Fan Plan Championship Index for Sept. 11

DALLAS, TX (September 11, 2017) – Just two weeks into the 2017 college football season and we’ve already had some major shake-ups in the chase for college football’s national championship. Among the major movement in the rankings following an exciting season-opening weekend was Florida State’s tumble after its loss to Alabama and, more consequential, the loss of its starting quarterback for the season. Then, Week 2 provided another blow to a heavily-favored playoff contender when the Oklahoma Sooners went into Columbus and had their way with Ohio State.

With the win Oklahoma vaulted from No. 6 in the Fan Plan Championship Index (“FPCI”) all the way to No. 2 with a 25.6% chance to make the national championship game. The Sooners stand behind only Alabama, which again sits atop the FPCI at No. 1 with a 34.5% chance to play in the national championship game, down just slightly from the previous week.

With big Week 2 wins against ranked opponents under their belts, USC and Clemson remained in the Top 4, reflective of the favorites to advance to the College Football Playoff. However, USC jumped to the No. 3 spot with a 22.4% chance to make the championship game, up nearly ten percentage points from a week ago, and Clemson dropped to No. 4, though the Tigers’ overall percentage rose slightly to 18.6%.

The top 10 is rounded out by Michigan (11.09%), Penn State (9.96%), Washington (9.71%), Louisville (8.37%), Ohio State (7.28%), and LSU (4.85%).

WK 3








1 Alabama 34.47% 22.83% $396.41
2 Oklahoma 25.56% 28.80% $239.63
3 USC 22.44% 29.40% $210.38
4 Clemson 18.57% 20.71% $174.09
5 Michigan 11.09% 17.19% $83.18
6 Penn State 9.96% 14.66% $99.60
7 Washington 9.71% 24.19% $97.10
8 Louisville 8.37% 16.42% $83.70
9 Ohio State 7.28% 23.25% $72.80
10 LSU 4.85% 13.78% $60.63
11 Oklahoma State 4.75% 20.68% $59.38
12 Tennessee 4.16% 9.04% $52.00
13 Wisconsin 3.96% 19.32% $49.50
14 Mississippi State 2.92% 6.19% $36.50
15 TCU 2.77% 11.56% $34.63
16 Utah 2.38% 4.02% $29.75
17 Kansas State 2.33% 12.14% $29.13
18 Georgia 2.03% 13.65% $25.38
18 Michigan State 2.03% 6.00% $25.38
18 Washington State 2.03% 6.07% $25.38
21 Colorado 1.98% 6.07% $24.75
22 Auburn 1.78% 10.76% $22.25
22 Oregon 1.78% 11.59% $22.25
24 UCLA 1.34% 3.56% $20.00
25 Iowa 1.29% 5.19% $20.00

Compiled weekly during the season, the FPCI is a proprietary analytical look at the current state of the chase for college football’s national championship. As opposed to traditional polls and rankings which purport to rank the best teams at a particular point in the season, the FPCI aims to rate college football teams by their real-time percent chance to make the national championship game — a dynamic metric that no other poll or ranking system measures.

The FPCI also includes the cost of a Fan Plan for each team. A Fan Plan is a one-of-a-kind indemnity product fans can purchase for their favorite team. If that team goes to the national championship game, Fan Plan pays for the fan’s game tickets and travel costs, up to the total coverage value of the Fan Plan. Each Fan Plan has a $1,000 coverage value and fans can buy additional coverage in $1,000 increments, up to $10,000 in total coverage. Fan Plan costs are dynamic and change based on each team’s real-time odds of making the championship game. The FPCI and Fan Plan pricing are based on season simulations that take into account a team’s wins and losses, opponents results, suspensions, weather, SOS, and other data points and projections.


IN AND OUT: Four teams are making their 2017 debuts in the FPCI this week, including some surprise entrants that are unranked in both the AP Top 25 and the Coaches Poll this week. Mississippi State (2.92% chance to play in the national championship game) makes its first appearance in the FPCI at No. 14 overall, taking advantage of losses by Auburn and Arkansas in the SEC, along with the fact that Ole Miss is unable to play for the conference title this season. The Bulldogs, whose Fan Plan this week is $36.50, received votes in both human polls this week but have yet to be ranked. They will face a stiff test this coming week when they host the No. 10 LSU Tigers (4.85% chance to make the championship game, $60.63) in both teams’ first SEC clash of the season.

Two other schools are ranked in the FPCI this week without being ranked by either human polls. Those teams are No. 18 Michigan State (2.03%, $25.38) and No. 25 Iowa (1.29%, $20.00), both out of the Big Ten. The Big Ten has six teams in the FPCI Top 25, including three in the Top 10 in Michigan, Penn State, and Ohio State. That conference appears to be the most unsettled at the top, as the loss by Ohio State opened up the door for a few more potential contenders.

