The Fifth Down

President's column: It's about to be fun

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Chris Dufresne

We here at FWAA are thrilled the season has started because at least now the daily Johnny Manziel stories will be offset by a few actual football games.

This figures to be one of the most exciting falls in recent FWAA history as we count down the final year of the BCS on our way to the celebration of the 100th Rose Bowl game.

The FWAA and Rose Bowl have united for what I think is a very special project the naming of the All-Century Rose Bowl class.

Gina (Chappin) Lehe (her new married name, pronounced "Leahy," like the Notre Dame coach) brought the idea to FWAA at our pre-BCS title game meeting in South Florida last January and we basically said, as Johnny Football has said so often, "Where do we sign?"

Remember to book your travel through

The idea was to compile a list of prominent writers, historians and broadcast types and have them vote on an all-time Rose Bowl team by decade.

The team would then be released, decade by decade, every Sunday during the season with a final unveiling and tribute to the entire squad in early December.

There will be one player and one coach named per decade and then one top overall coach and player for the bowl's entire history.

Gina sent me an early version of the voter list in late August, and I must say it sort of blew me away.

This has to be one of the most impressive panel assembled since "What's My Line."

You can start with longtime Bay Area scribe Art Spander, who covered the first Rose Bowl in 1902 and wrote in his nextday column that the game was so dangerous they should switch to chariot races, which they did.

Ok, that's a fib, Spander didn't cover the first game, but he's attended every Rose Bowl since 1954 or something. If you want to know more, ask him in the press box next January and then pull up a chair.

The list was still being finalized as I write this, but what's not to like?

You have Bud Withers out of the Pacific Northwest and Dick Weiss out of Philly and the esteemed Phil Steele. Phil has been told his ballot must be submitted in larger type than he uses for his pre-season magazine or his vote will be discarded.

I could go on and on so I will. Mark Blaudschun, Dave Sittler and Ivan Maisel are on the list. Ivan grew up in Alabama and attended Stanford, so expect a heavy voting dose of Pop Warner, Bear Bryant and Jim Plunkett.

Former Pac-10 Commissioner Tom Hansen is lending his expertise as well as my former LA Times colleague Mike Downey.

Downey boasts complete geographical Rose Bowl open-field coverage as he grew up in Big Ten shoulders town Chicago, worked in Big Ten town Detroit and then moved to Pac-10 town Los Angeles.

Downey is also married to Dean Martin's daughter. Dean, of course, was a great crooner and associate commissioner of the old "Rat Pac-8."

Anyway, this should be fun, which is why we got into this business ... remember?

Maisel leads winners in 2013 FWAA Best Writing Awards

Veteran Ivan Maisel of claimed his fourth FWAA writing first-place during his career in the results just announced for the 21st annual FWAA Best Writing Contest. Matt Hayes of the Sporting News also won first place, picked up an honorable mention and was one of three writers to be recognized in two different categories. USA Today's George Schroeder and Aaron Brenner, now with the Charleston Post and Courier, each received two honorable mentions. Ben Frederickson, now at Fox Sports Midwest, and Adam Lucas of Tar Heel Monthly captured the other first places in the contest.

Complete Best Writing Contest results


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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