Volney Meece Scholarship goes to Danielle Hoover, daughter of FWAA member John Hoover

ffaw_redesignDanielle Hoover of the University of Tulsa was named the 19th winner of the Volney Meece Scholarship on Monday.

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

The scholarship is a $1,000 annual grant for four years. It is awarded to a deserving son or daughter of an FWAA member.

The 19-year-old Hoover is the daughter of long-time FWAA member and Tulsa World columnist John Hoover.

Danielle has compiled an impressive list of academic and extracurricular achievements at Tulsa Union High School and TU. She maintained a 4.86 weighted GPA while taking a strenuous load of advanced placement classes throughout high school. She achieved a 4.0 GPA her first semester of college and earned enough credits to be a sophomore heading into the spring semester.

A member of the National Honor Society, Danielle volunteered for community service in several areas while also working as a kennel technician for an animal hospital. She played competitive soccer well enough on the high school and club levels to be named a second-team All-American, all-region and all-state.

In her freshman season playing for the Golden Hurricane, Danielle was named the American Athletic Conference rookie of the week after scoring the game-winning goal against Southern Methodist and assisting on the game-winner three days later against the University of Houston.

Danielle is majoring in biology at TU with an emphasis on pre-veterinary medicine.

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.
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Pillars of the FWAA: Volney Meece (1925-1995), Daily Oklahoman

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 25th installment of the Pillars of the FWAA series. Volney Meece was the 1992 winner of the Bert McGrane Award. Thanks to FWAA member Gene Duffey for writing and researching this sketch.

By Gene Duffey

Maybe it was appropriate that Volney Meece died of a heart attack at the 1995 CoSIDA Convention during a function at a casino in Black Hawk, Colorado. He and his wife, Lou, were eating a spaghetti dinner when he told her that he wasn’t feeling well. He was surrounded by SIDs and other support personnel from colleges and universities across the country.

Volney Meece, 1992 winner of the Bert McGrane Award.

Volney Meece, 1992 winner of the Bert McGrane Award.

“At least it happened here, where he was surrounded by longtime friends in the profession, people who respected him and loved him,” Debbie Copp, a longtime member of the Oklahoma Sports Information office staff, said at the time. “We’ve lost a legend. He was a very ethical, honorable man. College athletics has lost a heck of a man.”

Meece, who worked for 41 years at the Oklahoma City Times and Oklahoman, served as president of the FWAA in 1971 and then executive director of the organization for 22 years starting in 1973.

“He spent an enormous amount of time doing that,” said the late Bob Hersom, a colleague at the newspaper.

Meece attended Tonkawa High School, Northern Oklahoma Junior College and the University of Oklahoma. He served with the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II and began at the Oklahoman on Feb. 6, 1950, writing church news and obituaries. He moved over to the sports department in the mid-1950s.

“He was one of a kind, so helpful to younger writers,” said Hersom, who shared the Oklahoma City 89ers baseball beat with Meece for 14 years. “He was the kind of guy you instantly liked.”

Hersom and Meece also covered many Oklahoma football games together. Most readers couldn’t tell whether Meece went to Oklahoma or rival Oklahoma State. “The people at OSU liked him as much as the people at OU,” said Hersom.

Meece made a huge impact on the people in Norman. Former Sooners coach Barry Switzer, then coach of the Dallas Cowboys, drove to Oklahoma City for Meece’s memorial service. Howard Schnellenberger, another ex-Oklahoma coach, also attended along with OU quarterback Jack Mildren, Heisman Trophy winner Steve Owens and legendary Oklahoma City basketball coach Abe Lemons.

“I truly loved Volney Meece,” said Owens. “Volney always treated me with great respect. From the moment I met him, I always felt like he was my friend. I think all of us (athletes) had a special feeling for Volney, like we had for no one else in the journalism business.”

“He liked Coors Light,” recalled Hersom. “They served Coors Light at the memorial service.”

Meece authored a book on the glory days at Oklahoma, titled: “Thirteen Years of Winning Oklahoma Football under Bud Wilkinson.”

