded a game-high 11 tackles (eight unassisted) with two interceptions and a pass breakup in Washington State’s 52-31 victory over Oregon State. His returned his first interception 84 yards for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter, the Cougars’ only points of the second half and Washington State’s first interception returned for a touchdown since 2013. Luani added a second interception on Oregon State’s next possession to seal the victory. He became the fourth Pac-12 player this season with two interceptions in a game and recorded the longest interception for a touchdown in conference play this season.

SCOOBY WRIGHT III  UPDATE

2014 Bronko Nagurski winner Scooby Wright III of Arizona.

2014 Bronko Nagurski winner Scooby Wright III of Arizona.

Arizona’s junior linebacker Scooby Wright III, the 2014 Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner, went down with a left knee injury midway through the first quarter of the Wildcats’ 42-32 season-opening victory over Texas-San Antonio on Sept. 3.  He had surgery to replace a torn lateral meniscus two days later. He returned for the first time in Arizona’s game against UCLA on Sept. 26.  His left knee held up, but he suffered a right foot injury in the 56-30 loss to the Bruins. Wright finished with seven tackles in the UCLA game, five unassisted. He has missed the Wildcats’ last three games and will be out again for the Washington State game on Saturday in Tucson, it appears.

SPOTLIGHT ON A BRONKO NAGURSKI TROPHY CANDIDATE

Penn State’s Carl Nassib states his case as one of the Big Ten’s top defensive players. CLICK HERE to read more.

SPOTLIGHT ON A BRONKO NAGURSKI TROPHY WINNER

Texas’ Brian Orakpo claimed the Bronko Nagurski Trophy in 2008. He’s now with the Washington Redskins. CLICK HERE to read more.

NCAA FBS INDIVIUDAL DEFENSIVE STATISTICS NATIONAL RANKINGS 

NCAA Current FBS Sack Leaders

NCAA Current FBS Solo Tackle Leaders

NCAA Current FBS Tackles for Loss Leaders

NCAA Current FBS Total Tackle Leaders

BRONKO NAGURSKI WATCH LIST

Click here to see the entire Watch List.

The Football Writers Association of America, a non-profit organization founded in 1941, consists of more than 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 tiger@fwaa.com or 214-870-6516.

ABOUT THE CHARLOTTE TOUCHDOWN CLUB AND ITS SPONSORS

The Charlotte Touchdown Club is a non-profit organization founded in 1990 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. For more information, contact John Rocco (704-347-2918 or jrocco@touchdownclub.com). The official website of the Charlotte Touchdown Club is touchdownclub.com.

ACN, Inc. Founded in 1993, ACN is the world’s largest direct seller of telecommunications and essential services for residential and business customers. ACN provides the services people need and use every day including Home Phone Service, High Speed Internet, Wireless, Television, Home Security & Automation, Computer Support and Natural Gas and Electricity. ACN operates in 24 countries with offices located throughout North America, Europe, Asia and the Pacific. For more information, visit myacn.com. For information on ACN’s home-based business opportunity, visit acninc.com.

Florida East Coast Railway FECR is a regional freight railroad that extends along a 351-mile corridor between Jacksonville, Fla., and Miami, Fla., with exclusive rail access to the Port of Palm Beach, Port Everglades (Ft. Lauderdale) and the Port of Miami. For more information, visit fecrwy.com.

Electrolux Electrolux is a global leader in appliances for household and professional use, selling more than 50 million products to customers in more than 150 countries every year. The company focuses on innovations that are thoughtfully designed, based on extensive consumer insight, to meet the real needs of consumers and professionals. Electrolux products include refrigerators, dishwashers, washing machines, vacuum cleaners, cookers and air-conditioners sold under esteemed brands such as Electrolux, Frigidaire, Kelvinator, AEG, and Eureka. In 2012, Electrolux had sales of $17 billion ($5.1 billion in North America) and 58,000 employees. The Electrolux North American headquarters is located at 10200 David Taylor Drive, Charlotte, NC 28262 in the University Research Park. For more information visit http://newsroom.electrolux.com/us/.

