Photos from the reception for Colorado Coach Mike MacIntyre, the 2016 FWAA Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year, on Jan. 7, 2017, in Tampa.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Charlotte Touchdown Club, in conjunction with the Football Writers Association of America, officially announced today Kirby Smart, Head Football Coach at the University of Georgia, as Keynote Speaker for the 2017 Bronko Nagurski Awards Banquet scheduled for Monday, December 4th.
“Coach Smart is truly one of college football’s hot young head coaches and we look forward to hearing his take on today’s college football scene at the 2017 Bronko Nagurski Awards Banquet Presentation” said John Rocco Executive Director of the Charlotte Touchdown Club.
“As a defensive coordinator for many years, I recognize that the Bronko Nagurski Trophy is one of college football’s most prestigious awards and I look forward to recognizing some of college football’s finest defensive players at the Nagurski Banquet on December 4th,” said University of Georgia Head Football Coach Kirby Smart.
On December 6, 2015, when named Georgia’s Head Football Coach Smart said, “It’s an honor and privilege to return home to the University of Georgia and my home state. I’m deeply appreciative of the faith President Morehead, Greg McGarity, and the Athletic Board Executive Committee have demonstrated in asking me to lead one of the truly great college football programs in the country.”
Smart, who got his start in coaching as a Georgia administrative assistant in 1999, served on the Alabama staff for nine years, with his final seven seasons as defensive coordinator. During his tenure at Alabama, the Crimson Tide won three BCS National Championships, one College Football Playoff national title, three Southeastern Conference crowns, six SEC western division titles, and been ranked in the nation’s final top ten rankings eight years in a row.
Smart was recognized as the 2012 AFCA Assistant Coach of the Year and the 2009 Broyles Award winner as college football’s top assistant coach. He was also a 2015 finalist for the 2015 Broyles Award. A former standout defensive back and scholar-athlete at Georgia, Smart was one of the nation’s most respected defensive coordinators. Smart coached Alabama’s inside linebackers in 2015 after tutoring the safeties in 2014. He also coached the inside linebackers from 2009-12.
Prior to joining the Alabama staff in 2007, Smart spent the 2006 season as safeties coach with the NFL’s Miami Dolphins. He served six years on the collegiate level as the running backs coach at Georgia (2005), defensive backs coach at LSU (2004), graduate assistant coach at Florida State (2002-03), defensive coordinator/linebackers coach (2001) and defensive backs coach (2000) at Valdosta State.
As the running backs coach on Georgia’s 2005 SEC Championship team, Smart’s Bulldogs unit averaged 162.2 rushing yards per game, third in the SEC. He coached Thomas Brown, Danny Ware, and Kregg Lumpkin—all of whom had NFL careers. In 2004 at LSU, he tutored two NFL draft picks: Corey Webster (2nd round, New York Giants) and Travis Daniels (4th round, Miami Dolphins).
As a player, Smart was a four-year letterman at defensive back for Georgia, where he was a first team all-SEC pick as a senior. He finished his career with 13 interceptions, which was fourth in Georgia annals, and led the Bulldogs with six interceptions in 1997 and five in 1998. A four-time member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll, Smart earned his undergraduate degree in finance from Georgia and his master’s degree from Florida State in 2003.
A native of Bainbridge, Ga., Smart received his BBA degree in Finance from the University of Georgia in 1998 and his M.S. in Physical Education from Florida State in 2003. He is married to the former Mary Beth Lycett of McDonough, Ga., a four-year letter winner on the Georgia women’s basketball team from 2000-2003. The couple are the proud parents of twins Weston and Julia and son Andrew.
About ACN, Inc.
Founded in 1993, ACN is the world’s largest direct seller of telecommunications, energy 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 and automation, computer support and natural gas and electricity. ACN operates in 24 countries with offices located throughout North America, Europe, Latin America, Asia and the Pacific. For more information, visit myacn.com. For information on ACN’s home-based business opportunity, visit acninc.com.
About 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 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/.
About The Independence Fund
The Independence Fund is a nonprofit organization that empowers our nation’s severely wounded veterans and the caregivers who support them to take control of their lives. Through its dedicated mobility and treatment programs, the Fund assists veterans in transforming their lives toward a better future. The Independence Fund believes we owe it to our veterans to provide the resources they need to move forward and build a strong foundation toward lasting emotional and physical healing in order to reestablish their independence. To learn more, visit www.independencefund.org.
