FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (FWAA) – The Orlando Sentinel's Alan
Schmadtke became the FWAA's 62nd president on this morning during the association’s
annual award breakfast before the FedEx Orange Bowl's national title game.
Schmadtke, 42, is the fourth FWAA president from a paper in the state
of Florida, following Tom McEwen (Tampa Tribune, 1973), the late
Bill McGrotha (Tallahassee Democrat, 1990) and Jack Hairston (Gainesville
Schmadtke, a 1984 Tennessee graduate, has been a writer or editor for
the Sentinel for nearly 19 years and has definite opinions on the way college
football should be covered.
Although born in suburban Chicago, Schmadtke was raised in Knoxville,
Tenn., and has had a passion for college football since age 9. That's when
he attended his first college football game – a Tennessee victory over Tulsa
at Neyland Stadium in 1971.
He eventually melded his love for college football with journalism.
Less than a month out of school, he took a job at the Alabama Journal,
where he covered high schools, small colleges, Alabama and Auburn football
and was a general-assignment reporter and occasional columnist.
At age 23, Schmadtke became the youngest sports editor in Alabama when
he took over a staff that put out an afternoon paper during the week and
merged with the Montgomery Advertiser to produce weekend papers.
By 1986, Schmadtke had moved to the Sentinel and met his wife during
his first day of work at the paper's Lake County bureau, where he covered
high schools and Stetson. In 1989 he moved to Orlando and began covering
Central Florida and eventually became the paper’s lead college reporter.
In 1991, he moved from Orlando to Tallahassee and covered Florida State
until mid 1999. Schmadtke wrote the official book of the Seminoles' championship
season in 1993.
When the Seminoles played for a national title at the 1999 Fiesta Bowl,
Schmadtke watched alma mater Tennessee claim its first national title in
47 years by beating the Seminoles. He then covered the losing locker room
in his final game as a Florida State beat reporter.
Schmadtke tried his hand at management as an assistant sports editor
for two seasons. He was charged with supervising content for Florida State,
Central Florida, Orlando Magic and golf beats and coordinated the department’s
hefty group of freelance correspondents.
But Schmadtke was lured back to the press box when he coordinated coverage
for the 2001 BCS title game at the Orange Bowl. So in 2001, he gave up his
assistant sports editor's title and returned to covering Central Florida,
which now has Division I-A football and Division I basketball programs.