Postcard from Tampa: A tribute to a relentless friend

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.

 

FWAA announces 2016 Freshman All-America Team

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.”

soundmindsoundbodyThe 10 FBS conferences are each represented with at least one player on the team, and there are two players from schools with independent status.

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.

From Alabama

  • Outland Trophy winner Cam Robinson (2014)
  • All-SEC punter JK Scott (2014)
  • Receiver Calvin Ridley (2015)
  • Cornerback Marlon Humphrey (2015)

From Clemson

  • All-ACC offensive lineman Mitch Hyatt (2015)
  • Defensive lineman Christian Wilkins (2015)

2016 FWAA Freshman All-America Team

OFFENSE

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.

DEFENSE

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.

SPECIAL TEAMS

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

Justin Fuente, Virginia Tech

Justin Fuente, Virginia Tech

Clay Helton, USC

Clay Helton, USC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coach of the Year semifinalist: Kalani Sitake, BYU.

FWAA All-America selection committee:

Lee Barfknecht (Big Ten)
Mark Anderson (MWC) 
Mark Blaudschun (ACC)
Andrew Greif (Pac-12)
Tommy Hicks (Sun Belt)
Blair Kerkhoff (Big 12)
Doug Smock (American Athletic)
Ron Higgins (SEC)
Phil Stukenborg (C-USA)
John Wagner (MAC)
Mike Griffith (Chair/Independents) 
Steve Richardson (FWAA Executive Director)

 

Cotton Bowl’s Charlie Fiss receives FWAA’s Bert McGrane Award 1

charlie-fiss-110916

Charlie Fiss, winner of the FWAA’s 2017 Bert McGrane Award. (Photo by Melissa Macatee)

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.”

Ohio youth named Meece Scholarship winner

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.

President’s column: A few things before passing the torch

Mark Anderson (left) sits on the dais at the National Football Foundation Dinner on Dec. 6 in New York. FWAA member Ed Grom of the American Sports Network is seated beside Mark. (Photo Courtesy of the NFF)

Mark Anderson (left) sits on the dais at the National Football Foundation Dinner on Dec. 6 in New York. FWAA member Ed Grom of the American Sports Network is seated beside Mark. (Photo Courtesy of the NFF)

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.

Media schedule for the National Championship

(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.

Colorado’s MacIntyre named FWAA/Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year

eddie-all-stateDALLAS — Colorado’s Mike MacIntyre, whose Buffaloes claimed the Pac-12 South Division title and completed one of the best turnarounds in college football this season, has been named the 60th annual FWAA/Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year.

Presented for a third straight year by the Allstate Sugar Bowl, the FWAA/Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award honors the top coach in the FBS as selected by the membership of the 76-year-old writers’ organization.

“I’m honored and privileged to be the recipient of the Eddie Robinson Award,” MacIntyre said. “It is a testament to our players and coaches for all their hard work and dedication. Eddie Robinson was a trailblazer in our industry and was a man that was really respected throughout the college coaching world and is still highly regarded to this day.”

The FWAA/Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award will be highlighted during a reception beginning at 5:30 p.m. ET on Jan. 7, 2017, in Tampa in conjunction with the College Football Playoff National Championship. MacIntyre will accept the Eddie Robinson bust at Jackson’s Waterfront Room, near the championship game media hotel. MacIntyre is the second Colorado coach to win the award after Bill McCartney in 1989.

Colorado Coach Mike MacIntyre

Colorado Coach Mike MacIntyre

MacIntrye, 51, fashioned an FBS-best six-game turnaround (tied with Central Florida) after a 4-9 record in 2015. The Buffaloes (10-3) did it behind a stellar defense that has allowed just 20.2 points per game. Colorado, which was picked to finish last in its division before the season, will make its first bowl appearance since 2007 in the Valero Alamo Bowl vs. Oklahoma State on Dec. 29 in San Antonio. MacIntyre is just the second Pac-12 coach to win the award since 1997. Oregon’s Chip Kelly earned the honor in the 2010 season.

“The Sugar Bowl Committee is pleased to recognize Coach MacIntyre for the outstanding job he did with Colorado this year,” said Chuck Lapeyre, President of the Allstate Sugar Bowl. “After leading the Buffaloes to their first divisional championship since 2005 and their first 10-win season since 2001, there is little question he is very deserving of this honor. All of us here look forward to joining the Football Writers in honoring Coach MacIntyre next month in Tampa.”

“Congrats to Coach Mike MacIntyre and the Colorado University Buffaloes football program on his winning the ‘Eddie’ this year,” said Eddie Robinson III. “Coach MacIntyre represents all that this award stands for.”

