President’s column: Look for your FWAA All-America ballot on Monday

2014 FWAA President Kirk Bohls

2014 FWAA President Kirk Bohls

Some think last Tuesday was national Election Day, and it was.

But the ballot box has reopened.

So here’s your chance to vote for players you think are deserving as the best and the finest college football players in the land, the most worthy of them all.

Here’s your chance to vote for the 2014 Football Writers Association of America 26-man All-America Team. Don’t forget your duty and help us decide the best of the best.

Ballots to nominate deserving defensive (11) and offensive line (5) candidates will be sent to FWAA members on Monday Nov. 10. On Monday Nov. 17, another set of ballots go out and we want you to help determine the best offensive skill personnel (6) and specialists (4).

The 12-member FWAA All-America Selection Committee will take those candidates, discuss them, debate them in two separate Sunday sessions, and make the final choices for the All-America team for the 71st straight year as well as determine the winner of  the Outland Trophy (best interior lineman) and Nagurski Trophy (best defensive player). Our official All-America team will be announced on Dec. 17.

The FWAA has named an All-America team every year since 1944, when the Army sophomore running back tandem of Doc Blanchard and Glenn Davis both were selected along with Georgia Tech back Frank Broyles and seven other players who would ultimately be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

Until 1950, the FWAA selected a first, second and most years a third All-America team. After that, and until last year, only one consensus first team was chosen each year.

I’m proud to have been a part of the membership that felt compelled to shout out to yesteryear and reinstitute a second team All-America group because of how meaningful the recognition is to so many. So I’m glad to announce we will continue with that tradition and pick a second team for a second straight year.

So pull back the curtain, do your civic duty, and vote again.

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Ex-Marine Everding selected 2014 Armed Forces Merit Award finalist

Armed Forces Merit Award

Armed Forces Merit Award

Fort Worth, Texas, November 5 – Ex-Marine Jason Everding of the University of the Incarnate Word has been announced as the second of two finalists for the 2014 Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA).

Coordinated by the staff at the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl, the Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the FWAA was created in June 2012 “to honor an individual and/or a group with a military background and/or involvement that has an impact within the realm of college football.”

The award’s selection committee is made up of five FWAA members, including president Kirk Bohls of the Austin American Statesman, and two representatives from the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl.  The group reviewed 15 “candidates” for the 2014 honor where the 28-year old Everding joins 27-year old Army veteran Daniel Rodriguez of Clemson as finalists for the award.

Rodriguez, a wide receiver and special team performers for the past three seasons at Clemson, was announced last week as the first of two finalists for the 2014 Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the FWAA.  This year’s recipient being announced this Veteran’s Day, November 11.  Nate Boyer of the University of Texas was named the initial recipient of the award in 2012 with Brandon McCoy of the University of North Texas topping the AFMA list last year.

More…

Countdown to CFP title game hits 75 days at luncheon at AT&T Stadium

AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, site of the first College Football Playoff championship game on Jan. 12.

AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, site of the first College Football Playoff championship game on Jan. 12.

The College Football Playoff celebrated the 75-day marker before the national title game on Jan. 12, 2015, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.  Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, ESPN College Football analyst and former Texas head football coach Mack Brown and College Football Playoff Executive Director Bill Hancock were among the speakers  at a luncheon on Oct. 29 at the stadium. The night before the CFP’s 12-member Playoff Selection Committee released its first 25-team poll. The poll will appear weekly on Tuesdays through early December . The CFP’s Selection Committee’s last poll will be announced on Dec. 7, when the national semifinal pairings will be set for the Sugar and Rose Bowls, both  to be played on Jan.1 , 2015.

The Football Writers Association of America will hold several events at the national title game site Jan. 9-13.  The FWAA’s Annual Award Breakfast will be on Tuesday Jan. 13, the morning after the title game, at the media hotel in Dallas, the Renaissance, in conjunction with the CFP’s press conference with the winning team.

Former BYU SID Dave Schulthess passed away Sunday

Former BYU Sports Information Director Dave Schulthess

Former BYU Sports Information Director Dave Schulthess

Dave Schulthess, former BYU sports information director and longtime FWAA member, died on Oct. 26.

Duff Tittle of BYU Sports Communications was an intern in the sports information department in 1988, the final year in Schuthess’s 37-year career at BYU.  Tittle also interviewed Schulthess for his book, What It Means to be a Cougar.

Click here to read that excerpt from the book.

Obituary: Jim Butz, of the Greatest Generation, Leahy’s Lads and golf

Long-time FWAA member James T. Butz, 90, passed away peacefully on Oct. 12, 2014. According to FWAA Membership records, James had been a member of the organization since October 1948, or 66 years.

The family is planning a memorial mass on Nov. 24 in the basilica on the campus of Notre Dame followed by interment at Cedar Grove Cemetery (also on campus), then a reception at the Morris Inn.

