President’s column: Longtime Texas SID Bill Little to receive FWAA Lifetime Achievement Award

2014 FWAA President Kirk Bohls

2014 FWAA President Kirk Bohls

Bill Little always longed to come home.

Not to Winters, Texas, his dusty West Texas hometown south of Abilene, but back to Austin and his beloved alma mater.

And so during the end of a short stint as sports editor of the Associated Press Bureau in Oklahoma City, he figured he’d address that longing. He noticed an opening in public relations at the University of Texas and telephoned Darrell Royal and told the legendary head football coach he’d like to return.

Royal basically asked one question: How fast could he get to Austin?

Former Texas Sports Information Director Bill Little

Former Texas Sports Information Director Bill Little

So at age 26, Little packed his bags and returned to Austin where he had once worked for The Daily Texan school newspaper, volunteered at the sports information office as a student and then covered high school football for $50 a month at the Austin American-Statesman. The move allowed him to continue a life-long and unabated love affair.

In March of 1968, he became an understudy to the iconic Jones Ramsey in the sports information department and would work at a job he loved for 47 football seasons, serving five head football coaches, five head basketball coaches and two baseball coaches during that span. He has been inducted into the Longhorn Hall of Honor, the CoSIDA Hall of Fame and the Big Country Athletic Hall of Fame in Abilene and won numerous awards for his writing.

He broadcast more than 1,700 baseball games, took in 527 consecutive football games and didn’t miss one until this season’s football game against UCLA in the second week in September after he’d worked the season-opener as the public-address announcer. He officially retired at the end of August.

“My wife, Kim, and I sat down after DeLoss (Dodds) and Mack (Brown) left,” Little said, referring to the long-time, highly regarded Longhorn athletic director and head football coach. “I turned 72 in March, and it just seemed the right time with a new staff coming in. So I stepped away.”

For his highly regarded career and deep involvement in the lives of so many athletes, coaches, sportswriters and fans, Little touched a lot of lives and is being honored as the second winner of the FWAA’s Lifetime Achievement Award and will be celebrated at the annual FWAA Annual Awards Breakfast Jan. 13 at the media hotel in Dallas on the morning after the national championship game.

More…

Advertisements

President’s column: High school baseball star Randy White never expected to be a football ‘Legend’

2014 FWAA President Kirk Bohls

2014 FWAA President Kirk Bohls

(Note:  Randy White was honored at the same banquet where Arizona linebacker Scooby Wright III was revealed as college football’s best defensive player as deemed by the Football Writers Association of America.)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Randy White never expected to be honored as a legend in college football.

Of course, the highly decorated defensive star for Maryland and then the Dallas Cowboys never really expected to even play college football in the first place.

He’d been a star pitcher and first baseman for his high school team in Wilmington, Delaware, and had been told at one time that the Philadelphia Phillies wanted to draft him and sign him for a $30,000 bonus.

“I thought, ‘I’m rich,’” White recalled Monday before the Charlotte Touchdown Club Banquet where he was recognized as a Bronko Nagurski Legend from the FWAA’s 1974 All-America Team. “But my dad told the scout no. He said I was going to Maryland and play college football.”

Father knew best.

More…

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…

President’s column: Season of changes is upon us

2014 FWAA President Kirk Bohls

2014 FWAA President Kirk Bohls

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.

More…

President’s column: FWAA committees formed in every conference to head off problems

2014 FWAA President Kirk Bohls

2014 FWAA President Kirk Bohls

Greetings, colleagues.

I trust many of you have thawed out from the harsh winter by now and are planning your vacation retreats to Barbados. My advice: Take plenty of SPF 50 sun screen and every preseason college football magazine you can get your hands on.

We’re still dabbling in the college baseball season and awaiting the NBA and NHL Finals to end before the Fourth of July, but we all have one thing on our mind. No, besides the Kim and Kanye wedding. It’s college football, the reason we were put on this planet.

Yes, spring football is over, and the official countdown to the 2014 season, the historic first playoff and the Lane Kiffin soap opera in Alabama has begun. And I think we all admit the marriage of Kiffin and Nick Saban is even more intriguing than the latest Kardashian nuptials and would make for a much more riveting reality show.

As I write this, it’s less than 90 days until Abilene Christian travels to Georgia State to kick off the season on Aug. 27. Fourteen more games, headlined by Texas A&M at South Carolina in the debut game on the SEC Network, follow the next day.

Before you start overhauling your golf game, please make sure you get your Football Writers Association of America membership current and pay your FWAA dues. As president, I even remembered to pay mine before spring drills began. Our membership last season grew to a record 1,350 and we’d like to push that even further. Also don’t forget to mail in your entries for the annual FWAA Best Writing Contest. Dennis Dodd and Ivan Maisel can’t win all of them every year.

More…

New president Kirk Bohl’s column

2014 FWAA President Kirk Bohls

2014 FWAA President Kirk Bohls

INDIANAPOLIS — It’s the dawning of a new day for college football. I hope I don’t oversleep.

I wouldn’t want to miss it. By this time next year when we’ve celebrated our first champion from a real, live playoff culminating in Arlington, Texas, we might not even recognize the game. Change is coming, and, yes, it will be dramatic.

We enter 2014 with an appreciation for the rich past of this wonderful game we follow and an eye toward a future filled with equal parts anticipation of a historic season with the first College Football Playoff after the 2014 regular season. We also have a healthy concern for the direction of the sport. After all, the game is in a state of flux. Who knows when the Southeastern Conference will end its long drought and ever win another championship?

First, it’s a privilege to be your 2014 FWAA President. And I’d like to especially salute our 2013 President, Chris Dufresne, for his terrific service. I’d like to thank him for the great California weather for the final BCS game and the fact the game did not go into overtime

These are tumultuous times as college football wrestles with overwhelming issues: potential federation within the NCAA that could lead to a separate division and more distance between the haves and have-somes; Football Bowl Subdivision anxiety over uneven enforcement of penalties; players’ long-term health and safety; subsidies for players for the full cost of a scholarship; a tangled, complicated rulebook; and the controversial Ed O’Bannon lawsuit over payment for use of players’ likenesses for video games. And that doesn’t even count Lane Kiffin’s fascinating future, especially the week of the Alabama-Tennessee game.

More…

A fireside chat with your 2014 president, Kirk Bohls

2014 FWAA President Kirk Bohls

2014 FWAA President Kirk Bohls

(Ed. Note:  Executive Director Steve Richardson recently asked Kirk Bohls several questions about his life and a couple of topics so we could get to know him better.)

ATHLETIC BACKGROUND:  “I am a Taylor Duck (High School is 29 miles northeast of Austin) once and forever. I played every sport they had at Taylor, including football where I played Monster Man (strong safety) and was a 150-pound terror — at least in my mind. I also broke my neck in the first half of our homecoming game against Rockdale (we won) and played the entire second half. You can’t get much more stupid than that.”

WORK HISTORY:  “It can be summed up pretty simply. I graduated from the University of Texas in May 1973, went to work for the Austin American-Statesman that same month after coming within an hour of taking a job in Lubbock at the Avalanche Journal. I have been there ever since. My first year on the Texas beat was Darrell Royal’s last year. We broke the OU spying story the week of the 1976 OU game, and that’s still the most memorable Texas-OU game ever. My first year on the Texas baseball beat was 1977. Texas won the national championship. I’m thinking these beats are kind of cool. I think I’ll stick around. Some 40 years later…”

More…