2018 Best Game Story: John Bohnenkamp, The Hawk Eye (Burlington, Iowa)

Comment by the judge: Writer did an excellent job in pointing out not only was it an upset, but the surprising number of points Iowa scored on Ohio State. Good historical facts on most points Iowa scored in the series and how long it had been since Hawkeyes scored so many points. Also Iowa’s recent history of upsets at Kinnick Stadium. Very good quotes to back up the facts.”

By John Bohnenkamp

The Hawk Eye (Burlington, Iowa)

IOWA CITY — It was over in eight seconds.

The first offensive play of the game, Iowa safety Amani Hooker roared in front of a pass from Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett for a 30-yard interception return for a touchdown, the first points in the Hawkeyes’ 55-24 win over the third-ranked Buckeyes…

Wait, wait, wait.

Fifty-five points?

Against Ohio State?

Really?

“We were having fun out there,” running back Akrum Wadley said. “You’re doing the right thing when you’re having fun.”

But 55 points, from an team that had scored just 27 in its last two games — 10 in a loss at Northwestern, 17 in a home win over Minnesota?

Really?

Wadley remembered when he was interviewed about the game earlier in the week, when he was confident that something big was coming..

“You guys were looking at me like I was (crazy),” he said. “We believe in this.”

Saturday’s win was another one of those November shockers by the Hawkeyes at Kinnick Stadium, who have knocked off four top-five teams here in their last five tries.

Magic in autumn’s gloom is in the eyes of the ones pulling off the upset.

“What stands out,” said Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley, who threw for 226 yards and five touchdowns, “is how well we played as a team.”

“When we execute in every phase of the game, we’re going to play a game like this,” linebacker Josey Jewell said.

“It’s got the Kinnick curse, or whatever you want to call it,” Ohio State center Billy Price said.

It was only the fourth win for the Hawkeyes (6-3 overall, 3-3 Big Ten) over the Buckeyes (7-2, 5-1) in the last 30 years — they don’t play each other much, though, this was the first matchup since 2013.

It’s the most points scored by an Iowa team ever in the series, the most points scored by the Hawkeyes against a ranked team since a 55-17 win over Texas in the 1984 Freedom Bowl.

Ohio State was favored by double digits — the line had pushed to 20 in the hours before the game.

“We came into this game heavy underdogs, and for good reason,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “Ohio State is a tremendous football team. But the big thing is our guys really believed in themselves all week long. They had a good week of preparation, and then most importantly came out and really played with great energy, great effort, a lot of grit, and played opportunistic football, and that’s important in a game like this.”

“We didn’t care who they were,” said Wadley, who rushed for 118 yards. “From my point of view, if you keep thinking about stuff like that, if you overrespect somebody, you get nervous. I try to think everybody is the same.”

It’s a defeat that will prove fatal to the Buckeyes’ national championship hopes.

It was only the second road loss for coach Urban Meyer since he came to Ohio State.

Someone asked him if there were any signs that a defeat like this was coming.

“No,” he said.

The sign came eight seconds in. The Hooker interception was the first of four for Barrett — he had only one all season coming in — with the other three going to cornerback Josh Jackson.

“I definitely think it set the tone,” Jewell said. “Sometimes you start off slow and you don’t want to do that. But in this game, it started off right.”

“All eyes are on J.T. Barrett,” Wadley said. “He’s the QB, first play, they think it’s supposed to be easy money for Ohio State. Then, boom, Amani Hooker.”

The Hawkeyes and Buckeyes traded scoring drives — it was 17-17 before Iowa finally took control with 31 unanswered points.

Barrett, a Heisman Trophy candidate coming in, was rattled at times, thanks mostly to an ever-changing Iowa defense.

“It was a little bit of everything,” Jackson said.

“They just played very well against us,” Meyer said.

Someone asked Meyer if he was stunned.

“Yeah,” he said.

He wasn’t the only one.

Stanley, a sophomore making his ninth start, was as poised as ever. He threw two touchdown passes each to tight ends Noah Fant and T.J. Hockenson, and added another to fullback Drake Kulick. Eight different Hawkeyes caught at least one pass.

“A lot of big throws for him,” Ferentz said.

On the last touchdown pass to Hockenson, Ohio State defensive end Sam Hubbard had grabbed Stanley’s foot, but he still made the play.

“I think probably my favorite play is the one where he’s got the guy bringing him down and he finds a way to get the ball in the end zone there for a touchdown,” Ferentz said.

It was a game that, really, was over in eight seconds, but the party lasted for 3 hours, 33 minutes, ending with a field storming by most of the 67,669 in attendance.

The Hawkeyes are bowl-eligible again, the 16th time in the last 17 seasons, with another November victory notched.

Hooker was asked about that first play.

“I couldn’t draw it up any better than that,” he said.

There was no question about it. The same could be said for the whole day.

John Bohnenkamp

John Bohnenkamp

Age: 52

College: Iowa

Background: John Bohnenkamp is sports editor/colleges writer at The Hawk Eye newspaper in Burlington, Iowa. He is a 1988 graduate of the University of Iowa School of Journalism and Mass Communication. He worked at the Daily Gate City (Keokuk, Iowa) from 1988 to 1991 before moving to The Hawk Eye, where he was a preps reporter for two years before becoming assistant sports editor from 1993 to 1999. He has covered University of Iowa basketball, along with Western Illinois University football and basketball, since 1993. He added the Iowa football beat in 2014 after the death of long-time beat writer Susan Denk. He added the minor-league baseball beat this season, covering the Burlington Bees, the Class A Midwest League affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels. He has won 16 APSE top-10 writing awards, along with seven United States Basketball Writers Association top-5 awards. This is his second FWAA honor.

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2018 Enterprise Winner: Christopher Walsh, SEC Country

Comment by the judge: “Expansive and thorough story on the current Alabama football dynasty. Extensive research went into the  reporting of this story. Excellent presentation by the writer.”

By Christopher Walsh

SEC Country

First of 10 Parts

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — It all goes back to the plane and the day that changed Alabama.

On Jan. 3, 2007, Tuscaloosa’s airport was overrun by giddy football fans who had flocked to welcome their new coach, Nick Saban. They did so with chants of “Roll Tide!” and loud cheers that only began to demonstrate their excitement.

In a part of the country where the word “savior” is frequently used, Saban was immediately viewed as being the football equivalent by University of Alabama followers. After years of mediocrity and a fair dose of humiliation, they longed for adulation again and hoped for greatness.

What they got was a whole lot more.

When Alabama last played on Jan. 9 it came a second short of winning the 2016 national championship, which would have been its fifth under Saban. Regardless, it concluded a decade unlike any in college football history.

The numbers and the accomplishments both on the field and off are staggering, especially for an era in which such sustained success was thought to be impossible. Dynasty was no longer a sufficient description.

Consequently, Crimson Tide football is nothing like it was in 2007. Neither is the university, Tuscaloosa nor the state of Alabama.

“Attitude,” Tuscaloosa mayor Walt Maddox said is the biggest thing Saban brought to Alabama. “It’s a belief that we can win, and sustain it. So every year brings real expectations of success. It’s something that you can feel. It’s something that people want to be a part of.”

Prelude: The decade before Saban

That feeling didn’t exist during the previous 10 years, when the Crimson Tide became just another team on the college football landscape.

