Photo gallery: FWAA Awards Breakfast

These photos were taken at the FWAA’s annual Awards Breakfast on Jan. 11 in Scottsdale, Ariz.  Winners of the 2015 Best Writing Contest as well as the Bert McGrane Award winner were honored, among others.

President’s column: Look for your AutoNation FWAA All-America ballot on Nov. 9

ffaw_redesignOMAHA — It’s hard to think of three more beautiful words than “November college football.’’ As the old saying goes, the games we remember are played in November.

So when you write about, broadcast or administer these games, keep your eyes on those making the biggest plays because our process to pick the 2015 AutoNation Football Writers Association All-America team starts this week. Confidential teleconferences are set for Nov. 15 (defense, offensive linemen) and Nov. 22 (all others). First and second teams will be chosen.

FWAA 2015 President Lee Barfknecht.

FWAA 2015 President Lee Barfknecht.

Ballots from the FWAA membership (which are scheduled to be sent out on Nov. 9) will be used as a framework to build our teams. Please feel free to contact your regional representative from our All-America Committee with nominations, pertinent statistics and other intelligence to help us do the very best job possible.

Also, we need Outland Trophy nominees (centers, guards, offensive and defensive tackles but no ends).

The selection committee:

Lee Barfknecht, Omaha World-Herald (National)

Zach Barnett, Football Scoop (Conference USA)

Kirk Bohls, Austin American-Statesman (National)

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President’s column: One month in, college football is a world turned upside down

ffaw_redesignOMAHA — My god, isn’t this fun?

It’s difficult to recall a college football season in which we seem to have more questions than answers after the first month than we did before the darn thing started.

Ohio State quarterbacks? Oregon down, Utah up? Defensive coordinator mental-health warnings in the Big 12? Alabama, Auburn and Arkansas a combined 0-4 to start SEC play? Clemson rolling and Louisville falling in the ACC?

FWAA 2015 President Lee Barfknecht.

FWAA 2015 President Lee Barfknecht.

Good luck to the College Football Playoff Selection Committee. Looks like you’ll need it. As for those of us chronicling the action, the stories get more interesting by the week.

Something worth following this season is the amped-up work on recognizing our national players of the week (offense and defense) and national team of the week.

The Football Writers Association of America has partnered with a new valued sponsor, AutoNation, to honor deserving players and teams as selected by the FWAA All-America Committee. AutoNation generously donates $1,000 for each team of the week and each player of the week (offense and defense) toward the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. AutoNation also is presenting sponsor of our All-American team and the 75th Anniversary All-America squads.

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President’s column: Bowls agree to media operations standards

ffaw_redesignOMAHA — What better time than early July to start thinking about bowl games?

Among board members of the Football Writers Association of America, bowl-game operations are in mind year round. We strive to create and sustain access, improve logistics and bring some polish to what sometimes can be a rough-edged experience for our members.

In that spirit, the FWAA and the Football Bowl Association present what we hope is good news.

Last winter, our board — with USA Today’s George Schroeder as the lead blocker — asked FBA Executive Director Wright Waters to present his membership with a list of standardized media operations for bowl games.

FWAA 2015 President Lee Barfknecht.

FWAA 2015 President Lee Barfknecht.

The good news is the 41 bowls said yes to our standards for operation without exception. We heartily thank Wright for his patience, cooperation and guidance in these matters — and George for his persistence and attention to detail.

This doesn’t mean our work is done.

The Football Bowl Association doesn’t have enforcement authority on these regulations. I repeat: It DOESN’T have enforcement authority. But as Wright told his members: “It has been made clear that this is a request coming from the media, and is an attempt to help the bowls generate more media attention.”

Yes, the College Football Playoff bowls have a good thing going with standardized methods of operations and penalties for violations. It’s a pleasure to cover bowls that offer agreed-upon access, top-flight press box services and handy transportation.

However, we all know that isn’t the standard everywhere.

I have covered 34 bowl games put on by 14 entities, from Honolulu to Miami.

Some bowls have the process nailed, working with their sponsors and the sports information directors of the participating schools to fulfill the basic needs of the media — and often beyond.

In other cases, covering a bowl is like working a high school game.

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President’s column: Vote for the FWAA 75th Anniversary All-America Team

ffaw_redesign

By Lee Barfknecht
FWAA President

OMAHA — “Happy Anniversary!’’

