The Fifth Down

President's column
Updates galore

There's some good news on the endangered species we know as media guides.

The NCAA's recruiting cabinet recently threw its support behind Proposal No. 2009-42. You know it as the SEC's proposal to "prohibit distribution of media guides to recruits" but more importantly, to allow schools to print media guides for, well, media.

Meanwhile, the committee took no action on a competing proposal from the Pac-10 that would have prohibited printed media guides. That proposal (endorsed by the Big 12) was pitched as a cost-saving measure. I think it was short-sighted and ill-conceived.

Short-sighted because, regardless of savings, we're talking pennies compared to the amount of revenue generated by football at many schools (especially if you consider the television revenue). And the cost-cutting comes at the expense of publicity. There's no tangible way to make this case, but making it more difficult for the media to access information isn't a good long-term strategy.

In this issue of The Fifth Down:
President's column
One writer's take on voting in the AP poll
Reflecting on McGrane tributes
Meece Scholarship nominations are open

Worse, the Pac-10's proposal would prevent other schools from printing media guides. It's one thing to save money by cutting out the guides, but if another school doesn't need or want to do the same, why should it have to?

The SEC proposal is better for working journalists. Also, it simply makes more sense. Prohibiting the guides from being sent to recruits would allow schools to strip out the recruiting sections those huge, worthless sections at the front of the guides that had begun to crowd out, you know, the actual information.

Get rid of the recruiting sections and the rushing records go back into the guide. The guides don't have to be as elaborate and fancy we don't need glossy pages or three colors to get the job done.

End the recruiting aspect, and no school should feel compelled to print a media guide just to "keep up with the Joneses." At least not for recruiting purposes. But if a school sees competitors making information easily accessible to the media and feels pressure to do the same, is that a bad thing?

John Humenik, the executive director of CoSIDA, made a presentation to the recruiting cabinet at its meeting last June. Although Humenik believes the printed media guide is on its way out, and will eventually be replaced by digital formats, whether online or on your laptop's hard drive, he favored the SEC's proposal and said the consensus among many media relations directors was also in favor.

The proposal will wend its way through the NCAA's channels, but it will eventually come up for a vote. When it does, the recruiting cabinet's support will be a positive. Other important groups will have a say, as well. Humenik and the Knight Foundation's Malcolm Moran recently met with athletic directors, and the media guide was among the topics.

If you feel strongly about the issue, talk with the media relations directors and athletic directors you deal with and let them know how you feel and why.

Some odds and ends

● Update on the access battles: Montana coach Bobby Hauck has cut off access to the school's student newspaper because of a recent news story about an alleged assault by two Montana players.

Hauck has refused to answer questions posed by reporters from The Kaimin and has belittled them for asking. His players have followed suit (Hauck said that he did not instruct them not to deal with The Kaimin and that it was their decision).

Hauck's actions are childish, unprofessional and unbecoming of a highly paid state employee. One of our members, ESPN's Pat Forde, put it well. "Nobody likes a bully, and that's what Hauck has been to an easy target," Forde wrote.

● Many of you have heard that Shawn Schoeffler and the Fiesta Bowl have parted ways. Schoeffler has long been a good friend to those of us covering college football, a professional who cultivated personal relationships with many of us.

Schoeffler plans to take some time to evaluate his options. I wouldn't be surprised to see him back in college football in some way, someday.

Meanwhile, the Fiesta Bowl's media relations operation remains in good hands with Tony Alba. He worked for the organization in the late 1980s, and he has been a volunteer during recent years.

● One of the more rewarding aspects of my involvement with FWAA has been the opportunity to coordinate the FedEx Orange Bowl/FWAA Courage Award. We deal a lot with "bad" news; it has been great to get to handle some of the good stuff.

Often, worthy candidates operate behind the scenes. Media relations directors typically nominate the candidates, but if you've got an idea, please feel free to send it along. E-mail me at gschroeder@aol.com.

I noted these items in the last issue of The Fifth Down, but they bear repeating:

● The FWAA's newly-formed ethics committee, chaired by Ron Higgins, my immediate predecessor, is in place. The Knight Foundation's Malcolm Moran is also serving on the committee. The FWAA's board of directors has adopted a code of ethics, and the committee is the first stop for resolution of conflicts between FWAA members and the schools we cover.

● The FWAA is seeking nominations for the "Super 11" SID honors. Tim Griffin of ESPN.com, the FWAA's first vice-president, is chairing the committee, but we'd like members' input as to the SID staffs doing the best jobs in some cases, navigating the tough middle ground between coaches and media. A list of the main criteria is available.

2009-10 FWAA Awards Calendar

Mon., Nov. 9: All-America defense ballots sent to membership
Sun., Nov. 15: All-America defense selection committee call
Mon., Nov. 16: All-America offense/special teams ballots sent to membership
Thu., Nov. 19: Announcement of five Bronko Nagurski Trophy finalists
Sun., Nov. 22: All-America offense/special teams selection committee call
Mon., Nov. 23: Announcement of three Outland Trophy finalists
Mon., Dec. 7: Bronko Nagurski Trophy presentation (Charlotte, N.C.)
Wed,. Dec. 9: Announcement of Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year finalists; ballot sent to membership
Thu., Dec. 10: Announcement of Outland Trophy winner (Home Depot ESPNU College Football Awards Show)
Sat., Dec. 12: Announcement of 25-man FWAA All-America Team (ABC-TV)
Tue., Jan. 5: Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year presentation/reception (Los Angeles, Calif.)
Tue., Jan. 5: FedEx Orange Bowl Courage Award on-field presentation (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
Fri., Jan. 8: Grantland Rice Trophy announcement/presentation (Tentative, Los Angeles, Calif.)
Thu., Jan. 14: Outland Trophy presentation (Omaha, Neb.)

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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