The Fifth Down

President's column:
Hall of Fame enshrinement should be must-see TV

No cheering in the press box.

We're all professionals, we all know the deal, and 999 out of the 1,000 journalists I've run across in the college football world abide by it.

Some of us get so conditioned we can't even manage applause at our kids' school ball games.

But then came the College Football Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremonies July 21 in South Bend, when I found myself clapping as the game's former greats took the stage.

In this issue of The Fifth Down:
President's column: Hall of Fame enshrinement is a must-see
Best writing contest winners

The Boston Globe's Mark Blaudschun, the ol' Bulldog of the press box, sat beside me as the Bert McGrane Award winner and was pounding his hands together, too.

Clapping at a sports-related event was somewhat exhilarating; perhaps it was just remembering what it felt like to be a fan of the game we've chosen to invest our careers in.

In this day and age of reduced sports travel and expense budgets, and considerably less access to athletes and coaches than many of us were once afforded, it was a healthy boost for career ambition.

It was also a good reminder of why we decided it would be worth it to sweat the odd weekend hours and travel, along with the finicky editors (we like to pretend we don't need them, but we do), to become college football writers.

Terry Bowden was the master of ceremonies for the College Football Hall of Fame enshrinement dinner, and he was as peppy and entertaining as when he held press conferences while going 11-0 as Auburn's head coach in 1993.

Terry's a fellow FWAA member, but he's working to get a head-coaching job again. I've wondered why he hasn't gotten back into coaching sooner, considering all he accomplished despite interference from previous regime members that were still affiliated with the Auburn program.

Terry will join his father, Bobby, on the sidelines at Florida State this year to "reacquaint" himself with the routine.

As Terry Bowden introduced the likes of Emmitt Smith, Mike Rozier, Carl Eller, Charlie Ward, Bruce Smith and Steve Emtman on a South Bend Saturday night, I watched each cross the stage and wondered: Why isn't this on television?

Instead, folks saw a major soccer promotion crash as superstar David Beckham fell over his feet for 14 minutes on ESPN.

Somebody, perhaps ESPNU or Fox Sports, could have covered the College Football Hall of Fame event in Academy Award fashion. It's worthy. It's entertaining. It's fan friendly.

It appears to be TV friendly, too, with college football season just around the corner, the backdrop of Notre Dame and plenty of film footage of the enshrinees in the vaults.

It was fun seeing Emmitt Smith in a Gator uniform again and watching Rozier tear up opponents in his Husker red. For the first time, I saw how Bruce Smith made sacks as a Hokie and later got a refresher course on how Charlie Ward played point guard as the Seminoles' QB before moving on to the NBA and distributing the ball in much the same fashion.

Bobby Bowden used his time on stage to talk about how kids have changed, and how parents are failing. Some were critical of Bowden's remarks the next day, but that doesn't mean Bowden wasn't spot-on in his analysis.

In fact, kudos to Bowden for using his time to extend a meaningful message to his audience limited as it was rather than drop names and thank everyone from Pensacola to Jacksonville to Miami. The most disappointing turn from the event came the next morning when ESPN chose to run a list of 12 "notable" inductees rather than the entire list of 20.

More than four million have played college football. Less than 1,000 are in the College Football Hall of Fame. I'd say the ones who make the hall are all worthy of having their name displayed on a graphic for 10 seconds.

I called ESPN on behalf of the FWAA to express our disappointment with the network's decision not to list all the names.

I'll be the first to applaud when a network steps in and gives the college football enshrinement ceremony the coverage it deserves.

FWAA president Mike Griffith covers college football for the Knoxville News Sentinel. He can be reached at


Bert McGrane Award nominees: Mark Blaudshun (
Volney Meece Scholarship nominees: Dave Sittler (
Website, National Team of the Week: Ted Gangi (
Membership Directory: Charlie Fiss, Goodyear Cotton Bowl (
Ethics/Press Relations Committee: Kirk Bohls (
College Football Playoff Liaison: Gina Lehe, College Football Playoff (
Eddie Robinson Award: Steve Richardson (
Fifth Down Blog/FWAA Best Writing Contest: Ken Stephens (
Bronko Nagurski Trophy: John Rocco, Charlotte Touchdown Club (
Outland Trophy, All-America Team: Steve Richardson (
Super 16 Poll: Phil Marwill, National Football Foundation (
Orange Bowl/FWAA Courage Award: Matt Fortuna (
Freshman All-America Team: Mike Griffith (

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