Arizona linebacker Scooby Wright III wins Bronko Nagurski Trophy

Arizona linebacker Scooby Wright, winner of the 2014 Bronko Nagurski Trophy. (Photo by Ron & Donna Deshaies/Treasured Events of Charlotte)

Arizona linebacker Scooby Wright, III winner of the 2014 Bronko Nagurski Trophy.

CHARLOTTE – Arizona linebacker Scooby Wright III claimed the Bronko Nagurski Trophy on Monday night, winning the Football Writers Association of America’s annual award for the top defensive player in the country.

Wright, a 6-1, 246-pound sophomore, accepted the award at the event that has been sponsored by the Charlotte Touchdown Club for 20 consecutive years. He becomes the second Arizona player to win the award after the inaugural winner Rob Waldrop in 1993 and the first Pac-12 player to claim it since Terrell Suggs of Arizona State in 2002. Wright is just the second sophomore to win the award, joining Ohio State linebacker James Laurinaitis, the 2006 winner.

Wright has gone from a player recruited by only a few schools – a two-star recruit on the West Coast – to a tackling machine at Arizona (10-3), ranked 10th in the final College Football Playoff rankings.

“I say thank you all to my teammates and coaches,” Wright said. “Football is a team game. I accept this on behalf of the Arizona football program.”

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First Osborne Legacy Award will go to former Nebraska O-line coach Milt Tenopir

Milt Tenopir, the offensive line coach at Nebraska for Tom Osborn and Frank Solich for 29 years, will receive the first Tom Osborne Legacy Award at the Outland Trophy Dinner on Jan. 15 at the downtown Doubletree in Omaha.

Tenopir coached six Outland winners and 21 All-Americans, and his offensive lines helped win 13 NCAA rushing titles.

Click here to read the entire story by former FWAA president Tom Shatel.

 

Clemson’s Daniel Rodriguez named recipient of 2014 Armed Forces Merit Award

Armed Forces Merit Award

Armed Forces Merit Award

FORT WORTH, Texas — Daniel Rodriguez, a senior wide receiver and special teams player at Clemson University, is the third recipient of Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the Football Writers Association of America.

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.”

Selected by a seven-person committee made up of representatives from the FWAA and the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl, Rodriguez joins Nate Boyer of the University of Texas and Brandon McCoy of the University of North Texas as recipients of the Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the FWAA.

Boyer, who is completing his third-season as the long snapper for the Longhorns, was honored in 2012 while McCoy was the 2013 recipient during his fourth and final season as a defensive lineman for the Mean Green.

Daniel Rodriguez, Clemson University

Daniel Rodriguez, Clemson University

Rodriguez, 26, was an Armed Forces Merit Award semi-finalist both years while playing at Clemson, where he was the 2012 recipient of the Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage and USAA Athletic Inspiration Awards and an ESPY finalist for the Jim Valvano Perseverance Award.

Attending college on the GI Bill, Rodriguez was offered a spot on the 2012 Clemson team as a walk-on after coach Dabo Swinney saw a video about the former U.S. Army Sergeant and recipient of the Purple Heart and Bronze Star Medal with Valor Device for his heroism at Kamdesh.

“On this very special day, Veterans’ Day 2014, we are pleased to join with the Football Writers Association of America to honor Daniel Rodriguez from Clemson University as the third recipient of the Armed Forces Merit Award,” said Brant Ringler, executive director of the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl. “We had list of outstanding nominations for this year’s award and it is difficult to honor only one each year when we have men and programs that are very deserving of the honor.”

FWAA President Kirk Bohls, a columnist for the Austin American-Statesman, echoed Ringler’s sentiments along with adding that the FWAA is “pleased to team with Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl to recognize Rodriguez’ achievement as a veteran who used his armed forces experiences to benefit his teammates and coaches at Clemson University. The FWAA also salutes the other 2014 nominations for their contributions on-and-off the field of play.”

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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.

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.

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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.