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

ffaw_redesignThe Football Writers Association of America is celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2015. Founded in 1941, the FWAA has served the writing profession and college football during a time when the world has changed greatly and the sport of football has along with it. In an effort to tell the stories of the members of the organization, we will publish sketches of the FWAA’s most important leaders — all Bert McGrane Award winners.

The Bert McGrane Award, symbolic of the association’s Hall of Fame, is presented to an FWAA member who has performed great service to the organization and/or the writing profession. It is named after McGrane, a Des Moines, Iowa, writer who was the executive secretary of the FWAA from the early 1940s until 1973. The McGrane Award was first bestowed on an FWAA member in 1974.

For a list of all the winners go to:  http://www.sportswriters.net/fwaa/awards/mcgrane/index.html.

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

By Gene Duffey

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

Bob Hammel, 1996 winner of the Bert McGrane Award

Bob Hammel, 1996 winner of the Bert McGrane Award

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

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

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

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

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

ffaw_redesignBy Lee Barfknecht

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

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

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

FWAA 2015 President Lee Barfknecht.

FWAA 2015 President Lee Barfknecht.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2013 FWAA President Chris Dufresne

2013 FWAA President Chris Dufresne

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

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

 

 

 

 

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

ffaw_redesignThe Football Writers Association of America is celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2015. Founded in 1941, the FWAA has served the writing profession and college football during a time when the world has changed greatly and the sport of football has along with it. In an effort to tell the stories of the members of the organization, we will publish sketches of the FWAA’s most important leaders — all Bert McGrane Award winners.

The Bert McGrane Award, symbolic of the association’s Hall of Fame, is presented to an FWAA member who has performed great service to the organization and/or the writing profession. It is named after McGrane, a Des Moines, Iowa, writer who was the executive secretary of the FWAA from the early 1940s until 1973. The McGrane Award was first bestowed on an FWAA member in 1974.

For a list of all the winners go to:  http://www.sportswriters.net/fwaa/awards/mcgrane/index.html.

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

By Gene Duffey

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

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

Don Bryant, 1998 winner of the Bert McGrane Award

Don Bryant, 1998 winner of the Bert McGrane Award

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

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

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

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

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Photo gallery: College Football Awards Show in Atlanta

Pillars of the FWAA: Bob Hentzen (1932-2000), Topeka Capital-Journal 2

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 22nd installment of the Pillars of the FWAA series. Bob Hentzen was the 1993 winner of the Bert McGrane Award. Thanks to FWAA member Gene Duffey for writing and researching this sketch.

By Gene Duffey
Bob Hentzen, 1993 winner of the Bert McGrane Award.

Bob Hentzen, 1993 winner of the Bert McGrane Award.

His license plate probably described Bob Hentzen best. It read “GOBBH,” which stood for Good ‘Ol Boy Bob Hentzen.

He worked in a different era, when access to athletes was much easier, when writers and coaches could become friends, and the smaller the paper you worked for, the more you did.

“His idea of a perfect weekend was covering a prep game Friday night, a college game Saturday and a Chiefs or Royals game Sunday,” said Rick Dean, a colleague of Hentzen’s for years with the Topeka Capital- Journal. “He got to know coaches really well, when you could do that, without ever being a homer.”

Hentzen was named sports editor of the Topeka paper in 1968 and didn’t retire until 1996. He wrote approximately 8,500 columns in those years, in addition to writing game stories and still working the desk one night a week into his 50s. He continued to write a weekly column in retirement.

He covered the first Super Bowl in January 1967 at the Los Angeles Coliseum between Kansas City and Green Bay. The game was known as the World Championship Game: NFL vs. AFL. The term Super Bowl hadn’t been invented yet.

“He interviewed (Chiefs coach) Hank Stram in his hotel room the week of the game,” said Dean.

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Stanford’s Joshua Garnett wins 2015 Outland Trophy

ffaw_redesignATLANTA — Offensive guard Joshua Garnett was announced as Stanford’s first Outland Trophy winner on Thursday evening during The Home Depot College Football Awards on ESPN.

