The Fifth Down

President's column: Time to push forward

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Tommy Hicks

And we're off.

The beginning of the college football season and the latest round of conference realignment stories is in the books (and newspapers, blogs, Tweets, emails, sports radio talk podcasts). I trust everyone made it through the summer. As with all things in our profession, it is time to push forward to the next game, the next story, the next web post.

This has been a busy time for the FWAA as well. Our membership roster is holding strong at about 1,200 and while the focus of our recruiting efforts for new members has passed, keep in mind that we accept new members throughout the year, so continue to encourage your coworkers and friends who may not be members to join our number. It's a simple online process and is beneficial to the members and the organization.

I'm sure you have all received your copy of the 2011-12 directory and have noticed that it is perhaps the best directory the FWAA has produced. The return of the school listings in alphabetical order regardless of conference affiliation has been overwhelmingly well-received and the information provided in its pages is of great value to everyone. For that, we extend a huge pat on the back and attaboy to our friend Ted Gangi, who worked tirelessly to produce the directory and its contents that help us all do our jobs in a more efficient manner.

In this issue of The Fifth Down:
Hicks: Time to push forward
Best Writing Contest winners

Throughout the season some members will be called upon to participate in projects closely associated with our organization. These projects not only continue to keep our name before college football fans, they are also additional ways in which we play a part throughout the season. These efforts include the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl National Team of the Week voting and the National Defensive Player of the Week voting.

Many members have asked about the progress of the FWAA's negotiations with the Marriott to reinstate the discount program previously available to our members. Trust that all efforts are being made toward a resolution and we will make everyone aware of the results of those efforts when an answer has been reached.

If you have a moment in the coming days, I would appreciate your feedback concerning a possible future project. Over the years I have been asked to participate in media awareness or freshmen/ team media orientation sessions at various schools. Often, I (or another sportswriter) am joined by a TV and radio representative to speak to college or high school teams or freshmen classes about our jobs and how we go about conducting interviews. The main area of concentration in these sessions has been to educate athletes, not only on how we go about our jobs, but what to expect in an interview situation.

Mock interviews can be used to demonstrate the difference in questions asked on deadline and those asked in non-deadline situations. We have the chance to let athletes and coaches know the types of questions they might expect from us as well as explain our jobs to them in more detail, which I have found often leads to better communication among all parties.

My question to the membership is this: is there any interest among our number in creating a list of members who would make themselves available for such sessions? The plan would be to have a few writers in each area of the country who would be willing to participate in a media awareness/orientation session if requested. Obviously, the more participants the better so that no one writer or one news outlet is slammed with requests. The FWAA would make schools aware that member writers in their area were available for such projects and would assist in connecting the school and writer.

If you believe this is a worthwhile project to undertake in the future or if you believe it would be a waste of our time and efforts, please send a note to me (thixx25@aol.com) or executive director Steve Richardson (tiger@fwaa.com). If you would be willing to take part in such a project in your area, let us know that as well. Again, this is only an idea for which we are seeking your feedback.

Thanks to everyone for your help as we move forward this season. I have been lucky to have the assistance of some respected and engaged people in my short time as president and the experience has been a positive one for me, as I fully expected would be the case. If I can do anything for you or if you have a FWAA issue you feel deserves attention, please contact me at thixx25@aol.com or on my cell phone at 251-610-7808. Thanks again.

Have a great season.

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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