And finally there is UCLA, which earned its spot in the FPCI at No. 24. The Bruins (1.34%, $20.00), ranked No. 25 in the AP Poll and unranked in the Coaches Poll, replaced Stanford as a Pac-12 representative in the FPCI this week. Stanford dropped out of the rankings after a loss to USC, while Notre Dame, Florida State, and Virginia Tech also fell out of the FPCI Top 25 for the week.

RANKING THE CONFERENCES: There were no changes in the FPCI conference strengths this week, as once again the SEC stood atop the conference standings thanks to Alabama’s overall strength. The SEC is followed by the Pac-12, Big Ten, and ACC as the top four conferences. For the second straight week the Big 12 is on the outside looking in despite Oklahoma’s huge out-of-conference victory over Ohio State, the former top team in the Big Ten. After Oklahoma, which comes in at No. 2 in this week’s FPCI, the Big 12 doesn’t have a ranked team until Oklahoma State at No. 11. All other Power 5 conferences have multiple teams in the FPCI Top 10, led by the Big Ten with three.

BREAKING DOWN THE CONFERENCES: In an era when winning your conference is almost a must in order to make it into the playoff field, the Pac-12 seems to have really separated itself as having a group of elite contenders, followed distantly by the rest of the pack. USC currently carries the highest percentage of any team in the Power 5 to win its conference, coming in at a 29.40% chance to win the Pac-12. The Trojans are followed closely by Washington which is at 24.19%. The two teams combine for a better than 50% chance to win the conference. Surprisingly, Oregon is next with a 11.59% chance to win the Pac-12, followed by Washington State and Colorado who are both at 6.07% and UCLA at 3.56%.

The largest spread from the favorite to the second-rated team in the conference comes from the SEC where Alabama is atop the ratings at 22.83%. The next team in the SEC is LSU at 13.78%, followed closely by Georgia at 13.65%.

The Big Ten seems to be the most wide open of any conference. Ohio State, despite having a lower chance than both Michigan and Penn State to advance to the national championship game, has a higher chance to win the Big Ten than do both of those teams ranked ahead of the Buckeyes. Ohio State still has a 23.25% chance to win the Big Ten according to the FPCI, but a 7.28% chance to play in the national championship game. Further, Wisconsin, which is on the opposite side of the conference standings than Ohio State, Michigan, and Penn State, also has a better chance to win the Big Ten than Michigan and Penn State despite a much lower overall percent chance to play in the national championship game. Wisconsin has a 19.32% chance to win the Big Ten and a 3.96% chance to play for the national championship. Michigan comes in at a 17.19% chance to win the Big Ten, followed by Penn State at 14.66%.

The Oklahoma teams are dominating the Big 12 to no surprise. The Sooners have a 28.8% chance to win the conference, the second-highest percentage of any Power 5 team to win its conference, followed by Oklahoma State at 20.68%. The next Big 12 teams are Kansas State at 12.14% and TCU at 11.56%.

Clemson is currently the class of the ACC at a 20.71% chance to win the conference, followed by Louisville at 16.42%. Those two teams face each other this weekend in a huge early-season conference showdown. One of those teams will obviously lose, and that’s good news for Florida State, which is unranked in this week’s FPCI but still holds onto a 15.77% chance to win the ACC.

BEEN THERE BEFORE: If history is any indication, the Ohio State Buckeyes may be the best buy on the board this week after suffering a tough loss to Oklahoma. The Buckeyes fell from No. 2 in the FPCI to No. 9 with a 7.28% chance to play in the national championship game and a Fan Plan cost of just $72.80. However, it’s not like we haven’t heard this song before. Remember 2014 when the Buckeyes lost a Week 2 out-of-conference showdown at the ‘Shoe? That year it was against Virginia Tech, and guess who the QB was back then for Ohio State? That’s right, J.T. Barrett, who also struggled in that game as well, finishing just 9-for-29 throwing the football for 219 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions. But 2014 was one of the seasons in the playoff era when a team that suffered a September home loss actually came back to claim the national crown. The other season was 2015 when the Alabama Crimson Tide lost at home in Week 3 to Ole Miss, only to rebound and win it all. So don’t count out the Buckeyes just yet. This might well be the cheapest their Fan Plan will be all season.