The following is a narrative one of his sons, Jimmy Butz, also an FWAA member, wrote:

James Butz

James Butz

Jim drove himself to get into a position to attend Notre Dame by graduating atop his high school class as valedictorian, president of his class both junior and senior years, president of the student council, editor of the yearbook, sports editor of the newspaper, president of the dramatic club and head manager of the football and basketball teams.

But World War II intervened and he was drafted after graduation from Kenmore High in Akron at 18 years old, all of 5 foot 4 inches tall and 115 pounds.

He served three years as a combat infantryman in the 75th Division, becoming one of the uncommon few who survived both the D-Day landing as well as the Battle of Bulge, where he and his mates were trapped behind enemy lines in Wye, Belgium, in an unheated house when their position was overrun by the German advance. Wounded twice, he earned the Bronze Star and was subsequently knighted in 2013 by the French government for his actions in the Battle of Northern France.  But his most prized military memento was his common Combat Infantryman’s Badge, a rifleman’s symbol of his status as the equal of the biggest man in his outfit.

“He had a great sense of loyalty, whether it is to his country, his family or his work,” said Jim’s younger brother, Jerry Butz, of Roselle, Ill. “I was 13 years younger than him and I never once heard him speak over what a hero he was. That wasn’t in his nature.”

But his biggest battle was just beginning. Throughout his military duty he continued to write to Notre Dame’s Dean of Admissions expressing his interest in attending if he survived the war, and this built a voluminous file.  He was rejected on the basis that other veterans who were previously established students were returning to campus to continue their studies and had priority over him.  More…

National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame dedicate new home in Atlanta

The National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame officially dedicated its new home in downtown Atlanta on Oct. 7 when it enshrined the newest class of Hall of Famers at the state-of-the-art attraction.

The Football Writers Association of America is well represented in the $68.5  million,  94,256 square-foot facility, which houses 520 artifacts, numerous interactive exhibits, a 4K theater, a 45-yard indoor football field, a wall of the helmets of the 767 four-year schools playing college football and much, much more.

Two of the FWAA’s biggest awards, the Outland Trophy (best interior lineman in college football) and the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Bust, are among the six player/coach awards that are physically represented in the new Atlanta Hall by their the actual trophies.

There also is a picture of the FWAA’s 2009 Bert McGrane Award winner, Atlanta’s Tony Barnhart, and a description of the award and former winners.

The FWAA’s Bert McGrane Award, presented since 1974 and symbolic of the association’s Hall of Fame, goes annually to an FWAA member who has performed great service to the organization and/or the writing profession. It is named after McGrane, a Des Moines, Iowa, writer who was the executive secretary of the FWAA from the early 1940s until 1973.

The new Hall is in the heart of Atlanta’s tourism and sports entertainment district,   across the street from the Centennial Olympic Park and adjacent to the Omni Hotel, Georgia World Congress Center, CNN Center and Georgia Dome.  The World of Coca-Cola, the Georgia Aquarium and the National Center for Civil and Human Rights are nearby.

“Today represents the culmination of an enormous amount of work by countless individuals, and we could not be more pleased with the result,” NFF Chairman Archie Manning, a 1989 inductee into the Hall, said at the Oct. 7 proceedings. “The new Hall simply is a spectacular tribute to college football and why it matters. It provides the entire college football community a powerful platform for promoting everything that is right with our great sport.”

NFF President and CEO Steve Hatchell said: “We are extremely grateful to Atlanta and all of those who have played a role in making this project a reality.”

Hatchell joined Manning on the stage for the official dedication ceremony. NFF Vice Chairmen Clay Bennett, Murry Bowden and George Weiss assisted with the presentation of a commemorative plaque to Atlanta Hall Management Chairman Steve Robinson and College Football Hall of Fame President and CEO John Stephenson. NFF Board Member Jack Lengyel conducted the formal enshrinement ceremony of the Hall of Famers.

 

ULM lost, but the real losers were in the Kentucky press box

Tabby Soignier, Monroe News-Star

Tabby Soignier, Monroe News-Star

Editor’s note: The Fifth Down will occasionally showcase a story written by a media member about the media under “A View from the Press Box.”

Tabby Soignier of the the Monroe News-Star wrote that it appeared the “no cheering in the press box rule” must have went out the window along with manners and just common human decency during Louisiana-Monroe’s lost to Kentucky last Saturday.

Read her entire story here.

 

Mock CFP Final Four proves revealing

By Kirk Bohls

Austin American-Statesman

GRAPEVINE — Got your back, Mack.

And got your Longhorns in the playoffs. Better late than never, right?

Sure, it’s six years too late, and it’s only fictional like all those mythical national championships the last hundred years. At least, until the real College Football Playoff committee convenes.