He wrote his columns without ego.

“He was a humorous type of columnist,” said Hersom. “He used a lot of quotes. He wanted to present the person more than himself.”

Meece retired from the Oklahoman March 1, 1991. He continued his work for the FWAA until the day he passed away.

“Presidents (of the FWAA) came and went, and each had his way eased considerably by Volney’s familiarity with what had to be done and what should be done in the organization’s business,” said Bob Hammel, who succeeded Meece as executive director for one year. “Volney was one of those too fast disappearing links between today’s writers and the pioneers in the organization.”

In July 1994 Meece wrote a report about the status of the FWAA at the suggestion of Bill Lumpkin of the Birmingham Post-Herald. “Lumpkin … alertly noticed what I see daily in my mirror: I love awful,” wrote Meece.

The FWAA set up the Volney Meece Scholarship fund in 1997. The group presents $1,000 annually to the son or daughter of an FWAA member for up to four years of college.

“He truly was an amazing executive director,” said Steve Richardson, who became the FWAA executive director in 1996, succeeding Hammel. “He was doing the job in the days before the internet became the norm. I don’t know how he did it, communicating through mail and via phone. It is so much easier now. He also was a fanatic about notes and saving correspondence. He truly had some remarkable files that I inherited. They helped greatly.”

Photo gallery: Bronko Nagurski Trophy presentation

These pictures, from the Dec. 7 banquet for the presentation of the Bronko Nagurski Trophy to Temple senior linebacker Tyler Matakevich, were provided by the Charlotte Touchdown Club and Treasured Events of Charlotte.  Matakevich is the 23rd winner of the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, which goes annually to FWAA’s selection as the best defensive player in college football.

Omaha rolls out 19th Outland Trophy banquet

ffaw_redesignOMAHA — Join us for the presentation of the Outland Trophy to college football’s top interior lineman. The 19th consecutive Outland Trophy Award Dinner in Omaha will be on Thursday, Jan. 14 at 7 p.m. at the Downtown DoubleTree Hotel, 16th & Dodge Streets. Tickets are $75 each and tables of 10 sell for $750.

Stanford offensive guard Joshua Garnett, the 2015 Outland Trophy winner, and Stanford Coach, David Shaw, will be at the dinner.

This prestigious football evening will also feature former Outland Award Winner Randy White (Maryland ’74).  White, a member of the College Football Hall of Fame, went on to a tremendous career with the Dallas Cowboys.  Rotary Club of Omaha-Downtown is sponsoring his Outland Trophy.  From 1946 through 1989, the Outland winner was presented a plaque.
outland trophy bwThe second annual Tom Osborne Legacy Award, also sponsored by the Rotary Club of Omaha-Downtown, will be presented to Jim Ridlon Sr., a gifted artist and athlete who played halfback and defensive back for Syracuse from 1954 to 1957. He played six seasons with the 49ers and then with the Dallas Cowboys. Ridlon was named an All-Pro defensive back in 1964.

Coach Osborne will present his award.  Last year’s inaugural winner, Milt Tenopir, will be at the event.

Also appearing at the dinner for the 18th straight year will be the winners of Nebraska’s football senior awards: the Novak Trophy (Andy Janovich) the Chamberlin Trophy (Jack Gangwish) and the Cletus Fischer Native Son Award (Ryne Reeves).  Nebraska Coach Mike Riley and Cornhusker assistant Coaches have been invited to attend.

For information call (402) 346-8003.

 

Ivan Maisel named 2016 Bert McGrane Award winner 2

ffaw_redesignDALLAS — Veteran journalist Ivan Maisel, whose work has appeared in The Dallas Morning News, Newsday, Sports Illustrated and on ESPN.com, is the winner of the FWAA’s prestigious Bert McGrane Award. He will be honored next Monday at the FWAA’s Annual Awards Breakfast in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Celebrating  its 75th Anniversary — founded in 1941 — the FWAA will bestow the honor on Maisel, 55, an award-winning journalist who served as the FWAA’s President in 1995.