TOP FAN PLAN SELLERS: If the public sales of Fan Plans are any indication, we are setting up for an exciting playoff season. As of Sunday, the top selling team was Oklahoma. Other teams seeing brisk sales included Washington and USC out of the Pac-12, Alabama and Georgia from the SEC, Florida State from the ACC, and Ohio State and Michigan State from the Big 10. But as Fan Plan sales have proven, owning a Fan Plan is not all about who will be playing in the national championship game. It’s also about a source of pride and passion for their school for those buying them, as proven by Fan Plan purchases for teams such as Florida International, North Texas, Southern Miss, and Tulane. No matter what team you’re rooting for, owning a Fan Plan provides a little more excitement to the college football season.



Alabama tops Fan Plan Championship Index

DALLAS (September 5, 2017) — The Alabama Crimson Tide remained in the top spot on the Fan Plan Championship Index (“FPCI”) this week, rising even higher after an impressive win over the Florida State Seminoles. The Crimson Tide enters Week 2 of the season with a 35.84 percent chance to make the national championship game, improving nearly 11 percentage points over its chances from a week ago.

Compiled weekly during the season by Fan Plan, the FPCI is a proprietary analytical look at the current state of the chase for college football’s national championship. As opposed to traditional polls and rankings which purport to rank the best teams at a particular point in the season, the FPCI aims to rate college football teams by their percent chance to make the national championship game — a dynamic metric that no other poll or ranking system measures.

The other three teams in the FPCI top four and, thus, currently projected to make the playoffs are Ohio State (27.38 percent to make the championship game), Clemson (15.25 percent) and USC (14.65 percent).

The top 10 is rounded out by Michigan (11.09 percent), Oklahoma (8.37 percent), Wisconsin (8.27 percent), LSU (7.18 percent Penn State (6.49 percent), and Washington (6.49 percent).


Members: Nominate your daughter or son for the Volney Meece Scholarship

The FWAA is now accepting applications for the 21st annual Volney Meece Scholarship.

For an application please contact Dave Sittler, 8314 S. Jamestown Ave, Tulsa, OK 74137. His email is and his cell phone is 918-629-3851 (text).

Applications must be received by Dec. 15, 2017.

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

The $1,000 annual grant for four years is awarded to a deserving son or daughter of an FWAA member. Since the program started in 1997, the FWAA has distributed more than $60,000 in scholarship money to deserving children of FWAA members.

The winner will be announced at the FWAA’s Annual Awards Breakfast at the media hotel in conjunction with the College Football Playoff  National Championship Game on Jan. 8, 2018, in Atlanta.

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.
2015 Danielle Hoover Tulsa, Okla.
2016 Dolen Helwagen Pataskala, Ohio


Florida State’s Bobby Bowden Will Receive Tom Osborne Legacy Award

OMAHA — Bobby Bowden, Florida State University’s highly successful football coach from 1976 to 2009, will appear in Omaha for the Outland Trophy Awards Dinner on Jan.10, 2018, at the Downtown Doubletree Hotel.

Bowden, 87, inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2006, will accept the fourth annual Tom Osborne Legacy Award from the legendary former Nebraska head football coach.

For the 21st consecutive year, the prestigious awards dinner will be held in Omaha where the Outland Trophy will be presented to the 2017 winner. The best interior linemen in college football, as selected by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA), will be announced on ESPN on Dec. 7, 2017 during the Home Depot College Football Awards Show from the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta.

“Having Bobby Bowden receive the Tom Osborne Legacy Award brings together iconic coaches of the same era who not only coached against each other in some epic games, but who share many of the same values off the field,” said FWAA Executive Director Steve Richardson. “It is another home run for the city of Omaha and the FWAA in conjunction with the presentation of the 2017 Outland Trophy to a worthy recipient.”

Also on hand in Omaha will be Greg Sharpe, the radio voice of the Cornhuskers who will emcee the dinner where Nebraska senior awards will be presented: the Tom Novak Trophy, Guy Chamberlin Trophy and Cletus Fischer Native Son Award.

The Legacy Award, which Bowden will receive, is presented to a person for making extraordinary contributions to the Outland Trophy and to the interior line play in college football; for exhibiting the characteristics of integrity, sportsmanship and fair play associated with Tom Osborne; for demonstrating a record of leadership and good citizenship in the community that’s consistent with Rotary International’s primary motto, “Service Above Self”.

Previous winners of the Osborne Award are former Nebraska assistant coach Milt Tenopir, Outland Trophy sculptor Jim Ridlon and former Oklahoma football coach Barry Switzer.

Bowden is only the third coach in major-college football history to coach 500 games and is the only coach in the history of major-college football to compile 14 straight 10- victory seasons from 1987-2000.  Bowden led the Seminoles to consensus national championships in 1993 and 1999 and won 12 Atlantic Coast Conference titles.  In claiming the first of the national titles, Bowden’s Seminoles defeated Osborne’s Nebraska Cornhuskers, 18-16, in the 1994 Orange Bowl.