From 1997 to 2006, Alabama had more losing records (four) than 10-win seasons (three), one of which had to be vacated. The program endured a major investigation and subsequent NCAA sanctions, the Mike DuBose affair, Dennis Franchione’s stunning departure following the 2002 season, the Mike Price scandal, and numerous other incidents and symbolic black eyes. It was a mere shadow of its glory years under Paul “Bear” Bryant and the other championship coaches.

“It dates back to the Wallace Wade era,” said Steve Townsend, a special assistant and close friend of former athletic director Mal Moore. “That tradition of being considered a premier program in the country, and even when that languished after Gene Stallings left, the expectation level among the fans didn’t diminish.

“Among Alabama fans, a lot of them didn’t understand the impact of the probation. They still expected to win on a level where it probably would have been hard for anyone to have won at a high level.”

It took former university president Dr. Robert Witt and Moore to make football a priority again, and nearly every athletic facility was upgraded, including Bryant-Denny Stadium with the north-end zone expansion for $45 million.

Without that initial undertaking, Alabama never would have lured Saban from the NFL’s Miami Dolphins.

“This has been a university commitment,” ESPN college football analyst Tom Luginbill said. “Not an athletics commitment, not a football commitment. That university has committed to athletics as a whole and as a result everything on the campus, from enrollment to things that have nothing to do with athletics have benefitted.”

The transformation ratcheted up when Saban proclaimed during his first press conference, “We want to be a champion in everything that we do.”

The players started to catch on that something special might be happening when despite being shorthanded they destroyed No. 20 Tennessee 41-17. The fans followed suit after a top-notch recruiting class was signed and a 32-10 win against No. 9 Clemson in the 2008 season-opener. For the national media, it was a jaw-dropping 31-0 first half at No. 3 Georgia.

“That helped a lot,” Townsend said. “That served as a calling card that we weren’t going to sit on our butts. Alabama had sat on its reputation, of ‘We’re Alabama and players will come here.’”

The ripples really started to spread when Saban and Alabama won the 2009 national championship. Some have been so wide-ranging that they simply can’t be adequately measured, even economically.

“It’s so hard to quantify, because the impact is so large,” Maddox said. “I’m fearful that I may underestimate it, the true magnitude.”

Here are three:

1 | The University of Alabama

Before Saban arrived, the school had already begun an enrollment push, topping 20,000 in 2003 (20,333), and reaching a then-record 23,878 for the 2006-07 academic school year. For that fall, it received 15,761 applications.

For the fall of 2016, it received 42,802 applications. Enrollment was 37,665.

Normally when a school significantly expands the quality of its student applications dips. That wasn’t the case at Alabama. The average ACT score went from 24.2 in 2006 to 27.07 a decade later. The average GPA for the incoming freshmen rose from 3.4 to 3.69.

The geographical makeup of the student body also has changed dramatically. In 2004, 72 percent of freshmen came from within the state. Just four years after Saban arrived the university had more students from out-of-state for the first time.

That’s a huge boon in the bottom line. In 2006, tuition was $4,864 in-state, $13,516 for those from somewhere else. Following a steady stream of tuition hikes, the latest announced just last month, it’ll be $11,580 in-state, and $28,900 out-of-state for the 2017-2018 academic year. Room and board is another $13,224.

Alabama’s become more of a national destination for top athletes as well.

“Young people want to be a part of something exciting,” men’s golf coach Jay Seawell said. “When they’re choosing schools, what Coach has done and what he brought to the university is a great attraction to 18-year-old kids. That’s why I believe kids from all over the country are interested in Alabama. There’s a lot energy on our campus because of what Coach has done.”

Pre-Saban, Alabama’s gymnastics team under Sarah and David Patterson was the only program other than football to win a national championship. In the wake of a devastating 2011 tornado, which helped bring numerous Crimson Tide teams and the Tuscaloosa community closer together, gymnastics (2011-12), men’s golf (2013-14), women’s golf (2012) and softball (2012) all won titles.

So many things must go right for a team to win a championship that they’re almost always due to a variety of factors and key decisions. Nevertheless, nearly all of the athletes involved in those triumphs were recruited after Alabama won the 2009 national title in football.

“Winning is infectious,” Seawell said. “I don’t think it’s a coincidence that all our championships all kind of ran there together.”

2 | The City of Tuscaloosa

Saban always comes up when people talk about Tuscaloosa.

“You have to go to Moody’s and S&P in New York and defend the city’s credit rating so people will buy city bonds,” Maddox said. “In those credit analysis meetings, Coach Saban’s always brought up when you start talking about Tuscaloosa. It’s a very positive thing for us because the guy’s a winner and he chooses to live in our community.

“It’s made my task as mayor much easier.”

Before Saban, the Tuscaloosa area enjoyed two obvious growth spikes due to the Mercedes-Benz International assembly plant, which commenced production in 1997 and completed a $600 million expansion in 2005.

In 2000, the population was 77,925 in the city and 164,875 in the county, which in 2006 had grown to 86,158 and 175,339, respectively.

Despite the 2011 tornado, which destroyed 12 percent of the city and forced a lot of people to relocate, the U.S. Census estimated the population to be 99,543, and 206,192, on July 1, 2016.

That obviously translated into growth and development. For example, when Saban’s plane landed in 2007, Tuscaloosa didn’t have a Barnes & Noble bookstore. Starbucks could only be found at a stand in the student union or at Target. Now there are so many coffee shops around town that one can sit and watch many of the fast-rising condominiums being built.

From hotels to the new federal courthouse, the changes have been eye-popping. According to the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama, Tuscaloosa has seen more than $3 billion in new construction since 2005. Like with the football team there are no signs of slowing down.

“There have been all kinds of business and opportunities that benefit from success on the field,” said Ken Gaddy, Director of the Paul W. Bryant Museum. “Our attendance here reflects that. We can chart it pretty easily, up years and down years.”

3 | The State of Alabama

According to the UA Center for Business and Economic Research, the university had a statewide economic and fiscal impact of $1.8 billion in 2006-07.

In 2015-16, it was $2.597 billion.

The breakdown is as such: 13,217 jobs (up from 9,000), $25.1 million per home football game ($21 million), and $128.3 million in taxes ($71.8 million).

Most of that is specific to the Tuscaloosa area, which gets a financial boost of $19 million for every game at Bryant-Denny Stadium (up from $13.9 million).

The financial windfall was even more extreme considering that Alabama still played some home games at Legion Field in Birmingham until 2003. When the Crimson Tide played only four games at Bryant-Denny Stadium in 2000, the economic impact in Tuscaloosa was just $42.2 million ($10.6 million average).

