The Fifth Down

President's column: Covering a 'spectacular' game

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Lenn Robbins
This has been one of the most challenging years in college football history. Some of the elite programs around the country have faced difficult issues. Realignment continues to have fans wondering if they should hold off on purchasing their next T-shirt. And the future of how the national champion will be decided remains a contentious issue.

But the game itself is spectacular. The players are dazzling. The fans are passionate. And the sights, smells and emotions that are there for the senses make college football unique it is part World Cup, part NFL, part high school football.

It is with that backdrop that I write to say how proud and humbled I am to have been chosen to serve your FWAA president for the next year. My job is simple: I am here to serve you, each of the more than 1,200 members that make up this important organization.

Before I go further I went to thank last year's president Tommy Hicks, who assured me that even a reporter from a city that doesn't have an FBS team, can be president. Past president Dick Weiss, of that other tabloid newspaper, assured me he's ready to lend a hand. And Tony Barnhart, who says I have an accent, has also promised his guidance.

In this issue of The Fifth Down:
Robbins: Covering a 'spectacular' game | Robbins named FWAA president
Sittler is Bert McGrane Award winner
Alabama gives SEC its sixth straight Grantland Rice Trophy
Michigan State cancer survivor wins Discover Orange Bowl Courage Award
Nebraska youth earns Volney Meece Scholarship
Enter the collegepressbox.com Best Writing Contest

And, of course, where would the FWAA be without Steve 'Tiger' Richardson and, before him, Volney Meece, who I also had the pleasure of working with? Their devotion is without equal.

Although college football remains a wonderful part of the American sports landscape, there are issues we in print, magazine and the Internet are forced to contend with, sometimes on a daily basis. I believe many of these issues can be addressed with better communication, starting with the FWAA.

I am hoping my friends on the board will agree to quarterly conference calls to discuss issues in a more timely fashion. This might enable us to make a positive impact and avoid trying to tackle all the issues once a year.

And I hope coaches, SIDs, conference commissioners and conference media relations personnel will be willing to discuss, both this offseason and at league preseason media events this summer, opportunities to create a healthier atmosphere between the media and coaches. This might help facilitate better access.

The FWAA needs to show it will not be taken lightly, either by the people-service industries to whom we offer millions of dollars in travel and lodging business, and to the colleges and universities whom we provide the most thorough coverage on a day-to-day basis. That is public relations that can't be bought and must continue to be respected.

I also believe it is time to mend fences between print and Internet sites. At the end of the day, responsible reporters, regardless of affiliation, are seeking to provide insightful, accurate information in as timely a fashion as possible.

In closing I'd like to make this pledge and request. I will do my best to honor those that have held this position before me and serve those of you who miss holidays, birthdays, anniversaries and countless other family functions for the job and the love of the game.

I am here for you. You can reach me via cell 917-337-3530 or email lennrobb@aol.com. I will try my best to respond in a prompt manner. My request is that you reach out. I can't reach out individually to each of you, and for those of you who read my weekly college football picks, I'm clearly not clairvoyant.

New York Post's Lenn Robbins becomes FWAA's 69th president

Lenn Robbins of the New York Post became the FWAA's 69th president on Jan. 9 in New Orleans at the association's annual breakfast before the BCS 1-2 game.

Robbins, 52, is the first president from the New York Post and the first FWAA president from the New York area since Dick Weiss of the New York Daily News in 2004.

Robbins is a New Yorker through and through, seldom straying far from that area or the Northeast corridor. "Some of it is the ankle bracelet. I am only allowed to go so far," quipped Robbins, who went to high school at Canarsie in Brooklyn and graduated from Stony Brook University on Long Island in 1981 with a bachelor of arts in psychology and a minor in journalism.

Robbins' high school was a basketball powerhouse, winning the City Championship in 1976 during Robbins' junior year. So he had an early brush with an outstanding team.

Two of the stars on that 1976 title team, Ty Ladson and Curtis Redding, did leave the area and went to the Little Apple, Manhattan, Kan., and played for Kansas State. Their high school coach, Mark Reiner, went with them as an assistant for the Wildcats, although Redding later transferred back to St. John's.

"It was a package deal," said Robbins. "I will take two players, and then I will coach."

Robbins began his journalism career in 1982 at the Greenwich Times/Stamford Advocate. From 1985-90, he covered sports for the Bergen Record, interrupted by a stint at The National (1990-92). He returned to The Record for a second tour of duty that lasted until 1999. Then he landed at the New York Post, becoming a nationally recognized columnist covering college football and basketball.

Robbins, who is actively involved in several charities, has won numerous writing awards, including the Jim Murray Outstanding Sportswriter Award and the Met Basketball Writers Mike Cohen Good Guy Award. He has frequently appeared on television/cable in Cold Pizza, First Take and SNY over the years.

Robbins, whose favorite food is eggplant parmesan, has a passion for gardening on two terraces off his Manhattan apartment. He and his wife, Amy Adler, a professor of law at NYU, have one child, Harry, 7, and might be seen dining at Il Vagabondo on special occasions.

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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