Freeze Steps Down as ASU Head Football Coach

JONESBORO (12/5/11) – Arkansas State Director of Athletics Dr. Dean Lee announced Monday that Hugh Freeze has stepped down as the Red Wolves’ head football coach to take the head coaching position at Ole Miss.

Freeze was named ASU’s 27th all-time head coach on Dec. 2, 2010, after originally being announced as the team’s offensive coordinator earlier that year on Feb. 26. The Red Wolves finished the 2011 regular season with a 10-2 overall and 8-0 Sun Belt Conference record under Freeze. A-State won the Sun Belt Conference title and will play in the 2012 Bowl on Jan. 8 in Mobile, Ala.

“We are grateful to Coach Freeze for the outstanding job he did the last two seasons on our football staff, specifically this year as our head coach,” said Lee. “Our football program was obviously able to accomplish a great deal in a short amount of time under his watch, and we certainly wish him the best in his future endeavors.”

ASU, which currently has the nation’s second longest winning streak at nine games,?is receiving 18 votes in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll and nine in the USA?Today Coaches Top 25 Poll. The Red Wolves are also No. 34 in the latest BCS?rankings after winning 10 regular-season games for the first time since 1975. Freeze is the 14th FBS?first-year head coach to ever win 10 regular-season games.

With an unblemished league record in 2011, A-State became just the third school in Sun Belt history to ever go undefeated in Sun Belt play. The Red Wolves went undefeated at home (6-0) for the first time since 2005 and won four road games for the first time since 1986.

The Red Wolves broke nine offensive school records in 2010 and ranked No. 43 in the nation in total offense with Freeze serving as offensive coordinator. The 2011 squad is ranked No. 25 in the nation this year after becoming the first team in school history to record over 5,000 yards of total offense.

Lee said a national search for a new head head coach will begin immediately and that ASU would utilize the services of Carr Sports Associates, Inc. to assist with the search. Carr Sports Associates, Inc. is one of the nation’s most trusted resources for solutions regarding leadership placement and program advancement exclusively within Intercollegiate Athletics. Carr Sports Associates, Inc. has assisted ASU?with former coaching hires such as men’s basketball head coach John Brady and head baseball coach Tommy Raffo.

“We have an extensive list of candidates for our head football coaching position, and we are committed to filling the position with the candidate who is the very best fit for Arkansas State and who can build on the foundation that has been laid here,” said Lee. “We want to move as quickly as possible with the search, but we will not limit ourselves by putting any kind of exact time expectations on the search.”

Lee also named ASU?assistant coach David Gunn the interim head coach, effective immediately. Gunn is in his 10th season as the running backs coach at A-State and was also named Director of Player Development prior to the start of the 2011 season.

“We want to make a smooth transition with a new hire while remaining focused on finishing the year strong academically, in our recruiting efforts and in our bowl game preparation,” said Lee. “Coach Gunn is a proven coach with a great deal of experience and we have a tremendous amount of respect for him. We are confident in the coaching staff that remains in place and that our football student-athletes will finish this extremely special season in a very positive manner.”


Jerry Scott
Arkansas State University
Asst. AD / Sports Information Dir.
870-972-3405 (office)
870-243-6021 (cell)


A-State Set to Face Northern Illinois in Bowl

JONESBORO (12/4/11) – The Sun Belt Conference champion Arkansas State football team will play Mid-American Conference champion Northern Illinois in the Bowl, it was announced Sunday after the Huskies accepted an invitation to the Jan. 8 bowl game at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Ala.

The Red Wolves accepted an official invitation to play in the Bowl game on Nov. 19 following its victory over Middle Tennesssee. A-State, currently with nation’s second longest winning streak at nine games, ended its regular season yesterday with a 45-14 victory over Troy to improve its overall record to 10-2 and complete its Sun Belt Conference slate with an unblemished 8-0 mark.

Northern Illinois, which is 10-3 overall, defeated Ohio University 23-20 last Friday night to claim its first ever MAC title. Arkansas State is receiving 18 votes in the AP?Top 25 Poll and Northern Illinois 7, while the Red Wolves picked up nine votes in the USA?Today Top 25 Coaches Poll to the Huskies 14. A-State is No. 34 in the latest BCS rankings and NIU is No. 36.

