National Football Foundation

News Detail

NFF CHALKTALK – Feb. 17, 2016, Presented by
Latest news & notes from the world of college football.
Published: 2/17/2016 3:25:00 PM

(Pictured: Texas Wesleyan University in Fort Worth, Texas, announced that it will reestablish its football program, which was discontinued at the start of World War II, with games scheduled to begin in the 2017-18 season.)

NFF Footballetter, Vol. 58, Issue No. 1 – Photo Issue

The National Football Foundation (NFF) & College Hall of Fame experienced another exceptionally successful year in implementing our efforts ofBuilding Leaders Through Football, culminating with another sold-out crowd gathering in the Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City on Dec. 8, 2015, for the 58th NFF Annual Awards Dinner.

The latest edition of the Footballetter is a collection of photos of those honored and those who paid tribute to the honorees by attending the event that night, as well as photos from several other National Football Foundation-related events surrounding the 2015 football season.

Click here to open the NFF Digital Footballetter.

Hall of Famer Johnny Lattner Passes Away

Johnny Lattner, a 1979 College Football Hall of Fame inductee from Notre Dame and the 1953 Heisman Trophy recipient, passed away Feb. 12. He was 83. Lattner, a 6-1, 190-pound halfback Notre Dame from 1951-53, can claim more offensive and defensive records than anyone else during his career.

As a senior, Lattner scored nine touchdowns, accounted for 855 yards in rushing and catching, intercepted four passes, accounted for 424 yards in kick returns and punted for a 35-yard average. His accomplishments earned him the 1953 Maxwell Award for a second consecutive year, and he twice claimed All-America honors.

Hall of Famer Willie Richardson Passes Away

Willie Richardson, a 2003 College Football Hall of Fame inductee from Jackson State University, passed away Feb. 8. He was 76 years old.

Known as “Wonderful Willie,” he became one of the most honored players in the great history of the Southwestern Athletic Conference. Richardson was one of just a handful of players to be a four-time member of the Pittsburgh Courier Black All-America team. In addition, he was a three-time All-SWAC performer and a two-time NAIA All-American. In his final two seasons, he led the Tigers to SWAC titles in 1961, and again the following season as Jackson State claimed the Black College National Championship.

Texas Wesleyan University Bringing Back Football Program

Texas Wesleyan University in Fort Worth, Texas, announced that it will reestablish its football program, which was discontinued at the start of World War II, with a red-shirt leadership class that will begin practicing during the 2016-17 season. Games are scheduled to begin in the 2017-18 season.

The university plans to hire its coaching staff in February and will start recruiting 75 students for a red-shirt leadership class that will begin practicing and scrimmaging during the 2016-17 season. The team will play in the NAIA’s Central States Football League, which is composed of teams from the Sooner Athletic Conference and the Red River Athletic Conference.

NFF Showcases Find Success in Houston and Southern California

The National Football Foundation (NFF) & College Football Hall of Fame caught up with organizers of the NFF Greater Houston Area Senior Football Showcase and the NFF California Showcase to discuss the impact on their respective communities.

In its eighth year, the Houston event took place on Feb. 6 at the Houston Texans’ Methodist Training Center, next to NRG Stadium. The event attracted 425 high school football players and representatives from 57 colleges and universities. The fourth edition of the California Showcase will be held Sat. Feb. 20, at the Orange County Great Park in Irvine, Calif., and is expected to attract more than 500 athletes and 70 colleges. Organizers estimate the Houston event annually produces around $12 million in scholarships and the California counterpart as much as $10 million.

NFF President’s Day Football Celebration

Whether they played football, served as a football manager or merely understood the role of football in developing the young men who play the sport, numerous U.S. presidents have paid tribute to the gridiron over the years. In honor of President’s Day on Feb. 15, the NFF took a quick look at the presidential perspective on football’s role in society.

Accepting Nominations for 2016 NFF Hampshire Honor Society

The NFF is now accepting nominations for the 2016 NFF Hampshire Honor Society. Celebrating its 10th year, the Hampshire Honor Society is a great way to recognize colleges’ best scholar-athletes who have shown passion on the football field and in the classroom.