While Crimson Tide football doesn’t rank among the state’s top industries (the Alabama Department of Commerce reports that distinction goes to automakers as for the second straight year more than one million cars and light trucks were produced in 2016), it still stands out:

  • •Alabama football reported $103.9 million in revenue for 2016, with $47.7 million profit — $18.7 million after helping fund nearly all other Crimson Tide sports.
  • • In media rights alone the school made $42.4 million.
  • • In terms of wholesale licensing sales, Alabama went from netting $41 million in 2006-07 to $100 million in 2012-13. It hasn’t been able to match that figure since (it came close with $95 million in 2015-16), and retail sales are usually twice that of their wholesale counterparts.How much of that is a result of Saban?But with Saban in tow Alabama didn’t wait to start construction. Even after bumping capacity from 92,138 to 101,821 when the nation was in a recession, the wait list for season tickets topped 32,000 by the 2014 season with an estimated wait time of 10-12 years.There’s no telling what kind of impact Saban might make by then.“The moment that plane touched down, Tuscaloosa changed.”
  • “I just think the airport scene puts it all into perspective, of who he was and what people thought of him before he even got here,” Seawell said. “But I don’t think they expected like what we’ve had.
  • That’s why Witt told 60 Minutes in 2013 that Saban was the best financial investment the university ever made. Saban received a contract extension in May that will pay him at minimum $7.125 million a year and more than $65 million should he stick around through the 2024 season.
  • Alabama almost certainly would have hired a pretty good coach had Saban turned Moore down. Things like the south end-zone expansion of Bryant-Denny Stadium still probably would have happened eventually.
  • Consequently, the Crimson Tide brand has never been stronger.

Part 1  Part 2  Part 3  Part 4  Part 5  Part 6  Part 7  Part 8  Part 9  Part 10

 

Christopher Walsh

Christopher Walsh

BamaCentral.com (stories appeared on SECCountry.com)

Age: 50

College: New Hampshire

Background: After graduating college I was so determined to be a sports journalist that I rode a 10-speed bike to two part-time jobs, including as the agate clerk of the News-Press in Fort Myers, Fla.  I find myself thinking back to that a lot recently as the last three jobs I’ve had over the past four years the entire staff was let go. So I’ve decided to be my own boss and recently started the first college football site on the Maven platform, BamaCentral.com. Like most things in my life, my career has been somewhat backward as I covered three NFL teams and other pro sports before college football. Since moving to Tuscaloosa in 2004 to cover Alabama I’ve authored 25 books, got married and last season celebrated the birth of our first child, Evelyn. My wife, Megan, also made me have hobbies other than work and hockey, so I started collecting signed first-edition books and record albums (again). What goes around, comes around.

2018 Best Column: Mark Schlabach and Edward Aschoff, ESPN.com

Comment by the judge: “Excellent look in front of the microphone and behind the scenes of the end of the road for Jim McElwain as coach at Florida.”

By Mark Schlabach and Edward Aschoff

ESPN.com

GAINESVILLE, Florida — On Oct. 23, five days before Florida’s annual rivalry game with Georgia, Gators coach Jim McElwain addressed media members during what was supposed to be a routine Monday press conference.

He began by praising the Bulldogs, addressing injuries and offering his continued support for starting quarterback Feleipe Franks. What he said next took Florida officials completely by surprise. In response to a question about his team’s perseverance during a disappointing 3-3 season, he said players had received threats and members of his family had received death threats.

“There’s a lot of hate in this world, and a lot of anger,” McElwain said. “And yet it’s freedom to show it. The hard part is obviously when the threats [are] against your own players, the death threats to your families, the ill will that’s brought upon out there.”

Florida officials were caught off-guard by the remarks, and after meeting with McElwain following Monday’s practice, the university released a statement that raised eyebrows for how it appeared to distance the university from its coach’s remarks: “The University Athletic Association takes the safety of our student-athletes, coaches, staff and families very seriously. Our administration met with Coach McElwain this afternoon, and he offered no additional details.”

The episode was the latest source of tension between McElwain and the administration that multiple sources told ESPN had been brewing since early in his tenure at Florida. Over the course of the past week, ESPN spoke with multiple sources within the Florida administration, as well as those close to McElwain.

They offered details about the sequence of events that led to the third-year head coach and Florida parting ways on Oct. 29, in what UF athletic director Scott Stricklin described as a “mutually agreed-upon decision.” According to these sources, who agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity, what appeared to be a swift resolution to a bizarre week in Gainesville was the culmination of longstanding disputes and disagreements.

Prior to the start of the Georgia game, ESPN reported that Florida officials had begun discussing whether they could fire McElwain for cause as a result of his remarks. Stricklin released a statement addressing reports concerning McElwain’s job status, saying the school had not had any conversations with McElwain or his representatives regarding a buyout of his contract.

Twenty-four hours later, after a 42-7 loss to the Bulldogs, that changed, as the two sides began discussing a mutual separation. The university and McElwain agreed to part ways after school officials asked him to accept less than his $12.76 million buyout and step down as Gators coach. Final terms of the buyout are still being negotiated.

“It was never the right fit,” a Florida source said of McElwain’s head coaching tenure in Gainesville. “It was an odd fit from the beginning. He never embraced being here and being part of a team.”

When UF officials initiated negotiations that Sunday, they advised McElwain’s agent, Jimmy Sexton, that they intended to fire McElwain with cause and believed they did not owe him any part of his buyout because McElwain failed to alert university officials about the alleged threats against players and coaches.

McElwain’s wife was allegedly the recipient of a threatening message on Facebook, and McElwain himself also allegedly received threatening messages but did not provide evidence of them to Florida officials. At least one player allegedly received vulgar and racist messages that resulted in the player’s mother contacting Florida coaches. When pressed by Florida officials to elaborate or provide additional details, McElwain declined. He has told people close to him that he regrets talking about the threats publicly and that he did not want to drag family members, players or staffers into further controversy.

Several days after first making the comments, McElwain met with University of Florida police, according to sources both at Florida and close to McElwain. He informed them that he was fine and did not wish to take further action.

Following the loss to Georgia, McElwain was asked about his comments and said, “When you look back, I’ve made mistakes in my life. And yet I stand by everything that occurred. It is what it is.”

Stricklin addressed the media the following day to explain the decision to part ways with McElwain.

“I appreciate Coach McElwain,” Stricklin said, “the way he has handled this. We had constructive conversations. I like Coach Mac. I think he is a good man. I want to thank him for his time and his effort serving as our football coach.

“This is more than just wins and losses. I’ll leave it at that.”

McElwain ended his tenure as the Gators coach with a 22-12 record and back-to-back SEC East championships. Defensive coordinator Randy Shannon was named interim coach.

When McElwain arrived at Florida after three seasons at Colorado State, he expressed displeasure with the state of the Gators’ football facilities, which had fallen behind those of other SEC programs such as Alabama, Georgia and Texas A&M. Florida did not have an indoor practice facility for football until its $17-million facility opened in 2015.

“One of the biggest problems at Florida is that [former head coach] [Steve] Spurrier never asked for anything,” a source said. “He told [former athletic director] [Jeremy] Foley he’d just go beat everybody with less.”

McElwain had pushed the administration for a standalone football facility, just as former Gators coaches Urban Meyer and Will Muschamp had done before him. While these comments irked Foley, sources close to McElwain say he was trying to modernize the program in the image of Alabama, where he had been an offensive coordinator under Nick Saban. The school finally announced a $100-million master facility plan in February, which would also include upgrades to the baseball and softball stadiums.

The new 130,000-square-foot football building, which would cost an estimated $60 million, would have all the bells and whistles that other SEC programs enjoyed. It was scheduled to open in June 2019. However, Florida ran into issues locating an area in which to build the facility because there isn’t much vacant land around Ben Hill Griffin Stadium and the other athletics facilities. A decision was reached to delay construction of the new football facility by a couple of years.