ACN Bronko Nagurski Report — Oct. 15

broko logosSince 1995, the Football Writers Association of America and the Charlotte Touchdown Club have partnered to bring you the Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner each year.  The Best Defensive Player in the entire country is announced at the Westin Hotel in downtown Charlotte each December before sellout crowds, with this year’s 21st  straight banquet, sponsored by ACN and slated for Dec. 7. Auburn Coach Gus Malzahn will deliver the keynote speech.

Five finalists for the award, named after the legendary Minnesota Gopher and Chicago Bears lineman, will  appear on stage before the winner is announced by 2015 FWAA President Lee Barfknecht of the Omaha World-Herald. During the evening, the winner of the Bronko Nagurski Legends Award, sponsored by East Coast Railways, will also be feted–Ohio State linebacker Randy Gradishar (1971-73).

Arizona’s junior linebacker  Scooby Wright III will attempt to become only the second player to win back-to-back Nagurski Trophies after Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald in 1995 and 1996. Wright is just the second sophomore to win the award after Ohio State linebacker James Laurinatis in 2006.

The weekly ACN Bronko Report will bring to you updates on what is happening on the defensive side of the ball during the 2015 season, top matchups and also provide links to stories on Bronko Nagurski Alumni and occasional feature stories about current top defensive players who might wind up in Charlotte the first week of December

MATCHUP OF THE WEEK

Michigan State at Michigan:   An important Big Ten East Division game between two teams that are unbeaten in league play. Michigan’s defense has been rock solid and should present a severe challenge to Spartans quarterback Connor Cook. The Wolverines have outscored their opponents 97-0 in the last three games. They have not allowed a point in 41 straight defensive possessions. The last time Michigan posted three straight shutouts was in 1980. Michigan ranks No. 1 in the FBS in scoring defense (6.3 ppg allowed), No. 2 in total defense (181.3 yards allowed a game) and No. 3 in rushing defense (65.8 yards allowed a game). Michigan State has won six of the last seven games in the series.

BRONKO NAGURSKI BANQUET NEWS

 Adam Zucker Selected Master of Ceremonies

RANDY GRADISHAR NAMED CHARLOTTE TOUCHDOWN CLUB’s 2015 BRONKO NAGURSKI LEGENDS AWARD RECIPIENT

Gus Malzahn named keynote speaker for 2015 Bronko Nagurski Awards Banquet

Bronko Nagurski Awards Banquet Reservation Form

AutoNation FWAA DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF WEEK 

Emmanuel Ogbah

Emmanuel Ogbah

Oklahoma State defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah opened the Cowboys’ scoring with a fumble recovery in the end zone, then led OSU’s defense with eight tackles and a sack and two forced fumbles in a 33-26 overtime win at West Virginia. The performance earned Ogbah the AutoNation National Defensive Player of the Week honor for games of the weekend of Oct. 10, as selected by the Football Writers Association on America.

The 6-4, 275-pound junior from Houston is the reigning Big 12 Conference Defensive Lineman of the Year and showed why with his season-high tackle total, and he added a quarterback hurry. After his touchdown, the first of his two forced fumbles minutes later was recovered and set the Cowboys up at West Virginia’s 28-yard line. Oklahoma State scored five plays later for a 14-0 lead.

In the first quarter alone, Ogbah had three tackles, the fumble-recovery for a touchdown, a forced fumble, a half-sack and a half-tackle for loss. Six of Ogbah’s eight total tackles were unassisted. In Big 12 games, Ogbah leads the conference in sacks, tackles for loss and forced fumbles. He is tied for fourth in the nation with 7.5 sacks and is eighth with 11 tackles for losses.

