HOUSTON (FWAA)-- Austin American-Statesman columnist Kirk Bohls has been named the FWAA's 2024 Bert McGrane winner and will be honored at a dinner in Houston tonight hosted by the National Football Foundation and presented by Hanold Associates Executive Search during festivities leading up to the College Football Playoff National Championship on Monday night.
"I am truly humbled and honored by this award that has recognized so many friends and colleagues of mine," Bohls said. "I know of no sportswriter who gets into this line of work to win awards or make a lot of money or become famous. We all love the job, love what we do and can't imagine doing anything else at least most of the time. I have been lucky enough to work in this profession for 50 years, which sounds like a year to retire except for the fact that I never really found much time to develop a hobby in between all the travel and hours we spend at our craft and a wonderful family.....Maybe I'll play golf in another life."
Bohls is a Hall of Famer in the FWAA's opinion. The McGrane Award is the FWAA's highest honor and goes to a member who has made great contributions to the FWAA and to college football. It is the association's Hall of Fame, and the recipient is recognized at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta. McGrane, from the the Des Moines Register, was the association's first executive director in the early 1940's until 1973. Like McGrane in Iowa, Kirk is a mainstay in sports writing in Texas,
"No one covering college sports has done it longer, better or with more enthusiasm than Kirk Bohls," said Dallas Morniing News columnist Kevin Sherrington, who will introduce Bohls tonight and is a long-time friend. "He's the Energizer Bunny of sportswriters. You can't turn him off, try as you might. Most of the people he has covered simply waved the white flag."
"Kirk Bohls has been an Austin media legend for decades, covering the Longhorns with his full-court press approach," said Steve Richardson, FWAA Executive Director. "Anything to know about Texas, ask Kirk. But what is remarkable about Kirk is his thorughness covering any subject, his attention to detail. I think once subjects go through an interview with Kirk they know what a real interview is. No softballs are thrown their way by him."
Kirk has been an FWAA member for many years, but more importantly has been a driving force behind the FWAA's All-America Team selection for the last two decades. He was a strong proponent of adding a second team. And in 2013, the FWAA did.
"I had been resistent to adding a second team," Richardson said. "But Kirk was very persusive--as he usually is. And with Phil Steele, another long-time committee member for the All-America team on his side, it finally happened. The Cotton Bowl jumped aboard as a presenting sponsor a few years ago and the rest is history. With 54 players and an iconic bowl aiding in promotion, it gives us a striking presentation for the second longest continuually published team in major-college football (since 1944)."
Of course, Kirk is an encyclopedia on college football, particularly the Longhorns. He is a native Texan and UT grad. His father even played football at Texas in the 1930's. On May 29, 1973 he went to work at The Statesman and has never left. He covered his first UT football game in 1976 in Darrell Royal's final season, a 14-13 loss at Boston College. He covered preps for his first three years at The Statesman after graduation.
"Staying half a century in our business is a bit unorthodx," Bohls said. "But to do it at all one place borders on just bizzare."
Bohls has had a front-row press seat for Texas-OU at the Cotton Bowl for a half-century, breaking in with former SID Jones Ramsey.
"I would say he more tolerated me than befriended me," Bohls said. "But he was a big help. He even invited me to a few post-game, wind-down sessions with Darrell at the Villa Capri Room 2001. I onced asked Jones the difference between his early years as A&M SID and the late 1970's, and he said, 'working with (bleep) like you.' I admit I spring from Watergate, Vietnam War protest origins and came into the profession with an eye out for investigations and injustices, and that often set me apart with some at UT. Still does, in fact."
Despite the difficulties covering teams these days, with less access to players and coaches than earlier years, Bohls still loves the job.
"It's a rewarding lifestyle," he said. "It's an industry where you compete like crazy with your peers. At the same time you're making lifetime friends with them, and you still get a little bit of an adrenaline rush to see your byline in the paper. It's a business I will sorely miss when I retire after another 50 years."
Founded in 1941, the Football Writers Association of America consists of journalists, broadcasters, publicists, photographers and key executives in all areas of college football. The FWAA works to govern media access and gameday operations while presenting awards and honors, including an annual All-America team. For more information about the FWAA and its programs and initiatives, contact Executive Director Steve Richardson at 214-870-6516 or email@example.com.