Cecil Hurt.

The college football media landscape has lost one of its long-time luminaries. Cecil Hurt, who had been at The Tuscaloosa News since 1982, passed away Tuesday following complications from pneumonia. Here’s more on him from Tommy Deas of that paper:

Cecil Hurt, longtime sports columnist at The Tuscaloosa News, died Tuesday at UAB Hospital in Birmingham from complications from pneumonia.

Hurt, who was 62, joined The Tuscaloosa News in 1982 as a sports writer and seven years later became the newspaper’s sports editor and columnist.

“In pro football, teams put a ‘franchise’ tag on their most valuable players, and at The Tuscaloosa News, Cecil was the franchise,” said Ken Roberts, city editor of The Tuscaloosa News. “Our readers considered his column an essential part of being an Alabama football fan.

“I’ve attended Alabama football games for more than 30 years and many, many times I’ve overheard a fan in stands saying, ‘I wonder what Cecil Hurt will say about this.’ I think that shows the power of his skills as a writer.

That’s a good point from Roberts, and it helps speak to the impact Hurt had for many. Over the last decades in particular, his influence spread well outside of Alabama, with people from around the U.S. and around the world engaging with him on Twitter (where he had almost 116,000 followers) and through his columns. And Hurt had a notable reputation as someone who often had his finger on the pulse of college football, at Alabama and beyond. And his longevity at the News speaks to his influence; there aren’t many people who have spent almost four decades at one newspaper, but Hurt clearly brought a lot of value to that paper, and was a key part of their Crimson Tide coverage for decades. Here’s a tweet from his account Tuesday announcing his passing:

The official Alabama football Twitter account also paid tribute to him:

Hurt won a Pulitzer Prize in 2011 as part of the Tuscaloosa News team covering the tornado that devastated that city, which had significant impacts on Alabama football. He was named the National Sports Media Association’s Alabama sportswriter of the year in both 2016 and 2019. He also won more than a dozen top 10 national awards from the Associated Press Sports Editors. And his coverage of Alabama, and of college football in general, will be long remembered. Our thoughts go out to his friends and family.

[The Tuscaloosa News]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.