Garnett, a 6-5, 321-pound senior from Puyallup, Wash., claimed the 70th annual Outland as the nation’s most outstanding interior lineman over two other finalists — Baylor offensive tackle Spencer Drango and Alabama defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson — at the 25th annual show, which was held for the first time at the College Football Hall of Fame.

Garnett, a human biology major, is the first offensive guard to win the Outland Trophy since Nebraska’s Aaron Taylor in 1997.

outland trophy bwGarnett has been a dominant run blocker for the Pac-12 champions, who have scored 30 or more points in each of its past 12 games. He has started 28 straight games for Stanford, which has rushed for at least 100 yards in 47 of its last 50 games. Garnett, a team captain, is a great finisher of blocks and through 13 games has 104 pancakes. He has helped Stanford win the time of possession battle in 17 of the last 19 games with his consistent offensive line play.

Overall, Stanford (11-2) leads the nation in time of possession this season. Stanford ranks 19th in the Football Bowl Subdivision in rushing offense and 18th in scoring heading into a Rose Bowl battle with Iowa.

Garnett, Stanford’s Player of the Game in a 55-17 victory over Arizona, is one of the highest-rated guards for the NFL Draft next spring. He is only Stanford’s second Outland Trophy finalist after offensive guard David DeCastro (2011), a NFL first-round pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers. And he is the first West Coast player to win the Outland Trophy since Washington State defensive tackle Rien Long in 2002.

Joshua Garnett

Joshua Garnett

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Temple’s Matakevich wins 2015 Bronko Nagurski Trophy

broko logosCHARLOTTE, N.C. — Temple senior linebacker Tyler Matakevich was named the 2015 Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner on Monday night, a feat paralleling his team’s rise to its first Top 25 ranking since 1980 and record-tying 10-victory season in which the Owls won the American Athletic Conference’s East Division crown.

The Football Writers Association of America and the Charlotte Touchdown Club made the announcement at a gala banquet presented by ACN at the Westin Hotel in downtown Charlotte, N.C. Matakevich, the school’s all-time tackle leader, is the first major award winner for Temple (10-3), which is headed to the Marmot Boca Raton Bowl to play Toledo on Dec. 22. 

This year’s banquet marks the 21st anniversary of the event in Charlotte, where Matakevich beat out the other finalists: Duke safety Jeremy Cash, Clemson end Shaq Lawson, Penn State end Carl Nassib and Alabama linebacker Reggie Ragland.

The 6-1, 232-pound Matakevich, the first, first-team defensive All-American in Temple history, now has collected the title as the best defensive player in college football. Adding to the story, Temple was the only Football Bowl Subdivision school to recruit him out of Stratford, Conn.

“They (most recruiters) told me I was too small, too slow and I could not play at this level,” Matakevich said. “It was everybody.”

But current Temple head coach Matt Rhule, who was an assistant on the staff at the time, looked at him differently. More…

Writer laments declining access to players 2

Editor’s note: Ed Sherman, former Chicago Tribune, was FWAA President in 1994. This column was written for his web site, The Sherman Report, http://www.shermanreport.com.

By Ed Sherman

ffaw_redesignDuring my early days as the new national college football writer for the Chicago Tribune, I went to Florida State to do a story on Deion Sanders in 1988. He was the big star for the Seminoles, already showing the memorable antics that complemented his incredible talent.

I was invited to have lunch with Sanders at the team’s training table. Nobody from the sports information department sat in on our interview. It was just me and “Neon” Deion.

I recall a memorable moment. While making small talk, and being more than a bit naïve, I asked, “How’s school going?”

Keep in mind, Sanders was a senior bound for the NFL and he already had a big-money contract to play baseball for the Yankees. School wasn’t exactly high on his agenda. A few of his teammates overheard the question and began ribbing him. “Yes, Deion, tell us about your classes…”

“Oh, school’s great, just great,” said Sanders while losing the battle to keep a straight face.

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