San Jose Mercury News
DALLAS — Jon Wilner, a veteran sportswriter for the San Jose Mercury News, has been awarded the 2013 FWAA Beat Writer of the Year Award for his coverage of the Pac-12 Conference and West Coast college sports.
The FWAA’s Beat Reporter of the Year Award is based on a comprehensive look at the way a person covers the beat and encompasses all categories of coverage over a period of time.
Wilner, 46, has worked at the Mercury News since 2000 and has held various reporting roles in the college scene for the newspaper and its website, covering Stanford, Bay Area colleges and Pac-12 beats. Wilner’s highly popular blog, “College Hotline,” receives millions of page views annually.
He has claimed numerous Associated Press Sports Editors awards. Wilner has had a vote in the Associated Press Top 25 football and basketball polls for more than a decade.
Immediate past FWAA president Lenn Robbins of the New York Post has left the newspaper to work for BrookylnNets.com and BarclaysCenter.com. He had worked 16 years for the New York Post. Among his assignments will be the Brooklyn Nets, New York Islanders and championship boxing and college basketball. “I have accepted the job with the understanding that I will have the independence that I’ve enjoyed to report and to analyze,” Robbins said upon accepting the position.
David Ubben has moved from espn.com to foxsports.com. … Danielle Moorman has resigned her post as executive director of the Davey O’Brien Foundation to accept a position as director of marketing and communications at Low T Center. … Olivia Kiespert has moved down the street in Irving, Texas, from the National Football Foundation to Conference USA. … Joe Galbraith, SID at Mississippi State, has accepted the position as Clemson University’s assistant athletics director for communications. … Herb Vincent left his post at LSU as vice chancellor for university relations to take a similar position at the Southeastern Conference. … Randy Riggs of the Austin American-Statesman has announced he is retiring after more than 35 years at the paper. In recent years he has been the paper’s beat writer for the Longhorn football team. Other recent retirements: Herb Gould, Chicago Sun-Times; Mike Pearson, Miami (Ohio) University; Marc Dellins, UCLA.
Long-time Ruston (La.) Daily Leader sportswriter and columnist Buddy Davis has been battling health problems in recent months since suffering a stroke on July 5 and has been in and out of Louisiana health facilities, but he is still writing!
He also is still winning awards. He is one of five individuals who will be inducted into the Louisiana Tech’s Athletic Hall of Fame on Nov. 9. He also has been recognized as the university’s College of Liberal Arts’ Alumnus of the Year. Davis, a 1969 journalism graduate, has spent nearly 50 years working as a sports writer for the same newspaper.
Comment by the judge, Alan Abrahamson: A great feature should be a journey of discovery. This story is just that. It is full of not just connections but a series of incredible moments of revealing truths, each one taking the reader along through the story of one family’s incredible journey to and through the American dream. The cast of characters is rich and diverse. The action pieces are well-told and the back stories riveting. Finally, this piece also serves as compelling evidence that even in a world increasingly turning to bursts of 140 or fewer characters there thankfully remains a place for long-form journalism and the art of the well-told narrative.
By Adam Lucas
Tar Heel Monthly
On the most famous play in modern Carolina football history, it looked like Gio Bernard was finally going to be caught by his history.
He’d spent twenty years outrunning it. He’d lived in Haiti with no running water. He’d sat in a tiny bathroom with his brother and father, all three men in tears over the loss of Gio’s mother. He’d shared an apartment in Ft. Lauderdale with rats.
Comment by the judge, Alan Abrahamson: In this era of 24/7, instant-access, always-on journalism, the enterprise story offers something different. It takes us behind the curtain — tells us something we didn’t already know, couldn’t possibly have known without the diligence and the purpose of the reporters’ craft. Often, these stories rely on years of experience or a network of sources. When you finish reading such a story, a complex subject has been made simple or what was once hidden has been revealed. Even when, as was the case with Florida’s championship football team during the Urban Meyer years, it was hiding in plain sight. As the years go by, and the headlines about who was on that team continue to vie for attention, this story may prove to be even all the more illuminating.
By Matt Hayes
The uproar and controversy of Urban Meyer’s stunning recruiting coup at Ohio State settled in and Stefon Diggs, still on the Buckeyes’ wish list, was debating his future.
Diggs, the second-highest rated wide receiver in the country, had narrowed his list of potential schools to Maryland, Florida and Ohio State. For more than a week following National Signing Day on Feb. 1, and before Diggs eventually signed with Maryland, Meyer relentlessly pursued Diggs.
Comment by the judge, Gene Duffey: Touching story of young boy and his enthusiasm for Wyoming football. Well researched with good quotes from Wyoming coach and a player.
By Ben Frederickson
The chubby-cheeked, brown-eyed boy from Rock Springs beamed on game days.
He loved to watch the University of Wyoming football team play in War Memorial Stadium, especially when his dad let him go down, close to the field, to be near the players.
Phillip and Cherilyn Hansen had taken their son, Hunter, and his older brother, Phillip Jr., to Laramie three times to join the crowd of brown and gold. Together, the family had cheered for their Pokes.
But things changed after July 29, 2011. Instead of trips to Laramie to watch his favorite team, Hunter made trips to Primary Children’s Medical Center in Salt Lake City.
Hunter was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, a white-blood-cell attacking cancer that starts in bone marrow — and then spreads.
Comment by the judge, Gene Duffey: Good lead that quickly told the story of Baylor football. Story captured the mood of the game and Baylor’s dominance. Liked the reference to Baylor knowing what a Heisman winner is like compared with Collin Klein. Nice quotes from Snyder and Klein.
By Ivan Maisel
WACO, Texas — Floyd Casey Stadium will never be confused with Death Valley or the Horseshoe or any of the college football palaces where road teams get mugged. It seats 50,000 in theory, if rarely in reality, because Baylor just doesn’t fill it up. It’s old and unloved and five miles from campus, and Baylor can’t wait to tell you about the new stadium it will open in two years.
Higgins, a 28-year veteran of the Memphis Commercial-Appeal, also is a frequent analyst on SEC sports for The Tim Brando Show on CBS, has written for the SEC’s official website and is a highly sought after guest on regional and national sports radio. A native of Baton Rouge and a graduate of LSU, Higgins will write commentary and special features about LSU sports for NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune, and will continue to appear on regional and national television and radio talking about the Tigers and SEC sports.
Pat Harmon, 1916-2013
Former Cincinnati Post sports editor and columnist Pat Harmon, who was president of the Football Writers Association of America in 1984 and later received the organization’s Bert McGrane Award, died on July 28 at the age of 97.
Harmon also served as the National Football Foundation’s historian for 20 years, from 1986 to 2006.
“Pat Harmon’s passion and talent for covering sports created a lasting legacy,” said NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell. “He honed his skills during an incredible 70 year career, and the NFF greatly benefited from the depth of his knowledge during his 20 years as our historian. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family as we mourn his loss and celebrate his life.”
Veteran Ivan Maisel of ESPN.com claimed his fourth FWAA writing first-place award during his career in the results just announced for the 21st Annual FWAA Best Writing Contest. Matt Hayes of the Sporting News also won first place, picked up an honorable mention and was one of three writers to be recognized in two different categories.
USA Today’s George Schroeder and Aaron Brenner, now with the Charleston Post and Courier, each received two honorable mentions. Ben Frederickson, now at Fox Sports Midwest, and Adam Lucas of Tar Heel Monthly captured the other first-place awards.