FBA Bestows Its Highest Honor, The Champions Award, to College Football Legends Archie Manning and Tom Osborne
HOUSTON (April 4, 2019) – Archie Manning and Tom Osborne, a pair of Sugar Bowl legends, will each be honored April 11 at the Football Bowl Association’s annual Champions Award dinner in Houston. Manning was a stellar at Ole Miss quarterback who earned Sugar Bowl Most Outstanding Player honors after leading the Rebels to a 1970 victory over Arkansas. Osborne, the architect of one of the most successful programs in college football history, directed Nebraska to three Sugar Bowl appearances (1974, 1985, 1987), all victories, during his 25-year tenure leading the Cornhuskers.
The Champions Award is presented annually to a coach or administrator who “over a long career furthers the cause of the college football bowl industry, with special emphasis on the student-athlete experience.”
“Archie is a dear friend who was my neighbor in New Orleans,” recalled Football Bowl Association executive director Wright Waters. “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.”
A native of Drew, Miss., Manning played three seasons at Mississippi, achieving All-America status and becoming the first and only Rebels player to have his jersey number  retired.
The New Orleans Saints selected him No. 2 in the 1971 NFL draft, a draft in which college quarterbacks went 1-2-3 [Jim Plunkett, Manning, Dan Pastorini]. He played 10 seasons in New Orleans over the course of a 15-year career that spanned 1971-84.
Manning and his wife Olivia are the parents of three sons, Peyton, Eli and Cooper. Manning and his sons direct the annual Manning Passing Academy in Thibodaux, La., for young quarterbacks. Manning Academy counselors and graduates include several NFL signal callers.
He was voted Mississippi’s greatest all-time athlete in 1992 and was also named his home state’s most popular athlete of the century. Additionally, he was named one of the top 25 athletes of the century in Louisiana. He’s a member of the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame, the Allstate Sugar Bowl Hall of Fame and is a member of other Halls of Fame in both Louisiana and Mississippi.
Manning joined the NFF Board of Directors in 1993 and currently serves as board chairman. In 2016, he received the NFF’s highest honor, the Gold Medal.
Directing the Nebraska football program from 1973 through 1997, 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. Fifteen times, he directed the Huskers to double-digit win seasons and he led the team to 15 bowl games. His 1974 team defeated Florida in the Sugar Bowl, and his 1984 and 1986 squads both posted Sugar Bowl victories over LSU.
“Tom Osborne achieved milestones that we may never see again in college football,” said Waters. “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.
Osborne’s last five Nebraska teams put together the best five-year run in college football history with a 60-3 record that included five consecutive seasons of at least 11 victories. 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 Selection 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.
He and his wife Nancy have three adult children, Mike, Ann and Suzanne.
Manning and Osborne join a distinguished list of previous Champions Award recipients. They include:
2009 – Roy Kramer, Southeastern Conference commissioner
2010 – Tom Hansen, Pacific-12 Conference commissioner
2011 – LaVell Edwards, Brigham Young head coach
2012 – Bobby Bowden, Florida State head coach
2013 – Grant Teaff, Baylor head coach/AFCA president
2014 – Dennis Poppe, NCAA administrator
2015 – Lee Corso, Indiana head coach/ESPN commentator
2016 – Mike Slive, Southeastern Conference commissioner
2017 – Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech head coach
2018 – Donnie Duncan, Oklahoma athletics director/Iowa State head coach
2019 – Mack Brown, North Carolina/Texas head coach