Bowden makes monthly motivational speeches to Christian groups. The Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) also presents an award in his name each year to a Division I FBS football player “who epitomizes the student-athlete and conducts himself as a faith model in the community, in the classroom and on the field.”

Additionally, the Outland Trophy semifinalists announcement reception will be held in Omaha on Nov. 16, 2017 at the Old Mattress Factory.

For more information on the Outland Trophy Awards Dinner and semifinalists reception contact:

Bob Mancuso, Jr.

Chairman – Greater Omaha Sports Committee

7015 Spring St

Omaha NE 68106

w – 402-346-8003

fax – 402-346-5412

The Outland Trophy is a member of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA), which encompasses the most prestigious awards in college football. Founded in 1997, the NCFAA and its 23 awards now boast over 800 recipients, dating to 1935. Visit to learn more about our story.

The Football Writers Association of America, founded in 1941, consists of 1,300 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

The Greater Omaha Sports Committee, founded in 1977, is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization,consisting of more than 1000 men and women from the City of Omaha, the State of Nebraska, and others. The membership serves to communicate, develop, initiate and promote sports activities in the Greater Omaha sports area. In addition to the Outland Trophy Award Dinner, the Greater Omaha Sports Committee promotes high school, college, and professional sports in the Greater

Books: Dave Matter on Gary Pinkel

FWAA member Dave Matter from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch is the author on a new book about recently retired Gary Pinkel, the winningest coach in Missouri football history. 

Book blurb: “Very few college football coaches earn the distinction of becoming their programs’ winningest, but Gary Pinkel has done it twice. From his nine-year tenure at the University of Toledo to his career at the University of Missouri from 2001 to 2015, Pinkel has shown he has the talent and meddle to take his teams to the top.  These remarkable achievements have been met by challenges along the way in Pinkel’s personal and professional life, including a DUI and a divorce, a threatened team boycott at Mizzou which dominated national news headlines, and ultimately, a decision to step away from it all following a diagnosis of non-Hodgkins lymphoma.  In The 100-Yard Journey, Pinkel offers a glimpse into the mind of a winner as well as an honest reflection on meeting and overcoming the unexpected. Follow along from the start of Pinkel’s coaching career at Kent State, the same program for which he played as a tight end, through stops at Washington and Toledo, and finally, taking over at the helm of Missouri, a program he guided to 10 bowl games in 15 years, a No. 1 AP ranking at the end of the 2007 season, and SEC Coach of the Year honors in 2014. Whether you’re a Tigers fan or just interested in what makes a successful head coach tick, anyone can find something to relate to in Pinkel’s personal memoirs.”

To order Dave’s book, CLICK HERE to go to Triumph Books.


President’s column: Twitter storm at Texas resolved; let us know if 20-hour rule causes media access problems

By Dave Jones

I don’t know about where you live. But in the woods of Pennsylvania, it’s always the cicadas and crickets that let you know.

David Jones, 2017 FWAA President

I still can’t smell that certain scent of sweet freshly mown grass in August without thinking of the end of practice. Of taking off my helmet in the dewy dusk after being drill-sergeanted by coaches for two hours in 90 degrees.

The sensual connect is the same: You know it won’t be long now until the first kick.

When I was a kid this time of year, I couldn’t wait for the Street & Smith’s Official College Football Yearbook. I’m not suggesting you feel exactly the same about the 2017-18 FWAA Directory, but I can assure you it’s at the printers and headed for your mailbox within days. As always, thanks to Ted Gangi, it’s the most useful little book you will carry with you all season.

We’ve had some news on the access front that I feel compelled to address. In particular, we’ve had some good vibes lately at Texas — the positive resolution of a two-day dust-up at UT revolving around something that looked like a mandate about when reporters could tweet.

New coach Tom Herman, just arrived from Houston, caused something of a mini-furor when he requested that anyone covering the 30 to 45 minutes of practice and subsequent interviews not tweet until after those interviews had been completed. The purpose ostensibly was to allow everyone to digest and accurately relate info. Beat reporters understandably felt it was micromanagement and complained in print and to longtime sports information director John Bianco.

Well, they got the rule or guideline or whatever it was rolled back. It’s a good example of a coach who wants to have a good relationship with media deciding when and where to pick his battles after getting some push-back. Herman ended up saying his idea was only a preference, not a dictum.

A more global issue has been the new NCAA rule that media obligations count as part of the players’ 20-hour max. I want to know how your program is treating this, if they attempt to reduce access by using this as a lever and especially if you encounter unworkable constraints. For instance, if Monday becomes a blanket off-day but player interviews are not offered until Tuesday evening, does this become a burdensome jam against print deadline, if you have one, or push your post into an online readership dead zone beyond 8 or 9 p.m.? If it is, let me know and we’ll see if we can help finesse a solution.

