President’s column: Vote for the FWAA 75th Anniversary All-America Team

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By Lee Barfknecht
FWAA President

OMAHA — “Happy Anniversary!’’

It’s time for all members of the Football Writers Association of America to celebrate because this year marks our 75th season of existence.

We are taking advantage of this special year to highlight our organization and the sport we follow with some newsworthy events.

The biggest?

FWAA 2015 President Lee Barfknecht.

FWAA 2015 President Lee Barfknecht.

All members will get to vote on a 75-year anniversary All-America team. With our organization’s start in 1944, this coincides with what is defined as “the modern era of college football,’’ which is from the latter stages of World War II to the present.

Three 25-man units will be chosen (first, second and third teams). To be eligible, honorees must have been a first-team FWAA All-American.

The all-time list — compiled by Ted Gangi and Josh Yonis, and with thanks to our nation’s sports information directors and the College Football Hall of Fame — is on our website in easy-to-read form and with strong detail.

Once the membership-vote deadline has been reached, a panel of past presidents, current board members and winners of our Bert McGrane Award will be asked to tabulate votes, review the results and arrange the teams.

This is going to be a sparkling argument-starter and conversation piece.

Writers and broadcasters can use it for multiple story ideas. Meanwhile, school, bowl and network TV folks can turn it into promotional pieces for their entities.

Those of us who love football and history are drooling over how this will turn out. Competition will ensue at the highest level.

Please keep an eye out for notice coming soon on when and how to vote. We hope to reveal the three teams in early summer — a great time for stories considering the year-round thirst in this country for football news.

In and around the announcement of those teams, we plan a series of stories on pillars of the FWAA — people who have had great impact on the sport in terms of how it was played, how it was coached, how it was covered and how it has been promoted.

Another way we will note our anniversary year is with a new logo.

It’s a simple and clean addition of a “75th Anniversary’’ banner to our current logo, in pigskin colors and no-nonsense lettering. It should appear on our website soon, and perhaps on some clothing.

Something else to keep watch for is a new member portal.

The FWAA and the U.S. Basketball Writers Association are partnering to create a one-stop payment site for both organizations that syncs up with the school year, plus some other features to make things more user-friendly.

Again, keep the 75th-anniversary All-America team voting in mind. It should be an energizing exercise to take part in.

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FWAA member Ivan Maisel and wife recall missing son

Former FWAA president Ivan Maisel and his wife, Meg, are focusing on their special memories of their son, Max, a student at the Rochester Institute of Technology who disappeared Feb. 22 and is presumed dead.

Click here to read the entire story from the Fairfield Citizen.

Max Maisel memorial service 2

On behalf of Meg and our daughters, I want to thank everyone in the FWAA community who has reached out to us over the last three weeks since our son Max went missing. We presume he drowned on Feb. 22. The care and concern of so many writers and SIDs across the country has helped us cope with the unfathomable.

We are having a memorial service and a celebration of Max’s life on Friday, March 27 at Congregation Bnai Israel in Bridgeport, CT. If anyone is interested in attending, please contact me at Ivan.Maisel@gmail.com.

Thanks,

Ivan Maisel

Late NCAA statistician, FWAA member leaves behind Notre Dame football archive

Steve Boda was a giant of a man in the relatively mundane world of sports number-gathering and statistic-crunching. He never sought the spotlight, but in a lot of ways, he created it.

For 40 years, Boda, a long-time FWAA member, was a statistician and researcher at the NCAA. On the side, during evenings at home, he created what may  be the most extensive Notre Dame football history ever assembled.

Boda, who died with little public notice at age 90 last Nov. 14, had one wish — that those files, now locked up in a Stilwell, Kan., storage park — go to Notre Dame.

Click here to read the entire story by Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com.

 

Commentary: Some new uniforms creating a numbers game

There’s a saying in sports: “You can’t tell the players without a scorecard.” With the uniforms being worn by some NCAA teams these days, you can’t tell the players even with the scorecard.

College sports’ never ending uniform craze had included a number of jerseys with unreadable numbers, which have in turn created competitive concerns. It’s a small but increasing minority of schools with numbers on their jerseys that are tough to read. In the grand scheme of NCAA problems these days, this one hardly rises to the top.

But there are enough concerns being raised about deciphering jersey numbers that the NCAA is taking efforts to clean up what’s apparently becoming a gamesmanship issue. Some coaches want the confusion to gain an edge so future opponents have trouble scouting their team.

To read this entire commentary by FWAA member Jon Solomon at CBSSports.com, CLICK HERE.

President’s column: Introducing Lee Barfknecht

OMAHA —  Now  that college football’s minuscule catch-your-breath season is upon us —  the short break between national signing day and the start of spring practice —  it’s time to introduce myself as your new president of the Football Writers Association of America.

And I do mean “your’’ president because I view this as a service position.

FWAA 2015 President Lee Barfknecht.

FWAA 2015 President Lee Barfknecht.

This sport we find so fascinating/maddening/energizing gets bigger and (mostly) better every year. Coming off the first College Football Playoff, attention and interest is as high as I can recall in my 35 years with this product.

(Don’t forget a hearty round of applause for Bill Hancock, Gine Lehe and all those from CFP who made “North Texas 2015” a rousing success.)

The FWAA, under the strong guidance of executive director Steve Richardson, is set up to honor those who deserve a pat on the back, talk discreetly to those we think could do things better and in general pay attention to this sport’s operations in a way to help all members do their best.

I’m a newspaper guy — who in the next two weeks has “continuing education’’ meetings on video streaming, Twitter and Internet radio —  but am well aware our membership includes all types of folks associated with college football.

We will look at issues that arise without fear or favor, but with respect.

The relationship between beat people and coaches is a two-way street. The relationship between news gatherers and athletic departments is a two-way street. Sometimes, swords are crossed. It’s the nature of the business. Our goal, though, is to find common-sense solutions for any problems that come up.

We need input from both sides of the fence, and accurate information on which to pursue any necessary conflict resolution. And don’t forget to include good news and “atta-boys,’’ too. The celebration of good work is something our business too often neglects.

More…

Photo gallery: Outland Trophy banquet

These pictures were taken at the Outland Trophy presentation banquet on Jan. 15 at the Doubletree Hotel in downtown Omaha.  Brandon Scherff became the fourth Iowa player to win the award and the second under Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz.  Ross Browner, the 1976 winner at Notre Dame, received his trophy, and former Nebraska offensive line coach Milt Tenopir was honored with the inaugural Tom Osborne Legacy Award for contributions to line play.

 

Photo gallery: FWAA annual meeting, breakfast

There photos by Melissa Macatee were shot at the FWAA’s annual meeting and breakfast on Tuesday Jan. 13, 2015, in Dallas.