The Bronko Nagurski Trophy is a member of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA), which was founded in 1997 as a coalition of the major collegiate football awards to protect, preserve and enhance the integrity, influence and prestige of the game’s predominant awards. The NCFAA encourages professionalism and the highest standards for the administration of its member awards and the selection of their candidates and recipients. For more information, visit the association’s official website, www.NCFAA.org.
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. Since 1990, the club has raised more than $2,000,000 to benefit area high school and collegiate athletics. For more information, contact John Rocco (704-347-2918 or email@example.com). The official website of the Charlotte Touchdown Club is www.touchdownclub.com. The Bronko Nagurski Trophy is presented annually by the Charlotte Touchdown Club and the Football Writers Association of America to the nation’s most outstanding NCAA defensive football player at the Bronko Nagurski Awards Banquet in Charlotte, NC. All proceeds benefit the Charlotte Touchdown Club Scholarship Fund.
By Malcolm Moran | @malcolm_moran
The stories usually had to do with work. Of course they did. For Steve Ellis seemed to be in a perpetual state of work.
He documented the dramatic rise of the Florida State Seminoles for the Tallahassee Democrat, not just with distinction, but with a relentless attention to detail that was rarely seen in the pre-digital, 24/7 era. Now that I think about it, Steve Ellis may have invented 24/7 college football coverage. If not, he may have come very close to perfecting it.
Don’t think so? His friend Mark Anderson, now of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, recalled Monday morning that Ellis spent part of his honeymoon finishing and filing a Florida State notebook.
“I don’t recommend that, by the way,” Anderson said, and there was a room full of laughter.
If only his friend could have shared in that laughter.
Ellis died more than seven years ago, at the age of 54, after suffering a heart attack. Another work story: Even as Ellis was in the hospital, he was reporting a story about former Florida State defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews.
On Monday, for the first time, the Football Writers Association of America annual award for outstanding beat reporting was named for Ellis. When the 76-year-old organization approaches its centennial season, regardless of what the sports journalism industry looks like then, another generation of talented, committed young reporters will learn about someone whose work stopped appearing much too soon.
“He did what he did because he loved it so much,” his wife, Karen Ellis, said.
His arrival on the Florida State beat became an abrupt, and sometimes confrontational, transition in a place that had once been known for much more supportive, forgiving coverage. Former Seminole coach Bobby Bowden, unaccustomed to this new type of scrutiny and urgency, was heard to say, “Dadgumit!” more than a few times. But Bowden, to his credit, came to understand that the popularity of college football was entering a new era of unprecedented exposure, and the scrutiny was just part of the deal.
My admiration extends beyond Ellis’ professional commitment and the quality of his work. There is this odd, often-awkward mating dance that takes place when a high-profile college football team attracts nationwide attention. National reporters parachute in, searching for instant insight and understanding that can help them produce stories that justify the expense of the trip. Local reporters, wary of an outsider that might come across valuable information and agitate the boss, can become protective of their turf.
As a competitor, the thought of Steve Ellis on Twitter makes my head hurt.
I became a regular in Tallahassee as The New York Times grew more interested in the Seminoles. For a long while, the Florida State-Miami game was the first one I would circle on my autumn calendar. Years before the high energy of the digital era, the week-long buildup to the No. 1 vs. No. 2 Florida State-Notre Dame game at South Bend in 1993 remains as electric as any matchup in the modern era.
With all that going on, although Ellis was as competitive as anyone in the press box, he was always willing to volunteer just enough information to allow an outsider to think he or she actually knew what was going on. He was a consultant for distant reporters. He was a mentor for students. “He was honest with them,” Karen Ellis said. “He said, ‘It’s a tough job. You’re not going to make a lot of money, but if you love it, go for it.’”
She is already thinking about becoming part of the next presentation, a year from now in Atlanta, on the morning of another championship game. For one former occupant of the press box in Doak Campbell Stadium, there is just one wish: When we gather to celebrate the work of another gifted reporter, there’s some way that Bobby Bowden – Dadgumit! – can be in that room to offer one more story, one more laugh, one last quote for Steve Ellis.
DALLAS (FWAA) — The 16th annual Football Writers Association of America Freshman All-America Team, presented by Sound Mind Sound Body camps, was announced Monday and includes one player who will appear in the College Football Playoff National Championship later Monday — Clemson defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence.
“Dexter is obviously very gifted from the standpoint of the physicality it takes to play inside,” said Tigers’ defensive line coach Dan Brooks, the AFCA assistant coach of the year.
