Contributed by
The Fifth Down

FWAA member Shelly Poe, Auburn’s assistant athletic director/media relations, has been named the recipient of the association’s Lifetime Achievement Award for the 2021 season, becoming the fourth person in the sports information field to receive the honor.

The award goes to a FWAA member or someone close to the organization who has contributed greatly to either college football, the writing profession or the FWAA during his or her career. Poe would be considered a trailblazer as a female football SID.

Poe was the only female head SID at a Division I football school when she was named West Virginia’s (her alma mater) in 1988 after holding an assistant’s post at the same school for three years. She also was the youngest Division I head SID at that time at 23 years of age.

“I was very fortunate to have been one of the first women to make a career in football, and I was able to do that because a number of smart, tough, persistent women paved the way for those my age to choose the career path,” Poe said. “There were often challenges and resistance, but I quickly learned that the winners in athletics judged people based on how their talents can benefit the program.

“I worked hard to gain that trust and advocates stepped up from the most surprising quarters whenever biases made things difficult. Along the way, I’ve built so many lifelong relationships with friends who were first introduced to me as players, coaches, co-workers and media colleagues, and that is the real dividend.”        

“Shelly has been a staple in the college sports information field for more than three decades,” said FWAA Executive Director Steve Richardson. “It is one thing to have longevity in the field, but she has been a strong advocate for the media among her peers and those she has worked for at three FBS institutions. She also has been a tireless worker for CoSIDA.”

Besides her tenure at Auburn for the past decade, Poe also was director of football communications at Ohio State from 2007 to 2012 following 20 years at West Virginia. An ex-officio member of the FWAA Board from 2013 to 2018, Poe is a 2006 member of the CoSIDA Hall of Fame, the 2013-14 CoSIDA president, the recipient of the 2012 CoSIDA Trailblazer Award and she was part of a CoSIDA-FWAA task force to determine media services adjustments at the beginning of the COVID pandemic in the summer of 2020.  She has been at Auburn since 2012. 

“I was blessed to work for many years for one of the finest gentlemen ever in this game, Hall of Fame coach Don Nehlen, who would do an extra interview or make time for a guest, ‘because I think it’s good for the game,’” Poe recalled. “Those words have been a standard for me, and I hope I’ve made the game better by assisting so many talented people in telling its stories.

“My best friend, the late coach Dave Adolph, was known for asking, ‘Do you love football?’ I do love it, and I love the positive impact it’s had on so many lives, especially mine.”

The FWAA started naming a Lifetime Achievement Award winner nearly a decade ago. Art Spander of the San Francisco Examiner was the first recipient in 2013, followed by Bill Little (University of Texas) in 2014, Irv Moss (Denver Post) in 2015, OK (Buddy) Davis (Ruston Daily Leader) in 2016, Mike Finn (ACC) in 2017, Dave Plati (University of Colorado) in 2018, Wright Waters (Football Bowl Association) and Paul Hoolahan (Sugar Bowl) in 2019 and Sid Hartman (Minneapolis Star Tribune) posthumously in 2020.Founded in 1941, the Football Writers Association of America consists of journalists, broadcasters, publicists, photographers and key executives in all areas of college football. The FWAA works to govern media access and gameday operations while presenting awards and honors, including an annual All-America team. For more information about the FWAA and its programs and initiatives, contact Executive Director Steve Richardson at 214-870-6516 or