McElwain had butted heads with Foley in his first season at Florida in 2015, and he hoped to start anew in working with Stricklin, who was hired from Mississippi State in September 2016. After Florida’s 30-3 win over Iowa in last season’s Outback Bowl, McElwain was asked what the bowl win meant for the direction of the program. While he mentioned the consecutive SEC East titles and new facilities, his remarks were not well received by people inside the athletic department.

“We’ll look for the commitment that we get from the administration moving forward, see where that’s at,” McElwain said.

At the time, McElwain had recently agreed to a contract extension and a raise with Stricklin, who had been on the job for only two months. Stricklin felt betrayed by McElwain’s comments.

“He was the kind of guy who would pull you close and then rabbit punch you,” a UF source said. “He never let you in and tried to keep you off balance.”

Stricklin believed McElwain had earned a contract extension because he’d guided the Gators to back-to-back SEC East championships, but the administration still had serious concerns about the direction of Florida’s offense and strength and conditioning program.

UF administrators had urged McElwain to turn over the staff in the Gators’ weight room because they believed workouts were unorganized and players weren’t being adequately developed under Mike Kent, the director of strength and conditioning, who had followed McElwain to Florida from Colorado State.

They also wanted McElwain to consider replacing offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier, who eventually received a contract extension this summer. Nussmeier is one of his closest friends and succeeded McElwain as Alabama’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in 2012 and spent two seasons there before leaving for Michigan in 2014.

McElwain hired Nussmeier three weeks after he landed the Florida job, and their partnership has been unsuccessful. The Gators ranked 111th in total offense in the FBS in 2015, 116th in ’16 and 112th this season.

The Gators have struggled mightily at quarterback since McElwain’s arrival. Current West Virginia starter Will Grier, who is tied for fourth nationally with 3,068 passing yards and second with 30 touchdowns, was arguably McElwain’s most talented quarterback at Florida, but he transferred after he was hit with a year-long suspension for testing positive for a banned substance. He went 5-0 as Florida’s starter, throwing for 1,204 yards with 10 touchdowns and three interceptions.

The inability to develop Franks, a redshirt freshman, has been a major disappointment. ESPN’s No. 65 recruit in the Class of 2016 has struggled all season and has an SEC-low QBR of 48.7, throwing for just 928 yards with five touchdowns and four interceptions in eight games.

With the Gators trailing 21-0 at the half in their eventual loss to Georgia, Spurrier walked through the press box and asked a handful of reporters, “What happened to the forward pass?”

Spurrier also lamented Florida’s offensive woes during an interview with The State (South Carolina) newspaper last week.

“The offense has been so bad, everybody knows it,” Spurrier said.

Spurrier, who works as an ambassador and consultant at Florida, offered UF coaches plenty of advice this season. On the morning after Florida’s season-opening 33-17 loss to Michigan, Spurrier walked into a meeting with Nussmeier and the other offensive assistants. He sat down and said, “I have some ideas on how you can throw the ball.”

Spurrier told The State he tried to help as much as he could.

“Oh, yeah, I did that every week or so,” Spurrier said, “just with Nussmeier and his staff, and they look at it. He’s put some of them in. He’s put a few in. I’ll walk through there and give them a play every now [and] then, one or two plays, say, ‘What’d you think about this? This was good for us.’ Sometimes they actually use them, and sometimes it’s foreign to them. Our offense was so much different from what they do here.”

Those close to McElwain insist the coach was not bothered by Spurrier’s presence. But having Foley, his influential and opinionated former boss whom he clashed with at times, still involved as emeritus athletic director was challenging. Multiple sources told ESPN that even though Foley was no longer the AD, it was clear he was still involved in athletic department matters.

Despite the offensive struggles and the internal and external distractions, McElwain still became the first SEC coach to make it to the SEC championship game in each of his first two seasons. He won more games (19) in 2015 and 2016 than any SEC coach not named Nick Saban and tied Spurrier for the second-most victories by a Florida coach in his first two seasons. He was also outscored 58-15 in two games against Florida State and 83-31 in his two SEC title game matchups against Alabama, fueling fan discontent.

McElwain felt underappreciated and bristled at Florida fans’ frustrations about the team’s offense.

“I mean, it’s obviously one of those things that you have to constantly evaluate and get better at,” McElwain said heading into the 2016 SEC title game. “I was also brought in here to get to Atlanta. How many years have I been here? OK.”

Stricklin even came to McElwain’s defense when he sat down with ESPN this spring.

“We’re a Presbyterian game being canceled away from [McElwain] having back-to-back 10-win seasons in his first two years,” Stricklin told ESPN. “I don’t think he gets credit for that. … There’s a lack of appreciation for what he’s done.”

In the end, though, frustration boiled over — a culmination of issues over facilities, on-field performance and, ultimately, McElwain’s recent comments about alleged death threats — and Florida is looking for a new football coach, its fifth since Spurrier retired in 2001.

“There were a lot of issues, and last week was kind of the tipping point of, ‘This was not going to work,'” a UF source said.

Edward Aschoff

Edward Aschoff

Age:  32

College:  University of Florida

Background: Edward grew up in lovely Oxford, Mississippi, with two educators and cooks as parents. His father, the late Peter Aschoff, taught an array of different classes at the University of Mississippi and cooked unbelievable Asian delicacies. His mother, the late Patricia Aschoff, was the director of the Domestic Violence Center in Northeast Mississippi, before becoming a well-respected special education teacher in the Oxford School District. Her fried chicken and mac & cheese were second to none. Edward mostly grew up reading about dinosaurs and stalked around the house imitating his idol — Godzilla. He played soccer and baseball and decided he wanted to become a sports writer after being captivated by the late, great Stuart Scott in middle school. Edward attended the University of Florida from 2004 to 2008. He started covering Florida football, recruiting and UF’s Olympic sports for The Gainesville Sun in 2007. He was hired by ESPN in 2011 to cover SEC football, but has sense been shipped off to Los Angeles to cover college football nationally. You can find some of his work online, but he has taken a new role this season which will plaster his face on TV more, as he joins the immensely talented Marty Smith as a college football reporter for ESPN’s SportsCenter. He chooses to wear suits to every sporting event he covers, even in 95-degree southern heat. Edward lives in the canyon of Echo Park, just north east of downtown LA, and while he doesn’t currently have any children, he thinks his ability to raise an over-stimulated cat for the last nine years has given him all the preparation he needs to eventually welcome a human child into his life. This is the second FWAA writing award he’s received. In 2016, he and Adam Rittenberg won first place for their enterprise story on race in college football, centering on the racist bus incident involving an Oklahoma University fraternity and the powerful, viral response from Sooners linebacker Eric Striker.

Mark Schlabach

Mark Schlabach

AGE: 45

SCHOOL: Georgia

BACKGROUND:  College football columnist and reporter for ESPN.com. He joined ESPN in 2006.  He previously worked nine years for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, where he covered Georgia, the SEC, the NFL and NASCAR and also at the Washington Post for two years where he covered college football and basketball and boxing. Schlabach has authored numerous books, including several New York Times Best Sellers. One of those is “Called to Coach: Reflections on Life, Faith and Football” with former Florida State coach Bobby Bowden. He lives in Madison, Ga., with his family.

 

2018 Best Writing Contest winners announced

DALLAS — Three  former first-place winners — Dennis Dodd, Christopher Walsh and Edward Aschoff — garnered  first-place finishes again in the  26th Annual FWAA Best Writing Contest.  John Bohnenkamp was a first-time winner in Game Story to account for the other top award.

