Until LSU upset then No. 3 Ole Miss last Saturday, Les Miles’ week had gone from bad to worse to tragic.
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.
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:
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…
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.
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.
By Kirk Bohls
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
Comment by the judge: Great look at the most compelling game and play of the entire 2013 college football season that helps readers picture it perfectly in their heads. The story featured a great sampling of quotes from all those involved, including great snippets from Chris Davis. However, I especially enjoyed the quotes from Alabama tight end Brian Vogler, who was covering on the play, which provided a unique perspective I had not seen in any other articles about this game.
By Ivan Maisel
AUBURN, Ala. — Someday, someday, there will be a greater Iron Bowl finish than this one. Babe Ruth died, and the Yankees continue to play. Sinatra has come and gone, and people still sing. Forty-one years after “Punt Bama Punt,” Chris Davis caught a field goal attempt nine yards deep in the end zone, and started running.
So it’s possible that the way that No. 4 Auburn dethroned No. 1 Alabama 34-28, will be eclipsed. But at this moment Saturday night, with the cheers at Jordan-Hare Stadium still reverberating from here to Columbus, Ohio, it doesn’t seem possible at all. With the clock showing all zeroes, Davis returned Adam Griffith’s Hail Mary of a 57-yard field goal attempt 109 yards for a touchdown.
“We saw they had a guy back there,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “Everybody knew they had to cover him. We just didn’t, we didn’t cover it right.”
In the 15 seconds or so that it took Davis to sprint from end line to end line, Alabama lost its chance at a third consecutive BCS championship; Auburn won the SEC West and planted itself in the BCS title debate, No. 3 Ohio State saw its BCS hopes come to life, and the spectrum of emotions that college football can elicit stretched a little beyond its limit.
“I knew when I caught the ball I would have room to run,” Davis said, “and I knew we had bigger guys on the field to protect and that was all after that.”
The game unfolded as Alabama’s toughest games have unfolded all season long. The Tide started slow, fell behind, warmed up and took the lead in the fourth quarter thanks to a 99½-yard touchdown pass from AJ McCarron to Amari Cooper. In any other Iron Bowl, that would’ve been the stuff of legend. But then Alabama’s karma got run over by Auburn’s karma, in which the Tigers keep believing until they pull off a miracle finish. That’s what happened against Georgia, when Ricardo Louis caught a deflected pass for a 73-yard touchdown in the final minute.
Comment by the judge: Well-crafted story about one of the top quarterback gurus in the country. Writer presents a lot of detail about a topic that is one of the new trends in college football as well as provides insight into the behind-the-scenes dealings and relationships.
By Kevin Armstrong
New York Daily News
MOBILE, Ala. — Half-hour to kickoff at St. Paul’s Episcopal School on a Friday in October, and there’s a caller on WNSP 105.5 FM claiming Mother Nature’s keeping Hurricane Karen at bay in order for a varsity football game to be played. The top-ranked Toros from Spanish Fort are in The Port City to march against the No. 8 Saints, and David Morris, the one-time Alabama state record holder for yards and touchdowns in a season, pulls his gray Yukon — the one with the smile-shaped crack across the windshield — into the packed lot, pays $4 to park and walks on past tailgaters. St. Paul’s Headmaster Marty Lester greets Morris, a tutor to St. Paul’s sophomore starting quarterback Miller Mosley.
“David, don’t you have the other quarterback tonight, too?” Lester asks.
Morris nods. Truth be told, Morris tinkers with the mechanics of the starters on both teams, as well as the backups. There is a pipeline at St. Paul’s for Morris to tap into and he does so regularly, having helped along the careers of past preps stars such as Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron and Florida State backup Jacob Coker. All the better to the mothers and fathers whose children he instructs. As the private teacher and not a coach, Morris is undefeated on Friday nights and decides no controversies. Saints reserve Drew Wing’s father, Andrew, double checks with Morris on the next appointment.
“Nine thirty tomorrow morning, right?” Wing asks.
“Yessir,” Morris says.
Morris holds a unique position in Mobile’s quarterback boom. Once a three-year reserve behind Eli Manning at Ole Miss, Morris left the game after graduation, burnt out from being one snap away for three seasons behind the immovable Manning. Morris fought depression, took a job at his father’s real estate agency and moonlighted as a throwing instructor with teenagers in town upon request. Now 33, Morris is all in on growing his program — “Quarterback Country” — into a year-round, nationwide business. His experiences range from pushing Manning through the paces in the offseason to working with Tim Tebow to readying now-Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Matt Barkley for the NFL draft. Top prospects — including University of Miami recruit Malik Rosier — tout Morris’ ability to boost their confidence and identify flaws.
Let’s kick this thing off.
Actually Sam Houston State and Eastern Washington did the honors Saturday on an all-red field with a no-huddle offensive fury — my eyes are just now adjusting back to normal — but the college football season starts in earnest this Thursday.
If the real season is anywhere near as eventful as the off-season was, this promises to be one of the most exciting, electric years ever.
To recap, we’ve witnessed an all-out assault on the NCAA and the status quo with a move toward greater autonomy for the Power Five conferences, the likelihood of cost of attendance benefits for athletes and the player-friendly outcome of the landscape-altering Ed O’Bannon lawsuit.
We’ve seen football strongholds embrace diversity as Charlie Strong and James Franklin become the first African-American head coaches at tradition-clinging Texas and Penn State. We’ve also seen Chris Petersen leave his comfort zone at Boise State to test the big-school waters at Washington. And we’ll see coaches on the hot seat like Will Muschamp, Dana Holgorsen and Charlie Weis try to stave off the wolves on their doorsteps.
We’ve grimaced when we see stars like Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller and Oregon offensive tackle Tyler Johnstone go down with injuries that ended their seasons before the first kickoff.