“We opened the season at Auburn and threw him in the mix, and he had our first sack of the season. Dexter is a very coachable young man with a great attitude who is mature beyond his years.”
The SEC and Big Ten each placed six players on the 34-member team, while the Pac-12 and ACC had five players from their respective conferences.
Other 2017 College Football Playoff participants on the Freshman All-American team are Taylor Rapp (safety, Washington), Mike Weber (tailback, Ohio State), Dre’Mont Jones (defensive lineman, Ohio State) and Michael Jordan (offensive lineman, Ohio State).
The First Year Coach of the Year Award had co-winners for the first time since its inception 15 years ago, with Virginia Tech Justin Fuente and USC’s Clay Helton sharing the award.
Helton, in his first full season as the Trojans’ head coach, led USC to nine consecutive victories to close the season, including a stirring 52-49 Rose Bowl victory over Penn State.
Fuente was selected as the ACC Coach of the Year, guiding the Hokies to the ACC Championship Game for the first time since 2011.
A 12-person panel of nationally prominent writers represented each of the FBS conferences along with independents in the selecting the team.
Both true freshmen (20 players) and redshirt freshmen (14 players) were considered for the team and are so noted on the list below.
There are six former Freshmen All-Americans involved in tonight’s game.
- Outland Trophy winner Cam Robinson (2014)
- All-SEC punter JK Scott (2014)
- Receiver Calvin Ridley (2015)
- Cornerback Marlon Humphrey (2015)
- All-ACC offensive lineman Mitch Hyatt (2015)
- Defensive lineman Christian Wilkins (2015)
2016 FWAA Freshman All-America Team
|Pos.||Name||School||Ht. / Wt.||Hometown|
|QB||Sam Darnold**||USC||6-4 / 225||Capistrano Beach, Calif.|
|RB||Mike Weber**||Ohio State||5-10 / 212||Detroit, Mich.|
|RB||Benny Snell*||Kentucky||5-11 / 220||Westerville, Ohio|
|RB||Justice Hill*||Oklahoma State||5-10 / 171||Tulsa, Okla.|
|WR||Ahmmon Richards*||Miami (Fla.)||6-1 / 192||Wellington, Fla.|
|WR||Demetris Robertson*||California||6-0 / 175||Savannah, Ga.|
|WR||Ty Lee*||Middle Tennessee||5-9 / 155||Moultrie, Ga.|
|TE||Isaac Nauta*||Georgia||6-4 / 246||Buford, Ga.|
|OL||Michael Jordan*||Ohio State||6-7 / 310||Canton, Mich.|
|OL||Jawaan Taylor*||Florida||6-5 / 340||Cocoa, Fla.|
|OL||Ryan Bates**||Penn State||6-4 / 305||Warrington, Pa.|
|OL||Thomas Shoaf **||BYU||6-5 / 280||Columbus, Ind.|
|OL||Ben Bredeson*||Michigan||6-5 / 310||Hartland, Wis.|
|OL||Zach Shackelford*||Texas||6-3 / 290||Belton, Texas|
|AP||Donnie Corley*||Michigan State||6-2 / 186||Detroit, Mich.|
|Pos.||Name||School||Ht. / Wt.||Hometown|
|DL||Ed Oliver*||Houston||6-2 / 290||Houston, Texas|
|DL||Dexter Lawrence*||Clemson||6-5 / 340||Wake Forest, N.C.|
|DL||Brian Burns*||Florida State||6-5 / 218||Fort Lauderdale, Fla.|
|DL||Dre’Mont Jones**||Ohio State||6-3 / 280||Cleveland, Ohio|
|DL||Reggie Walker**||Kansas State||6-2 / 239||Ponchatoula, La.|
|LB||Logan Wilson**||Wyoming||6-2 / 225||Casper, Wyo.|
|LB||Troy Dye*||Oregon||6-4 / 225||Norco, Calif.|
|LB||Leo Lewis**||Mississippi State||6-2 / 240||Brookhaven, Miss.|
|LB||Josiah Tauaefa**||UTSA||6-1 / 230||Corinth, Texas|
|LB||David Reese*||Florida||6-0 / 244||Farmington, Mich.|
|DB||Xavier Crawford**||Oregon State||6-1 / 182||Pittsburg, Calif.|
|DB||Javon Hagan**||Ohio||6-0 / 211||Jacksonville, Fla.|
|DB||Taylor Rapp*||Washington||6-0 / 202||Bellingham, Wash.|
|DB||Jessie Bates**||Wake Forest||6-2 / 200||Fort Wayne, Ind.|
|DB||Clifton Duck*||Appalachian State||5-10 / 175||Matthews, N.C.|
|Pos.||Name||School||Ht. / Wt.||Hometown|
|K||Rodrigo Blannkenship**||Georgia||6-1 / 191||Marietta, Ga.|
|P||Tom Sheldon*||North Carolina||6-3 / 200 Echuca,||Victoria, Australia|
|KR||Tony Pollard**||Memphis||5-11 / 200||Memphis, Tenn.|
|PR||Malik McGue*||Army||5-8 / 174||Johnson City, Tenn.|
* True Freshman
** Redshirt Freshman
Co-First Year Coaches of the Year
Coach of the Year semifinalist: Kalani Sitake, BYU.