The Bert McGrane Award, symbolic of the association’s Hall of Fame, has been awarded to person who has performed great service to the organization and/or profession since 1974. McGrane is a former Des Moines, Iowa sportswriter-editor, who served as the association’s executive director from the early 1940s until 1973.

Ivan Maisel

Ivan Maisel

Maisel is the 43rd recipient of the Bert McGrane Award, which appears in the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta. He succeeds National Football Foundation President and CEO Steve Hatchell as winner of the award.

“I can’t imagine an award more worthy than one selected by your peers,” Maisel said. “The Bert McGrane Award winners are featured in the College Football Hall of Fame, and there can’t be anything cooler than that.”

A sportswriter since 1981, he has covered national college football at The Dallas Morning News (1987-94), Newsday (1994-97), Sports Illustrated (1997-2002) and ESPN.com (2002-present). Maisel, who hails from Alabama but graduated from Stanford, lists a long list of friends and associates who have boosted his career.

“Dan Jenkins, then and now;  the late Ron Fimrite, who not only wrote with a  clean grace and a man-about-town style, but showed me how to treat my subjects; Steve Wulf, who taught me how to make the little anecdote tell a bigger story; Dave Smith, who hired me at The Dallas Morning News and put me on the national college football beat, if not on the front of the Sunday sports section; and my friend and colleague for the last 13 years, David Duffey, who shares my passion and sensibility about what makes a story.

“And my writing colleagues: I learned reporting from Mark Blaudschun; fresh ideas, humor and integrity from Gene Wojciechowski; passion from Tony Barnhart; hard work from Dennis Dodd, and from our beat writer of the year, Chris Dufresne, just great wit.”

Maisel adds what the FWAA has meant to him:  “As our collective voice to the schools and conferences, as the publisher of the directory, which for its 20-year existence has remained in my bag, and as the gathering place for my friends and colleagues, the FWAA has developed into an invaluable professional resource.”

His year as FWAA President was tumultuous. The organization was in transition.

“I had not been president more than a few weeks when I received news that our executive director, Volney Meece, had died suddenly,” Maisel said. “My two greatest accomplishments as FWAA President were one, I picked up the phone when Steve Richardson called to inquire about replacing Volney; and two, I suggested that we create a directory similar to the NFL Black Book. Tiger made it happen, as he has made everything happen for the FWAA for more than 20 years.”

Maisel has had a working bag at most of the big college games during the last three decades, but two or those stand out even to him, a grizzled writing veteran who has adapted well to the new communications age. Maisel has served as host of the ESPN Championship Drive podcast since 2007.

“I was in the press box when Kordell Stewart threw the Hail Mary at the Big House in 1994,” he said. “Vahe Gregorian and I didn’t leave early for the locker room, and that taught me not to leave if the winner is in doubt. I saw Reggie Bush go off on Fresno State in 2005. I was in the press box in 2013 at Jordan-Hare Stadium for the Kick Six.”

He wrote a first-place story in the FWAA Best Writing Contest on that Auburn thriller over Alabama, one of six awards he has captured over the years in the FWAA Contest alone. He has won three straight game story first-place awards. The football for that one is already in his den back in Fairfield, Connecticut, where he resides with wife Meg. They have two daughters, Sarah, who lives in San Francisco, and Elizabeth, a freshman at Stanford. Their son Max, 21, died in February.

“We miss Max every day,” Maisel said. “My life is not as full as it had been for 21 years, and I expect it never will be. You learn to carry the pain and loss, because they are just … there. We are going about the task of putting one foot in front of the other.”

Maisel’s FWAA Awards

  • 1993, Enterprise: The state of minority coaches in I-A football.
  • 2002, Column: Dennis Franchione’s sudden departure from Alabama
  • 2005, Feature: the Tulane football team in the days after Katrina
  • 2012, Game: No. 1 Kansas State is stunned at Baylor
  • 2013, Game: The Kick Six
  • 2014, Game: Oregon embarrasses Florida State.

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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