To qualify for membership in the Society, a football student-athlete must have just completed his final year of playing eligibility or has already graduated and officially declared for the NFL Draft; been a starter or significant contributor during the 2015 season; achieved a minimum 3.2 cumulative GPA throughout the entire course of undergraduate study through the fall semester of 2015; and is meeting all NCAA/NAIA-mandated progress towards degree requirements.

Sports information directors have until March 3 to submit nominations. Contact Hillary Jeffries at for more information or to nominate a student-athlete.

NFF to Salute Black History Trailblazers on

As part of a Black History Month tribute, the NFF is profiling a few of the many significant individuals who helped integrate football on, the NFF’s digital platform for storytelling and promoting the good in the game. Last week’s stories focused on College Football Hall of Famer John Wooten (Colorado) and former Oklahoma running back and 2005 NFF Outstanding Contribution to Amateur Football Award recipient Prentice Gautt.

This Week on

The NFF continues to promote, the organization’s newest addition to its campaign to highlight the good in the game and the lifelong benefits to those who play it. Recent headlines on the site include:

·         John Bullis’ “When the Game Ends,” Brings Life After Football to the Forefront

·         Interview with Akron Athletics Director Larry Williams – #ImAFootballPlayer

·         ACU’s Denmark Named Southland Football Student-Athlete of the Year

Click here to sign up to receive the eNewsletter from The site focuses on the stories that evoke the qualities of leadership, sportsmanship, competitive zeal, character building and the drive for academic excellence that exemplifies many of the young men who play football and the families who support them.


The Hall is celebrating Leap Year with a special deal for those lucky individuals born on Feb. 29: FREE Admission to the Hall of Fame. Other guests can join in the fun as well with our 2/$29 offer. Both offers are valid on Feb. 29, 2016, and guests born on Feb. 29 must show a valid ID at the box office to gain free entry.

- FOX 5 Exclusive: 360 degree tour of the College Hall of Fame
- Bears featured in College Football HOF


The Hall of Fame has introduced two new exhibits for fans to enjoy the greats of the game and test their football skills. The Kia Building a Champion Gallery guests will discover the “Test Your Skills Kia Performance Center,” which offers a one-of-a-kind football combine experience. Participants will find out if they have what it takes with a vertical leap, 40-yard dash and an agility reaction drill. The results are provided on a customized player draft card as a takeaway for fans. The Specialty Exhibit delivered by UPS is a new temporary display celebrating the 2015 Hall of Fame Class. The “2015 Hall of Fame Salute” features 10 game-worn jerseys, four helmets and other unique artifacts including a sweater vest worn by coach Jim Tressel in the 2002 National Championship Game. The exhibit also features the first-ever Butkus Award won by Brian Bosworth (Oklahoma) in 1985.

The College Football Hall of Fame opened its doors Aug. 23, 2014, in the heart of Atlanta’s sports, entertainment and tourism district. Adjacent to the Georgia World Congress Center and Centennial Olympic Park, the new Hall provides visitors with a highly immersive, interactive and engaging experience using a blend of historic college football artifacts and state-of-the-art, interactive multimedia exhibits. To plan your visit and purchase tickets, visit


NFF Board Member and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones appeared as the featured guest on the Audience Network’s Undeniable with Joe Buck last week.

NFF Board Member and Big Ten Conference Commissioner Jim Delany will be honored with the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame’s Curtis Bunn Award for lifetime achievement this fall.

NFF Board Member and Campbell Trophy namesake, Bill Campbell, and College Football Hall of Famer Joe Greene (North Texas) were prominently featured in the IMG-produced Super Bowl’s Greatest Commercials. Campbell was featured for his role in the legendary 1984 Apple commercial while Greene reminisced about his iconic Coca-Cola ad.

College Football Hall of Famer Craig Morton was the recipient of the 15th annual Davey O’Brien Legends Award and 2011 NFF Outstanding Contribution to Amateur Football Award recipient and CBS Broadcaster Verne Lundquist received the Charles Ringler Founder’s Award at the 39th annual Davey O’Brien Awards Dinner in Fort Worth, Texas, on Feb. 15. NFF Board Member and Hall of Famer Roger Staubach (Navy) was among the featured presenters.

College Football Hall of Famer Barry Sanders (Oklahoma State) will be recognized as the Doak Walker Legends Award recipient at the Doak Walker Award Presentation Banquet on Feb. 19 in Dallas. Lee Corso, Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit, who received the 2006 NFF Outstanding Contribution to Amateur Football Award as part of ESPN’s College GameDay, will host the event.