FWAA All-America selection committee:
TAMPA —The Cotton Bowl Athletic Association’s Charlie Fiss is in the unique position to accept a second Bert McGrane Award today at the FWAA’s Annual Awards Breakfast.
Only this Bert McGrane Award he gets to keep.
About 17 years ago, Fiss accepted the Bert McGrane Award on behalf of the late Field Scovell and then turned the plaque over to the family after he returned to Dallas from the presentation at the College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend, Ind.
Fiss, in his 33rd year working for the Cotton Bowl, becomes the fourth person from the CBAA to receive the Bert McGrane Award, which is presented annually to a member of the FWAA for distinguished service to the organization and college football. Wilbur Evans (1978), Jim Brock (1989) and Scovell (1999) are the other CBAA recipients.
“Charlie Fiss perhaps more than anyone has been part of the fabric of the FWAA for the last 30 years,” said FWAA Executive Director Steve Richardson, who made the introduction of Fiss in Tampa. “He nearly predates modern computers when it comes to putting together the FWAA Print Directory and mailing list.”
The Award was established in 1974 as a memorial to McGrane, long-time Des Moines Register-Tribune sports writer who was one of the founding members of the FWAA. He was the FWAA’s Executive Director from the early 1940’s until 1973.
“The FWAA and the Cotton Bowl share a special relationship,” Rick Baker, CBAA President/CEO, said. “Charlie has been a leader with his steadfast approach to our partnership with the FWAA. Through his extraordinary efforts over three decades, he’s made a lasting impact on the Cotton Bowl, the FWAA and college football. No one is more deserving. I’m proud that Charlie joins an illustrious group of Cotton Bowl representatives to win the Bert McGrane Award.”
Richardson added: “He is meticulous. Period. End of story. He stews over the mailing list and all parts of the directory he is responsible for and some that he is not. He has been a champion of the FWAA in terms of what is provided during his bowl week — access to players and coaches and maintaining strict standards of decorum in the press box itself.
“Charlie runs a model press operation at the Cotton Bowl. For years the Cotton Bowl has been an example of how it should be done. He puts together a bowl operations staff that is second to none. I think most people in the profession, whether it be writers, sports information directions or other bowl executives, know that, but it also needs to be said.”
His first Cotton Bowl was in 1984, during which time he was serving as the Assistant Director of Media Relations for the Southwest Conference from 1984-1993. In 1994, Charlie was hired by the CBAA to serve as the Vice President of Communications and became a fulltime member of the staff.
Through his 30-plus years with the Cotton Bowl, he has worked with six Heisman Trophy winners, including Boston College’s Doug Flutie in his very first Cotton Bowl game.
Charlie is a graduate of the University of Arkansas, where he served as the Men’s Media Assistant from 1976-1980, and then as the Women’s Athletic Director of Media Relations from 1980-1984. As an avid racehorse fan, Charlie still volunteers for the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs, where he has done so for more than 25 years.
In between trips to Great Britain to feed his Beatles’ craze, annual pilgrimages to Disneyland to pay homage to Walt and strumming the guitar, Charlie still runs the Cotton Bowl Media operations by commuting from Phoenix, where he resides.
“Whoever would have dreamed I would have even seen one Heisman Trophy winner much less work around six,” Fiss said. “I got to know Darrell Royal and Frank Broyles, all these people you read about in the sports pages, you know when you are growing up. … It really has been an interesting life. I have been blessed and pretty lucky to be involved in this business.
