DALLAS (FWAA) – The Mississippi State football
team is the weekly nominee for the 2010 Discover Orange Bowl
Courage Award, to be announced at the end of the season by the
Football Writers Association of America.
The Bulldogs are dealing with the tragic death of a teammate
earlier this month.
Nick Bell, 20, a sophomore defensive end from Bessemer, Ala.,
died Nov. 2 after a brief battle with cancer. Bell had played in
the Bulldogs' first four games, starting two, but after experiencing
headaches and weakness in a hand, doctors found a mass on Bell's
brain. The diagnosis was synovial sarcoma, a rare and aggressive
form of cancer.
Bell underwent surgery Oct. 1. Doctors were hopeful Bell would
return to football after treatment was completed. Wearing a camouflage
hat, he watched Mississippi State's win over UAB from the sidelines
Oct. 23. But before chemotherapy could begin, his health worsened.
When Bell noticed he couldn't touch his thumb to his index finger
and his vision was blurry, he was rushed to the hospital Oct. 31
for emergency surgery to remove another mass from his brain, according
to the Birmingham News. Buses from Starkville, Miss., carried more
than 50 teammates and coaches to the Birmingham, Ala., hospital,
but Bell did not regain consciousness.
"We grabbed a bus and loaded up a bunch of guys," coach Dan Mullen
told the Associated Press. "I think it's great that a lot of our
players got to go over there, see the situation and get to say their
His teammates have persevered. Despite losing both games (to
ranked opponents Alabama and Arkansas) since his death, Mississippi
State is 7-4 heading into the annual "Egg Bowl" battle with in-state
The school has honored Bell's life in several ways. At last Saturday's
home game with Arkansas, Bell's mother, Linda, ended an emotional
pregame ceremony with MSU's greatest tradition, raising a cowbell
above her head. The MSU marching band honored Bell with a formation
that spelled out "36," his jersey number. Each 36-yard line was
painted black rather than the traditional white, and the number
36 was painted on the field inside a maroon-and-white circle.
The Bulldogs are wearing patches with Bell's name and number
on their jerseys. Against Arkansas, tight end Kendrick Cook wore
Bell's jersey number.
"Nick lived his life like a champion and will always be remembered
in our hearts that way," Mullen said in a statement released by
the school. "During this impossible time, we pray for Nick's family
and all those he has touched."
the fifth straight year, the Football Writers Association of
America and the Discover Orange Bowl will announce a
weekly nominee for the Discover Orange Bowl Courage Award
each Wednesday during the season. A blue-ribbon panel will determine
the award's recipient from those weekly nominees. The recipient
of the Courage Award will be announced in December and presented
with the trophy in conjunction with this year's Discover Orange
The Courage Award was created by ESPN The Magazine's senior writer
Gene Wojciechowski, also an FWAA member. A select group of FWAA
members vote on the recipient each year. The requirements for nomination
include displaying courage on or off the field, including overcoming
an injury or physical handicap, preventing a disaster or living
Previous winners of the FWAA's Courage Award are the Connecticut
Huskies (2009), Tulsa's Wilson Holloway (2008), Navy's Zerbin Singleton
(2007), Clemson's Ray Ray McElrathbey (2006), the Tulane Green Wave
(2005), Memphis' Haracio Colen (2004), San Jose State's Neil Parry
(2003) and Toledo's William Bratton (2002).
The Orange Bowl Committee is a not-for-profit, 343-member,
primarily-volunteer organization. It is a self-sustaining, independent
organization that supports and produces activities and events that
enhance the image, economy and culture of South Florida. The Orange
Bowl Festival features a year-round schedule of events culminating
with the Discover Orange Bowl on January 3, 2011. Other OBC core
events include the MetroPCS Orange Bowl Basketball Classic, Orange
Bowl Youth Football Alliance presented by Sports Authority, Orange
Bowl International Tennis Championships and Orange Bowl Sailing
Regatta Series. For more information on the 2010-11 Orange Bowl
Festival and its events, including promotional and volunteer opportunities
through the Ambassador Program, visit www.orangebowl.org.
The Football Writers Association of America, a non-profit organization
founded in 1941, consists of more than 1,200 men and women who cover college football
for a living. The membership includes journalists, broadcasters and publicists,
as well as key executives in all the areas that involve the game. The FWAA works
to govern areas that include gameday operations, major awards and its annual All-America
team. For more information about the FWAA and its award programs, contact Steve
Richardson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 972-713-6198.
2010 Orange Bowl Courage Award Nominees
• Sept. 29: Zac Etheridge, Auburn and Rodney Scott,
• Oct. 6: Jon Hoese, Minnesota
• Oct. 13: Marquez Herrod, Colorado
• Oct. 20: Matt Anderson, North Dakota State
• Oct. 27: Jamie Hampton, Troy
• Nov. 3: Ricky Dobbs, Navy
• Nov. 17: Andrew, Colter and Paul Phillips
• Nov. 24: Mississippi State Bulldogs
• Dec. 1: Eric LeGrand, Rutgers