National Football Foundation

News Detail

NFF Prepares for Historic 55th Annual Awards Dinner
Tuskegee Airman Roscoe C. Brown, Jr., Hall of Famers Dave Casper, Ty Detmer, Art Monk, Jonathan
Published: 11/28/2012 1:30:00 PM

Tuskegee Airman Roscoe C. Brown, Jr., Hall of Famers Dave Casper, Ty Detmer, Art Monk, Jonathan Ogden, Phillip Fulmer and RC Slocum and NFF National Scholar-Athletes Matt Barkley, Barrett Jones, Manti Te’o headline the night’s honorees. 

DALLAS, Nov. 28, 2012 – The National Football Foundation (NFF) highlighted today that its fabled Annual Awards Dinner, which will take place Dec. 4 at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City, promises to be one of the most memorable in history.

A star-studded College Football Hall of Fame class headlines the event while 15 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 more than 1,600 attendees. Fans can watch a live stream of the NFF Annual Awards Dinner, starting at 8 p.m. ET, and the morning press conference, starting at 9 a.m. ET, on ESPN3 and the NFF’s homepage at www.footballfoundation.org.

“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 4.”

Since 1958, when U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower took a break from the election trail to accept the NFF Gold Medal at the inaugural event, the NFF Annual Awards 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. The 2012 banquet marks the 55th edition, and the event has become the one night of the year that brings together all 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 2012 honorees make us all proud while providing us the ultimate vehicle for inspiring future generations to follow in their footsteps.”

With more than 75 current collegiate head coaches and over 40 returning members of the College Football Hall of Fame in attendance, the night will feature several well-known football luminaries. ESPN’s Rece Davis will emcee the event, and NFF Board Member and New England Patriots owner Robert K. Kraft 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 Tuskegee Airman Roscoe C. Brown, Jr., with the Gold Medal while ESPN Executive Chairman George Bodenheimer will accept the NFF Distinguished American Award from NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell.

NFF Honors Court Chairman Eugene Corrigan will introduce the 2012 Hall of Fame players while NFF Board Member, AFCA Executive Director, and Hall of Fame Coach Great Teaff will introduce the 2012 Hall of Fame coaches.  Ohio State legend and 1986 College Hall of Fame inductee Archie Griffin will present the Hall of Fame plaques while Coach Jimmy Johnson, who coached at Oklahoma State and Miami (FL), will deliver the response for the 2012 Hall of Fame inductees. NFF Board Chairman and College Football Hall of Fame inductee Archie Manning will conduct the Hall of Fame Ring Ceremony.  NFF Board Member Roger Staubach, a 1981 inductee from Navy, will bestow the 2012 NFF National Scholar-Athlete Awards, presented by Fidelity Investments, with assistance from NFF Vice Chairman George Weiss.

NFF Board Member and the CEO of BP Capital T. Boone Pickens will have the honor of presenting Alabama Athletics Director Mal Moore with the NFF John L. Toner Award for his superior abilities as an athletics administrator, and Pickens will posthumously bestow the Chris Schenkel Award for excellence in broadcasting on the late Oklahoma and Oklahoma State broadcasting legend Bob Barry, Sr. NFF Board Member and Under Armour Founder Kevin Plank will present the NFF Legacy Awards, which recognize extraordinary contributions to the organization, to Eric Long, the general manager of the Waldorf-Astoria, Burke Magnus, ESPN senior vice president for college programming, and Craig Silver, CBS coordinating producer for college football.

The NFF Chapter Awards Luncheon, sponsored by Under Armour, will take place at noon in the Vanderbilt Room of the Waldorf. The NFF will honor the five NFF National High School Scholar-Athletes and the winners of the 2012 Chapter Leadership Awards at the event. Distinguished NFL and former UCLA coach Dick Vermeil will emcee the event with Under Armour Senior Director Walker Jones and ACC Associate Commissioner Amy Yakola assisting with the presentation of the awards.

Longtime Texas sports information legend Bill Little returns for the sixth consecutive year as the moderator of the morning press conference. He will interview each of the honorees while providing the members of the national media an opportunity to ask questions. NFF Chairman Archie Manning will join Liberty Mutual Insurance Public & Media Relations Manager Glenn Greenberg in announcing the finalists for the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award. Fidelity Investments President Kathleen Murphy will take the stage with NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell during the NFF National Scholar-Athlete portion of the press conference to comment on the company’s involvement with the program.

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

One of the central highlights of the evening, the induction of the 2012 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 11 All-Americans, one unanimous First-Team All-American, three multi-year First-Team All-Americans, two members of national championship teams, five conference player of the year honorees, five members of conference championship teams, two NFF National Scholar-Athletes, seven first-round NFL Draft selections, and the winners of the Heisman Trophy, the Maxwell Award, the Davey O’Brien Award, the Jim Thorpe Award, and the Outland Trophy.

