The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame Annual Awards Dinner, held at New York City's prestigious Waldorf=Astoria, may have been one of the most news-filled events in the six decades of the gala.
Besides the induction of 12 stellar players and two legendary head coaches, the NFF announced the inaugural Legacy Awards, had the ceremonial passing of the Board of Director chairman's baton from Hall of Famer Ron Johnson of Michigan to Hall of Famer Archie Manning of Ole Miss and named Texas scholar-athlete Dallas Griffin as recipient of the 18th annual Draddy Trophy.
Nearly 2,000 partisans, a sellout, packed in to the hotel's ballroom, and were treated to the national anthem and grand finale "God Bless America" by "America's Beloved Tenor" Daniel Rodriguez.
2007 inductees included Oklahoma center Tom Brahaney, Michigan defensive back Dave Brown (posthumously), Clemson linebacker Jeff Davis, Boston College quarterback Doug Flutie, Texas defensive back Johnnie Johnson, Ohio State quarterback Rex Kern, Oregon WR-RB Ahmad Rashad, Indiana running back Anthony Thompson, Houston defensive lineman Wilson Whitley (posthumously), Dartmouth linebacker Reggie Williams, Southern California linebacker Richard Wood, Notre Dame defensive tackle Chris Zorich, Penn State head coach Joe Paterno, and Central Michigan head coach Herb Deromedi. Rhonda Brown and Norma Whitley represented their late husbands on the dais while several family members also attended.
Longtime National Football Foundation benefactors Harold Alfond, who died last month after attending 49 consecutive NFF awards dinners, Fred Kirby and the Atlantic Coast Conference were each selected as recipients of the first Legacy Awards.
The NFF's Gold Medal co-recipients were Heisman Trophy standouts Pete Dawkins of Army and Roger Staubach of Navy. War hero and inspirational Notre Dame running back Rocky Bleier was presented the Distinguished American Award while collegiate bowl games as a group shared the Outstanding Contribution to Amateur Football Award. Florida director of athletics Jeremy Foley garnered the coveted John L. Toner Award for his outstanding accomplishments in athletics administration, and the voice of the Pittsburgh Panthers Bill Hillgrove walked away with the Chris Schenkel Award for his performance as the nation's outstanding American college radio broadcaster. Acclaimed Big Ten Conference official Jim Kemerling became the 24th winner of the Outstanding Football Official Award.
CSTV.com streamed the event live via the web and has archived material available of the historic event. Dignitaries present for the occasion included NFF board members George Steinbrenner and Jerry Jones, NBA commissioner David Stern, former Texas Secretary of State Roger Williams, and national television personality and emcee Chris Fowler, among others.
Liberty Mutual Announces Coach of the Year Finalists
Announced during the NFF's Hall of Fame Press Conference last Tuesday, Liberty Mutual released the names of its 25 finalists for its coveted Coach of the Year Award. Fan voting for the finalists is being conducted Dec. 5-15 online at www.Coachoftheyear.com and counts for 25 percent of the selection process. The divisions and finalists are:
Football Bowl Subdivision: Sylvester Croom, Mississippi State; Mark Richt, Georgia; Ron Zook, Illinois; Rich Brooks, Kentucky; Paul Johnson, Navy; Mark Mangino, Kansas; Jim Tressel, Ohio State; Tom Tuberville, Auburn; Rich Rodriguez, West Virginia; Joe Paterno, Penn State.
Football Championship Subdivision: Jerry Kill , Southern Illinois; Kevin Higgins, The Citadel; John Stiegelmeier, South Dakota State; Mark Farley, Northern Iowa; Matt Ballard, Morehead State.
Division II: Chuck Broyles, Pittsburg State; Dr. George Mihalik, Slippery Rock; Bill O'Boyle, Chadron State (Neb.); Dale Lennon, North Dakota; Pat Behrns, Nebraska-Omaha.
Division III: John Gagliardi, St. John's (Minn.); Joe King, RPI; Eric Hamilton, College of New Jersey; Greg Debeljak, Case Western Reserve; Mike Swider, Wheaton.
Florida QB Tim Tebow became the first sophomore to win the Heisman Trophy in the 72 years of presentations last Saturday night at the Downtown Athletic Club in New York. Tebow is the first quarterback in college football history to run for 20 touchdowns and pass for 20 TDs in one season. He is the third Gators' quarterback along with Steve Spurrier and Danny Wuerffel (NFF Draddy winner) to capture the Heisman hardware.