I think we’ve turned the FWAA-NFF Super 16 Poll into the best in the business and a particularly interesting one to fill in the two months before the CFP committee’s first rankings.

This will be our fourth go-round with it. After the first two polls (announced on Tuesdays), the results of the 48 pollsters are released at 11:30 every Sunday morning, allowing a quick post for you by noon before the NFL games crank up. Please continue to stress the transparency of the poll to your readers and link the individual ballots. It’s a hook that often sets ours apart from other polls and sets up weekly debate the others don’t have.

I also want to make special mention of Gina Lehe being honored by SportsBusiness Journal on Monday. Good reporters don’t depend on media relations folks, but we sure as hell appreciate the ones who know their jobs. And Gina is one. Not only is she the consummate pro, she hires people who do great work, as anyone who’s been to one of the bowls she’s managed can attest.

Now, as communications director and brand manager for the College Football Playoff, she’s been named as one of SBJ’s “Game Changers: Women in Sports Business.”

I can personally attest that if any sports info staffer ever acted with something bordering on heroism, Gina did at the post-2008 Rose Bowl. She was one of roughly half of those in the press box that day — media members and publicity staffers alike — who’d been stricken with a withering food poisoning plague the night before. A lot of people “played hurt” that day but none more so than Gina.

So, on that note, the season is upon us. In the words of one of my old coaches: “Are you ready?! I can’t have you people coming out flat!”


From the vault: Tom Shatel on Barry Switzer how wild it used to be

 Editor’s Note: Getting ready for the 2017 season, here is a classic column by Past FWAA President Tom Shatel of the Omaha World-Herald about the way things used to be. We missed this last January at the Outland Trophy Awards Dinner in Omaha. But good to bring it up now. Barry Switzer was probably the most accessible really big-big-time coach in college football history. Nice to note now  when most other coaches of his status find it hard to be accessible in 2017. And no, Nebraska and Oklahoma aren’t scheduled to play this season. The days of the Big Eight are long gone. Nebraska and Oklahoma now are in different leagues. But they will hook up next in non-conference games in 2021 and 2022.

By Tom Shatel

I don’t know where to start this column, with Dick Janda, or with Earth, Wind and Fire or the mink coat at Jam’s Grill in Omaha.

Barry Switzer, American original and Husker frenemy, comes back to Nebraska on Wednesday night. He’ll accept the Tom Osborne Legacy Award from the man himself, and the two will look like that Rockwell painting we all grew up with. Maybe with a touch of gray.

Many in the audience at the Outland Trophy dinner will come to get that feeling again, to remember the days when Tom and Barry were kings and took turns ruling the game of college football.

They were so darned good, they made me fall in love with the sport. I cherish those days, and we all should, now that realignment and scholarship parity and coaches playing musical jobs have taken over the sport.

Not to mention the joyless crusade of Nick Saban.

I mean, you wouldn’t catch Saban dead in a full-length mink coat.

OK, so we start with Jam’s. This was a cold winter’s night, back in the ’90s. I wandered into the midtown Omaha eatery on a midweek night about 9. I walked in the door and there it was.

Barry Switzer. Wearing that mink coat. Holding a glass of wine. And surrounded by a group of young ladies.

“What are you doing here?” I asked Switzer.

“I’m here to shoot a commercial with Tom tomorrow,” Switzer said. “It’s for a cellphone. So, how ya been?”

It’s been this way since October 1977 — the first time I spoke to the “King.” I was a scared-to-death sophomore at Missouri calling the Oklahoma coach for a quote. The idea of him talking to a kid reporter was a long shot at best — until he answered his own phone.

“This is Barry Switzer.”

He might be the most accessible legend in college football history. Bobby Bowden was media good. But I don’t think Bowden ever did hourlong interviews the day before a game.

Well, the opponent was lowly KU in 1986. Switzer took my interview on a Friday at 1 p.m. The man has the defending national champs and is chasing another title. It’s the day before a game.

He yelled, “Come on in, Tom.” When I walked into his office, he was leaning back in his chair, boots propped up on his desk and puffing on a stogie. Down on the field, his team was going through a classic OU walkthrough. The linemen were having a touch football game, dropping back to pass, etc.

For the next hour, he told the famous tale of his childhood: his father the bootlegger and hearing his mother commit suicide. I’ll never forget this line: “Some people are born on third base and think they hit a triple.”