MEMORABLE DEFENSIVE PERFORMANCES FROM LAST WEEK 

More…

ACN Bronko Nagurski Report — Oct. 8

broko logos

Since 1995, the Football Writers Association of America and the Charlotte Touchdown Club have partnered to bring you the Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner each year.  The Best Defensive Player in the entire country is announced at the Westin Hotel in downtown Charlotte each December before sellout crowds, with this year’s 21st  straight banquet, sponsored by ACN and slated for Dec. 7. Auburn Coach Gus Malzahn will deliver the keynote speech.

Five finalists for the award, named after the legendary Minnesota Gopher and Chicago Bears lineman, will  appear on stage before the winner is announced by 2015 FWAA President Lee Barfknecht of the Omaha World-Herald. During the evening, the winner of the Bronko Nagurski Legends Award, sponsored by East Coast Railways, will also be feted–Ohio State linebacker Randy Gradishar (1971-73).

Arizona’s junior linebacker  Scooby Wright III will attempt to become only the second player to win back-to-back Nagurski Trophies after Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald in 1995 and 1996. Wright is just the second sophomore to win the award after Ohio State linebacker James Laurinatis in 2006.

The weekly ACN Bronko Report will bring to you updates on what is happening on the defensive side of the ball during the 2015 season, top matchups and also provide links to stories on Bronko Nagurski Alumni and occasional feature stories about current top defensive players who might wind up in Charlotte the first week of December

MATCHUP OF THE WEEK

Michigan at Northwestern:   Two of the top defenses in college football will be on display this Saturday in Ann Arbor when once-beaten Michigan plays host to unbeaten Northwestern. Northwestern ranks tops in the FBS in scoring defense (7.0 ppg) and Michigan is second (7.6 ppg). Michigan is No. 2 in the FBS in total defense (184.00 yards per game) and Northwestern is No. 5 (249.4 yards per game). Michigan ranks No. 2 in Team Passing Efficiency Defense (77.55) and Northwestern is No. 3 (83.35). After a season-opening loss (24-17) at Utah, Michigan has given up only 14 points in its last four games—all victories—and has posted back-to-back shutouts of BYU (31-0) and Maryland (28-0). Northwestern has registered shutouts of Eastern Illinois (41-0) and Minnesota (27-0).

BRONKO NAGURSKI BANQUET NEWS

 Adam Zucker Selected Master of Ceremonies

RANDY GRADISHAR NAMED CHARLOTTE TOUCHDOWN CLUB’s 2015 BRONKO NAGURSKI LEGENDS AWARD RECIPIENT

Gus Malzahn named keynote speaker for 2015 Bronko Nagurski Awards Banquet

Bronko Nagurski Awards Banquet Reservation Form

AutoNation FWAA DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF WEEK 

Oklahoma linebacker Eric Striker.

Oklahoma linebacker Eric Striker.

Linebacker Eric Striker led Oklahoma with a career-high 12 tackles in a 44-24 win over previously unbeaten West Virginia. Striker tied a career high with three tackles for a loss (for 18 yards lost), which earned him the AutoNation National Defensive Player of the Week honor for games of the weekend of Oct. 3, as selected by the Football Writers Association of America.

Striker, a 6-0, 222-pound senior from Seffner, Fla., also finished with a forced fumble and two sacks, extending his own Oklahoma record for career sacks by a linebacker to 18. The 2014 first-team All-Big 12 selection was a main force as Oklahoma forced five West Virginia turnovers. In the fourth quarter, Striker forced a WVU fumble that was returned 41 yards for a touchdown by Jordan Evans, a score that gave the Sooners a 17-point margin in the fourth quarter.

“Eric’s played well a lot. Some people don’t give you the opportunities (to rush),” Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops said. “In this game, for instance, we have the lead so (West Virginia) had to throw more. I guarantee it’s more than they wanted to. So there’s more opportunity (for Eric). He was huge. He’s hard to block. A time or two he beats the guy, but they get a holding call off of a pass that was a first down and it ended up being called back — that would’ve been a sack had they not held him.”