College Football Hall of Famer Eddie George (Ohio State)’s seven-week stint in the musical Chicago on Broadway runs through Feb. 28.

College Football Hall of Famer Joe Theismann (Notre Dame) will serve as the guest speaker at Montana State’s annual Triangle Classic fundraiser banquet on April 8 in Great Falls.

College Football Hall of Famer Jeff Davis (Clemson) earned a spot among the four legends who will be inducted into the South Carolina Football Hall of Fame on April 21 at the Hyatt Regency in Greenville, S.C.

College Football Hall of Famer Gabe Rivera (Texas Tech) was inducted into the San Antonio Independent School District Athletic Hall of Fame.

College Football Hall of Fame coach Jim Tressel will be a featured speaker at Eastern Michigan’s 2016 Football Coaches Clinic.

ESPN took an inside look at the new Major League Football and its president Wes Chandler, a 2015 College Football Hall of Fame inductee from Florida.

Three members of the 2015 NFF National Scholar-Athlete Class are among more than 300 prospects who have been invited to compete at the Feb. 23-29 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. UCLA center Jake Brendel, Mississippi State cornerback Taveze Calhoun and Baylor offensive guard Spencer Drango will put their skills to the test in hopes of increasing their stock in the 2016 NFL Draft, which will take place April 28–30.

2015 NFF National Scholar-Athlete Jordan Dobrich (Nevada) was named to the Academic All-Mountain West team.

For the second year, the Tim Tebow Foundation, run by the 2009 William V. Campbell Trophy winner from Florida, sponsored “Night to Shine” prom nights for special needs’ teenagers at 200-plus churches in 48 states and eight countries.

NFF Program Updates

The NFF Scholar-Athlete of the Day, presented by Fidelity Investments, is a daily segment honoring the semifinalists for the 2015 William V. Campbell Trophy, presented by Fidelity Investments. Today’s honoree is Jake Ludwick, a long snapper at Colorado State-Pueblo who maintains a 3.85 GPA in business management.

Presented by

The NFF Tom Lombardo/St. Louis Chapter will hold a luncheon on Feb. 24 at Lombardo’s Airport restaurant. ESPN Radio personality Randy Karraker will emcee the event, which will feature College Football Hall of Famer Johnny Roland (Missouri), former Dayton and NFL center Bob DeMarco, former California football player and St. Louis Cardinals and Atlanta Falcons head coach Jim Hanifan, former Missouri and Oakland Raiders linebacker Gus Otto and former Iowa State and NFL quarterback Tim Van Galder.

The NFF Miss-Lou Chapter will hold its annual scholarship awards banquet on Feb. 25 in Natchez, Miss., at the Natchez Community Center. Former Mississippi and New Orleans Saints running back Deuce McAllister will be the featured speaker. The chapter will award $10,000 to deserving scholar-athletes from area schools in Natchez, Miss., and Vidalia and Ferriday, La.

The NFF S.M. McNaughton (La.) Chapter will host its Scholar-Athlete Banquet on Feb. 25 at East Ridge Country Club in Shreveport, La.

The NFF King County/Seattle Chapter’s 50th Annual Scholar-Athlete Banquet will take place Feb. 27 at Century Link Field in Seattle.

The NFF Portland (Ore.) Chapter will hold its 55th Annual Scholar-Athlete Banquet on Feb. 28 at Red Lion Hotel on the River Jantzen Beach. Former Central Washington football player Eric Boles will be the featured speaker at the event, which will also see the distribution of $16,000 in scholarships.

The NFF Mike Cleary/Northeastern Ohio Chapter will hold its Scholar-Athlete Banquet on March 8 at the LaCentre Banquet Facility in Westlake, Ohio. Recent Kent State graduate April Goss, who made history this past season after becoming just the second female to score a point in an FBS game, will speak on behalf of 12 Postgraduate Award winners. Other notable presenters and speakers at the banquet will include College Football Hall of Fame coach Jim Tressel, former Clemson and Cleveland Browns running back Kevin Mack and Youngstown State head coach Bo Pelini.

