The Fifth Down

Executive Director's column
Ready to cap another great season

Steve Richardson
tiger@fwaa.com

I want to personally invite you to three FWAA events as we celebrate the end of the college football season in Newport Beach, Calif., Jan. 5-8 in conjunction with the Citi BCS National Championship Game at the Rose Bowl. The FWAA holds its annual meeting at the BCS Championship game each season.

Yes, the Rose Bowl is in Pasadena, but the media hotel is the Newport Beach Marriott Hotel & Spa, far south in Orange County. In fact, it's such a trek from LAX to Newport Beach, that the nearby John Wayne Airport is the destination arrival point for those media covering the game.

In this issue of The Fifth Down:
Executive Director's column
2009 FWAA All-America Team
Nebraska's Suh wins Outland Trophy
Nebraska's Suh wins Nagurski Trophy
Seven finalists named for Eddie Robinson Award

The first event will be the FWAA/Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year reception at the media hotel beginning at 6 p.m. local time on Jan. 5. The Tostitos Fiesta Bowl is the sponsor of the event, which will reveal the winner of the Coach of the Year as determined by the FWAA membership. Seven coaches were placed on a ballot sent to members earlier this month for a vote to determine the FWAA/ Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year. All FWAA and media members who are covering the game are invited to attend.

The award that has been presented by the FWAA since 1957. All five coaches of unbeaten regular-season teams in the NCAA Bowl Subdivision are on the ballot. Only one of the seven coaches has won the award before: Alabama's Nick Saban, who claimed the award last year at Alabama as well as when he was coach at LSU in 2003.

Another one of the FWAA's major events is the Annual Awards Breakfast on the morning of the title game (Thursday, Jan. 7), also at the media hotel.

At the breakfast, the FWAA recognizes the winners and placers in the Best Writing Contest with certificates and cash prizes. First-place winners also receive personalized footballs earlier. FWAA President George Schroeder will preside over the meeting, during which Atlantic Coast Conference commissioner John Swofford and BCS coordinator Bill Hancock will answer questions about the BCS during the second half of the breakfast.

During the two-hour breakfast, which kicks off at 8:30 a.m. local time, the FWAA will also reveal the winners of several other awards: the Bert McGrane (FWAA Hall of Fame) and Volney Meece Scholarship, as well as the AON Insurance FWAA Freshman All-America Team and an FedEx Orange Bowl Courage Award winner.

The other piece of FWAA business in Newport Beach will be the awarding of the 2009 Grantland Rice Trophy to the No. 1 NCAA Bowl Subdivision team by a panel of veteran FWAA writers. The vote will take place after the Alabama-Texas game on Jan. 7. Tentatively, the presentation of the Grantland Rice Trophy will be on the morning of Jan. 8 at the media hotel. But there are no assurances the FWAA panel will pick the winner of the Alabama-Texas game as the No. 1 team.

I am sad to report Florida State University beat writer Steve Ellis passed away in November at the age of 54. A Tallahassee Democrat sports writer, Ellis covered Florida State for nearly 30 years, including 19 at the Democrat. The FWAA made a gift in his memory to the Steve Ellis Memorial Scholarship Fund, which is being handled by the FSU Foundation in Tallahassee. Democrat sports editor Jim Lamar, in a story in the paper, was quoted as saying.

"There will be Steve Ellis stories told for years to come about his work ethic. There were times my phone rang at 2 in the morning when he was going to bed and quarter 'til five when he woke up. He wouldn't even let his wife call the ambulance until he filed his final story for the Democrat. ... Even from his hospital bed, he wanted to update me on what his sources were telling him. I know I will never work with anyone as passionate or as relentless as Steve Ellis. And that hurts."

Eddie Robinson Museum dedication set for February

A museum in Grambling, La. will be dedicated in memory of Eddie Robinson in mid-February.

Mike Tomlin, the youngest head coach to win a Super Bowl championship, will be the keynote speaker for a gala banquet scheduled for 7 p.m. on Feb. 12 at the Grambling State University Assembly Center.

Many of the former National Football League players guided by Robinson during his record-setting 55-year career at Grambling State are scheduled to attend the banquet and the museum's ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10 a.m. on Feb. 13.

Buddy Davis

KEY FWAA CONTACTS

Bert McGrane Award nominees: Mark Blaudshun (blauds@aol.com)
Volney Meece Scholarship nominees: Dave Sittler (davesitt@aol.com)
Website, Tostitos Fiesta Bowl National Team of the Week: Ted Gangi (webmaster@sportswriters.net)
Membership Directory: Charlie Fiss, AT&T Cotton Bowl (charlie@attcottonbowl.com)
Ethics/Press Relations Committee: Kirk Bohls (kbohls@statesman.com)
College Football Playoff Liaison: Gina Lehe, College Football Playoff (glehe@collegefootballplayoff.com)
Eddie Robinson Award: Steve Richardson (tiger@fwaa.com)
Fifth Down Blog/FWAA Best Writing Contest: Ken Stephens (ken.stephens@sbcglobal.net)
Bronko Nagurski Award: John Rocco, Charlotte Touchdown Club (jrocco@touchdownclub.com)
Outland Trophy, All-America Team: Steve Richardson (tiger@fwaa.com)
Grantland Rice Super 16 Poll: Phil Marwill, National Football Foundation (pmarwill@footballfoundation.org)
Discover Orange Bowl/FWAA Courage Award: George Schroeder, USA TODAY (gschroeder@aol.com), Ron Higgins, Nola.com (rhigg@aol.com)
Freshman All-America Team: Mike Griffith, MLive Media Group (mgrif32@aol.com)

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