That’s not the name of an Earth, Wind and Fire song. But I did get to meet band members, thanks to Switzer, who had them visit his locker room after one win.

“Hey, meet the boys from Earth, Wind and Fire.”

I can’t see Urban Meyer doing that. Maybe Jim Harbaugh.

I became fascinated with Switzer and Osborne over the years. They were the yin and yang, the Oscar and Felix of college football. They were the faces of their programs: run and fun Oklahoma and rock solid and straightforward Nebraska.

Osborne tried so hard to beat his rival, and often NU coached and played tight while Switzer and the Sooners would come in and play loose and fast.

So when I saw that framed photo in the campus bookstore at OU several years ago, well, I had to have it.

It’s a photo of Osborne and Switzer doing a radio interview on the field. Switzer is talking and Osborne is smiling. Every photo has a story. This one is classic.

The radio man in the shot was Janda, the longtime Lincoln broadcaster. He used to do a short interview with Osborne on the field before each game.

This particular interview took place at Oklahoma before the annual Big Eight championship game. Janda said he was interviewing Osborne, as usual, when out of nowhere Switzer popped in and crashed the interview.

Switzer was going on about something and you can see Osborne cracking up. Before the biggest game of the year!

That photo, which hangs in my office, is a perfect portrait of their relationship — and why this Switzer appearance is so special.

The kings are growing older. Switzer is 79. How many more times will these two legends get together? We hope forever.

Switzer likes coming to Nebraska and why not? He only lost twice here (1978 and 1982). Even after his coaching days, he was still getting invited to speak all over the state. For a guy who caused so much grief, there was something you had to love about Barry. He was a guy you would want to hang out and have a beer with after he ripped out your heart.

These days he lives in Norman, near campus and, as he pointed out, across the street from a sorority house. He has 10 grandkids he sees frequently. He doesn’t attend OU games, but only because he’s busy hosting a “Coaches’ Cabana” party where he watches the game with Sooner fans.

He still knows how to work the media. He’s on Twitter and had fun recently by telling the media he had met with Donald Trump.

I got a few minutes with Switzer, who says he is bringing Sooner legends Billy Sims, Thomas Lott and Joe Washington with him on Wednesday night:

Q: When was the last time you were in Nebraska?

A: It’s been awhile. I think the last time I was in Lincoln, I went up for a game in Jerry Jones’ bus. I was living in Dallas and took the Dallas Cowboys’ bus to Lincoln. Everywhere we stopped along the way, people wanted to know if Emmitt Smith or the Cowboys cheerleaders were in there. I wish it would have been the cheerleaders over Emmitt!”

Q: What does receiving the Osborne Legacy Award mean to you?

A: “Tom’s one of the greatest legends in college football history. What he did for 25 years is unmatched. Nobody will touch that, doing that every year for 25 years. We always got along well. We competed hard. It will mean a lot.

“I was more like Bob Devaney, I guess. I remember awhile back, they had me come up to Omaha to honor Tom at the arena. Chris Fowler was the emcee.

“When they invited me to come up and sit on the couch and talk about Tom, I brought my drink up with me. Fowler laughed and said, ‘You brought your drink up.’ And I said, ‘Well, Bob Devaney would have been disappointed if I hadn’t.’

“I said, ‘Tom didn’t drink at bars where Bob and I were hanging out.’ Of course, I don’t know that Tom went to any bars.”

Q: Did you ever feel like those games were you against Tom?

A: “No, it was never about us. It was about our great teams, the players we recruited. Coaches don’t take those games personally, the fans and players do. The only time I ever asked a team to win for me was the second time we played Arkansas in the Orange Bowl (1986). That’s where I played, and they had upset us (in the 1977 season) when we were trying to win the national championship. So I asked the players that year, ‘Win this one for us, the guys from Arkansas, me and Keith Jackson.’ ”

Q: What are some of your favorite memories of the Nebraska series?

A: “Well, one year we won up there with the hook and lateral. I remember the media kept calling it the ‘hook and ladder.’ There’s no ladder. What is this, a fire truck?

“Of course, there was the 1978 game. That was my best team. We fumbled nine times that day. Billy Sims had a fantastic run at the end of the game, and then he fumbled. We lost. If we had won that game, we would have played someone else in the Orange Bowl, not Nebraska, and would have won the national title. I still think about that. That one still haunts me.”

Q: A lot of people think Alabama has the greatest teams ever in college football. Do you agree?

A: “The game is so different now. The players are bigger, stronger, faster. The strength and conditioning programs are so good, and everyone’s got one. You used to have an edge.

“It’s harder to do what (Alabama’s) doing now, because everyone’s got players. With 85 scholarships, you can’t take 30 or 40 of them every year. You have to choose. That means there’s talent going everywhere, and nobody does it better than the SEC. Everyone’s got talent, and it didn’t used to be that way.”