The NFF Wyoming Chapter will hold its annual banquet in Laramie on March 19. The chapter will present $1,200 scholarships to finalists from each of the state’s five participation classes and two from the University of Wyoming. The finalists will be selected from a field of 101 nominations from 35 high schools and the University of Wyoming. From the group of finalists, one top scholar-athlete will be awarded a second scholarship and be the state’s nominee to represent the West Region as an NFF National High School Scholar-Athlete.

The NFF New York City Chapter will hold its Elite Eleven Dinner Apr. 5 at the New York Athletic Club, honoring the top scholar-athletes in New York City and presenting Jets and former Central Florida wide receiver Brandon Marshall with its Accorsi Award for his work with PROJECT 375, a nonprofit organization dedicated to eradicating the stigma surrounding mental illness and disorders.



The Mountain West announced its 2016 football opponents… Virginia Tech and Maryland have agreed to a four-game football series starting in 2026… Texas has agreed to a three-game series with Rice and a future game with Louisiana Tech… Central Michigan will play at Boston College in 2017 and also added future games against Illinois and Florida Atlantic… Navy posted its 2019 non-conference schedule… Northern Illinois and Toledo will play in the “Huskie Chi-Town Showdown,” the first football game in the 25-year history of U.S. Cellular Field, on Wednesday, Nov. 9… Colorado State finalized its 2017 non-conference schedule with a home-and-home series against Oregon State and a single game with Abilene Christian…


Chuck Lapeyre
has been selected as the Sugar Bowl Committee's President for the 2016-17 year… Jeff Cleanthes has been named Rhodes (Tenn.)’s new director of athletics… The NCAA announced that Missouri State athletics director Kyle Moats has been appointed to serve on its Division I Football Championship Committee…

Awards and Honors

The ACC announced the 2015 All-ACC Academic football team…

Rules Changes

The NCAA Football Rules Committee has approved several proposals to enhance student-athlete safety and allow electronic devices to be used in some areas of stadiums for coaching purposes…


The official groundbreaking occurred for Georgia’s new Indoor Athletic Facility… The February "College Athletics Construction Roundup" takes a look at the ongoing college facility construction projects… Utah State’s Maverik Stadium $36 million renovation project remains on track for completion late this summer… Construction of the new home for Penn State's Morgan Academic Support Center for Student-Athletes commenced with an anticipated late spring completion… Arizona State has entered the second of three phases for a $250 million renovation to Sun Devil Stadium… Oregon State announced the opening of the Terrace at Reser Stadium starting Sept. 17…


The East Carolina University Pirate Club set a new record, raising nearly $7.8 million in annual fund scholarship support… Arizona alumni Andrew and Kirsten Braccia have committed a $2.5 million leadership gift to assist with the construction of a new academic center for student-athletes. In addition, Dr. David Lapan and his family have committed a $1 million gift to the project…


Learfield announced it will join SportsBusiness Journal/Daily to present the 15th Annual Intercollegiate Athletics Forum, which will take place Dec. 7-8 at the New York Marriott Marquis at Times Square in New York City…

Community Service

Air Force head coach Troy Calhoun, Eastern Michigan’s Chris Creighton, San Francisco 49ers head coach Chip Kelly and former Notre Dame starting quarterback Pat Steenberge are taking part in the Military Appreciation Partnership 2016 Coaches Tour to entertain and inspire our troops serving at American Military Bases overseas…

Other News of Interest

Notre Dame junior wide receiver Corey Robinson, the son of NBA Hall of Famer David Robinson, became the first football player to be elected the university’s student body president. A First Team Academic All-American, Robinson caught 16 passes for 200 yards and a touchdown in 2015… Former Boston College football player and current Dallas mayor Mike Rawlings is among 30 Texas state office-holders invited to attend Mass with Pope Francis in Mexico on Feb. 17… Four research teams will receive a total of $100,000 through the NCAA Innovations in Research and Practice Grant Program, designed to enhance college athletes' psychosocial well-being and mental health…