“Simply put, Coach MacIntyre is one of the best stories in college football,” said 2016 FWAA President Mark Anderson of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “Enough can’t be said about taking a moribund program and turning it into a big winner. Colorado had patience to let him do the job. CU’s 2016 season bore the fruits of strong rebuilding job in Boulder.”

Previously, MacIntyre, now in his fourth season with the Buffaloes, was head coach at San Jose State, where he turned around that program before heading to Colorado. The son of former Vanderbilt head coach, the late George MacIntyre, Mike MacIntyre has a coaching resume dotted with several assistant coaching stops, including the Dallas Cowboys and New York Jets in the NFL.

“I had the opportunity to get to know Eddie Robinson through my dad when he was the head coach at Grambling,” MacIntyre said. “He was really just a distinguished man that I enjoyed being around. He had unbelievable teams and a lot of great players and invested in a lot of young men’s lives. Again, thank you to the Football Writers Association of America and the Allstate Sugar Bowl for selecting the University of Colorado and me being able to accept this honor on behalf of our team, our coaches and our fans.”

The entire FWAA membership had the opportunity to vote on the Coach of the Year Award, which was narrowed to five finalists earlier this month. The other finalists were Western Michigan’s P.J. Fleck, Penn State’s James Franklin, Washington’s Chris Petersen and Alabama’s Nick Saban.

The FWAA has honored a major-college coach with its Coach of the Year Award since 1957 when Ohio State’s Woody Hayes won the inaugural honor. Robinson, a coaching legend at Grambling State University, has been the FWAA’s coaching namesake since 1997.

Robinson, who passed away on April 3, 2007 won 70.7 percent of his games during his illustrious career. Robinson’s teams won or tied for 17 Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) championships after joining the league in 1959. His Tigers claimed nine Black College Football Championships during his career spent all at the same school.

Robinson, who was named by the FWAA in 1966 as “The Coach Who Made the Biggest Contribution to College Football in the Past 25 Years,” took his show often on the road to places such as the Louisiana Superdome, the Cotton Bowl, the Astrodome, Tiger Stadium and Yankee Stadium. And with his star-studded array of players, Robinson helped integrate professional football.

In 1949, Grambling standout Tank Younger was the first player from a Historically Black College to sign with an NFL Team (Los Angeles Rams). By 1963, Buck Buchanan became the first player from a Historically Black College to be selected first overall in the professional draft (American Football League by the Kansas City Chiefs). Over the years, Robinson produced a Who’s Who of professional football players, with more than 200 of his former players dotting professional rosters.

In 1975, with one of his greatest teams quarterbacked by eventual All-Pro Doug Williams, Robinson’s Grambling team and Alcorn State became the first college teams to play a game in the Louisiana Superdome. The next season, Robinson’s Tigers, along with Morgan State, became the first American college football teams to play in Japan.

A member of the College Football Hall of Fame, Robinson has the keys to cities all over the planet, has been awarded in every form and fashion and has honorary degrees from many schools. His bust is one of two coaching awards that are displayed in the National Football Foundation College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta.

The Eddie Robinson Museum is open in his honor in Grambling, Louisiana where numerous memorabilia reside, including another bust of the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award.

The Allstate Sugar Bowl has established itself as one of the premier college football bowl games, having hosted 27 national champions, 88 Hall of Fame players, 47 Hall of Fame coaches and 17 Heisman Trophy winners in its 82-year history. The 83rd Allstate Sugar Bowl Football Classic, featuring teams from the Big 12 and the SEC, will be played on January 2, 2017. In addition to football, the Sugar Bowl Committee annually invests over $1.3 million into the community through the hosting and sponsorship of sporting events, awards and clinics. Through these efforts, the organization supports and honors over 25,000 student-athletes each year, while injecting over $2.5 billion into the local economy in the last decade. For more information, visit www.AllstateSugarBowl.org.

The Football Writers Association of America, founded in 1941, consists of 1,400 men and women who cover college football. The membership includes journalists, broadcasters and publicists, as well as key executives in all the areas that involve the game. The FWAA works to govern areas that include game-day operations, major awards and its annual All-America team. For more information about the FWAA and its award programs, contact Steve Richardson at tiger@fwaa.com.

The Eddie Robinson Award is a member of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA) which encompasses the most prestigious awards in college football. The 22 awards boast more than 700 years of tradition-selection excellence. Visit ncfaa.org to learn more about our story.