MEMORABLE DEFENSIVE PERFORMANCES FROM LAST WEEK 

More…

ACN Bronko Nagurski Report — Oct. 1

broko logosSince 1995, the Football Writers Association of America and the Charlotte Touchdown Club have partnered to bring you the Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner each year.  The Best Defensive Player in the entire country is announced at the Westin Hotel in downtown Charlotte each December before sellout crowds, with this year’s 21st  straight banquet, sponsored by ACN and slated for Dec. 7. Auburn Coach Gus Malzahn will deliver the keynote speech.

Five finalists for the award, named after the legendary Minnesota Gopher and Chicago Bears lineman, will  appear on stage before the winner is announced by 2015 FWAA President Lee Barfknecht of the Omaha World-Herald. During the evening, the winner of the Bronko Nagurski Legends Award, sponsored by East Coast Railways, will also be feted–Ohio State linebacker Randy Gradishar (1971-73).

Arizona’s junior linebacker  Scooby Wright III will attempt to become only the second player to win back-to-back Nagurski Trophies after Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald in 1995 and 1996. Wright is just the second sophomore to win the award after Ohio State linebacker James Laurinatis in 2006.

The weekly ACN Bronko Report will bring to you updates on what is happening on the defensive side of the ball during the 2015 season, top matchups and also provide links to stories on Bronko Nagurski Alumni and occasional feature stories about current top defensive players who might wind up in Charlotte the first week of December

MATCHUP OF THE WEEK

Notre Dame at Clemson: The Fighting Irish head to Clemson for a key game that could determine the College Football Playoff fortunes of both teams in one of the best games of the weekend.  In the battle of unbeatens, Notre Dame boasts four members of the Bronko Nagurski Trophy Watch List: tackle Sheldon Day, defensive back KeiVarae Russell and linebackers Joe Schmidt and Jaylon Smith.  Smith leads Notre Dame with 29 total tackles and 4.5 tackles for 19 yards in losses, but Day is right behind with 4 for 32 yards in losses. Schmidt is second in total tackles at 28. Clemson averages 36.7 points a game, but is also 11th in scoring defense. Clemson needs a win to boost the ACC image nationally. Notre Dame, as an independent, has little margin for error to make the Top 4 in the CFP standings.

BRONKO NAGURSKI BANQUET NEWS

 Adam Zucker Selected Master of Ceremonies

RANDY GRADISHAR NAMED CHARLOTTE TOUCHDOWN CLUB’s 2015 BRONKO NAGURSKI LEGENDS AWARD RECIPIENT

Gus Malzahn named keynote speaker for 2015 Bronko Nagurski Awards Banquet

Bronko Nagurski Awards Banquet Reservation Form

AutoNation FWAA DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF WEEK No. 3

Jeremy Cash, Duke

Jeremy Cash, Duke

Duke safety Jeremy Cash was a constant nemesis in the Georgia Tech backfield, coming up with a team-high 12 tackles, a sack and three tackles for loss as the Blue Devils upset the No. 20 Yellow Jackets, 34-20. Cash kept Georgia Tech off balance all day with four quarterback hurries, and his efforts earned him the AutoNation FWAA Defensive Player of the Week honor for games of the weekend of Sept. 26.

The 6-2, 210-pound redshirt senior from Miami also forced two fumbles as Duke held the nation’s second-best rushing offense to 173 rushing yards, 204 yards below their season average (377.0). Cash is tied for the national lead in forced fumbles (3) through four games, and is tied for fifth in the nation in tackles for loss (8.5, 30 yards lost). Over the past two games, the 2014 FWAA second team All-American has produced 6.5 tackles for loss.

Cash’s biggest play may have been his last in the game, as his second forced fumble came late in the fourth quarter at the Georgia Tech 39. Duke, which led 26-20, recovered and scored the clinching touchdown shortly thereafter to seal their ACC opener.

