IRVING, Texas (April 4, 2019) – The National Football Foundation (NFF) & College Hall of Fame today applauded the Football Bowl Association (FBA) for bestowing its Champions Award, the organization’s highest honor, on NFF Chairman Archie Manning and legendary Nebraska coach Tom Osborne, both members of the College Football Hall of Fame. Manning and Osborne will be honored April 11 in Houston at the FBA’s annual Champions Award Dinner, the organization’s signature event and annual meeting.
“The Football Bowl Association, led by Wright Waters, has clearly identified two of the most influential leaders in college football from the last half century,” said NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell. “Archie has made incalculable contributions to the NFF and our efforts to protect the game for future generations. From the building of the new College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta to the millions of dollars raised for our scholarships to our new Football Matters® initiative, none of it could have happened without Archie.
“And it’s truly fitting that Tom Osborne and Archie are being honored in tandem. Not only did Coach Osborne oversee one of the most successful programs in college football history, but Nebraska produced an unprecedented 14 NFF National Scholar-Athletes during his tenure in Lincoln as head coach. Both of these men had a passion for winning on the field but they have left a much greater legacy in the community. Kudos to the FBA for recognizing them.”
Presented annually to a coach or administrator, the FBA Champions Award recognizes an individual who “over a long career furthers the cause of the college football bowl industry, with special emphasis on the student-athlete experience.”
An All-America quarterback at Ole Miss, a Pro Bowl player with the New Orleans Saints and a College Football Hall of Fame inductee, Manning charted a successful post-football career, including roles as an investment broker, broadcaster, restaurateur, endorser, community leader and philanthropist. He added the NFF to his list of many charities, joining the NFF Board of Directors in 1993. He served with distinction before becoming NFF Chairman in 2007 and the leader of a nationwide network of 120 chapters in 47 states with more than 12,000 members.
During his tenure as chairman, the NFF has experienced remarkable growth, and his leadership played a critical role in the opening of the state-of-the-art $68.5 million College Football Hall of Fame in the heart of Atlanta in 2014. He also oversaw the launch of the NFF Leadership Hall of Fame, which has helped raise and distribute millions of dollars for the NFF scholarships, programs and initiatives. Currently, the organization distributes more than $1.3 million each year and recognizes thousands of student-athletes for their accomplishments on and off the field.
In 2016, the NFF presented Manning with its highest honor, the Gold Medal. He was recently honored with the Walter Camp Football Foundation’s Distinguished American Award and the SEC’s Michael L. Slive Distinguished Service Award.
“Archie is a dear friend who was my neighbor in New Orleans,” said Football Bowl Association executive director Wright Waters in the FBA release. “His impact on college football and postseason football goes back over forty years. He has always led by example and his commitment to college football has never wavered. From his work with the Sugar Bowl to the Football Foundation to the Manning Passing Academy, all have been done with class and excellence.”
Directing the Nebraska football program from 1973 through 1997, Tom Osborne reached zenith level among college coaches. His overall record [255 wins, 49 losses, three ties] give him the most wins in the fewest years of any coach, regardless of division. His teams went to 25 bowl games during the length of his coaching tenure; in 15 of those years, the Huskers posted double-digit-win seasons.
“Tom Osborne achieved milestones that we may never see again in college football,” said Waters in the release. “When you look back at what he and his Nebraska teams accomplished, what they did has more than passed the test of time. Coach Osborne created a culture that literally enveloped the entire state of Nebraska, a culture that remains to this day.”
Osborne guided the Huskers to back-to-back national championships in 1994 and 1995, then concluded his career by sharing the 1997 title with Michigan. In his final game, the Huskers defeated Tennessee 42-17, the victory leaving Osborne as the first coach in college football history to retire as a reigning national champion. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1999.
In 2007, Osborne took the reins of the entire Nebraska athletics department, being named the school’s 12th director of athletics, a position he held until 2013. Osborne still provides leadership within the college football industry. He served on the College Football Playoff Committee in the CFP’s first two years of existence. Osborne additionally spent 2000-06 representing his home state’s Third District in the United States Congress.
Manning and Osborne join a distinguished list of previous Champions Award recipients, which includes:
2009 – Roy Kramer, Southeastern Conference commissioner (1998 NFF Distinguished American Award recipient)
2010 – Tom Hansen, Pacific-12 Conference commissioner (2001 NFF Outstanding Contribution to Amateur Football Award recipient and 2008 NFF Legacy Award recipient)
2011 – LaVell Edwards, Brigham Young head coach (2004 College Football Hall of Fame inductee)
2012 – Bobby Bowden, Florida State head coach (2006 NFF Gold Medal recipient and 2006 College Football Hall of Fame inductee)
2013 – Grant Teaff, Baylor head coach/AFCA president (2001 College Football Hall of Fame inductee and 2016 NFF Outstanding Contribution to Amateur Football Award recipient)
2014 – Dennis Poppe, NCAA administrator (2013 NFF Outstanding Contribution to Amateur Football Award recipient)
2015 – Lee Corso, Indiana head coach/ESPN commentator (Member of ESPN’s College GameDay recognized in 2006 with the NFF Outstanding Contribution to Amateur Football Award
2016 – Mike Slive, Southeastern Conference commissioner (2015 NFF Legacy Award recipient)
2017 – Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech head coach (2018 College Football Hall of Fame inductee)
2018 – Donnie Duncan, Oklahoma associate athletics director/Iowa State head coach (2015 NFF Legacy Award recipient)
2019 – Mack Brown, North Carolina/Texas head coach (2018 College Football Hall of Fame inductee)