“We like to say in the Cotton Bowl we are in the business of making memories,” Fiss added. “If it wasn’t for the student athlete none of us would have jobs. I try to think of that every day. And I think when they are coming to the Cotton Bowl, they are just not thinking about playing in the Cotton Bowl, they are going to make memories which they are going to have forever.”
Dolen Helwagen of Pataskala, Ohio, was named the 20th 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 17-year-old Helwagen is the daughter of long-time FWAA member Steve Helwagen.
Dolen has compiled an impressive list of academic and extracurricular achievements in her four years at Watkins Memorial High School. She maintained a 4.182 weighted GPA while taking a strenuous load of advanced placement and honors classes. She also scored 30-plus on the ACT.
A member of the National Honor Society and on the student council four years, Dolen was a two-time co-captain of the varsity tennis team. She’s in the Watkins Memorial concert choir, was a Buckeye Girls State delegate and a Rotary International ambassador.
Kathleen Berry, a member of the Watkins Memorial faculty, wrote in her letter of recommendation: “Dolen’s impressive GPA and ACT score speaks volumes about her inherent intelligence and work ethic. Her contagious enthusiasm and commitment to excellence both in the classroom and on the tennis court make her one of the most emulated leaders in our school.”
Previous 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.|
|2015||Danielle Hoover||Tulsa, Okla.|
Can’t believe my term as FWAA President is about to end, but I knew it was over when I lost Pennsylvania.
So, I promise a smooth transition to David Jones, who covers Penn State for the Harrisburg Patriot-News and will become the 2017 FWAA President on Jan. 9 in Tampa, Fla.
If I have one piece of advice to pass along to David, it’s to try to change the seating arrangement for the National Football Foundation Dinner in New York. I was in camera view the entire night, which sounds good, but believe me, it’s the worst thing because you’re aware that people are watching. All night. And it didn’t help that my bowtie was a little askew. Not that anyone noticed, except the UNLV football SID, who posted a photo on Facebook.
But that was a fabulous trip and an honor to be there, representing the FWAA in a room full of dignitaries that included two-time Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin, who sat just across the aisle from me.
It also was a thrill to present the Bronko Nagurski Trophy the previous night in Charlotte, N.C., to Alabama’s Jonathan Allen. He was truly touched to receive the award, and I enjoyed spending time with those who were honored. I even told Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers that the Wolverines stopped Ohio State on fourth down in overtime. He didn’t argue, of course.
So now it’s time to look ahead, and there are some key events in Tampa before I hand the reins to David.
We will present the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award to Colorado’s Mike MacIntyre, who did a phenomenal job in turning around a program that had nearly reached bottom. He has some experience in that regard, winning 10 games one season at San Jose State, which is even tougher than winning in Boulder.
Then, at our FWAA Awards Breakfast the morning of the national championship game between Alabama and Clemson, we will honor the late Steve Ellis, the former Florida State beat writer for the Tallahassee Democrat, by permanently attaching his name to the FWAA Beat Writer of the Year Award.
I worked with Steve in Tallahassee, where I saw his great work ethic firsthand. It is most fitting the first presentation in Steve’s name is taking place in Florida and Steve’s alma mater, Clemson, is in the title game. Steve’s widow, Karen, will drive down from Tallahassee to present the award to Jason Kersey for his work covering Oklahoma for The Oklahoman during the 2015 season.
So I wish David Jones all the best as he takes over, though I wish I had asked for that recount in Pennsylvania.
(All times listed ET)
Friday, January 6
FWAA Past President’s Dinner — Tampa Club, 6:30 p.m. presented by the National Football Foundation (invitation only)
Saturday, January 7
Team A Media Day — Amalie Arena, 9 a.m.
Team B Media Day — Amalie Arena, 10:30 a.m.
*Higher ranked winner of the Playoff Semifinals will appear first
Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Reception — Jackson’s Waterfront Room, 5:30 p.m. presented by the Allstate Sugar Bowl
Sunday, January 8
Head Coaches News Conference — Tampa Convention Center, 9 a.m.
FWAA Board Meeting — Tampa Marriott Waterside, 3rd Floor, Meeting Room 11, 4 p.m.
Media Party — Amalie Arena, 7 p.m.
Monday, January 9
FWAA Awards Breakfast — Tampa Marriott Waterside (Champions Sports Bar), 9 a.m. presented by ESPN
College Football Playoff National Championship — Raymond James Stadium, 8 p.m.
Tuesday, January 10
Champions News Conference — Tampa Convention Center, 10 a.m.
Host Committee News Conference — Tampa Convention Center, 11 a.m.