The Bowl will mark the eighth all-time meeting between ASU?and NIU, with the Huskies holding a 6-1 advantage in the series. The two teams played all seven games between 1990 and 1996, including three as Big West Conference opponents between 1993 and 1995.

A-State’s lone victory in the series came 28-21 in 1995, while Northern Illinois picked up a 31-30 victory in the last meeting in 1996.

Tickets for the Bowl are priced at $45 and are available by clicking on the “Bowl Central” advertisement at the top of the ASU?Athletics Web site,, or by calling the ASU?Ticket Office at 870-972-2781 or 888-ASU-FANS.

Seat location for the Bowl within the ASU seating block is based on Red Wolf Club donor level and priority points within each donor level. The initial seat allocation will begin on Monday, December 12. To ensure a position in the first round of seat placement, tickets should be ordered by Friday, December 9 at 4:30 PM.


Jerry Scott
Arkansas State University
Asst. AD / Sports Information Dir.
870-972-3405 (office)
870-243-6021 (cell)

Whitewater Football, NCAA Championship Round 3

Levell Coppage (Oak Park, IL/Oak Park)‘s record-tying four touchdowns and fourth 200+ rushing game of the season, and a UW-Whitewater defense that held the number one scoring team 34 points under its season average keyed the Warhawks’ 34-14 win over Salisbury University in a NCAA III playoff quarterfinal game at Perkins Stadium in Whitewater, Wisconsin Saturday.  UW-W, 13-0, will host the University of Saint Thomas, 13-0 and 45-10 winner of Saint John Fisher in a quarterfinal played in Saint Paul, Minnesota Saturday, December 10 at a time to be announced later.

Whitewater’s first possession began at their own 30.  Nine plays later Coppage, the second leading rusher in NCAA III history with 7,594 yards, scored on a ten yard run at 5:44 to put Whitewater up 7-0.

The second time UW-W got the ball was late in the first quarter.  The drive spilled over into the second quarter, senior quarterback Matt Blanchard (Lake Zurich, IL/Lake Zurich) connecting with junior wideout Tyler Huber (Mukwonago/North Prairie) on a 41 yard pass that put the ball on the Salisbury four.  Coppage ended the drive with a one yard run, to up the score to 14-0 with 12:00 in the second.

The Warhawks made it three-for-three, covering 71 yards in 11 plays for an Eric Kindler (Germantown/Germantown) 26 yard field goal with 1:54 left in the half.

Salisbury made a bid to put some points on the board in the time remaining, but Eric Hart’s 48 yard attempt, just his fifth of the season (1-5) was blocked by senior linebacker Greg Arnold (Big Bend/Mukwonago) and Whitewater went into the lockerroom with a 17-0 lead.

Blanchard went 8-8 for 116 yards in the first half, and contributed 35 yards rushing.  Salisbury, which came into the game averaging 6.6 yards per rush as a team, was limited to 67 yards on 21 carries (3.2/rush) in the first half.

Salisbury junior wide receiver Juma Richards set up the Sea Gulls first score with a 64 yard end around that put the ball at the Whitewater 10.  Three plays later junior quarterback Dan Griffin rushed for nine yards to put Salisbury on the scoreboard, trailing 17-7 with 8:27 left in the third.

After an exchange of punts, Whitewater started on its 11.  After two plays gained nine yards, Coppage broke up the middle and out-raced Salisbury defenders for an 80 yard score, the longest run from scrimmage in his career, topping a 75 yard run in the 2010 Stagg Bowl against Mount Union.  His previous long this season was 60 yards September 17 against Campbellsville.  Whitewater led 24-7 with 3:46 in the third quarter.

Warhawk Junior defensive back Chris Pendergast (Hartland/Arrowhead) ended the Sea Gulls’ next drive with an interception, his first of the year, at the UW-W 12.

The UW-W defense came up with another turnover the next time SU had the ball, with junior DB Ryan Wenkman (Wisconsin Dells/Wisconsin Dells) forcing a Griffin fumble that sophomore defensive end Loussaint Minett (Whitewater/Whitewater) recovered at the Whitewater 29.

