The Fifth Down

President's column:
A blast to the past, anyone?

Anybody out there remember the old NCAA Football Forum?

For college football writers, it ranked right up there with Christmas, New Year's Eve and the day after signing day.

A few coaches would fly to Kansas City each February to discuss the game with a few writers. The NCAA reserved a conference room in a downtown hotel. There was some loose subject matter, a rules update and a meal or two. There was actual interaction between the media and coaches. Camaraderie even.

Everyone benefited. Coaches told their stories. We wrote ours. The NCAA looked good. But the forum died an anonymous death a few years ago. Not by FWAA choice, mind you. It was our hot stove league.

Before my term runs out I'd like to get the forum up and running again. The National Football Foundation has expressed interest. The foundation is moving to Dallas, about as perfect a football town as there is.

In this issue of The Fifth Down:
President's column: A blast to the past, anyone?
Awards, meeting on FWAA agenda
FWAA names 63rd All-America team
Ohio State's Laurinaitis wins Nagurski Trophy
Wisconsin's Thomas wins Outland Trophy
Nine finalists named for Eddie Robinson Award

No one is promising anything yet, but we're thinking a couple of days in the spring. Coaches (and maybe players) TBA. The point is to establish/enhance/ cultivate our relationship with the coaches.

As you may or may not know, it has not been a good year in that regard. The two have been drifting apart for a while. There are a variety of reasons most of them revolving around money which schools and coaches have, and we usually don't.

I'm not going to light my usual flamethrower in terms of access. This is not the time or space. It is time for members to take ownership of the situation. The FWAA can do only so much. When a situation develops, talk to your editor, your publisher, your paper's lawyer. In extreme cases a columnist needs to write about it.

But the FWAA is not here to be confrontational all the time. That's why it's also time to extend an invitation to the foundation, the American Football Coaches Association and FWAA members.

In the next few weeks, I intend to do my best to revive the old forum. It will have a new name, maybe even a sponsor. How does some time in May sound?

I'm looking for input for members. How many of you would be interested? Who would you like to see there? We're open to suggestions on participants and the format.

If you're in, you need to hit up your editors about coverage and colleagues about making this a big-time event. The foundation needs the attention. We need our sources.

Best case: There would be significant social, off-the-record time where coaches and writers could, well, gab. Heisman and All-American candidates could be previewed. Why not get a member of the rules committee to stop by? This instant replay thing seems to have killed a few trees the past couple of years.

The simple conversation between our diverse worlds has been lost in a lot of ways. This is a way to kick it around long before kicking it off for '07.

I'm open to any kind of format but I want to get this thing going again. It was invaluable during the cold and snow of Kansas City in February. Just think how much better it will be in the spring warmth of Dallas.

You can contact me at Do not hesitate. I'm waiting to hear from you.


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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