The 2012 class includes: Charles Alexander (LSU), Otis Armstrong (Purdue), Steve Bartkowski (California), Hal Bedsole (Southern California), Dave Casper (Notre Dame), Ty Detmer (BYU), Tommy Kramer (Rice), Art Monk (Syracuse), Greg Myers (Colorado State), Jonathan Ogden (UCLA), Gabe Rivera (Texas Tech), Mark Simoneau (Kansas State), Scott Thomas (Air Force), John Wooten (Colorado), and coaches Phillip Fulmer (Tennessee), Jimmy Johnson (Oklahoma State, Miami [Fla.]) and R.C. Slocum (Texas A&M).

The 15 members of the 2012 NFF National Scholar-Athlete Class begin their sojourn to New York City with “A Night on the Town,” sponsored by Fidelity Investments, including a trip to Radio City Music Hall for the Christmas Spectacular show; a stroll past  Central Park; and a visit to Rockefeller Center to see the famed Christmas Tree. The 15 finalists, who will each vie as a finalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy, boast an astounding composite 3.67 grade point average, and 13 of the 15 finalists serve as their team captain. Other class accolades (based on 2011 accomplishments) include seven All-Americans, 10 All-Conference picks, 13 Academic All-Conference honorees, three national award winners, and six school statistical record holders.

Members of the 2012 class of NFF National Scholar-Athletes include Matt Barkley (Southern California), Rex Burkhead (Nebraska), Cody Davis (Texas Tech), Nick Driskill (Mount Union, OH), Nick Florence (Baylor), Nabal Jefferson (Northern Illinois), Barrett Jones (Alabama), Aaron Mullane (West Texas A&M), Ryan Nassib (Syracuse), Nolan Nearhoff (Robert Morris), Ethan Peterson (MIT), Sean Renfree (Duke), Manti Te’o (Notre Dame), Patrick Ward (Northwestern), and Shane Zackery (Saint Xavier, IL). Each receives an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship with the William V. Campbell Trophy honoree claiming a grand total of $25,000. NFF Chairman Emeritus Jon Hanson will have the honor of presenting the William V. Campbell Trophy to the 23rd recipient of the award at the event.

Tony Buemi, of Brandbridge Ltd, will produce the event for the sixth consecutive year. CBS national commentator Tim Brando, along with veteran college football announcer Dave Barnett lent their talents for the voice overs for the Hall of Fame tributes. ESPN commentator Mike Tirico, NFF board member and CBS legal analyst Jack Ford, Dallas-Fort Worth sportscaster Scott Murray, and Philadelphia-based voice talent Eric Lee 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, and Columbia University Team Chaplain Father Thomas Valenti will give the invocation.

On the day before the event, the NFF will partner with the Ivy League to co-host a 12:00 p.m. ET presentation of the Asa S. Bushnell Cup, which honors the Ivy League Football Players of the Year. The event will take place at the Waldorf=Astoria as part of the festivities leading up to the NFF Annual Awards Dinner. Ivy League Executive Director Robin Harris will unveil the winners' names at the event. George Pyne, a NFF Board Member and a former All-Ivy League offensive tackle at Brown, will emcee the presentation, which will be streamed live on FootballFoundation.org and IvyLeagueSports.com.

During the past 55 years, The NFF Annual Awards Dinner has produced its share of memorable moments, and the 2012 event promises to add to a rich lineage that continues to celebrate the greatest legends in college football. Here are some anniversary highlights, covering the past 55 years:

5 Years Ago, 2007:

Army’s Pete Dawkins and Navy’s Roger Staubach, both Heisman winners and military men who became titans in the business world, take center stage as co-recipients of the NFF Gold Medal, citing the critical role football played throughout their lives. Notre Dame star HB Rocky Bleier, who earned a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star in Vietnam, continued the night’s military theme, accepting the NFF Distinguished American Award. Florida Athletics Director Jeremy Foley claimed the John L. Toner Award for his superior leadership abilities as an administrator, and Texas center Dallas Griffin took home the William V. Campbell Trophy as the nation’s top scholar-athlete.

10 Years Ago, 2002:

George M. Steinbrenner III, principal owner of the New York Yankees, was the 2002 recipient of the Gold Medal. Steinbrenner, who played football at Williams, began his sports business career as an assistant football coach at Northwestern and Purdue. Kansas State linebacker Gary Spani became the first Wildcat ever to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. Other inductees included Coaches Earle Bruce and Carm Cozza and quarterback Dan Marino (Pittsburgh), safety Ronnie Lott (Southern California), and defensive tackle Reggie White (Tennessee).

