All season, we have asked fans Where Is Tim Hiller? Well, he has found his way on the National Football Foundation National-Scholar Athlete Team and is being honored in New York City this week. He, along with 15 other senior student-athletes, is a finalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy (formerly the Draddy Trophy), otherwise known as the "Academic Heisman."
Tim Hiller will be traveling to New York City for the National Football Foundation 2009 Annual Awards Dinner on Dec. 8 at the Waldorf-Astoria. Fans can keep up with the Orrville, Ohio, native throughout Tim's time in the Big Apple through this blog, which will be updated periodically over the next three days.
Dec. 8 - NFF Awards Banquet
The final event of the week came this evening at the Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. After a nearly two-hour photo session and welcome reception for the National Scholar-Athlete Team and Hall of Fame Inductees, their guests and VIPs of the college and professional sports world.
When I say VIPs, I mean it. When Joe Paterno and John McEnroe are holding court (no pun intended) in a room, people will take notice. Coaches from across the NCAA ladnscape attended the reception from Gary Patterson of TCU to former coach Barry Alvarez of Wisconsin. Football greats Lynn Swann and Ronnie Lott were in attendance and even MLB Network's Harold Reynolds couldn't stay away.
Once the banquet began, the magnitude of this event really came to light. In a room filled with history, the number of people that have contributed to the game of football permiated the room. ESPN's Chris Fowler was the emcee and had a lot to say all evening, especially at the expense of some of those being honored, including Texas' Colt McCoy.
Florida's Tim Tebow ultimately won the William V. Campbell Trophy but this experience was more than the possibility of winning a piece of hardware for Hiller. These are experiences that he and his family will be able to talk about for years to come just as Western Michigan fans will be talking about Hiller and what he meant to the University and football program for years to come as well.
Dec. 8 - Press Conference
Tim's morning began with the NFF Scholar-Athlete press conference (View Transcript Here) in the Empire Room of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. Hiller sat alongside the 15 other National Scholar Athletes for the interview portion and then conducted one-on-one interviews with Dan Mogollon of College Football Insiders and Dave Curtis of The Sporting News. The real fun began when Tim got a chance to meet and talk with Ohio State legend Chris Spielman, NFF Chairman Archie Manning, NFL coaching great Dick Vermeil and the former coach at Marshall Jack Lengyel. Tim also spoke briefly with ESPN.com's Joe Schad.
After the press conference, Tim's family and fiancee' arrived for the awards banquet and they all walked down to Rockerfeller Center for some site seeing and lunch at Alfredo near Times Square. Afterward, some much anticipated (by Tim's fiancee' Michelle DeNooyter) shopping.
Dec. 7 - 12-4 p.m.
Hiller checked into the Waldorf-Astoria hotel located on Park Ave. on Tuesday afternoon. He was directed to the NFF hospitality suite where he received his gift bag and was informed who would be his roommate over the next 48 hours. Out of the 15 other William V. Campbell Award finalists, Hiller was paired with another quarterback - 2007 Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow of the University of Florida. The two have more than their position on the football field in common. Both have very strong faith and are very involved with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Hiller took a stroll down 49th Street past the Rockerfeller Center and the famous NYC Christmas Tree. It was Tim's first chance to see Times Square. I accompanied Tim to lunch at Playlight Tavern, an Irish Restaurant in the heart of Times Square. After lunch, Tim returned to the hospitality suite where he met his new roommate for the first time. Tim and Tim spoke briefly as Tebow checked in. The Florida QB was accompanied by fellow signal caller Colt McCoy of Texas fresh off his performance in the Big 12 Championship, which earned his Longhorns a spot in the BCS National Championship game. Both Tebow and McCoy were named 2009 Heisman Trophy finalists later in the day.
Dec. 7 - 6-10:30 p.m.
The 16 Campbell finalists had a welcome reception in the Marco Polo Room at the Waldorf-Astoria. Each of the finalists were recognized individually prior to heading to Radio City Music Hall at 8 p.m. The finalists were treated to the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular. Afterward, the group all went to Mickey Mantle's restaurant in Central Park South.
Dec. 7 - 5 a.m.
Tim had barely enough time to settle into bed after the 2009 WMU Football Annual Banquet when he had to wake at his soon-to-be brother-in-law's house to head to the Kalamazoo Aiport. Hiller caught a 5:55 a.m. flight to Chicago-O'Hare before heading off to La Guardia Airport. It will be the first time Hiller has been to NYC. He is currently on that flight and is set to land a little after 10 a.m. He will catch a cab to the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel on Park Ave., and await Coach Cubit and other WMU administrator's arrival.
We'll have more from Tim about his travels later this afternoon along with pics and a short video.