Whitewater’s offense followed that up with a ten play drive that included back to back 20+ yard rushes by Blanchard and Coppage to set up Kindler’s 37 yard field goal with 8:43 left in the game, putting Whitewater ahead 27-7.

Salisbury’s next drive lasted two plays, the second a pick of a Griffin pass by junior defensive back Noah Timm (Two Rivers/Two Rivers), his team-leading seventh, which gave UW-W the ball at the Sea Gulls’ 16.  Three Coppage runs, the last for six yards, put UW-W in front 34-7 at the 6:19 mark.

The Sea Gulls mounted their best drive of the day as the clock wore down.  They covered 80 yards in ten plays, 50 of them coming on four Tyler Curley rushes, the last of them a six yard score to make the final margin 34-14.

Salisbury came into the game leading Division III in scoring at 47.5 points per game, and with the top rushing average at 364.8 per game.  They finished Saturday with 244 yards on 45 attempts, 5.2 per carry.  Sixty of those yards came on the last drive.  Senior running back Randal Smedley came in averaging 91.0 per game and 6.8 per carry, and he wound up with 27 yards on 9 carries (3.0).  The Sea Gulls were also averaging 23.8 yards per reception, on just eight attempts per game, but Griffin completed just 2-7 for 49 yards — and his first two interceptions of the season.  Junior DB Chris Everett topped Salisbury with nine tackles.

Coppage carried the ball 31 times for 213 yards, the ninth time in his career he’s gone over 200 yards, including four times in postseason play, twice in 2010 and twice this year.  Blanchard finished 11-17 for 134 yards, and Huber led both teams with five receptions for 67 yards.  Arnold topped Warhawk defenders with eight tackles.

The win increased Whitewater’s college football (all divisions) leading win streak to 43 games.  That is the fifth longest in NCAA football history, four short of Oklahoma’s 47 game streak under Bud Wilkinson (1953-57).  UW-W is 30-6 in NCAA in ten postseason runs, with 2011 the seventh in a row that the Warhawks have advanced to the NCAA III playoff semifinal round.

The Warhawks will face the University of Saint Thomas in the NCAA Division III Championship semifinal match-up on Saturday, December 10, at Perkins Stadium, time TBA. 


UW-Whitewater Wins 41-14 Over Franklin College to Advance

Greg Arnold (Big Bend/Mukwonago) accounted for three turnovers and Levell Coppage (Oak Park, IL/Oak Park)’s eight career 200+ rushing game keyed UW-Whitewater’s 41-14 win over Franklin College at Perkins Stadium in Whitewater, Wisconsin Saturday in a National Collegiate Athletic Association Division III second round playoff victory. UW-W, 12-0, will host Salisbury University, 11-1 after a 49-47 triple overtime winner over Kean University in a NCAA III quarterfinal game, at 12:00 December 3 in Perkins Stadium.

Franklin had the ball at their 28, facing a third and 24, when running back Reece Craig started right and was hit by Warhawk defensive back Noah Timm (Two Rivers/Two Rivers), forcing a fumble that linebacker Greg Arnold (Big Bend/Mukwonago) recovered at the Franklin 16. Two Levell Coppage (Oak Park, IL/Oak Park) eight yard runs and Whitewater had a 7-0 lead with 6:11 left in the first quarter.

Franklin was on Whitewater’s 41, facing third and ten, when sophomore Jonny West’s pass was picked off by Arnold at the 34 yard line. Nine plays later, Coppage took it over from six yards out to up Whitewater’s lead to 14-0 with 13:21 in the half. Coppage accounted for 48 of the 64 yards on the drive.

After the Warhawk defense forced a three and out, UW-W senior quarterback Matt Blanchard (Lake Zurich, IL/Lake Zurich) switched it up a bit, hitting wide receiver Tyler Huber (Mukwonago/North Prairie) for 21 yards, then finding Cory Robinson (Cambridge/Cambridge) with a 43 yard scoring pass, Whitewater’s longest completion of the day. Whitewater led 21-0 with 10:26 on the clock.