Jesse Temple, Chris Vannini, David Teel and Dodd claimed awards in different categories.  Please note, writers are identified by their affiliation (below) at the time they wrote the stories. A few have changed affiliations.

First-place winners will receive game balls, certificates and cash prizes. Second- and third-place winners will get certificates and cash prizes. Honorable mention award recipients will receive certificates. All will be recognized at the annual FWAA Awards Breakfast on Jan. 7, 2019, in San Jose, Calif.

Click on the name of any of the first-place winners to read their winning story.

GAME

FIRST PLACE — John Bohnenkamp, The Hawk Eye (Burlington, Iowa)

SECOND PLACE —Max Olson, The Athletic

THIRD PLACE Nicole Auerbach, The Athletic

HONORABLE MENTION — Jesse Temple, Land of 10; David Teel, Daily Press, Newport News, Va.; Bill Bender, Sporting News; Chris Vannini, The Athletic

FEATURES

FIRST PLACE — Dennis Dodd, CBS Sports.com

SECOND PLACE — Chris Tomasson, St. Paul Pioneer Press

THIRD PLACE — Jesse Temple, Land of 10
HONORABLE MENTION — Chris Vannini, The Athletic; David Hale, ESPN.com; Mirin Fader, Bleacher Report

COLUMNS

FIRST PLACE Mark Schlabach and Edward Aschoff, ESPN.com

SECOND PLACE David Teel, Daily Press, Newport News, Va.

THIRD PLACE Pete Thamel, Yahoo Sports

HONORABLE MENTION J.P. Scott, Athlon Sports; Ron Higgins, NOLA.com/Times-Picayune; Ivan Maisel, ESPN.com; Luke DeCock, Raleigh News & Observer; Kirk Bohls, Austin American-Statesman

ENTERPRISE

FIRST PLACE — Christopher Walsh, SEC Country

SECOND PLACE — Dennis Dodd and Jon Solomon, CBSSports.com

THIRD PLACE — David Ching, Ross Dellenger and Luke Johnson, The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La.

HONORABLE MENTION — Alex Scarborough, ESPN.com; Matt Hayes, Bleacher Report; Jesse Temple, Land of 10

FWAA issues reminder of media access standards as season approaches

The Football Writers Association of America is concerned about access for its members covering college football. The FWAA for several years has set high access standards for SID Departments.  Below are those suggestions.

  • Players (eligible and playing in varsity games) who are requested should be available to media during Mondays and Tuesdays of game week (minimum).
  • Defensive coordinator and offensive coordinator should be available to media once a week during the season (minimum) and once a month during the off-season (minimum).
  • Freshmen who play should be available to media.
  • If former players and/or boosters are allowed into scrimmages or practices, the media should not be excluded from those same scrimmages or practices.
  • Coaches should be available to media on their campuses at least once a week during the season for no less than 30 minutes. They also should be made available after practice each day for updates on the team. Weekly telephonic press conferences do not count toward these times.
  • A “no cheering in the press box” statement should be made in the press box before the beginning of each half of play. In addition, SID’s should make every attempt to keep the press box quiet and escort disruptive individuals to the exits.
  • Requests for quotes from key players injured in a game should be granted by the home SID and his staff.
  • FWAA member(s) should help the each SID with requests for players to be interviewed after a game. Any player who has played (and is not injured) and is not made available for interviews will be so noted by FWAA observers. The FWAA recommends open locker rooms after games, but short of this, any player who plays in a game and is not injured, upon request, should be made available to the media.
  • An FWAA pool reporter or a reputable news person should be designated by the home SID before every game in case there is an officiating controversy during the game.
  • Boosters should not be present at postgame news conferences involving the media, coaches and players. Interruptions or noise will be duly noted by the FWAA observer. Press boxes where non-media are disruptive will also be noted.

FWAA adds Shaun Alexander Freshman Player of the Year Award

DALLAS — The Football Writers Association of America is very pleased to announce a new college football award this season named after Shaun Alexander, former University of Alabama and Seattle Seahawks star running back.

The Shaun Alexander Freshman Player of the Year Award will be presented to the top player on the FWAA’s Freshman All-America Team who possesses many of the same attributes that Alexander displayed during his illustrious college and professional careers.

“The FWAA is very excited about this new award because of the person it represents,” said FWAA Executive Director  Steve Richardson. “It is very significant because Alexander also was an outstanding redshirt freshman for the Crimson Tide. His freshman season paved the way for future successes at Alabama and later in the NFL.  Shaun did it all with class, character and enthusiasm.”

Among other things, the recipient will be presented with a gold coin emblematic of this prestigious award.  The traits associated with the award are displayed on one side of the coin: “Ambassador, Legend, Faith, Passion, Talent, Focus, Character, Leader”.  On the other side of the coin, the phrases “Carry the Coin”  and “Finish the Game” are inscribed.

Alexander, a three-time Pro Bowl running back with the Seattle Seahawks, played for the Alabama Crimson Tide from 1996-1999.  He set a school record during his redshirt freshman season with 291 rushing yards and four touchdowns in the Tide’s 29-0 victory over LSU at Tiger Stadium. He finished his college career with 3,565 yards rushing (41 touchdowns),  798 receiving yards (eight touchdown receptions) and one kickoff return for a touchdown while at Alabama.

Alexander then continued his outstanding success in the NFL, rushing for 9,453 yards and scoring 112 total touchdowns, fifteenth most in NFL history.  In 2005, he led the league in rushing and was named the NFL Most Valuable Player.

“It is an honor to have my name associated with the Freshman Player of the Year Award, issued by an organization as well-respected as the Football Writers Association of America,” Alexander said.  “I remember what it felt like when I started playing college football, hoping that I’d excel when my number was called to make my parents, family, and community proud.  Today’s college freshmen are no different.  I wish them all well and hope that the future winners of this Award, those who demonstrate talent, character, and the desire to be great, will carry these traits with them throughout their careers, both on and off the field.”

The recipient of the award will be revealed by Alexander at the FWAA’s Annual Awards Breakfast on Monday, Jan. 7 in San Jose, California in conjunction with the College Football Playoff (CFP) National Championship Game in nearby Santa Clara.  The FWAA’s 18th annual Freshman All-America Team will also be announced at that time by FWAA Past President Mike Griffith, chairman of the team’s selection committee since its inception during the 2001 season.

“Shaun Alexander ranks as one of the most dynamic, compelling athletes I’ve covered over the course of my years in the profession,” said Griffith, now a writer for the Cox Media Group/ DawgNation. “The FWAA’s decision to add a Freshman Player of the Year Award in Shaun’s name is a fitting tribute for what he has represented on and off the field throughout his career, and the type of impact and character freshmen players should look to emulate.”

Griffith oversees a panel of  writers on the selection committee who are geographically balanced across the country. They represent all 10 FBS conferences and major independents.  True freshmen and redshirt freshmen are eligible for the team.  Shaun Alexander will be a member of the team’s selection committee.

About the Football Writers Association of America
Founded in 1941, the non-profit Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) consists of more than 1,300 members, including journalists, broadcasters, publicists and key executives in all areas of college football. Led by current President Stefanie Loh of the Seattle Times, longtime Executive Director Steve Richardson, and a board of veteran journalists, the association continues to grow and work to help college football prosper at all levels. Visit footballwriters.com for more information about the FWAA and its award programs.

