STATS to Host Annual FCS Awards Banquet
STATS LLC will hold its annual FCS awards banquet in Frisco, Texas, on Jan. 8 – one night before the subdivision’s national championship game at nearby Toyota Stadium.
STATS, which purchased The Sports Network (TSN) in February, made a commitment to expand TSN’s trademark FCS coverage prior to the season, and has followed through with a preseason All-America team, regularly updated player Watch Lists and a weekly Top 25 media poll. In addition, fresh text, data and video content on its recently created destination website – www.fcs.football – has attracted nearly 400,000 page views over the past month.
The banquet will take place at the Embassy Suites Frisco Dallas Hotel Convention Center and feature the handing out of five awards: the STATS FCS Offensive Player of the Year; the STATS FCS Defensive Player of the Year; the STATS FCS Coach of the Year; the STATS FCS Freshman Player of the Year; and the STATS Doris & Eddie Robinson FCS Scholar/Athlete of the Year.
The ceremony will be emceed by Gary Reasons, an FCS football alumnus (Northwestern State) and member of the College Football Hall of Fame who went on to star at linebacker for the New York Giants during two Super Bowl-winning seasons.
“We couldn’t be happier with the way our decision to cover the FCS has turned out,” said Brian Orefice, STATS’ news director who has overseen the initiative along with longtime FCS beat writer Craig Haley and FCS operations director Phil Sokol – both of whom joined STATS following its TSN acquisition. “The leagues and schools have been incredible partners, and, by sheer luck, we entered the fray during one of the most dramatic years on the field ever. We hope this awards banquet can somehow come close to replicating the excitement of the season.”
With just three weeks until the start of the FCS playoffs, Jacksonville State has maintained the top spot in the STATS FCS Top 25 for the past eight weeks, but there’s been no shortage of parity since the season fittingly began with four-time defending champ North Dakota State being upset at Montana, 38-35. Individually, a trio of big-name quarterbacks – Villanova’s John Robertson, North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz and James Madison’s Vad Lee – had premature ends to promising regular seasons, leaving the Offensive Player of the Year race wide open.
Voting will take place for the Offensive, Defensive, Freshman and Coaching honors between Nov. 23–27 – before the playoffs begin – by the same panel of 160 members who make up the weekly Top 25 voting. In addition to the freshman and coach recipients, three finalists apiece will be invited to Frisco for the announcement of the Offensive and Defensive awards.
The other honor to be handed out is associated with FCS royalty.
In conjunction with the family of Eddie Robinson, STATS has named its academic achievement award in fitting tribute to the longtime Grambling coach and his wife Doris, a former teacher and the renowned matriarch of Grambling athletics, who died in September at the age of 96. Eddie, of course, won 408 games at the school – the most ever for a football coach at the time of his 1997 retirement – before passing away 10 years later.
“The family of Doris and Coach Eddie Robinson is respectfully honored to have STATS name its academic achievement award in tribute to a couple who together emphasized higher education as an expected parallel with athletics,” said Eddie Robinson III, grandson of Grambling’s first family.