Recognition, awards finally catching up with Bud Ford

Marvin WestHalls

The East Tennessee chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame presented the Distinguished American Award to Bud Ford at the annual honors meeting Saturday (4/15/23).

Ford served 46 years in the University of Tennessee Athletics Media Relations office and is now the department’s official historian.

The plaque inscription says “for superior leadership in amateur athletics and contributions to the community.”

Ford, a Halls guy, is in the Tennessee Sports Writers Hall of Fame, the Greater East Tennessee sports hall of fame and his national professional group, CoSIDA Hall of Fame. CoSIDA presented Ford the most prestigious Arch Ward Award in 2006.

Tennessee’s previous sports information directors were Gus Manning (for a little while) and Haywood Harris (almost forever).

Through the decades, Ford provided hundreds of press releases and photographs, information for sports writers and broadcasters; answered thousands of questions about the Volunteers and the games they played. He managed the press box at Neyland Stadium. His current project is a history book with results of all the games.

Ford is linked to several all-America honors for famous Vols. Bud promoted accomplishments, starting with Ron Widby and Bernard King, all the way to Peyton Manning.

Peyton finishing second in Heisman Trophy voting was Ford’s greatest career disappointment.

Second place didn’t change Manning’s opinion of the UT publicist.

“Bud is simply the best in the business,” Manning said. “I will always be indebted to Bud Ford and I am honored to call him my friend.”

The East Tennessee Chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame handed out several other awards. Jim Tressel received the Gen. Robert R. Neyland Trophy as selected by The Knoxville Quarterback Club. Tressel was a longtime coach at Youngstown State and Ohio State, leading those schools to a combined five national titles. Tressel owns a .742 career winning percentage with an impressive 229-79-2 record. He recently retired as president of Youngstown State.

The Lindsey Nelson Broadcasting Award was presented to Brad Nessler, SEC football play-by-play announcer for CBS for the past seven years. Nessler has also described SEC basketball and NFL games.

Nessler began his broadcasting career in Atlanta radio and spent 24 years with ESPN. He worked at the 1992 Olympic Winter Games in Albertville, France.

High school coaches and scholar-athletes were among the honorees.

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