2018 Outland Trophy watch list unveiled

82 players get consideration for nation’s top interior lineman

DALLAS — The Football Writers Association of America has announced the preseason watch list for the 2018 Outland Trophy presented by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases. The list is highlighted by returning winner defensive tackle Ed Oliver of the University of Houston among 82 standout interior linemen representing all 10 Division I FBS conferences and independents.

This is the first year of a partnership with the NFID to present the Outland Trophy as part of a public awareness campaign focused on the importance of influenza (flu) prevention during the 2018-19 flu season. The award honoring the top interior lineman in college football will continue to be selected by the FWAA membership and has been rebranded as the Outland Trophy presented by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases with a social media hashtag of #FightFlu.

Oliver, a junior from Houston, last year became the first sophomore to win the award since its inception in 1946. He is the lone member of the 2017 FWAA All-America Team on either interior line to return this season as he attempts to join former University of Nebraska center Dave Rimington (1981, 1982) as a two-time winner of the award.

University of Wisconsin All-American Joe Thomas, the 2006 Outland Trophy winner who retired earlier this year after a stellar 11-year career with NFL’s Cleveland Browns, will serve as the Outland Trophy #FightFlu ambassador. Thomas has been an avid supporter of annual flu vaccines. He will make media appearances on behalf of the #FightFlu public awareness campaign to remind people to get their annual flu shots.

Additionally, Thomas will announce the recipient of the 73rd Outland Trophy during ESPN’s The Home Depot College Football Awards on Dec. 6, live from the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta. The official presentation to the winner will be made at the Werner Enterprises Outland Trophy Awards Dinner produced by the Greater Omaha Sports Committee on Jan. 9, 2019. Up to seven semifinalists will be named on Nov. 14 in Omaha and three finalists for the award will be announced on Nov. 19.

2018 OUTLAND TROPHY PRESENTED BY NFID PRESEASON WATCH LIST (82)

OT Paul Adams, Missouri DT Dre’Mont Jones, Ohio State
OT Trey Adams, Washington G Michael Jordan, Ohio State
OT Hakeem Adeniji, Kansas G Luke Juriga, Western Michigan
C Ryan Anderson, Wake Forest C John Keenoy, Western Michigan
G Alex Bars, Notre Dame G Marcus Keyes, Oklahoma State
OT Ryan Bates, Penn State C Sean Krepsz, Nevada
DT Terry Beckner, Missouri DT Dexter Lawrence, Clemson
DT Ryan Bee, Marshall G Jimmy Leatiota, Eastern Michigan
G David Beedle, Michigan State DT Ira Lewis, Baylor
G Beau Benzschawel, Wisconsin DT Ray Lima, Iowa State
C Tyler Biadasz, Wisconsin OT Chris Lindstrom, Boston College
OT Lanard Bonner, Arkansas State OT Greg Little, Ole Miss
G Tyler Bowling, Tulsa OT Toa Lobendahn, USC
C Garrett Bradbury, N.C. State OT Joe Lowery, Ohio
G Parker Braun, Georgia Tech OT Kaleb McGary, Washington
G Ben Bredeson, Michigan C Connor McGovern, Penn State
DT Derrick Brown, Auburn OT Patrick Mekari, California
C Jesse Burkett, Stanford C Chandler Miller, Tulsa
OT Yodny Cajuste, West Virginia DT David Moa, Boise State
DT Marquise Copeland, Cincinnati C Sam Mustipher, Notre Dame
C Deontae Crumitie, Troy C Will Noble, Houston
OT Michael Deiter, Wisconsin OT Marcus Norman, USF
G Tommy Doles, Northwestern DT Ed Oliver, Houston
G O’Shea Dugas, Louisiana Tech C Ross Pierschbacher, Alabama
C Alex Eberle, Florida State G Ben Powers, Oklahoma
OT David Edwards, Wisconsin OT Isaiah Prince, Ohio State
OT Bobby Evans, Oklahoma OT Dalton Risner, Kansas State
C Justin Falcinelli, Clemson DT Olive Sagapolu, Wisconsin
C Lo Falemaka, Utah G Dru Samia, Oklahoma
G Hjalte Froholdt, Arkansas OT Max Scharping, NIU
C Lamont Gaillard, Georgia DT Jordon Scott, Oregon
DT Greg Gaines, Washington NT Jeffery Simmons, Mississippi State
C Tyler Gauthier, Miami OT Trey Smith, Tennessee
DT Youhanna Ghaifan, Wyoming OT Trevon Tate, Memphis
C Jake Hanson, Oregon G Calvin Throckmorton, Oregon
G Phil Haynes, Wake Forest DT Jerry Tillery, Notre Dame
G Nate Herbig, Stanford G Patrick Vahe, Texas
DT Trysten Hill, UCF DT Ricky Walker, Virginia Tech
OT Mitch Hyatt, Clemson DT Christian Wilkins, Clemson
G Martez Ivey, Florida OT Jonah Williams, Alabama
C Jordan Johnson, UCF DT Daniel Wise, Kansas

By conference: Big Ten 13, ACC 12, Big 12 11, Pac-12 11, SEC 11, American Athletic 9, Mid-American 5, Independents 3, Mountain West 3, Conference USA 2 and Sun Belt 2.
By position: Offensive Tackles 22, Defensive Tackles 20, Centers 20, Offensive Guards 20.
Tackles, guards and centers are eligible for consideration
Candidates may be added or removed during the season

The distribution of watch list candidates is spread well among the conferences, with the Big Ten (13) leading the way. The ACC (12) is just behind, followed by the Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC (11 each) as well as the American Athletic (9), Mid-American (5), Mountain West and Independents (3), and Conference USA and Sun Belt (2). The list includes 22 offensive tackles, 20 defensive tackles, 20 centers and 20 guards.

The Outland Trophy winner is chosen from three finalists who are a part of the annual FWAA All-America Team. The FWAA All-America Committee, after voting input from the entire membership, selects a 26-man first team and eventually the three Outland finalists. Committee members, then by individual ballot, select the winner. Only interior linemen on offense or defense are eligible for the award; ends are not eligible.

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 24 awards now boast over 800 recipients, dating to 1935. Visit ncfaa.org to learn more about the NCFAA.

The members of the NCFAA are unveiling their preseason watch lists over a 10-day period this month. Seventeen of the association’s 24 awards select a preseason watch list and the NCFAA has spearheaded a coordinated effort to promote each award’s preseason candidates. Following is the entire 2018 preseason watch list calendar:

Mon., July 16: Bednarik Award/Maxwell Award
Tues., July 17: Davey O’Brien Award
Wed., July 18: Doak Walker Award
Thurs., July 19: Biletnikoff Award
Fri., July 20: Mackey Award/Rimington Trophy
Mon., July 23: Paycom Jim Thorpe Award/Butkus Award
Tues., July 24: Outland Trophy presented by NFID/Bronko Nagurski Trophy
Wed., July 25: Lou Groza Award/Ray Guy Award
Thurs., July 26: Paul Hornung Award/Wuerffel Trophy
Fri., July 27: Walter Camp Award

The Outland Trophy, now in its 73rd year, is the third-oldest major college football award. Created in 1946 when Dr. John Outland presented the FWAA with a financial contribution to initiate the award, the Outland Trophy has been given to the best interior lineman in college football ever since. Dr. Outland, an All-American at the University of Pennsylvania in the late 1890s, eventually took up practice in Kansas City, Mo. An avid outdoorsman, Dr. Outland believed linemen did not get the credit they deserved and wanted an award to recognize them.