Former Air Force director of athletics Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Edmund “Ed” Rafalko passed away Feb. 7. He was 91… Former Rennsselaer Polytechnic Institute (N.Y.) football player and FOX Sports statistician and computer graphics director Eric Norton passed away Jan. 31. He was 46… Former Nevada football player and UNLV assistant football coach Rich Abajian passed away Feb. 9… Former Wagner football player Timothy Fiori passed away Feb. 9. He was 66… Former Heidelberg (Ohio) football player Ronald Lessick passed away Feb. 10. He was 69… Former Michigan State lineman Ellison Kelly passed away Feb. 11. He was 80… University of Alabama at Birmingham Associate Athletics Director for Media Relations Norm Reilly passed away Feb. 12 following a long battle with cancer. He was 56… Former University of Denver quarterback and defensive back Rusty Fairly passed away Feb. 13. He was 83… Bill Carrico, who helped lead North Texas to two Missouri Valley Conference championships in 1958 and 1959, passed away Feb. 14…


Each year, the National Football Foundation invites universities, colleges, conferences and bowl games from across the country to provide support for the NFF programs through its Institutional Academic Membership Program. The program allows the NFF to greatly enhance the power of football's collective voice while actively building a stronger national platform for the game with community leaders, educators and the media. The program is open to all football-playing institutions and conferences at every level of college football and all bowl games, and it reached new levels of support last year. Email Ron Dilatush at to learn about the benefits and how your institution can become a member in 2015. Click here for the 2015 Institutional Academic Members.

Launched in 2008, the NFF National Scholar-Athlete Alumni Association provides a powerful vehicle for past honorees to remain in the vanguard of the NFF’s present efforts. For more information on the program or to enroll for 2015, please email Ron Dilatush at Click here for more information and to see the members of the 2015 NFF National Scholar-Athlete Alumni Association.

The NFF relies, in part, on the support of individuals to fulfill our mission of Building Leaders Through Football. The NFF accepts gifts in a variety of forms. In addition to one-time cash gifts, which can be put to use immediately, pledges also allow donors to make more substantial commitments over a longer period of time in support of our programs. Stock and other property which can be easily liquidated are also options when considering a gift. By making a gift of appreciated stock or property, one may reduce or avoid capital gains. Gifts to the National Football Foundation are tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law. Join us! For more information about how you can support the NFF, call 972-556-1000 or click here.


Sept. 28, 2016 – Announcement of the semifinalists for the 2016 William V. Campbell Trophy, presented by Fidelity Investments and prominently displayed at the NYAC – Irving, Texas

Dec. 5, 2016
– Announcement and Presentation of the Asa S. Bushnell Cup to the Ivy League Football Players of the Year at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel at an event presented by the Pasadena Tournament of Roses – New  York City

Dec. 6, 2016
– NFF Annual Awards Press Conference at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel – New York City

Dec. 6, 2016
– NFF Chapter Awards Luncheon, presented by Under Armour, at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel – New York City

Dec. 6, 2016
– 59th NFF Annual Awards Dinner at the Waldorf Astoria – New York City

Dec. 6, 2016
– 27th presentation of the William V. Campbell Trophy, presented by Fidelity Investments and prominently displayed at the NYAC, to the nation’s top football scholar-athlete at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel – New York City

Dec. 6, 2016
– Induction of the 2016 College Football Hall of Fame Class at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel – New York City

Dec. 31, 2016
– The 12th Annual NFF National Hall of Fame Salute during the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl – Atlanta

Jan. 5, 2017
– NFF Leadership Hall of Fame Dinner – Tampa, Fla.

Jan. 6, 2017
– Announcement of the 2017 College Football Hall of Fame Class – Tampa, Fla.

Jan. 9, 2017
– College Football Playoff National Championship at Raymond James Stadium – Tampa, Fla.


Advertising in NFF publications will put your organization in front of key decision makers in football including key administrators, coaches, players, former players, as well as other key sports business executives throughout the year. To inquire about the print advertising opportunities available to your organization, please contact Kelli Hilliard at 404-467-8101 or  

Become a fan of the National Football Foundation on Facebook - Upload your game day photos, check out pictures of the NFF Annual Awards Dinner and chat with other college football fans.

You can keep up with the NFF on Twitter at and on

Stay involved with the game. Become an NFF member by clicking here.

For more information on the NFF and college football, including announcements from the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and NCAA Football, please visit


The NFF would like to thank NFF correspondent Bo Carter for his contributions to this report.

NFF Chalktalk items are welcome, and should be submitted to

Created by the National Football Foundation, is the home for storytelling that promotes the power of amateur football.

corporate partners