The Fifth Down

President's column: The Courage Award and beyond

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Tommy Hicks

One of the most satisfying awards of which the FWAA is involved is the Discover Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award. Each year, our organization honors an individual or team who has demonstrated courage on and/or off the field.

FWAA past president George Schroeder, a columnist with the Eugene Register-Guard, has been deeply involved with the award in recent seasons and has devoted considerable time to the award's success. He has been, along with member Gene Wojciechowski, who originated the idea of the Courage Award, a strong supporter.

George Schroeder believes in the Courage Award.

He doesn't just recognize courage; he displays it as well.

Many who are FWAA members and friends of George have followed the difficult, yet inspiring story of George's young son Christopher, who received a heart transplant shortly after his birth and has bravely undergone numerous healthrelated treatments for essentially all of his young life. Recently, in another chapter of Christopher's story, George donated one of his kidneys to Christopher.

Initial indications are the transplant was a success, and father and son are recovering from the surgery.

Please keep Christopher, George and the entire Schroeder family in your thoughts as they continue to move toward the day when Christopher goes home from the hospital a healthy little boy.

And when you read or hear of the Courage Award, perhaps by way of an announcement of a new candidate for the award or announcement of this year's winner, remember Christopher and his dad George, who would qualify as Courage Award candidates themselves.

In other FWAA matters, we will take part in an on-site visit for the proposed media set-up for this year's BCS national championship game at New Orleans' Superdome in the coming days. The All- State Sugar Bowl's John Sudsbury will conduct the tour. If you have any questions or issues concerning the set-up for this season's game you wish me to pass along, please send me an email at and I will do so.

In this issue of The Fifth Down:
Hicks: The Courage Award and beyond
Plain Dealer's Lesmerises claims first beat writer award
Award news: New schedule announced Eddie Robinson Award; 1962 Outland winner to get his trophy
Markus recalls career in new book

The FWAA and USBWA continue to communicate with Marriott officials in hopes of providing the FWAA membership the VIP rates it was offered by Marriott in recent years. There is the possibility other hotel chains may receive consideration if they are willing to provide discounted rates to FWAA members.

The recent action by South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier against The State newspaper's Ron Morris made national news. It also caught the attention of the FWAA. Although Morris is not an FWAA member, several members suggested the organization make note of Spurrier's actions. In turn, a letter was written and sent to South Carolina athletics director Eric Hyman criticizing Spurrier's actions and calling for Hyman to take steps to make ensure access to each day's news flow for all reporters not be hindered.

This year's Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award will once again be presented at the site of the BCS national championship game. Announcement of the winner will take place on Dec. 15, but a reception for the winner is scheduled on the evening of Jan. 8 in New Orleans, the night before the national championship game is played in the Superdome.

In recent weeks, several members have noted changes taking place at some schools in regard to receiving credentials. Some schools now do not send game credentials along with the parking pass for individual games and in some cases access to the press box on game day, or receiving one's credential at the media entrance, is not allowed until three hours or another designated time prior to kickoff.

This has been an issue for some, especially for night games, when reporting or commenting on other games and results of the day or preparing early columns, notebooks, blogs, features or other work is required. If such a procedure has created issues for you, send a note to me (, Steve Richardson ( or Ron Higgins ( with specific information regarding the school, times and any other pertinent information. We'll try to put together a list and see what, if anything, might be done.

To those who responded to an item in the previous column about serving as a representative at a possible media orientation session, if requested, at schools near your location, thank you and you have not been forgotten. I am waiting to get a list of names and areas, as well as visiting with SIDs and others regarding the idea to gauge interest in setting up such a program through the FWAA.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact me or Steve Richardson.


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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