It’s time for all members of the Football Writers Association of America to celebrate because this year marks our 75th season of existence.

We are taking advantage of this special year to highlight our organization and the sport we follow with some newsworthy events.

The biggest?

FWAA 2015 President Lee Barfknecht.

FWAA 2015 President Lee Barfknecht.

All members will get to vote on a 75-year anniversary All-America team. With our organization’s start in 1944, this coincides with what is defined as “the modern era of college football,’’ which is from the latter stages of World War II to the present.

Three 25-man units will be chosen (first, second and third teams). To be eligible, honorees must have been a first-team FWAA All-American.

The all-time list — compiled by Ted Gangi and Josh Yonis, and with thanks to our nation’s sports information directors and the College Football Hall of Fame — is on our website in easy-to-read form and with strong detail.

Once the membership-vote deadline has been reached, a panel of past presidents, current board members and winners of our Bert McGrane Award will be asked to tabulate votes, review the results and arrange the teams.

This is going to be a sparkling argument-starter and conversation piece.

Writers and broadcasters can use it for multiple story ideas. Meanwhile, school, bowl and network TV folks can turn it into promotional pieces for their entities.

Those of us who love football and history are drooling over how this will turn out. Competition will ensue at the highest level.

Please keep an eye out for notice coming soon on when and how to vote. We hope to reveal the three teams in early summer — a great time for stories considering the year-round thirst in this country for football news.

In and around the announcement of those teams, we plan a series of stories on pillars of the FWAA — people who have had great impact on the sport in terms of how it was played, how it was coached, how it was covered and how it has been promoted.

Another way we will note our anniversary year is with a new logo.

It’s a simple and clean addition of a “75th Anniversary’’ banner to our current logo, in pigskin colors and no-nonsense lettering. It should appear on our website soon, and perhaps on some clothing.

Something else to keep watch for is a new member portal.

The FWAA and the U.S. Basketball Writers Association are partnering to create a one-stop payment site for both organizations that syncs up with the school year, plus some other features to make things more user-friendly.

Again, keep the 75th-anniversary All-America team voting in mind. It should be an energizing exercise to take part in.

President’s column: Introducing Lee Barfknecht

OMAHA —  Now  that college football’s minuscule catch-your-breath season is upon us —  the short break between national signing day and the start of spring practice —  it’s time to introduce myself as your new president of the Football Writers Association of America.

And I do mean “your’’ president because I view this as a service position.

FWAA 2015 President Lee Barfknecht.

FWAA 2015 President Lee Barfknecht.

This sport we find so fascinating/maddening/energizing gets bigger and (mostly) better every year. Coming off the first College Football Playoff, attention and interest is as high as I can recall in my 35 years with this product.

(Don’t forget a hearty round of applause for Bill Hancock, Gine Lehe and all those from CFP who made “North Texas 2015” a rousing success.)

The FWAA, under the strong guidance of executive director Steve Richardson, is set up to honor those who deserve a pat on the back, talk discreetly to those we think could do things better and in general pay attention to this sport’s operations in a way to help all members do their best.

I’m a newspaper guy — who in the next two weeks has “continuing education’’ meetings on video streaming, Twitter and Internet radio —  but am well aware our membership includes all types of folks associated with college football.

We will look at issues that arise without fear or favor, but with respect.

The relationship between beat people and coaches is a two-way street. The relationship between news gatherers and athletic departments is a two-way street. Sometimes, swords are crossed. It’s the nature of the business. Our goal, though, is to find common-sense solutions for any problems that come up.

We need input from both sides of the fence, and accurate information on which to pursue any necessary conflict resolution. And don’t forget to include good news and “atta-boys,’’ too. The celebration of good work is something our business too often neglects.

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From Denison QB to Outland winner? It’s possible for Iowa’s Scherff

Spotlight on the Outland Trophy

The Outland Trophy

The Outland Trophy

The Football Writers Association of America will present the Outland Trophy to the best interior lineman in college football for the 69th consecutive year. In the coming weeks, we will present occasional stories on a potential 2014 Outland Trophy honoree. Click here to read a story from the Omaha World-Herald on Iowa offensive tackle Brandon Scherff. The author, Lee Barfknecht, is the FWAA’s 2014 First Vice-President.