Last Thursday's Home Depot ESPN College Awards Show denoted the following national individual winners: Maxwell, O'Brien National Quarterback - Tim Tebow, Florida; Walter Camp Foundation Player of Year, Doak Walker - Darren McFadden, Arkansas; Chuck Bednarik - Dan Connor, Penn State; Jim Thorpe - Antoine Cason, Arizona; Fred Biletnikoff - Michael Crabtree, Texas Tech; Outland, Rotary Lombardi, Bronko Nagurski - Glenn Dorsey, LSU; Lou Groza - Thomas Weber, Arizona State; Ray Guy - Durant Brooks, Georgia Tech.
Boston College QB Matt Ryan won the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award. Virginia's Chris Long captured the Hendricks Award while Ohio State's James Laurinaitis won the Dick Butkus Award. The Rimington Trophy went to Jonathan Luigs of Arkansas.
Navy's Zerbin Singleton is the winner of the FedEx Orange Bowl- FWAA Courage Award... The Football Writers Association of America has named the eight finalists for the 2007 Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award to be voted upon by the entire membership. The FWAA, in conjunction with the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, has selected Virginia Tech's Frank Beamer, Air Force's Troy Calhoun, Arizona State's Dennis Erickson, Hawaii's June Jones, Kansas' Mark Mangino, Missouri's Gary Pinkel, Ohio State's Jim Tressel and Illinois' Ron Zook. The winner of the FWAA/Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award will be announced and honored at a reception on Jan. 4, 2008, in New Orleans in conjunction with the BCS Championship Game... Ohio State's Jim Heacock earned the Frank Broyles Award as 2007 top assistant coach in the NCAA FBS... 2007 NFF National Scholar-Athlete Paul Smith of Tulsa won the prestigious Wuerffel Trophy. Fellow Draddy finalist Jacob Tamme of Kentucky captured Southeastern Conference Scholar-Athlete of the Year kudos, while another NFF scholar-athlete Alex Brink of Washington State was selected as team MVP after throwing for 3,818 yards - second-highest season tally in Cougar history.
Georgia Tech named Paul Johnson as its new football mentor last Friday... Ken Niumatalolo was named Navy's new head coach last Saturday... Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden has agreed to a contract extension through 2010... Trent Miles was selected as head coach at Indiana State... Les Miles has signed a contract extension at LSU through 2012... Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy had his contract extended through the 2013 season... Tennessee's Phillip Fulmer received a raise and contract extension through '12... Syracuse has tabbed Mitch Browning as new offensive coordinator... Florida State announced an agreement in principle for a succession plan that elevates offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher to head football coach when Bobby Bowden retires... Florida A&M chose Bill Hayes as director of athletics.
This week's NCAA FCS title competition pits Delaware against Appalachian State Friday at Chattanooga, Tenn. Northwest Missouri State and Valdosta State (Ga.) play in Saturday's NCAA Division II championship in Florence, Ala., and Mount Union (Ohio) and Wisconsin-Whitewater vie in the NCAA Division III championship Saturday at Salem, Va., in the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl. The NAIA Championship in Savannah, Tenn., finds Sioux Falls (S.D.) facing Carroll (Mont.).
South Alabama's Board of Trustees voted to start a varsity football program in 2009 with a full move to NCAA FBS by 2013 in the Sun Belt Conference... Syracuse with assistance from P&C Foods in the area delivered 98 turkeys to area families in the "Touchdowns for Turkeys" appeal... Southeastern Oklahoma State is holding a food and toy drive to assist underserved families in Durant, Okla., and surrounding areas... Toledo is planning festivities for the opening of the new Toledo Athletics Complex and Savage Hall renovation... Candace and Patrick Malloy have endowed Penn State athletics with $5 million... Amy and Jay Hendrickson have contributed $1 million to Elon for the Hendrickson Football Center.
Dick Hightower, 77, All-America center at SMU in 1951, died last week in Ozona, Texas... Former Notre Dame football student-athlete Don Hogan passed away last week... Former Northeast Missouri State SID Melissa Ware, 42, died of cancer.
Key NFF Dates
Jan. 2, 2008: National College Football Hall of Fame Salute at the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl
Jan. 8, 2008: Presentation of the MacArthur Trophy to BCS National Champion