MEMORABLE DEFENSIVE PERFORMANCES FROM LAST WEEK 

More…

Jimmie McDowell, Sportswriter, Football Executive, (1926-)

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 21st installment of the Pillars of the FWAA series. Jimmie McDowell was the 2000 winner of the Bert McGrane Award. Thanks to FWAA member Gene Duffey for writing and researching this sketch.

By Gene Duffey

Whenever college football history was made in the state of Mississippi, it seemed that Jimmie McDowell was there.

Working at the Jackson States-Item, McDowell covered the famous 1959 Mississippi at LSU game, when the Tigers’ Billy Cannon returned a punt 89 yards to beat Ole Miss 7-3.

Jimmie McDowell, 2000 winner of the Bert McGrane Award.

Jimmie McDowell, 2000 winner of the Bert McGrane Award.

“It was Halloween night,” recalled McDowell. “(Mississippi coach Johnny) Vaught kicked a field goal and sat on it, relying on his defense. Cannon wasn’t supposed to field any ball inside the 15. The ball bounced up right in his face. Some of the Ole Miss players didn’t think he would field the ball and eased up.”

McDowell served as director of public relations and athletic publicity, the precursor of sports information directors, at Southern Mississippi in 1953. The school, then known as Mississippi Southern, scored one of its biggest upsets, knocking off Alabama and quarterback Bart Starr, 25-19 to open the 1953 season in Montgomery. Later, he helped start the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and worked with the Jackson Touchdown Club in acquiring a building in 1992. Three years later he founded the All-American Football Foundation, which has honored media members, athletic directors and college presidents as well as players and coaches.

More…

President’s column: One month in, college football is a world turned upside down

ffaw_redesignOMAHA — My god, isn’t this fun?

It’s difficult to recall a college football season in which we seem to have more questions than answers after the first month than we did before the darn thing started.

Ohio State quarterbacks? Oregon down, Utah up? Defensive coordinator mental-health warnings in the Big 12? Alabama, Auburn and Arkansas a combined 0-4 to start SEC play? Clemson rolling and Louisville falling in the ACC?

FWAA 2015 President Lee Barfknecht.

FWAA 2015 President Lee Barfknecht.

Good luck to the College Football Playoff Selection Committee. Looks like you’ll need it. As for those of us chronicling the action, the stories get more interesting by the week.

Something worth following this season is the amped-up work on recognizing our national players of the week (offense and defense) and national team of the week.

The Football Writers Association of America has partnered with a new valued sponsor, AutoNation, to honor deserving players and teams as selected by the FWAA All-America Committee. AutoNation generously donates $1,000 for each team of the week and each player of the week (offense and defense) toward the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. AutoNation also is presenting sponsor of our All-American team and the 75th Anniversary All-America squads.

More…

Call for applicants: Volney Meece Scholarship

ffaw_redesignThe FWAA is now accepting applications for the 19th 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, 2015.

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 $60,000 in scholarship money to deserving children of FWAA members.

The winner will be unveiled at the FWAA’s Annual Awards Breakfast in January 216.

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.

 

Coach Eddie Robinson’s wife, Doris, has died 1

Doris Robinson, the wife of legendary Grambling football coach Eddie G. Robinson, passed away last Wednesday morning at the age of 96.

Eddie Robinson, who was Grambling’s head coach for 56 years, retired as the winningest coach of all time in NCAA Division I and was the namesake of the FWAA’s Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award.

Click here to read the entire story in the Monroe (La.) News Star.

ACN Bronko Nagurski Report — Sept. 17

broko logosSince 1995, the Football Writers Association of America and the Charlotte Touchdown Club have partnered to bring you the Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner each year.  The Best Defensive Player in the entire country is announced at the Westin Hotel in downtown Charlotte each December before sellout crowds, with this year’s 21st  straight banquet, sponsored by ACN and slated for Dec. 7. Auburn Coach Gus Malzahn will deliver the keynote speech.