Franklin roused their following that made the six hour drive with a 13 play, 57 yard drive that consumed 4:04 and ended with a West one yard run with the Grizzlies facing fourth and one at the one to make it 21-7 UW-W.

Whitewater went back to the formula that worked earlier, riding Coppage for 48 of 56 yards on the drive, 27 coming on his third scoring run of the day for a 28-7 lead with 3:04 showing.

Franklin wasn’t done, using 62 yards and ten plays to cut the lead in half. The touchdown came with the Grizzlies looking at fourth and five at the Whitewater ten. West passed to Keith Cunningham for the score with just 0:20 on the clock to head into the locker room with UW-W leading 28-14.

Whitewater’s defense took away the running game from Franklin in the first half, with the Grizzlies totaling minus 12 yards on 15 carries, but Franklin responded with 214 yards passing as West completed 21-38 passes. Coppage rushed 14 times for 127 yards in the half.

UW-W’s opening drive of the second half was set up by Jared Kiesow (Horicon/Horicon)’s 45 yard kickoff return to Franklin’s 43 yard line. Coppage accounted for all of the yards on the drive, six rushes and one reception that led to a 23 yard field goal by Eric Kindler (Germantown/Germantown) to put UW-W up 31-14 with 10:25 in the third.

Franklin’s next possession was halted again, by Arnold. Third and eight at the Franklin 31, Arnold stepped into West’s passing lane and his interception, and 23 yard return, gave Whitewater the ball at the Franklln 12. Three plays lost a total of one yard, and Kindler’s 30 yard field goal increased the Warhawks’ lead to 34-14 with 8:02 left in the third quarter.

Whitewater wrapped up the scoring with a 70 yard drive. Coppage rushed for 44 of those yards, and Blanchard and Huber accounted for the final 26 yards for the final tally, 41-14 with 3:15 left in the third.

Whitewater has faced Franklin three times in a year. In the first round of the 2010 NCAA III playoffs, UW-W held the Grizzlies to -11 yards rushing. In the second game of the 2011 season, Franklin totaled 40 yards, and Saturday the Warhawks limited FC to -5. In the three games Franklin has totaled 24 yards on 82 attempts (0.29/attempt). Arnold has four takeaways this year, with all four of them coming in the two playoff games. He also had an interception in last week’s win over Albion College. Last week it was linebacker Jaren Borland (Fort Atkinson/Fort Atkinson) who had the big stats, with a 54 yard fumble return to a touchdown and a 56 yard blocked punt that he ran in for a touchdown.

The Grizzlies finished with 209 yards passing, with West going 1-10 for -5 yards in the second half. Franklin totaled two yards of offense in the second half.

Franklin came into the game with 22 quarterback sacks (2.0/game) and 73 tackles for a loss (6.3/game). UW-W’s offensive line, which had given up just six sacks this season, allowed just one sack and three tackles for a loss. The Warhawk defense also had one sack today, but added ten tackles for a loss.

Coppage rushed 26 times for 221 yards, moving his career total to 7,381 yards — moving past R.J. Bowers of Grove City College (7,353, 1997-2000) into second place all-time in Division III. Nate Kmic of Mount Union has the D3 record with 8,074 (2005-2008).

NFF Prepares for Another Historic Annual Awards Dinner

College football’s most important night to attract all-time record crowd.

DALLAS, Nov. 23, 2011 – The National Football Foundation (NFF) highlighted today that its fabled Annual Awards Dinner, which will take place Dec. 6 at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City, promises to be one of the most memorable in history.

A star-studded class of College Football Hall of Fame inductees headline the event while 16 of the current game’s brightest stars will collect $300,000 in scholarships and vie for the coveted William V. Campbell Trophy, endowed by HealthSouth, as the nation’s top scholar-athlete. Tickets in the main ballroom have been sold-out for months while an overflow room has been opened to accommodate intense demand with an anticipated record turnout of 1,700-plus.

“Many people have come together to support this year’s event, and their efforts promise to make the event a celebration for the ages. We thank them all.” said NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell. “As a bridge between the regular season and the bowl season, the NFF dinner provides a unique setting where we briefly set aside intense rivalries to join together to celebrate our sport. If you’re passionate about college football, there will be no better place to be on December 6.”