About the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases
Founded in 1973, the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) is a non-profit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to educating the public and healthcare professionals about the causes, prevention and treatment of infectious diseases across the lifespan. Visit nfid.org for more information.

About the Football Writers Association of America
Founded in 1941, the non-profit Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) consists of more than 1,300 members, including journalists, broadcasters, publicists and key executives in all areas of college football. Led by current President Stefanie Loh of the Seattle Times, longtime Executive Director Steve Richardson, and a board of veteran journalists, the association continues to grow and work to help college football prosper at all levels. Visit footballwriters.com for more information about the FWAA and its award programs.

The new Outland Trophy branding marks were developed by Torch Creative, a Dallas-based design studio with a heavy focus on branding, logo design and development, illustration and typography design. For more information, visit torchcreative.com.

Related links:
Outland Trophy presented by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases
Outland Trophy joins forces with NFID to #FightFlu
Download Outland Trophy presented by NFID logo

2018 Bronko Nagurski Trophy watch list unveiled

97 players get consideration for defensive player of the year

DALLAS – The Football Writers Association of America released its 2018 Bronko Nagurski Trophy Watch List today, selecting 97 defensive standouts from 61 schools in all 10 Division I FBS conferences on a roster that includes three returning players from last season’s FWAA All-America team.

Ed Oliver, a junior tackle from the University of Houston and a Bronko Nagurski Trophy finalist a year ago, joins senior Clemson end Austin Bryant and junior end Sutton Smith of Northern Illinois as returning selections from the 2017 FWAA All-America first team.

Oliver, the 2017 Outland Trophy winner as the nation’s best interior lineman, is a two-time FWAA All-American after earning second-team mention in 2016. This year’s watch list for the nation’s top defensive player also includes LSU linebacker Devin White and Clemson end Clelin Ferrell, both second-team FWAA All-America selections a year ago, as well as Clemson tackle Christian Wilkins, a 2016 FWAA All-America first team member.

Players may be added or removed from the watch list during the course of the season. As in previous years, the FWAA will announce a National Defensive Player of the Week each Tuesday this season. If not already on the watch list, each week’s honored player will be added at that time. The FWAA and the Charlotte Touchdown Club will announce five finalists for the 2018 Bronko Nagurski Trophy on Nov. 14.

The Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner will be chosen from those five finalists. The FWAA All-America Committee, after voting input from the association’s full membership, selects a 26-man All-America Team and eventually the Nagurski Trophy finalists. Committee members, by individual ballot, select the winner they regard as the best defensive player in college football.

This year’s watch list includes at least four players from each of the 10 FBS conferences. The SEC (16) leads the 97-member list with the Big Ten (15) right behind. The ACC (13) and Pac-12 (12) also have double-digit representation, followed by the Big 12 (9), American Athletic and Mountain West (7), Conference USA and Independents (5), and the Mid-American and Sun Belt (4).
The list includes 27 backs, 26 linebackers, 24 ends and 20 tackles.

2018 BRONKO NAGURSKI TROPHY PRESEASON WATCH LIST (97)

LB Dakota Allen, Texas Tech DB Tyler Horton, Boise State
DE Zach Allen, Boston College LB Khaleke Hudson, Michigan
LB Azeez Al-Shaair, Florida Atlantic DB Michael Jackson, Miami
DB Dravon Askew-Henry, West Virginia DE Cece Jefferson, Florida
LB Joe Bachie, Michigan State DE Jalen Jelks, Oregon
DE Ben Banogu, TCU DB Jaquan Johnson, Miami
DT Terry Beckner Jr., Missouri DT Dre’Mont Jones, Ohio State
DT Ryan Bee, Marshall DE Corbin Kaufusi, BYU
DB Julian Blackmon, Utah LB Jordan Kunaszyk, California
DE Nick Bosa, Ohio State DT Dexter Lawrence, Clemson
DB Kris Boyd, Texas DE Jonathan Ledbetter, Georgia
DT Derrick Brown, Auburn DT Ira Lewis, Baylor
DB Blace Brown, Troy DB Shelton Lewis, Florida Atlantic
DE Austin Bryant, Clemson DT Ray Lima, Iowa State
LB Ben Burr-Kirven, Washington LB David Long Jr., West Virginia
LB Devin Bush, Michigan DB Julian Love, Notre Dame
DB T.J. Carter, Memphis DB Chase Lucas, Arizona State
DB Justin Clifton, Arkansas State DT David Moa, Boise State
LB Te’von Coney, Notre Dame LB James Nachtigal, Army West Point
DT Marquise Copeland, Cincinnati DE Anthony Nelson, Iowa
DE Maxx Crosby, Eastern Michigan DT Ed Oliver, Houston
DE Marlon Davidson, Auburn DB Amani Oruwariye, Penn State
DE Raekwon Davis, Alabama LB Shaquille Quarterman, Miami
DB Lukas Denis, Boston College DB Delvon Randall, Temple
DB D’Cota Dixon, Wisconsin DB Taylor Rapp, Washington
LB Tyrel Dodson, Texas A&M DE Christian Rector, USC
DE Landis Durham, Texas A&M LB Malik Reed, Nevada
LB Troy Dye, Oregon LB David Reese, Florida
LB Cooper Edmiston, Tulsa DE Hunter Reese, Troy
DB Mike Edwards, Kentucky DT Olive Sagapolu, Wisconsin
LB T.J. Edwards, Wisconsin DT Jordon Scott, Oregon
DE Jaylon Ferguson, Louisiana Tech DB Duke Shelley, Kansas State
DE Clelin Ferrell, Clemson DT Jeffery Simmons, Mississippi State
LB Paddy Fisher, Northwestern LB Cameron Smith, USC
DT Greg Gaines, Washington DE Sutton Smith, NIU
DE Rashan Gary, Michigan DE Montez Sweat, Mississippi State
DE Joe Gaziano, Northwestern LB Jahlani Tavai, Hawaii
DT Youhanna Ghaifan, Wyoming DB Marvell Tell III, USC
DB Kyle Gibson, UCF DB Juan Thornhill, Virginia
DB Mark Gilbert, Duke DT Jerry Tillery, Notre Dame
LB Ulysees Gilbert III, Akron DT Ricky Walker, Virginia Tech
LB Joe Giles-Harris, Duke LB Devin White, LSU
DE Carl Granderson, Wyoming DT Christian Wilkins, Clemson
LB Terez Hall, Missouri DB Greedy Williams, LSU
LB De’Jon Harris, Arkansas DB Andrew Wingard, Wyoming
DB Tae Hayes, Appalachian State DE Chase Winovich, Michigan
DB Lavert Hill, Michigan DT Daniel Wise, Kansas
DT Trysten Hill, UCF DE Oshane Ximines, Old Dominion
LB Khalil Hodge, Buffalo

By conference: SEC 16, Big Ten 15, ACC 13, Pac-12 12, Big 12 9, American Athletic 7, Mountain West 7, Conference USA 5, Independents 5, Mid-American 4, Sun Belt 4.