Eddie Robinson Award

All-time winners

Photo gallery: Outland Trophy award on the College Football Awards Show on ESPN

Alabama offensive tackle Cam Robinson claimed the 71st Outland Trophy on Dec. 8 The Home Depot College Football Awards on ESPN from the College Football Hall of Fame.

2016 FWAA All-America Team announced

DALLAS — The 2016 FWAA All-America Team was announced on Monday by the Football Writers Association of America. The 26-man first team is led by the Southeastern Conference with eight selections. Top-ranked Alabama of the SEC led all schools with four players on the team, including Outland Trophy winner (best interior lineman) Cam Robinson and Nagurski Trophy winner Jonathan Allen (best defensive player).

For the fifth straight season, the announcement of the team, the second-longest continuously published team in major college football, will be featured on SiriusXM Radio’s “College Football Nation.” A two-hour special hosted by Mark Packer and Matt Leinart airs today at 5 p.m. ET.

Also representing the 2016 FWAA All-America Team from Alabama, which is in the College Football Playoff semifinal against Washington at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, is linebacker Reuben Foster and defensive back Marlon Humphrey. The SEC’s other All-America players came from Auburn, LSU, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt.

There are two repeat first-team selections from the 2015 FWAA team: Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett and Florida State running back Dalvin Cook. Three other teams — PlayStation Fiesta Bowl-bound Ohio State, Florida State and Texas — each had two players on the first team.

The Mid-American Conference, a Group of Five league, produced two first-team FWAA All-Americans, including Western Michigan wide receiver Corey Davis, who will lead the Broncos against Wisconsin in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl on Jan. 2.

There were eight seniors, 10 juniors and eight sophomores selected to the first team. The conference breakdown for those players is as follows: SEC (8), ACC (5) Pac-12 (5), Big Ten (3) Big 12 (3), and Mid-American (2).

The FWAA’s All-America Committee selected this 73nd annual team based on nominations from the entire membership. This is just the fourth season in the modern era (post-1950) that the FWAA has named a second team.

For the second straight year, Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield was named the quarterback of the second team. Michigan defensive back Jourdan Lewis also made the second team a second straight year. Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey, a first-team kick returner in 2015, is a second-team running back in 2016. And Iowa’s Desmond King, a first-team defensive back in 2015, is on the second team as a kick returner in 2016.

LSU, Oklahoma, Stanford, Washington and West Virginia each had two second-team selections. LSU, Oklahoma, Texas and Washington each had three players on the first and second teams combined.

Since 1945, the FWAA All-America Team has been among the five teams used to formulate the NCAA’s annual consensus AllAmerica team, which will be announced later this week. Since the 2002 season, the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA), The Associated Press, The Sporting News and the Walter Camp Football Foundation have joined the FWAA as the five designated selectors by the NCAA.

The FWAA All-America Team was first selected in 1944, three years after the organization was formed. The FWAA’s inaugural team included Army’s Heisman Trophy tandem of Doc Blanchard and Glenn Davis and Georgia Tech’s Frank Broyles, who later became Arkansas’ head football coach and athletic director.

2016 FWAA ALL-AMERICA FIRST TEAM

OFFENSE

QB Lamar Jackson Louisville 6-3 205 So. Pompano Beach, Fla.
RB Dalvin Cook Florida State 5-11 213 Jr. Miami, Fla.
RB D’Onta Foreman Texas 6-1 249 Jr. Texas City, Texas
WR Corey Davis Western Michigan 6-3 213 Sr. Wheaton, Ill.
WR Dede Westbrook Oklahoma 6-0 176 Sr. Cameron, Texas
TE Michael Roberts Toledo 6-5 270 Sr. Cleveland, Ohio
OL Pat Elflein Ohio State 6-3 300 Sr. Pickerington, Ohio
OL Cody O’Connell Washington State 6-8 354 Jr. Wenatchee, Wash.
OL Ethan Pocic LSU 6-7 302 Sr Lemont, Ill.
OL Cam Robinson Alabama 6-6 310 Jr. Monroe, La.
OL Connor Williams Texas 6-6 288 So Coppell, Texas