Q: The story most Nebraskans remember about you is when you crashed Bob Devaney’s TV show with the tacos.

A: “I still hear about that. We’re in Lincoln, and the winner is going to the Orange Bowl and the loser probably going to the Sun Bowl in El Paso.

“So we’re driving around Lincoln, and on the marquees they had signs that said, ‘Switzer have a good time in El Paso.’

“Well, Bob Devaney used to do a TV show the night before the games with Dick Janda. Bob wanted me to come on the show. Bob had been out to dinner and had a few pops. I said I would, but only if I could just walk out there unannounced and surprise everyone. I said, ‘If you tell anyone I’m here, I’m not coming out.’

“On the way to the show, I had someone stop at a food place and get a sack of tacos. I walked into the show and handed it to him. It was a good time.”

See you Wednesday night, Barry. We’ll bring the tacos.


FWAA and NFF partner for fourth year on Super 16 Poll

Several of the most respected voices in college football will rank the top teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision weekly during the 2017 season.

 IRVING, Texas (Aug. 15, 2017) – The Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and the National Football Foundation (NFF) & College Hall of Fame announced today that they will partner for the fourth consecutive year to conduct The FWAA-NFF Super 16 Poll, the organizations’ weekly  major-college football poll.

The results will be released by 11:30 a.m. ET each Sunday of the 2017 regular season, and the plans include a preseason poll on Aug. 22. The first poll of the regular season will be released on Tuesday, Sept. 5, to account for the games that will be played on Labor Day. The final poll will be released Dec. 3, the day after the conference championship games.

“We are proud to continue our partnership with the FWAA on the Super 16 Poll,” said NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell. “We received lots of positive feedback during the past three seasons from fans on how much they enjoyed the poll. We believe that our voters offer an extremely credible set of opinions, and we hope that the combined respect of both our organizations will continue to provide a compelling reference point for fans to follow during the season.”

The voters in the poll consist of FWAA writers and College Football Hall of Famers. The poll aims to draw on the vast knowledge of the nation’s top journalists with extensive experience covering college football in combination with some of the greatest legends to have ever played or coached the game.

“We are extremely excited to continue the Super 16 Poll and partner with the National Football Foundation,” said 2017 FWAA President David Jones, a voter in the poll. “We have had a great experience with the poll, and we look forward to extending it for another year. Our poll includes some of the most knowledgeable and objective college football minds in the country, and we believe it has developed into a compelling instrument for ranking the best teams in the country.”

The decision to conduct the poll was made by the boards of both organizations at the conclusion of the 2013 season and the end of the Bowl Championship Series, building on a relationship that stretches back to the 1940s when both groups were founded. The 2017 poll will tally the votes of 46 individuals (36 from the FWAA and 10 Hall of Famers) on a weekly basis, ranking the top 16 teams in the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision. Click here for an archive of previous year’s rankings.

The names and affiliations of the 2017 voters are listed below, and their individual rankings will again be made public each week during the season. The FWAA voters, all current or past writers of national stature, are selected to ensure balanced-geographical representation. The NFF voters, comprised of Hall of Fame players and coaches, also add to the diversity of perspectives, coming from different conferences and regions of the country.

2017 FWAA-NFF Super 16 Voters

Mark Anderson Las Vegas Review-Journal
Kevin Armstrong New York Daily News
Nicole Auerbach The All-American
Lee Barfknecht Omaha World-Herald
Zach Barnett
Tony Barnhart
Mark Blaudschun TMG Sports
Chip Brown Digest
Jon Finkel Beckett Media
Bryan Fischer Freelance
Pete Fiutak Insiders
Matt Fortuna The All-American
Tommie Frazier 2013 College Football Hall of Fame Class – Nebraska
Teddy Greenstein Chicago Tribune
Andrew Greif The Oregonian
Mike Griffith AJC – SEC Country
Wally Hall Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Dan Harralson Saturday Down South
Tommy Hicks Freelance
Ron Higgins Times Picayune
Johnnie Johnson 2007 College Football Hall of Fame Class – Texas
Dave Jones PA Media Group
Cody Kellner Cody Kellner Points Index
Blair Kerkhoff Kansas City Star
Rachel Lenzi Land of 10
Stefanie Loh Seattle Times
Kelly Lyell Fort Collins Coloradoan
Kevin McGuire NBC Sports College Football Talk
Don McPherson 2008 College Football Hall of Fame Class – Syracuse
Chet Moeller 2010 College Football Hall of Fame Class – Navy
Matt Murschel Orlando Sentinel
Michael Payton 2015 College Football Hall of Fame Class – Marshall
Randy Peterson Des Moines Register
Bill Royce 2016 College Football Hall of Fame Class – Ashland (Ohio)
Barrett Sallee
Pete Scantlebury Cox Media Group
Dan Sileo Mighty 1090 Radio
R.C. Slocum 2012 College Football Hall of Fame Class – Texas A&M coach
Phil Steele Phil Steele Publications
Patrick Stevens
David Teel Newport News Daily Press
John Wagner Toledo Blade
Wesley Walls 2014 College Football Hall of Fame Class – Ole Miss
Dick Weiss Blue Star Media
Reggie Williams 2007 College Football Hall of Fame Class – Dartmouth
Scott Woerner 2016 College Football Hall of Fame Class – Georgia

