The Fifth Down

Tom Mickle named posthumous winner of Bert McGrane Award

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NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. The late Tom Mickle has been awarded the FWAA's prestigious Bert McGrane Award posthumously, it was announced at the association's annual awards breakfast on Jan. 7.

The McGrane Award, symbolic of the association's Hall of Fame, is presented to an FWAA member who has performed great service to the organization or the writing profession. It is named after McGrane, a Des Moines, Iowa, writer who was the executive secretary of the FWAA from the early 1940s until 1973.

In this issue of The Fifth Down:
President's column: Fight for access goes on
Patterson named Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year
FWAA selects 9th annual Freshman All-America Team
Mickle named posthumous winner of Bert McGrane Award
Alabama claims Grantland Rice Trophy
Kansan wins Volney Meece Scholarship
UConn wins FedEx Orange Bowl Courage Award

The 55-year-old Mickle, who was the Executive Director of Florida Citrus Sports at the time of his death in 2006, was a long-time FWAA member who championed writers' causes.

When Mickle was an assistant commissioner in the Atlantic Coast Conference, he was instrumental in developing what is now the Bowl Championship Series. And, at the time, Mickle was the point person who encouraged the FWAA to move its meetings to the championship game site each year and worked out the details for the move to happen in the mid 1990s.

But just as significant was his passion for the FWAA's All-America team. Shortly after he went to Florida Citrus Sports in 2002, Mickle's group started hosting the FWAA All-America Team celebration on the floor of the Citrus Bowl Stadium. Eventually, the All-America event was moved to the Disney property and aired on ABC Television.

Thanks to Mickle and his initial ties with ABC, the FWAA All-America team is still announced on ABC/ESPN each year.

A native of Media, Pa., Mickle attended Duke University and graduated in 1972. He remained there and worked in several capacities in sports information and the Varsity Club, the Blue Devils' fundraising group for former athletes. He joined the ACC and became Commissioner Gene Corrigan's right hand man. He helped negotiate blockbuster television deals in basketball and football for the ACC and the league's first series of bowl agreements.

On the back of a cocktail napkin, Mickle sketched the beginnings of what has turned out to be the BCS. The Bowl Coalition started in 1992 and eventually became the BCS.

In 2002, Mickle was named to replace Chuck Rohe as executive director of Florida Citrus Sports. He held that post until his death. Shortly thereafter, the BCS established an internship program in Mickle's memory. In late 2006, the Citrus Bowl renamed its press box after Mickle. A brushed aluminum plaque that features Mickle's face now resides between the stadium's main television and radio booths.

Mickle's widow, Jill, will accept the Bert McGrane Award this summer in South Bend, Ind., during the National Football Foundation's Hall of Fame enshrinement weekend. Mickle's name will be placed in the College Football Hall of Fame's rotunda on a special plaque that includes the names of all the other McGrane winners.

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