FWAA President Kirk Bohls at the mock selection meeting for a College Football Playoff Final Four based on the 2008 season.

FWAA President Kirk Bohls at the mock selection meeting for a College Football Playoff Final Four based on the 2008 season.

On Thursday, some of us pushed revisionist history on college football and voted Texas into the first four-team playoff. If a playoff existed then, Mack Brown’s Longhorns would have joined Oklahoma, according to a mock exercise by a 17-member media selection committee that was asked to evaluate the 2008 season and pick the best four teams in America.

The most spirited debate of the day revolved around the Longhorns’ worthiness in the Final Four. ESPN’s Rod Gilmore and Holly Rowe strongly criticized Texas’s non-conference schedule that included Rice, UTEP and Florida Atlantic but also Arkansas and omitted the Longhorns from their final four. Rowe asked, “Is Florida Atlantic a worthy opponent?” Responded Andy Staples of Sports Illustrated, “Oklahoma was, and Texas beat them on a neutral field.”

In our mythical playoff, No. 3 Texas would face No. 2 Oklahoma in a Rose Bowl semifinal, a rematch of that Cotton Bowl Classic in which the Longhorns came back from an 11-point deficit to win 45-35. Florida, our No. 1 team and the national champion that year, would play Southern Cal in the Sugar Bowl in the other semifinal.

I joined such media luminaries as Tony Barnhart, Jerry Palm and Staples, who was chosen as our bow-tied chairman and ran our six-hour panel discussion. We began by compiling a collective Top 25 and 34 teams received votes. We voted our top four three times, and it never varied. Jeff Long, the chairman of the real CFP panel, said his committee spit out a different four teams from 2008 but declined to reveal them. Then, we added to the field in small pods in complicated comparisons until we finalized our top 25 and then placed our teams in the Orange, Cotton, Fiesta and Peach bowls.

More…

Winners of 2014 FWAA Best Writing Contest announced

Longtime FWAA members Ivan Maisel and Dennis Dodd were joined by two relatively new members, Andrew Greif of The Oregonian and Kevin Armstrong of the New York Daily News, in the winner’s circle of  the 22nd annual Best Writing Contest results that were released Wednesday.

Maisel from ESPN.com won the Game Story category for the second straight year, this time for his description of the Auburn-Alabama football game. Dodd from CBSSports.com claimed the Column category for his decision to renounce his Heisman Trophy vote in the aftermath of new voting regulations.

Greif won in Features for a moving story on the death of Oregon assistant coach Gary Campbell’s son after a lifelong battle with illnesses.  Armstrong’s account of one of the nation’s top quarterback gurus was tops in Enterprise. Both were first-time winners.

Maisel also claimed a third place in Features for a story on how the state of Alabama still reveres Bear Bryant 30 years after his death.  Dodd picked up an Honorable Mention in Enterprise.

Harry Minium of the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot took a second place in Features for a story on how the sick brother of former Old Dominion offensive tackle D.J. Morrell finally got to see his brother play in person. Minium also collected a third place in Enterprise with his detailed account of how Old Dominion jumped to the FBS and Conference USA.  Blair Kerkhoff of The Kansas City Star picked up Honorable Mentions in Game and Column.

The winners in each category will receive a personalized football from The Big Game and a cash prize.  Second and third places win cash prizes and certificates. Honorable mentions receive certificates.  All will be recognized at the FWAA’s Annual Award Breakfast on Jan. 13, 2015,  in Dallas.

The following is the complete list of winners.

Game

First place — Ivan Maisel, ESPN.com

Second place — Jesse Temple, FOX Sports Wisconsin

Third place — Max Olson, ESPN.com

Honorable mention — Andrea Adelson, ESPN.com; Ryan McGee, ESPN.com; Joe Rexrode, Detroit Free Press; Blair Kerkhoff, Kansas City Star

Feature

First place — Andrew Greif, The Oregonian

Second place — Harry Minium, The Virginian-Pilot

Third place — Ivan Maisel, ESPN.com

Honorable mention —  Lindsay Schnell, The Oregonian; Mark Schlabach, ESPN.com; George Schroeder,USA Today; Jeremy Fowler, CBSSports.com

Column

First place — Dennis Dodd, CBSSports.com

Second place — Matt Hayes, Sporting News

Third place — J.P. Scott,  KnowItAllFootball.com

Honorable mention — Blair Kerkhoff. Kansas City Star; Matt Brown, SportsonEarth.com; Mike Griffith, MLive.com; Glenn Guilbeau, Gannett Louisiana Newspapers

Enterprise

First place — Kevin Armstrong, New York Daily News

Second place — Pete Thamel, Sports Illustrated

Third place — Harry Minium, The Virginian-Pilot

Honorable mention — Dennis Dodd, CBSSports.com; Michael Cohen, Syracuse.com/The Post-Standard; Jon Solomon, AL.com