The Fifth Down

President's column: The agenda for 2013

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Chris Dufresne
Greetings from your incoming FWAA President.

I hope you have all recovered from the long season. It's amazing what a little deer antler spray, administered orally, can do put some pep in your step. It's an honor to serve as FWAA President in 2013 with so many respected friends and colleagues, and it is my hope to make it through spring practice without committing a secondary violation.

I want to thank Lenn Robbins for his year as FWAA President and congratulate all the award winners with a special shout out to Dick "Grids" Weiss, this year's 40th Bert McGrane recipient.

There is a lot on our plate in this everchanging world of college football and the way we cover it. We need to continue to fight press box issues as our working areas get moved farther away from mid-field as they are subdivided like a condominium complex.

In this issue of The Fifth Down:
Dufresne: The agenda for 2013
Photos: FWAA meetings in South Florida
Alford wins Volney Meece Scholarship
News and notes
Enter the Best Writing Contest

We need to continue to fight access and injury polices that wildly fluctuate from school to school. We need to praise the many who help us do our jobs and hold accountable those who do not. We should reasonably expect to have access to press parking that does not require a dogsled ride to our cars after the game. We need to keep boosters out of the postgame interview process.

We will be working this year on a new ratings system for sports information departments and continue to highlight excellence with our "Super 11" awards. We acknowledge that SIDs are under increasing pressure and are many times constrained by the dictates and whims of their current head coach. This should be an exciting year, with the Rose Bowl hosting the last BCS championship game.

This year's BCS spring meetings will be held in Pasadena and they could impact us as commissioners consider including a FWAA member (probably retired, with very thick skin and an unlisted phone number) as part of the future playoff selection committee. Gina Chappin of the Rose Bowl is also working on an initiative that would involve the FWAA in helping to choose a "Rose Bowl Hall of Fame All-Century Class" in conjunction with this year's 100th game. It is Gina's hope to announce the team in early December. More news as it becomes available.

That's all for now.

Chris Dufresne of LA Times becomes new FWAA President

Chris Dufresne, a long-time sportswriter for the Los Angeles Times, became the Football Writer Association of America's 70th President on Jan. 7 at the organization's annual awards breakfast in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He is the paper's second FWAA President, but the first since Paul Zimmerman in 1958, the year Dufresne was born.

Dufresne, 54, will preside over the FWAA during a college football season in which the Rose Bowl will celebrate its 100th game on Jan. 1, 2014, and five days later host the Bowl Championship Series 1-2 Game in Pasadena.

Dufresne grew up in California and really has never left the state. Just out of high school in 1976 he started loading papers at the Los Angeles Times dock, which is now a cafeteria. He helped do that for five years while attending California State University- Fullerton where he was Sports Editor of the Daily Titan in 1980.

"One of the finest newspaper loaders in the history of newspaper loaders," Dufresne says now in jest. "A terrific but demanding job in which bundles would fall on your head if you weren't careful ... or you could fall off the truck."

Dufresne, while attending college, in his spare time played in a rock band and was the lead singer of the Shades, which performed at roller rinks and sold-out halfway houses. He started at the Los Angeles Times in 1981 and covered high schools.

"Big break was (when I was) named to cover the LA Express of the fledgling USFL in 1983 when I met two very important Youngs," Dufresne remembered. "Steve Young, who became quarterback in 1984 and Sheila Young, former Stanford volleyball player who worked in Express PR and became my wife in 1986."

He was the Los Angeles Rams beat writer from 1986-90, then moved to the Los Angeles Raiders for a couple of seasons, before being named enterprise/features writer, which also has led to his coverage of six Olympic games, primarily as an Alpine Ski writer.

In October 1995, he became the Los Angeles Times' college/football basketball columnist and has held that position since, while also mixing in major golf coverage in the spring and summers.

Dufresne says his best sporting coverage moment was in college football at the Orange Bowl the day after Thanksgiving in 1984. He was standing next to the end zone where Boston College quarterback Doug Flutie heaved his game-winning pass to beat the Miami Hurricanes in one of the greatest finishes ever to a college or professional game.

"My career almost ended before it started," Dufresne recalled. "I was a young kid on the staff who got handed the assignment because no one wanted to travel on Thanksgiving. I almost missed the red eye flight on Thanksgiving night from LAX to Miami. Those were days when you could actually get the flight attendant to open the cabin door after it was closed! I often imagine what would have happened in my career had I missed Flutie's game that day."

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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