Morris Trophy fits this city just right
Conceived at UW, the Pac-12’s best linemen award lives at the WAC
By Mike Gastineau
If you were told to create a college football award that was uniquely Seattle, you’d probably invent the Morris Trophy. After all, this is an award that honors the hardest-working and most-overlooked players in the game—the linemen. Pacific Northwest football fans have always appreciated good line play, so it’s fitting that an award honoring them calls Seattle home, even if that wasn’t always the case.
Appropriately, the Morris Trophy was conceived at Seattle’s oldest football cathedral, Husky Stadium. Washington fan Traci Morris Drake devised a plan to have players vote for an award honoring the league’s best linemen. She took her idea straight to the top and met with UW coach Don James. He loved it and helped get the Pac-10 (now Pac-12) involved. The first Morris Trophy awards were presented following the 1980 season to Vince Goldsmith of Oregon and Roy Foster of USC.
In a quirky fashion befitting Seattle, the city managed to lose the award ceremony for awhile. In the late 1980s, due to a lack of funding, the presentation was moved to a club in California.
That club eventually hit upon hard times, and the Morris Trophy might have gone away were it not for a fortuitously timed intervention by Seattle businessman and former WAC Chairman Patrick Crumb. Upon hearing of the Morris Trophy’s history and plight, Patrick convinced the WAC to get involved. In 2005, the award was brought back to its true home. In a nod to history, that year’s awards were presented by Don James.
Because most winners usually bring their families to Seattle, the luncheon always has a warm feel. In 2011, Stephen Paea’s mom nearly broke down as she told of how her son’s dedication to football would allow the family to live the American dream. In 2012, a snowstorm hit Seattle on the morning of the lunch. Defensive winner Star Lotulelei of Utah laughed at the weather-related turnout, pointing out that in Utah snow doesn’t stop anyone.
Last year’s luncheon featured another defensive winner, Nate Orchard, getting parenting tips from offensive winner Andrus Peat’s grandmother.
This year brings the exciting news of a title sponsor—Anthony’s Restaurants—and a live broadcast at the luncheon by media partner KJR Radio. Plan to join us on Thursday, January 14, as we celebrate the outstanding collegiate careers and bright professional futures of this year’s Morris Trophy winners. It’s the only college football award voted on by the players, and it’s appropriately housed in the very football- crazy city of Seattle right here at the WAC.
—Radioman Mike Gastineau has worked in the Seattle sports market for more than two decades and serves as emcee for the Morris Trophy awards presentation.
As published in the January/February 2016 issue of WAC Magazine.