By position: Backs 27, Linebackers 26, Ends 24, Tackles 20.

Players may be added or removed from the list before or during the season

The annual Bronko Nagurski Trophy Banquet, presented by ACN, will be held on Dec. 3 at the Charlotte Convention Center. In addition to the 2018 Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner’s announcement, the banquet will also celebrate the recipient of the Bronko Nagurski Legends Award. Ohio State linebacker Tom Cousineau, a member of the FWAA’s 1977 All-America team and a College Football Hall of Famer, will be honored. Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh will be the keynote speaker at the banquet.

The FWAA has chosen a National Defensive Player of the Year since 1993. In 1995, the FWAA named the award in honor of the legendary two-way player from the University of Minnesota. Nagurski dominated college football, then became a star for professional football’s Chicago Bears in the 1930s. Bronislaw “Bronko” Nagurski is a charter member of both the College Football and Pro Football Halls of Fame.

The Bronko Nagurski 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 24 awards now boast over 800 recipients, dating to 1935. Visit ncfaa.org to learn more about the NCFAA.

The members of the NCFAA are unveiling their preseason watch lists over a 10-day period this month. Seventeen of the association’s 24 awards select a preseason watch list and the NCFAA has spearheaded a coordinated effort to promote each award’s preseason candidates. Following is the entire 2018 preseason watch list calendar:

  • Mon., July 16: Bednarik Award/Maxwell Award
  • Tues., July 17: Davey O’Brien Award
  • Wed., July 18: Doak Walker Award
  • Thurs., July 19: Biletnikoff Award
  • Fri., July 20: Mackey Award/Rimington Trophy
  • Mon., July 23: Paycom Jim Thorpe Award/Butkus Award
  • Tues., July 24: Outland Trophy presented by NFID/Bronko Nagurski Trophy
  • Wed., July 25: Lou Groza Award/Ray Guy Award
  • Thurs., July 26: Paul Hornung Award/Wuerffel Trophy
  • Fri., July 27: Walter Camp Award

About the Football Writers Association of America

Founded in 1941, the non-profit Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) consists of more than 1,300 members, including journalists, broadcasters, publicists and key executives in all areas of college football. Led by current President Stefanie Loh of the Seattle Times, longtime Executive Director Steve Richardson, and a board of veteran journalists, the association continues to grow and work to help college football prosper at all levels. Visit footballwriters.com for more information about the FWAA and its award programs.

ABOUT THE CHARLOTTE TOUCHDOWN CLUB AND ITS SPONSORS

The Charlotte Touchdown Club is a non-profit organization founded in 1991 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 1991, 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 jrocco@touchdownclub.com). The official website of the Charlotte Touchdown Club is touchdownclub.com.

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 phone service, high-speed internet, wireless, television, security and automation, computer support, payment processing and natural gas and electricity. ACN operates in 25 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.

Related link:
Download Bronko Nagurski Trophy logo

Outland Trophy joins forces with National Foundation for Infectious Diseases

Public awareness campaign to feature Joe Thomas, will help #FightFlu

DALLAS — The Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) announced a new partnership to present the 2018 Outland Trophy as part of a public awareness campaign focused on the importance of influenza (flu) prevention during the 2018-2019 flu season. Selected by FWAA, the trophy is awarded annually to the top interior lineman in college football.

The announcement was made by Steve Richardson, FWAA Executive Director, and Marla Dalton, CAE, NFID Executive Director and CEO. The deal was structured by Thom Hering, EVP at PSP Sports Partner Marketing.

“This partnership with the Outland Trophy offers NFID a timely platform to promote the importance of flu prevention to college football fans all across the U.S. and remind fans that annual flu vaccination is recommended for all individuals age six months and older,” said Dalton. Influenza (flu) is a highly contagious and sometimes life-threatening disease that affects between 5-20 percent of the U.S. population annually and accounts for more than 200,000 hospitalizations and 3,000-49,000 deaths in the U.S. each year. Getting an annual flu shot is the most effective way to prevent influenza.

As part of the public awareness campaign to help #FightFlu, the award will be rebranded as the Outland Trophy presented by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases. The social media hashtag #FightFlu will be visible on all Outland Trophy advertising, marketing, social media and public relations materials. Branded content and advertising will promote the award and the public awareness campaign in Touchdown Illustrated gameday programs at more than 1,000 college football games during the 2018 season, and in most of the major bowl game programs – including the College Football Playoff – as well as most NFL gameday programs.

University of Wisconsin All-American Joe Thomas, the 2006 Outland Trophy winner who retired earlier this year after a stellar 11-year career with NFL’s Cleveland Browns, will serve as the Outland Trophy #FightFlu ambassador. Thomas is the first player in NFL history to have a 10,363 consecutive snap streak and has been an avid supporter of annual flu vaccines. He will make media appearances on behalf of the #FightFlu public awareness campaign to remind people to get their annual flu shots.

Additionally, Thomas will announce the recipient of the 2018 Outland Trophy during ESPN’s The Home Depot College Football Awards on Thursday, December 6 from the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta, Georgia. The official presentation to the winner will be made at the Greater Omaha (Nebraska) Sports Committee’s Outland Trophy Banquet on Wednesday, January 9, 2019.

Complete release: http://www.sportswriters.net/fwaa/news/2018/outland180723.html

 

College Football America Yearbook now available

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — RoadTripSports.com is proud to announce the release of the 2018 edition of the College Football America Yearbook, an annual publication that previews every college football conference at every level of college football in the United States and Canada.

The fifth annual print edition is available via Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com at a list price of $39.99, while the digital edition is available via iBooks for $9.99. Many retailers, however, offer the print edition for even less.

“Counting high school games, bowl games and all-star games, our staff attended more than 100 football games again in 2017,” says Kendall Webb, the publisher of the College Football America Yearbook. “Then, like we always do, we spent the spring sorting it all out and preparing the latest edition of the yearbook.

“I honestly believe it’s the best yearbook we’ve ever released, and we’re all excited to get it out there in the market and in the hands of college football fans.”

The College Football America Yearbook is published independently by Webb with Matthew Postins serving as the publication’s editor-in-chief. Chuck Cox, meanwhile, assists as the director of editorial content. All of the publication’s staff members are members of the Football Writers Association of America, and collectively serve on the selection committees for several of college football’s major postseason awards.

This year’s book features Alabama head coach Nick Saban on the cover. Saban led the Crimson Tide to a fifth national title under his watch in 2017.

Some of the features in the 318-page publication include:

  • Top Ten Games of 2018: Five FBS games and one game each in FCS, Division II, Division III, NAIA and Juco that will be impactful this season.
  • The Heisman Race: A look at the front-runners and dark horses for college football’s most prestigious award in 2018.
  • The Dream Team: The College Football America Yearbook’s unique take on major college football’s All-America team.
  • Schedules and Results: 2018 schedules and 2017 results for every college football team in the United States, including all NCAA, NAIA, NCCAA, USCAA, NJCAA and CCCAA programs.
  • Additionally, College Football America 2018 Yearbook previews all of the conferences at every level in the United States along with the four conferences of Canada’s U Sports. The yearbook also provides updates of Mexico’s CONADEIP and ONEFA leagues.

Links

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2Le7FKT

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/2LtndY4

Kindle/Kindle Fire:

Apple iTunes/iBooks: