The Fifth Down

President's column: We have a voice

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Tommy Hicks

The conversation continues on many fronts for the FWAA as we all approach the busiest time in our schedules. Communication is good, regardless of the avenue, and there has been no lack of communication in recent weeks. From phone calls to in-person discussions to e-mail correspondence to attendance and participation at various functions, the task of keeping our organization's issues in play continues to be a priority.

In recent weeks, I have had the opportunity to experience first-hand some of the ways in which we have a voice for our concerns, as well as the vantage point of seeing how others view the FWAA and the work we are trying to accomplish. From the CoSIDA convention in Marco Island, Fla., where we had participation on a pair of panels, to the College Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival in South Bend, Ind., where we had the chance to honor Bert McGrane Award winner Beano Cook as well as meet with others in the college football community, the conversation continues.

In this issue of The Fifth Down:
• Hicks: We have a voice
• Oklahoma tops preseason poll
• Outland Trophy Watch List
• Bronko Nagurski Trophy Watch List
• FWAA selects 'Super 11'
• Youngblood to receive Nagurski Legends Award

The subjects of media access and the effects of social media were the hottest topics of the CoSIDA convention that involved the FWAA's participation. With viewpoints from several directions, the panels proved interesting and informative. They also served to keep issues that are of importance to the FWAA membership in the forefront, before the groups most affected by the decisions regarding both issues.

The College Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival offered the opportunity to meet with people in a relaxed atmosphere. It also provided the chance to visit with our friends at the National Football Foundation and to honor Cook, a long-time member of the FWAA, for his contributions and work over the years. Although Beano wasn't able to attend the banquet, a video of the McGrane Award presentation by friend and former FWAA president Ivan Maisel was shown during the banquet and was a big hit. Having Beano accept his award on video, and thus on a screen, was fitting in many ways; that's the way most college football fans have been introduced to Beano over the past several years.

The presentation also allowed us the opportunity, as do many of the awards in which we are involved, to get the FWAA name in front of the public and let them know of our organization's strength and numbers, its purpose and our passion for the game we cover. It has been somewhat surprising the support and interest that has come from those opportunities.

Recently, the FWAA was asked to look into a matter of access in regard to a selective media opportunity involving Ohio State and its response to NCAA actions. Some Ohio State officials provided interview access to only a select few media members, leaving others, including some beat writers, without that access and thus without key information with which to do their jobs. The matter was brought to the attention of the FWAA. Ethics committee chairman Ron Higgins, a staunch advocate for media access and a former FWAA president, and executive director Steve Richardson produced a response to Ohio State’s Gene Smith, seeking a reply as to why some reporters, including FWAA members, were denied access to school officials regarding such an important issue.

Again, our membership of about 1,200 provides us with a loud voice and hopefully growing strength. The history of this organization doesn’t simply provide us with a strong and proud past; it is also a basis for our present and a building block for our future. The greater the membership, the greater that foundation.

If there is an issue you feel should be brought to the organization’s attention, feel free to contact me ( or 251-610-7808), Steve Richardson or others with the FWAA. Thanks again for your support and your membership.


• 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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