Five finalists for the award, named after the legendary Minnesota Gopher and Chicago Bears lineman, will  appear on stage before the winner is announced by 2015 FWAA President Lee Barfknecht of the Omaha World-Herald. During the evening, the winner of the Bronko Nagurski Legends Award, sponsored by East Coast Railways, will also be feted–Ohio State linebacker Randy Gradishar (1971-73).

Arizona’s junior linebacker  Scooby Wright III will attempt to become only the second player to win back-to-back Nagurski Trophies after Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald in 1995 and 1996. Wright is just the second sophomore to win the award after Ohio State linebacker James Laurinatis in 2006.

The weekly ACN Bronko Report will bring to you updates on what is happening on the defensive side of the ball during the 2015 season, top matchups and also provide links to stories on Bronko Nagurski Alumni and occasional feature stories about current top defensive players who might wind up in Charlotte the first week of December

MATCHUP OF THE WEEK

This Saturday the high-scoring Ole Miss Rebels head to Alabama to face the Crimson Tide, a team Mississippi beat last season in Oxford. Mississippi has opened up by averaging 74 points (tops in FBS) in blowout home victories against Tennessee-Martin and Fresno State. Now, the Rebels, ranked 13th in the FWAA-NFF Super 16 Poll, step up in class against the second-ranked Crimson Tide, which has a solid opening-season victory over Wisconsin on a neutral field and an easy home victory over Middle Tennessee. The question will become can Alabama’s defense corral Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly, who has passed for 557 yards and six scores in the first two games? Not to be overlooked is the Ole Miss running game, which is averaging an FBS third-best 7.8 yards a rush. Alabama’s rush defense is ranked 12th in the nation, allowing only 2.42 yards a carry. Something is going to have to give. The Crimson Tide boasts three players on the Bronko Nagurski Watch List: tackle A’Shawn Robinson, end Jonathan Allen and linebacker Reggie Ragland. Mississippi has two players on the list: tackle Robert Nkemdiche and defensive back Tony Conner.

BRONKO NAGURSKI BANQUET NEWS

 Adam Zucker Selected Master of Ceremonies

RANDY GRADISHAR NAMED CHARLOTTE TOUCHDOWN CLUB’s 2015 BRONKO NAGURSKI LEGENDS AWARD RECIPIENT

Gus Malzahn named keynote speaker for 2015 Bronko Nagurski Awards Banquet

Bronko Nagurski Awards Banquet Reservation Form

AutoNation FWAA DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF WEEK 

BYU free safety Kai Nacua picked off three passes, the last of which sealed the Cougars’ second dramatic final-minute win in as many weeks, as BYU rallied to beat Boise State, 35-24.

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Pillars of the FWAA: Jack Hairston (1928-2010), Gainesville Sun

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 each week a sketch on one 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 19th installment of the Pillars of the FWAA series. Jack Hairston was the 1990 winner of the Bert McGrane Award. Thanks to FWAA member Gene Duffey for writing and researching this sketch.

By Gene Duffey
Jack Hairson, 1990 winner of the Bert McGrane Award.

Jack Hairson, 1990 winner of the Bert McGrane Award.

Jack Hairston worked for the Jacksonville Journal in January 1968 when he attempted to interview Joe Namath. The New York Jets quarterback was in town for the American Football League All-Star Game. Hairston met Namath at 10 a.m. in the hotel lobby.

“He was nice as could be,” said Hairston. “I walked around with him for 15 minutes. He introduced me to other players. Then I asked him to sit down for an interview.”

“I don’t have time for no (bleeping) sports writers,” replied Namath.

Hairston went to the East team’s practice that day and received the same type of rejection from Namath after practice. Later, Hairston attempted to call Namath at the hotel, but the operator told him that all calls to Namath’s room were blocked.

“I went back to the paper and blistered the son of a bitch,” said Hairston, who joined the FWAA in 1954. “I must have gotten 250 letters. Most of them were pro Namath.”

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