The RTC Interview Series: One On One With Clark KelloggPosted by nvr1983 on February 1st, 2012
Rush The Court is back with another edition of One on One: An Interview Series, which we will bring you periodically throughout the year. If you have any specific interview requests or want us to interview you, shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This time our interview subject is Clark Kellogg. Most of you probably just know Clark from his work at CBS first as a studio analyst, but eventually taking over as one of their lead college basketball analysts replacing Billy Packer. While that is impressive by itself, just saying that would be selling Clark’s on-court accomplishments short. Clark was a McDonald’s All-American, All-Big Ten, and was the #8 overall pick in the 1982 NBA Draft by the Indiana Pacers. In his rookie year, he averaged a ridiculous 20.1 points and 10.6 rebounds per game while being named All-Rookie First Team, but his career was cut short due to knee injuries. Clark joined to talk about college basketball and the Capital One Cup.
Rush The Court: One of the big topics in college sports recently has been the issue of paying athletes, whether it is the $2,000 stipend or more radical proposals. What are your thoughts on what has been proposed and how realistic do you think the proposals have been?
Clark Kellogg: I think it is a worthwhile proposal and it is realistic. Obviously, you have to look at the budgetary constraints of different programs, but I think that every Division I player in the major revenue-producing sports (men’s basketball and men’s football) because the demands of the scholarship are a full-time job should be able to supplement that with the cost of attendance, which is what the stipend is attempting to close the gap on. I think it is reasonable and practical. Obviously, it raises a question as to how you do that and what’s the right amount, but I think it is a good proposal and one that should be implemented and I think it will be in some form and fashion. I think it is a positive step because of the nature of those two sports and because of the demands on the time and minds and bodies of those student-athletes it is a full-time job and the cost of attending college is more than the cost of tuition, food, room, board, and books. That is a wonderful blessing to have that covered. All three of our children have been Division I scholarship athletes and we understand the blessing that is, but at the same time I was in a position to send each of my kids a certain amount of money each month to cover some of the incidental expenses. I think it makes sense for the universities to try and cover some of those incidental costs.
RTC: Getting back to basketball itself, one of the topics that after UNC got blown out by 33 points at Florida State people started to suggest that they are not a championship team. [Clark laughing in the background.] That championship teams don’t get blown out like that [more laughter] and they cite all these figures about how no championship team has ever lost by that much.
CK: Can you tell by my reaction? [Even more laughter] I think that is nonsensical. You play 30 to 35 games in college basketball and everybody is going to get drummed. I don’t care if you are championship caliber or not. There are a lot of factors that go into being drummed. One is being on the road. Two you play against a good team that has a terrific performance. Three is you are human; there are all kind of things: travel, finals, schools, 18- to 22-year old guys being brain neutral and not there. It happens in the NBA. Teams that win the championship get beat badly sometimes. That doesn’t change who they are. Now if it becomes a pattern then that is different, but a one-game situation I just chuckle when people say that. It is part of the context of our culture because we so want to analyze something every five or 10 minutes and make a conclusion about it. A season is indeed a season. It is made up of individual games and some games are going to be better than others. It is about consistency. It’s about being healthy. It’s about getting better. Every now and then you are going to have a game that is inexplicable. You could go crazy and make 8 out of 13 three-pointers. How often is that going to happen? So it goes both ways. It was comical to me that people automatically started thinking that Carolina was unworthy of being one of the favorites to get to New Orleans. Now they have got issues with [Dexter] Strickland being out. Who steps into his role? That is more something to analyze than the fact that they got blasted in Tallahassee.
RTC: That’s exactly how I felt. I’m from Boston so we have the Memorial Day Massacre where the Lakers got killed and came back and won that series. Obviously that is pro basketball, but I think it still holds.
CK: [Laughs] That’s right so you have got a frame of reference. Most people do, but I think they just forget about it in the urgency of the moment.
RTC: So you talked about UNC’s chances to win it all after Strickland’s injury. You look at college basketball from a national level whereas a lot of people are more local. Who do you see as the favorites to win it this year?