Since 1958, when U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower took a break from the election trail to accept the first NFF Gold Medal at the inaugural event, the NFF’s Dinner has proven to be one of our nation’s most magnetic affairs, attracting giants of industry and leaders from all walks of life to the Waldorf-Astoria’s Grand Ballroom to celebrate America’s passion for football. The 2011 banquet marks the 54th NFF Annual Awards Dinner, and the event has become the one night of the year that brings together all of entities of college football, even bitter foes, to celebrate the game.

“The National Football Foundation represents everything right about our great sport, and this night simply features the best and brightest of college football,” said NFF Chairman Archie Manning. “The accomplishments of our 2011 honorees make us all proud while providing us the ultimate vehicle for coming together to celebrate a sport that has given so much to so many.”

With more than 50 current Football Bowl Subdivision head coaches in attendance, the night will feature several well-known football luminaries. ESPN’s Rece Davis will emcee the event, and NFF Board Member and noted philanthropist T. Boone Pickens will provide the welcome address. NFF Board Member and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones will introduce the college coaches in attendance.

NFF Board Member and TV personality Jack Ford will present former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates with the Gold Medal while Dr. Archie Roberts, the pioneering heart surgeon and author, will accept the NFF Distinguished American Award from NFF President and CEO Steve Hatchell. Roberts returns to the stage having been honored in 1964 as NFF National Scholar-Athlete from Columbia.

NFF Honors Court Chairman Eugene Corrigan will introduce the 2011 Hall of Fame players while NFF Board Member, AFCA Executive Director, and Hall of Fame Coach Grant Teaff will introduce the 2011 Hall of Fame coaches. Ohio State legend and 1986 College Hall of Fame inductee Archie Griffin will present the Hall of Fame plaques while Air Force inductee Fisher DeBerry will deliver the response for the 2011 Hall of Fame Class. NFF Board Chairman and College Football Hall of Fame inductee Archie Manning will conduct the Hall of Fame Ring Ceremony. University of Miami (Fla.) President and NFF Board Member Donna Shalala will bestow the 2011 NFF National Scholar-Athlete Awards, presented by Fidelity Investments, with assistance from NFF Vice Chairman George Weiss.

Named co-recipients of NFF Outstanding Contribution to Amateur Football Award, CBS Lead Play-by-Play Announcer Verne Lundquist and ESPN/ABC Host & Play-by-Play Announcer Brent Musburger will take the stage in recognition of their role in enhancing the enjoyment of the game for millions of fans. Ted Ruta, the recipient of the Outstanding Football Official Award, and UNC’s Woody Durham, the recipient of the Chris Schenkel Award for excellence in broadcasting, round out the 2011 NFF Major Awards honorees while Sun Belt Commissioner Wright Waters will be recognized with an NFF Legacy Award for his support of the NFF and its mission.

The NFF Chapter Awards Luncheon, which will honor the five high school scholar-athletes and the winners of the 2011 chapter leadership awards, will be emceed by Syracuse legend and College Football Hall of Fame inductee Don McPherson with NFF board member and CLC Founder & Chairman Bill Battle and ACC Associate Commissioner Amy Yakola assisting with the presentation of the awards. Longtime Texas sports information legend Bill Little returns for the fifth consecutive year as the moderator of the morning press conference. NFF board member and IMG Worldwide Sports & Entertainment President George Pyne will emcee the presentation of the Ivy League’s Asa Bushnell Cup.

Sponsors involved with the day’s events include DragonFly Athletics, Fidelity Investments, HealthSouth, Herff Jones, I Six, Liberty Mutual, the NASDAQ OMX, Spielman Koenigsberg & Parker, and XOS Digital.

The true highlight of the evening, the induction of the 2011 College Football Hall of Fame Class, provides the ultimate stage for the legends of yesteryear to take their rightful place among the immortals of the game. And this year’s class stands among the greatest of all-time, encompassing six unanimous First Team All-Americans, six consensus First Team All-Americans, eight multi-year First Team All-Americans, four members of national championship teams, one Heisman Trophy winner, five winners of college football major awards, five conference player of the year honorees, eight members of conference championship teams, three Academic All-Americans, and five first-round NFL draft picks.