15 Years Ago, 1997:

The Foundation’s 1997 Gold Medal was awarded posthumously to Jackie Robinson, the great UCLA football player who went on to become the first African-American to play major league baseball. His brilliant career with the Brooklyn Dodgers earned him election into the Baseball Hall of Fame. In a fitting tribute to another pioneer in combating segregation, Coach Eddie Robinson shared the stage with Robinson as a member of the 1997 College Football Hall of Fame induction class. The NFF established the John L. Toner Award to recognize superior abilities demonstrated by notable athletics directors, presenting the inaugural award to its namesake. Center Alex Kroll (Rutgers, Yale) responded for the Hall of Fame class, citing his experiences as an NFF National Scholar-Athlete in 1961 when President Kennedy accepted the Gold Medal. Tennessee All-American QB Peyton Manning claimed the William V. Campbell Trophy.

20 Years Ago, 1992:

In the midst of its fourth decade, the Awards Dinner becomes bigger and better than ever. Donald R. Keough, former president and Chief Operating Officer of the Coca-Cola Company, accepted the Gold Medal, and New York Giants owner and NFL pioneer Wellington Mara was honored with the NFF Distinguished American Award. The Hall of Fame class included Cal QB Craig Morton, Michigan running back Ron Johnson, Notre Dame halfback Jim Lynch and Coach John Ralston. Colorado offensive tackle Jim Hansen became the third recipient of the William V. Campbell Trophy.

25 Years Ago, 1987:

The 30th Annual Awards Dinner is one of the most memorable. The Gold Medal went to Charles “Monk” Meyer, the 140-pound stick of dynamite and breakaway halfback for Army’s 1935 squad. Meyer was the runner-up for the Heisman Trophy, and he would go on to serve his nation for 30 years in the Army, ascending to the rank of brigadier general. Hall of Fame inductees included Georgia QB Fran Tarkenton, Southern California guard Mike McKeever, and Tennessee halfback Johnny Majors. Legendary broadcaster Chris Schenkel is honored with the NFF Outstanding Contribution to Football Award.

30 Years Ago, 1982:

The NFF celebrates the silver anniversary of its Annual Awards Dinner, inviting all of the previous honorees to return and be recognized. Attendees included Gold Medal recipients Gerald Ford (1972) and Richard Nixon (1969) and Distinguished American Award recipient Bob Hope (1974).  Quarterbacks Terry Baker (Oregon State) and Don Meredith (SMU) headlined a Hall of Fame class that also included Army’s “Lonely End” Bill Carpenter and coaches Ben Schwartzwalder (Syracuse) and Shug Jordan (Auburn).

35 Years Ago, 1977:

Another star-studded group of inductees graced the dais, including Cal guard Rod Franz, Nebraska fullback Sam Francis, and Yale tackle Century Milstead. General Louis H. Wilson, a Congressional Medal of Honor winner from Mississippi, was presented the Gold Medal. He played football at Millsaps (Miss.), and at the time he was honored he was the commandant of the Marine Corps and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

40 Years Ago, 1972:

The 15th annual Awards Dinner gets another “gem” for its sellout audience at the Waldorf-Astoria when future U.S. President Gerald R. Ford, who was currently serving as the Republican Leader in the U.S. House of Representatives, accepted the Gold Medal. Ford played center at Michigan from 1932 to 1934, claiming the Wolverines’ most valuable player award as a senior. Notre Dame QB Angelo Bertelli, Southern California halfback Mort Kaer, and Tennessee end Bowden Wyatt were among a large class of 22 inductees.

45 Years Ago, 1967:

Dr. Frederick L. Hovde, a standout football player at the University of Minnesota, became the second former Rhodes Scholar to accept the coveted NFF Gold Medal. He was president of Purdue University at the time. LSU halfback Abe Mickal, Tennessee guard Nathan Dougherty and Texas A&M back Joel Hunt were among the night’s Hall of Fame inductees.

50 Years Ago, 1962:

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Byron “Whizzer’ White of Colorado running back and later jurisprudence fame becomes the sixth recipient of the NFF Gold Medal one year after U.S. President John F. Kennedy received the award. Duke center Dan Hill, Jr., Texas A&M guard Joe Routt, and Nebraska end/halfback Guy Chamberlin are among the Hall of Fame inductees.

55 Years Ago, 1958:

The first NFF Annual Awards Dinner boasted sitting U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, a football and baseball letterman at Army, receiving the inaugural Gold Medal as the first of seven U.S. presidents to claim the award. Eisenhower later serves on the NFF Board of Directors. Hall of Fame inductees include Coach Tad Jones (Syracuse and Yale), FB/HB Marshall Goldberg (Pittsburgh), HB Harry Kipke (Michigan), and QB Harry Stuhldreher (Notre Dame). 

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