The Fifth Down

President's column: With growth comes strength

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Tommy Hicks

With more than 1,200 members, the largest roster in our history, the Football Writers Association of America continues to grow and continues to gain strength.

Our strength in numbers couldn't come at a more important time.

With the everchanging way in which we do business new media and social media, video blogs and reports and other reporting responsibilities, content sharing and the like there has never been a more important time for us to join forces. It seems there are new ways and new challenges in how we go about our jobs with each new day. Some recent challenges, such as access to coaches and athletes, remain issues that require our attention.

In this issue of The Fifth Down:
Hicks: With growth comes strength
Enter the Best Writing Contest
Beano Cook wins Bert McGrane Award
Auburn claims Grantland Rice Trophy
Donald Hunt awarded Volney Meece Scholarship
FWAA names 2010 Freshman All-America Team
Rutgers' LeGrand wins Discover Orange Bowl Courage Award

As a group and working together, we have a greater voice, a greater opportunity not only to have our voice heard but also to affect change. The FWAA is more than just an organization of men and women who share the same profession, and with that the same hopes and goals, the same deadlines and issues. It's an organization that has proven over the years to be an advocate for our greater good in a number of areas. It is an organization that has proven to be open-minded, one that takes a stand and offers support when required.

Growing our membership isn't simply about tossing around stats in our support, but in gaining strength, in adding volume to our voice. Maintaining a presence and earning and solidifying that presence should continue to be one of our most important aims.

I look forward to serving as your FWAA president in the coming year and will be aware of the trust placed in me by you in this position. Still, I recognize I'm just one part of the process, one piece of the puzzle. There are countless others who play equally important roles in our progress and our duties. I will be calling on many of you, as I have already done, for suggestions, guidance and assistance over the next year and I have learned that you are always willing to help. For that, I am very appreciative.

The FWAA is filled not only with true professionals, but with many good friends. That is a comfortable feeling for me as we all go forward. Thanks to past president Tim Griffin, not only for his solid work on our behalf, but for his suggestions, helpful hints and assistance. Ron Higgins continues to work overtime for our organization and he has been, and will continue to be, someone I call on often for advice. Others such as Wally Hall, George Schroeder, Ivan Maisel, Tony Barnhart and more have been a great help simply thanks to their friendship and past leadership.

In recent weeks, I have had a chance to see some of our work from a front row seat. The Bronko Nagurski award banquet in Charlotte was a special event and one in which we can be proud. The same is true of the Outland Trophy award banquet in Omaha. Both were well-run, popular events that allow us to have a more public presence.

We are continuing to work with the Marriott folks to continue our VIP program. That is a priority and another way in which membership in the FWAA provides a value. If you have received an email regarding this issue, please reply to it as quickly as possible. This is an issue where our membership numbers could be a key factor. Access will also continue to be a focal point this year with the hopes of making strides in that area.

I am proud to serve you as president; thank you for the opportunity.

If there is anything you wish to talk about or if you have a concern or issue you wish the organization to address, please feel free to contact me at or phone me at (251) 610-7808. Steve Richardson, our executive director, also would like to hear from you at

Mobile Press-Register's Hicks becomes FWAA's 68th president

Award-winning journalist Tommy Hicks has done quite well in the state of Alabama. He was born there 56 years ago and has spent his entire life in the state: growing up, going to college and earning a living as one of the region's best sports writers.

Hicks, a Mobile Press-Register columnist, became the FWAA's 68th President on January 10 in Scottsdale at the association's annual breakfast meeting. He began serving immediately and headed to Omaha for the Outland Trophy Presentation Banquet three days later. His first column appears in this Fifth Down.

Hicks, born in Phenix City, Ala., later graduated from Troy State University (now Troy University) in 1976 with a double major in art and journalism. He obviously decided the newspaper business was an easier way to make a living than being an artist and landed his first job at a weekly, his hometown newspaper.

In 1979 he became Sports Editor of The Selma Times-Journal for a short period and then logged time through 1984 at The Montgomery Advertiser in various capacities inside and outside of sports before becoming the Auburn beat and golf writer at The Anniston Star. He joined his current paper in 1992 and it has been a longtime fit.

Hicks has won numerous FWAA Best Writing Contest Awards. He has been the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association Alabama Sportswriter of the Year three times, most recently in 2008. He has won various awards in the Alabama Sports Writers Association, APSE (Associated Press Sports Editors) and 11-state Sigma Delta Chi region's Green Eyeshade Awards. In 2005, he claimed Troy University's Hall School of Journalism Outstanding (Print) Alumnus Award.

Hicks, the father of a daughter, Maren, plays golf, reads and enjoys music, concerts and movies in his spare time.


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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