Lott IMPACT Trophy | Honoring College Football's Defensive Best





The Lott IMPACT Trophy…Newport Beach, Ca.

The landscape of college football is shifting. No single move appears to be seismic, but certainly the culmination of all will have a long-lasting effect on the game.

From player safety to new conferences to the speed of the game, 2013 will mark the entry into new and unchartered waters.

At the forefront of aggressive change is Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott, who will be the keynote speaker for the 10th annual Lott IMPACT Trophy banquet Dec. 8 in Newport Beach. At the Pac-12 media day, Scott said there is an “eroding trust” in the NCAA and that evolution is needed, but not radical overhaul.

Consider these issues:
*The mega conferences. There are five dominant conferences in the NCAA – The Pac-12, the SEC, the Big 12, the Big Ten and the ACC. Their members are the elite schools in the country when it comes to athletics. Now, they’re rumbling that they want the rules to change. Big-12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby has called for “transformative change.” Those commissioners contend, rightfully so it appears, that they should not be regulated by the same rules as schools that generate less attendance, notice and, of course, income.
What changes? Well, mostly it will be about revenue sharing, scheduling and discipline. Stay tuned.

*The speed of the game. The hurry-up offense, championed by Oregon and copied by scores of schools around the country, has come into question by none other than Alabama Coach Nick Saban, the two-time national champion. Saban contends more plays may well equate4 to more player-safety risk.

*The practice schedules. Pac-12 Commissioner Scott has called for less practice time and more recovery time for student-athletes.

*Scheduling. Less FCS (Football Championship Subdivision, aka Division 1AA teams) teams on FBS schedules. National champ Alabama, for instance, plays homes games this season against Chattanooga, Colorado State and Georgia State (that’s even homecoming). Schools will be urged to eliminate those creampuff games, much to the chagrin of coaches who naturally like to add two or three easy wins each season. With conferences expanding, teams that now play only eight conference games (SEC and Big Ten) will likely go to nine conference games with the odd game being at a neutral site. NFL stadiums like the ones in Atlanta, Dallas and Charlotte make tremendous revenue opportunities.

*Targeting. The penalty for targeting, as defined in the rules for the past five years, has been elevated from a foul to a foul and ejection. Any hit with the top of the helmet or any hit to the head area with the forearm, elbow, shoulder or helmet will qualify for ejection. South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney’s hit on Michigan’s Vincent Smith last season, a SportsCenter highlight, might well fall into that category.

*Television. At the Pac-12 media day, Scott urged fans to drop DirecTv and sign up with a cable company that carries the Pac-12 network. There have even been full-page newspaper ads in prominent Pac-12 cities doing the same.

*Fan experience at the stadiums: The Big-12’s Bowlsby: “We see people that have a 60-inch television and they can have their mobile device with full wi-fi on their lap, no lines at the restroom, no charge for concessions, they can have a cold beer when they want to, and they don’t have to spend six to eight hours traveling to and from the stadium.” So look for more fan-friendly amenities at your local stadium, including wi-fi access, more diverse concessions and larger video screens with more replays and highlights of other games around the country.

*The big one, of course, is this will be the last year without a championship playoff format. Beginning in 2014, a four-team playoff will be instituted, which will bring its own set of criticisms, critics and second-guessers.
The next NCAA convention in January in San Diego figures to be a doozy.
* * * * *
Stanford Coach David Shaw’s position on college athletes being paid a stipend: “We’re giving these guys a $58,000 a year (at Stanford) education. It’s our job to teach them to make a living, not make a living in college.”
* * * * *
Rose Bowl Note: For the past 24 years, a Lott IMPACT Trophy Keynote speaker has announced the Rose Bowl. Merlin Olsen nine times, Keith Jackson 15 times and Brent Musburger 10 times.
* * * * *
Honors: Former Cal head coach Mike White, a member of the Lott IMPACT Board of Directors, recently was named recipient of the distinguished Glenn T. Seaborg Award for his career accomplishments “who represents the honored Cal principles and traditions of excellence in academics, athletics, leadership and attitude.” White was a player at Cal and coached the Bears from 1972 through 1977. His ’75 team went 8-3 and White was named Pac-8 Coach of the Year.
* * * * *
Jim Leonhard, a Lott IMPACT Trophy finalist in 2004, will be with the New Orleans Saints this season, his fifth team in 10 seasons. The 5-10 safety from Wisconsin has 344 tackles and eight interceptions in his career.

Named after Pro Football Hall of Fame member, Ronnie Lott, The Lott IMPACT Trophy is awarded to college football’s Defensive IMPACT Player of the Year. Founded in 2004 by The Pacific Club IMPACT Foundation, The Lott Trophy is the first and only college football award to equally recognize athletic performance and the personal character attributes of the player. The Lott Trophy is given to the player who exhibits the same characteristics Lott embodied during his distinguished career: Integrity, Maturity, Performance, Academics, Community and Tenacity. Voters for the award include selected members of the national media, previous finalists, the Board of Directors of the Pacific Club IMPACT Foundation and a distinguished group of former college football head coaches. To date, the Pacific Club IMPACT Foundation has donated more than $1 million to universities and charities throughout the country. The 10th annual Lott IMPACT Trophy Banquet will be held Dec. 8 in Newport Beach.

For more information on The Lott Trophy visit: www.LottImpactTrophy.org.
Pete Donovan, Plays4pars@aol.com/714.315.9575