Steve Spurrier. Frank Beamer. Gary Pinkel. College football’s losing a multitude of greats in the 2015 season, and you can add another name to the list: Chris Dufresne.
Dufresne, the longtime columnist and reporter for the Los Angeles Times, announced Monday via Twitter he is accepting a buyout from the newspaper’s parent company.
News that will thrill some, sadden others: Buyout application accepted today from L.A. Times. Sorry, 140 characters can't wrap up 40 years.
— Chris Dufresne (@DufresneLATimes) November 16, 2015
Rumors of the Times drastically cutting costs swirled for month, and the loss of a $7.2-million discrimination lawsuit to former columnist T.J. Simers earlier this month couldn’t have helped with the paper’s financial burdens.
The Times‘ downsizing and its impact on hundreds of media professionals crystallizes the industry’s fragility. Media is in a transitional period and few — if any — know what direction it’s headed. Regardless how the landscape changes, within the realm of college football coverage, it needs more like Chris Dufresne.
Dufresne’s columns were must-read for me dating back to my college days, when I consumed as much sportswriting as I could. I long admired his expert ability to present an argument supported with facts rather than emotion, and do so without abandoning a wry sense of humor that made his voice both unique and relatable. His brand of writing is intelligent without veering into pomposity, lighthearted without becoming saccharine.
I imagine a columnist with his tenure and notoriety could cherry-pick assignments and punch out pithy columns from the comfort of a home office. But Dufresne is a fixture at many of the same events I’ve had the privilege of covering, assorted media days and Pac-12 football games, asking questions and functioning as an active part of the Fourth Estate.
As the separation between lower-level journalists and established names gets wider in the industry’s changing landscape, Dufresne bridged the gap as president of the Football Writers Association of America.
I wish now I had introduced myself at any of those USC or UCLA games, or during media days, just to say thank you. He entertained me, made me think, and set a standard to which any college football scribe should aspire.