The 2011 class includes Carlos Alvarez (Florida), Doug English (Texas), Bill Enyart (Oregon State), Eddie George (Ohio State), Marty Lyons (Alabama), Russell Maryland (Miami), Deion Sanders (Florida State), Jake Scott (Georgia), Will Shields (Nebraska), the late Sandy Stephens (Minnesota), Darryl Talley (West Virginia), Clendon Thomas (Oklahoma), Rob Waldrop (Arizona), Gene Washington (Michigan State) and coaches Lloyd Carr (Michigan) and Fisher DeBerry (Air Force).

The 16 members of the 2011 NFF National Scholar-Athlete Class begin their sojourn to New York City with “A Night on the Town,” including a trip to Radio City Music Hall for the Christmas Spectacular show; dinner at Mickey Mantle’s on Central Park; and a visit to Rockefeller Center to see the famed Christmas Tree. The 16 finalists, who will each vie as a finalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy, boast an astounding composite 3.81 grade point average, and 14 of the 16 finalists serve as their team captain. Other class accolades (based on 2010 accomplishments) include four All-Americans, 11 All-Conference picks, 14 Academic All-Conference honorees, eight statistical record holders, and one Rhodes Scholar finalist.

Members of the 2011 class of NFF National Scholar-Athletes presented by Fidelity Investments include Drew Butler (Georgia), Kirk Cousins (Michigan State), Micah Davis (Delta State, Miss.), John Dowd (Navy), Yaser Elqutub (Northwestern State), Chris Ganious (South Dakota), Clay Garcia (Colorado School of Mines), Chandler Harnish (Northern Illinois), Tysyn Hartman (Kansas State), Chaz Hine (South Florida), Joe Holland (Purdue), Jared Karstetter (Washington State), Andrew Rodriguez (Army), Ryan Tannehill (Texas A&M), Patrick Witt (Yale), Michael Zweifel (Dubuque, Iowa). Each receives an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship with the Campbell Trophy honoree claiming a grand total of $25,000. NFF Chairman Emeritus Jon Hanson will have the honor of presenting the Campbell Trophy to the 22nd recipient of the award at the event.

Tony Buemi, of Brandbridge Ltd, will produce the event for the sixth consecutive year, and ESPN personality Rece Davis lent his talents for the voice overs for the Hall of Fame tributes while NFF board member and CBS lead broadcaster Jim Nantz, Dallas-Fort Worth sportscaster Scott Murray and veteran college football voice Dave Barnett joined forces to narrate the tributes for the major award and NFF National Scholar-Athlete videos. Daniel Rodriguez returns to sing the National Anthem and God Bless America.

During the past five decades, The NFF Annual Awards Dinner has produced its share of memorable moments, and the 2011 event promises to add to a rich lineage that continues to celebrate the greatest legends in college football.

Five Years Ago – 2006 – Rutgers fullback and future NFL player Brian Leonard captures the 17th annual William V. Campbell Trophy to headline a gala 49th Awards Dinner. Arizona State All-American and U.S. War Hero Pat Tillman is posthumously presented the NFF Distinguished American Award while Hall of Fame inductees Washington’s Steve Emtman, join legendary coach Bobby Bowden, Air Forces’ Chad Hennings, Nebraska’s Mike Rozier, Virginia Tech’s Bruce Smith, Florida’s Emmitt Smith, and Florida State’s Charlie Ward on a sterling front dais.

10 Years Ago – 2001 – A somber and determined mood characterized the annual NFF Awards Dinner – three months and one day after the events of Sept. 11, 2001, in New York and throughout the United States. Miami (Fla.) OT Joaquin Gonzalez captured the Campbell Trophy for academic achievement and community service as inspirational stories abound at the confluence of college football dignitaries.

15 Years Ago – 1996 – The ceremony featured Hugh Green of Pittsburgh, Charles White of Southern California, and Marc Wilson of BYU, among others, as prime honorees. Danny Wuerffel accepted the 7th Campbell Trophy, becoming the first to claim both the Campbell and the Heisman.