DEFENSE

DL Jonathan Allen Alabama 6-3 291 Sr Leesburg, Va.
DL Myles Garrett Texas A&M 6-5 270 Jr Arlington, Texas
DL Carl Lawson Auburn 6-2 253 Jr Alpharetta, Ga
DL Christian Wilkins Clemson 6-4 310 So Springfield, Mass.
LB Zach Cunningham Vanderbilt 6-4 230 Jr. Pinson, Ala.
LB Reuben Foster Alabama 6-1 228 Sr Auburn, Ala.
LB Jabrill Peppers Michigan 6-1 205 Jr East Orange, N.J.
DB Budda Baker Washington 5-10 192 Jr Bellevue, Wash.
DB Malik Hooker Ohio State 6-2 205 Jr New Castle, Pa.
DB Marlon Humphrey Alabama 6-1 196 So. Hoover, Ala.
DB Tarvarus McFadden Florida State 6-2 198 So Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

SPECIALISTS

K Zane Gonzalez Arizona State 6-1 195 Sr. Deer Park, Texas
P Mitch Wishnowsky Utah 6-2 220 So Gosnells, Australia
KR Quadree Henderson Pittsburgh 5-8 190 So Wilmington, Del.
PR Adoreé Jackson USC 5-11 185 Jr Belleville, Ill.

 

2016 FWAA ALL-AMERICA SECOND TEAM

OFFENSE

QB Baker Mayfield Oklahoma
RB Christian McCaffrey, Stanford
RB Donnel Pumphrey San Diego State
WR Zay Jones East Carolina
WR John Ross Washington
HB Curtis Samuel Ohio State
OL Trey Adams Washington
OL Orlando Brown Oklahoma
OL Taylor Moton Western Michigan
OL Tyler Orlosky West Virginia
OL Ryan Ramczyk Wisconsin

DEFENSE

DL Derek Barnett Tennessee
DL Hunter Dimick Utah
DL Ed Oliver Houston
DL Solomon Thomas Stanford
LB Kendell Beckwith LSU
LB Ben Boulware Clemson
LB Micah Kiser Virginia
DB Rasul Douglas West Virginia
DB Jourdan Lewis Michigan
DB Jalen “Teez” Tabor Florida
DB Tre’Davious White LSU.

SPECIALISTS

K Daniel Carlson Auburn
P Michael Dickson Texas
KR Desmond King Iowa
PR Christian Kirk Texas A&M.

Over the years, the FWAA team has highlighted all the game’s great players in several media forums. From 1946-70, LOOK magazine published the FWAA team and brought players and selected writers to New York City for a celebration. During that 25-year period, the FWAA team was introduced on national television shows by such noted hosts as Bob Hope, Steve Allen and Perry Como.

After LOOK folded, the FWAA started a long association with NCAA Films (later known as NCAA Productions), which produced a 30-minute television program. The team was part of ABC-TV’s 1981 College Football Series. From 1983-90, the team was introduced on either ABC or ESPN. In 2002 and ‘03, the All-America team was honored with a banquet at the Citrus Bowl.

The same bowl, now the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl, also was a sponsor when the team was featured on ABC and ESPN from different locations on Disney properties from 2004-07. From 2008-10, the team had been the subject of a one-hour ESPN special.

For seven decades the FWAA has selected an All-America team with the help of its members and an All-America Committee, which represents all the regions in the country. From that All-America team, the FWAA also selects the Outland Trophy winner (best interior lineman) and the Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner (best defensive player).

Some of the true greats of the writing profession have helped to select this team over the years: Grantland Rice, Bert McGrane, Blackie Sherrod, Furman Bisher, Pat Harmon, Fred Russell, Edwin Pope, Murray Olderman, Paul Zimmerman — and the list goes on and on. The FWAA All-America team is steeped in tradition and history and is selected by a writers’ group with those same attributes.

Founded in 1941, the Football Writers Association of America consists of 1,400 men and women who cover college football. The membership includes journalists, broadcasters and publicists, as well as key executives in all the areas that involve the game. The FWAA works to govern areas that include game-day operations, major awards and its annual All-America team. For more information about the FWAA and its award programs, contact Steve Richardson at tiger@fwaa.com.

2016 FWAA ALL-AMERICA COMMITTEE

Nick Baumgardner, MLive.com (Big Ten)

Kirk Bohls, Austin American-Statesman (Chairman)

Tim Griffin, San Antonio Express-News (C-USA)

Clay Henry, Hawgs Illustrated (SEC)

Joey Johnston, TodaysU.com (American Athletic)

Steve Jones, Louisville Courier-Journal (ACC)

Matt Roberson, Jonesboro Sun (Sun Belt)

John Shinn, Norman Transcript (Big 12)

Dave Southorn, Idaho Statesman (Mountain West)

Phil Steele, Phil Steele Publications (Independents/National)

Ryan Thorburn, Eugene Register-Guard (Pac-12)

John Wagner, Toledo Blade (Mid-American)