CK: I have got a group of six or maybe seven teams that I have the ingredients to be considered favorites. Clearly Carolina is in that group. I would put Syracuse and Connecticut in that group [Ed. Note: This was recorded before this past weekend.]. Kentucky certainly. Baylor with their talents deserves to be in that group. The way Kansas is playing they deserve to be there too. After that there are a number of teams that in that second tier that could come off the pace. I look at a team like Vanderbilt that was highly ranked and had great expectations then stumbled early. Now they seem to be finding themselves. They got Festus Ezeli back. They are rounding into form. Florida is an interesting team because of their ability to shoot the three makes them a dangerous team come Tournament time. I like UNLV outside of the power conferences. In terms of a team I like, Long Beach State and their brutal non-conference schedule qualifies. I saw them play a few times. That is an athletic team that can score the ball. So the top six or seven that I gave you and there are a number of teams with the matchups being favorable that could make a run during the Tournament.
RTC: Getting to that you talked about some of the younger teams and some of the more experienced teams. As March rolls around there is always this debate about talent versus experience. Obviously you would like to have talent with experience, but that doesn’t happen any more. How do you weigh the two?
CK: I have never coached. I have been around the game. I have played it, watched it, and loved it, but I have never coached. There are different dynamics that coaches look at and see them in a different way. I would always prefer talent. Now matchups are going to dictate what happens as we go forward between the times. Sometimes a talented young team can be trumped by a team that may not be as talented, but is more experienced. I would want to go to battle with outstanding talent and see if that would be enough to get us through to win six [games].
RTC: You talked about your favorites. One of the things people love about March is the Cinderellas. Now, no pressure, but when we talked to Seth Davis back in January 2010 he called Northern Iowa then and they went on to beat a very good Kansas team. And when we talked to Seth a couple of years ago he said that you might be the smartest person he has ever met. So how are you going to top Seth’s pick of Northern Iowa?
CK: [Laughs] Oh, Seth is trying to flatter me. I tend to keep teams in groups. You talk about the Missouri Valley Conference where Northern Iowa comes from. The MVC has some pretty interesting teams. Creighton is one and Wichita State is another team as is Missouri State. It is going to be interesting to see which teams from that league are able to make the NCAA Tournament. I think Creighton is an at-large team and Wichita State is possibly an at-large team. They could have two or three representatives and whoever comes out of there is a team that could beat some people. I mentioned Long Beach State. That is a team that I think is certainly worthy of some attention. I like UNLV. I know they are ranked fairly highly right now, but I like what they can do. They have some transfers that are mature and skilled. I am really impressed with Dave Rice, the new head coach there. I have not met him or been up close with him, but I love the way they play. They play with the intensity, the confidence, and the freedom that you love to see. They are the type of team that would not back away from the big moment or the big-time opponent. Those are a couple of teams I would keep an eye on. I will have others as we see the conference tournaments and see how they shake out.
RTC: You replaced Billy Packer on CBS. While he was a polarizing figure he was also an iconic one in broadcast journalism. What’s it been like replacing him? Those are obviously some big shoes to fill.
CK: Huge. Huge shoes to fill. I think he is a Hall of Famer. His contribution to the game in so many ways certainly as an analyst with his three decades of work first at NBC and then at CBS. He set a standard that I aspire to try to match in my own way and style. I approached it from the standpoint that I have to be me and take advantage of the opportunity to step into those shoes and be next to Jim Nantz and the team that covers the Final Four. I aspire to be excellent in my own way and hopefully at some point I can be viewed similarly. I don’t know if I can stay around as long as Billy did since I started a little later. I would hope that when I am done folks would feel that I made a contribution to the game and served the game and the viewers well in my own personality and style.
RTC: So I am assuming that we are not going to have a YouTube moment with you and Murray State on Selection Sunday…
CK: [Laughs] No. That’s not my style. That’s not my style.
RTC: Could you talk about what you are doing with Capital One?
CK: Actually I am an advisory board member for the Capital One Cup. This is the second year of the Capital One Cup Trophy and it is awarded to the top men’s and women’s Division I sports program. It rewards cumulative on-field performance at the end of the Spring Championships. 20 women’s sports make up the compilation of sports on the women’s side and there are 19 men’s sports. The winning programs on each side get a combined $400,000 in post-graduate scholarship money for student-athletes. Last year the winners were Florida [men] and Stanford [women]. It’s a great way for Capital One to shine a light on cumulative on-field performance in Division I athletics for men and women, but it is also a way for Capital One to support education and academic pursuits of student-athletes in regards to post-graduate studies. To be an advisory board member where you are combining the popularity and tremendous values that come through Division I athletics on the men’s and women’s side with an opportunity to help those individuals get money for further graduate studies is tremendous opportunity.