(STATS) - STATS LLC announced Friday that it 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 in February, made a commitment to expand TSN's trademark FCS coverage prior to the season, and followed through with its own 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 FCS-specific website - www.fcs.football - which debuted just prior to the season has attracted nearly 400,000 page views over the last month.
The banquet will feature the handing out of five honors: the Offensive, Defensive, Freshman and Coach of the Year, as well as the Doris & Eddie Robinson Scholar/Athlete Award.
Voting will take place for those first four awards between Nov. 23-27 - before the playoffs begin - by the same panel of 160 members who make up the weekly Top 25 voting. Besides 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 named its academic achievement award in 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 age 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.
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. Other scheduled presenters include former Super Bowl MVP Doug Williams and Jerry Moore, whose 242 coaching wins include three FCS championships at Appalachian State.
With just two 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 champion 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.