20 Years Ago – 1991 – The stars of the gridiron, stage and screen rose to the occasion as Hall of Fame inductees included popular television movie actor and broadcaster Alex Karras of Iowa, Heisman Trophy winners Steve Owens of Oklahoma and Pat Sullivan of Auburn, and coaching innovator Tommy Prothro. TCU director of athletics Frank Windegger was so impressed by Sullivan’s acceptance speech at the dinner that he hired the star Auburn quarterback a short time later as head coach of the Horned Frogs.

25 Years Ago – 1986 – The dinner featured one of the most illustrious Hall of Fame classes, including Stanford’s John Brodie, representatives of the family of the coach Paul (Bear) Bryant, broadcaster Al DeRogatis of Duke, Mike Ditka of Pittsburgh, Mel Renfro of Oregon, and Steve Spurrier of Florida, among others. Bryant received posthumous induction after his passing in 1983.

30 Years Ago – 1981 – Longtime NFF financial supporter and then-New York Jets’ owner Sonny Werblin received the Distinguished American Award while business titan Justin Dart, who created one of the largest drug store chains in America, which eventually became part of Kraft Foods, accepted the NFF Gold Medal. The NFF home office prepares for a year-long celebration of the 25th anniversary Awards Dinner on Dec. 7, 1982, which would see a return of many of the past honorees, including President Ford, President Nixon, and Bob Hope. The NAIA Division II trophy, sponsored by the foundation, was renamed the Teddy Roosevelt Trophy in honor of the U.S. President who made major changes in college athletics during a national summit in 1906 – resulting in the founding of the NCAA. The Hall of Fame class included Coach ob Devaney and Navy legend and Heisman Trophy winner Roger Staubach, who now serves on the NFF Board.

35 Years Ago – 1976 – Captain of Industry Edgar B. Speer, who ascended to the chairmanship of U.S. Steel, accepted the Gold Medal while Gen. James Van Fleet, the commander of the U.S. forces in Korea and an erstwhile Florida head coach, received the Distinguished American Award to highlight one of the foundation’s top banquets, including presentations by Silver Anniversary (1951) Heisman Trophy winner Dick Kazmaier of Princeton (NFF president in ’76) and Vin Draddy of Manhattan College and world business fame as the developer of the Izod and Lacoste apparel brands. The Hall of Fame class included Texas A&M legend and Heisman Trophy winner John David Crow and San Francisco fullback Ollie Matson.

40 Years Ago – 1971 – The dinner saw the invocation delivered by his eminence Terence Cardinal Cook of New York, and the immortal Bud Wilkinson of Minnesota and head coach at Oklahoma introduced the newest members of the Hall of Fame at the 14th annual soiree. Then-California Gov. Ronald Reagan (later U.S. President) was the Gold Medal Award winner and accepted the medal from his longtime Hollywood co-star (they both were featured in the 1943 classic “This is the Army”) and 1971 NFF President George Murphy.

45 Years Ago – 1966 – NFF co-founder Earl (Red) Blaik was honored with the Gold Medal after a stellar career as head coach at Army and Dartmouth and then as a business executive. Numerous football, political and entertainment personalities again were featured at the ninth annual Awards Dinner at the Waldorf-Astoria. The Hall of Fame Class featured Jim Crowley of Notre Dame Four Horseman fame, Princeton Heisman Trophy winner Dick Kazmaier and Coach Lynn Waldorf.

50 Years Ago – 1961 – The ceremony honored President John F. Kennedy as the Gold Medal recipient, “Mr. Outside” RB Glenn Davis of Army as one of the key Hall of Fame inductees and one of the Foundation’s most outstanding classes of Scholar-Athlete Award winners, including Rutgers All-American Alex Kroll, who would go onto serve on the NFF Board for many years and head the Young & Rubicam Advertising Agency. Oklahoma fullback Claude Reeds, North Carolina halfback Charlie “Choo Choo” Justice, and Duke halfback George “One Play” McAfee joined Davis in highlighting a stellar class of Hall of Fame inductees.