2017 FWAA-NFF Super 16 Poll Release Schedule

Aug. 22           Preseason Rankings

Sept. 5             Week 1 Rankings

Sept. 10           Week 2 Rankings

Sept. 17           Week 3 Rankings

Sept. 24           Week 4 Rankings

Oct. 1              Week 5 Rankings

Oct. 8             Week 6 Rankings

Oct. 15            Week 7 Rankings

Oct. 22            Week 8 Rankings

Oct. 29            Week 9 Rankings

Nov. 5             Week 10 Rankings

Nov. 12           Week 11 Rankings

Nov. 19           Week 12 Rankings

Nov. 26           Week 13 Rankings

Dec. 3              Final Rankings

Gina Lehe named one of SportsBusiness Journal’s 2017 Game Changers 1

IRVING, Texas – Gina Lehe, senior director of communications and brand management for the College Football Playoff and a member of the Football Writers Association of America, has been named to the SportsBusiness Journal (SBJ) Game Changers: Women in Sports Business, CFP Executive Director Bill Hancock said.

An annual SBJ edition, Game Changers profiles women in the industry who have played key roles in their respective fields. The 2017 class features 35 women executives who have brought new approaches and ideas to sports business, have been out front on significant projects and programs and are making critical decisions that help shape companies and organizations for the future.

“It’s great that someone else has recognized what those of us in the college football family have known for a long time—that Gina is a wonderful professional and an exceptional leader,” Hancock said.

In its first three years, Lehe has helped catapult the CFP to national prominence, developing and launching the organization’s brand strategy. From its visual and textual identity to large format branding, including all collateral and supporting logo marks. In addition to traditional media services, operations and logistics, Lehe also oversees the CFP social and digital media strategy. Under her guidance, the official CFP social platforms have seen tremendous growth, including year-over-year increases in engagement, reach and impressions. She works closely with the ESPN production team and talent and serves on the senior staff supporting the CFP Selection Committee.

Prior to joining the CFP staff in 2014, Lehe spent 16 years working in the college football bowl industry, most recently as Director of Media for the Rose Bowl Game. In 2007, she became the first woman to lead media and communications for a national championship game. Lehe served in similar capacities for the Insight Bowl (now Cactus Bowl) and Fiesta Bowl.

Lehe is a member of the Association for Women in Sports Media (AWSM), College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA), Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and National Football Foundation (NFF). She also serves on the steering committee for Sports PR Summit. Lehe graduated from the University of Arizona with a bachelor of arts in communications. Originally from Pacific Grove, California, she is married to husband, Adam. The Lehes have a daughter, Adriana, and are expecting a second daughter this September.

The recipient class will be celebrated in New York on Thursday, September 14, at the 5th annual Game Changers: Women in Sports Business Conference. To view the full list of honorees,

Navy bucks the wave of restrictions on media coverage at other football programs 1

Editor’s note: Navy’s Sports Information Department was named one of the FWAA’s Super 11 winners for the 2016 season earlier this year. The award is designed to reward the sports information departments and programs that exemplify excellent media relations.

You don’t have to be paranoid to win at college football. Just look at Navy.

By Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post

This summer — like most recent summers — has birthed new restrictions in the coverage of our most secretive communal pastime: college football. There’s LSU, which announced it would close all preseason practices to members of the media. And Notre Dame, which announced new rules on what sort of practice details could be revealed, and when, and at what length. And Texas, which announced a ban on the contemporaneous posting of quotes on social media, although that was later described as a preference.

In that context, an unlikely breeze of openness continues to waft from Annapolis. Breathe it in and grin. The Naval Academy — the rare college football program whose players might one day guard actual state secrets — doesn’t approach the sport as if it’s a fully classified endeavor. It doesn’t traffic in paranoia. And somehow, despite keeping its front door cracked open, Navy manages to win.

CLICK HERE to read the rest of Steinberg’s story.