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Clark Kellogg Talks Capital One Cup, March Madness & More

By Mike Kline

Clark Kellogg is the lead College Basketball analyst for CBS Sports including the NCAA Tournament where he has been the top analyst alongside play-by-play man Jim Nantz for the last four years.

Kellogg, an Ohio State graduate, was named the Most Valuable Player of the 1982 team and was selected in the first round of the NBA Draft by the Indiana Pacers and he currently serves as the Vice President of Player Relations for the Pacers. He also serves as a Capital One Cup Advisory Board member.

The Capital One Cup is awarded annually to the best Division I men’s and women’s college athletics programs in the nation based on points earned from National Championships and Top 10 finishes in the final coaches’ polls across multiple sports. The two winning schools are presented with a total of $400,000 dollars in scholarship money and the Capital One Cup trophy.  The latest Capital One Cup standings can be viewed at www.capitalonecup.com.

If you watch College Basketball at all you surely watch it in March and you should have no problem identifying Clark Kellogg.

He would be the one with the school-boy excitement watching and commenting on the game, as much a fan as an analyst.

Kellogg became famous early in his career for his enthusiasm and some of his catch phrases like ‘take it to the rack big fella’ which have become common usages, especially this time of year. Naturally having been an interior player in college and in the pros you’d expect Kellogg to have such an affinity toward the big men.

But it is the combination of that basketball knowledge and enthusiasm that has allowed him to become one of the most respected analysts in the business.

This March there is an additional madness for Kellogg as his own son, Nick, is participating in the NCAA Tournament. He is a sophomore guard who averages nearly nine points per game for Ohio University.

During second and third round action, Kellogg was actually in the middle of broadcasting the Xavier-Lehigh game while son Alex’s Ohio Bobcats were upending Michigan on Friday and then South Florida Sunday night.

With that victory Ohio is in the Sweet 16 for the first time ever an accomplishment that stirred but a lot of emotions for Kellogg.

“I can’t even describe it. I was overjoyed, ecstatic and proud for their team. When something like that takes place for your kid it is beyond description. It adds a special sweetness,” Kellogg said.

Following the first weekend of nail-biting tournament action we spent some time with Kellogg and asked him about having his son playing in the NCAA Tournament, March Madness in general, the state of the college game and his involvement with the Capital One Cup.

What is it like having your son participate in the NCAA Tournament this year? Was it nerve wracking at all to be broadcasting a game while your kid was actually playing?

“I committed myself on Friday night to zeroing in on our game while it was in play. I would see occasionally the score on the monitor. When it got late in both games it was a little more challenging to not take peeks at the scores. I was just waiting for it to go final.”

Now that the field has been whittled down to 16 teams who do you see as the team to beat? Any potential sleepers in the group and who do you feel has been the best player/players so far?

“I’ve said from the start I thought Kentucky looks like the favorite. I still think Kentucky is ahead of everybody else. North Carolina would be right below them barring the injury to Kendall Marshall. Then you have Syracuse, and Ohio State.”

Kellogg on a Potential Dark Horse:

“I tell you what North Carolina State was one of my sleepers coming into the tournament. They are rolling in on a good positive bit of momentum. They are a team as a double digit seed that looks like they could keep it going.”

There has been a lot of talk about parity in college basketball; why do you think that is? Do you see the mid-major conferences as catching up and why?

“It has really been going on for the last 12, 15, 16 years. With more college basketball on TV, players are spreading themselves out. Kids will go to big time power conference schools and transfer more readily (if things don’t work out). The talent is spread out. And you can’t discount that a lot of unique players (at major programs) will be in school for such a short time.”

What is your take on the one and done phenomenon? Do you think it is good for the college game or would you rather see it go away?

“I would like to see a modification of what it is. I was willing to see how it played out. Some kids are fully vested while there while others have one foot there and one in the NBA. Those dynamics are not healthy for kids or either game.

“I would like to see it if the kids are ready they can go to the pros and if they go to college they be committed to stay three years. Two years would be acceptable but three years (would be better).”

In the last few years CBS began using NBA commentators for coverage of the NCAA Tournament. How do you feel those guys are doing? Are they knowledgeable about the college game or do they have a lot of research to do to catch up with who and what to look for/at?

“I think last year was eye opening for all of our colleagues from Turner (Broadcasting). They’ve watched and enjoyed the college game and now to have them as partners (has been good). Year one was about as smooth as it could go. (They) had to be more diligent about the college game. It is a challenging thing to do. They are all knowledgeable and passionate about college basketball. I think we are headed in the right direction.”

Kellogg on the Capital One Cup and his Involvement:

“This is my second year serving as an Advisory Board member and promoting what the Capital One Cup is all about: Rewarding athletic and off the field excellence in Division I college athletics. It’s a prestigious honor awarded to the best men’s and women’s programs in over 39 total sports. To be able to serve in an ambassador role because of what it stands for on the field but also academically with the commitment of $400,000 in combined scholarships is a win-win to me.

(At the Men’s Final Four) there is a huge presence by Capital One to raise awareness for the Capital One Cup among fans.  After all, the outcome of the Final Four in New Orleans will have a huge impact on the men’s standings.  Fans in the Big Easy can stop by the Capital One Cup Fan Zone at Bracket Town and take a photo with the Capital One Cup trophy and participate in the various sports that are represented in the Capital One Cup program.

The winner of the NCAA Tournament stands to gain 60 points in the quest for the cup and schools like Indiana, Florida and North Carolina, who already rank highly in the standings, could get a big boost if they were to win it all.”

What is your favorite memory of March Madness?

“There are so many indelible memories. I do recall the North Carolina- Georgetown game in 1982. What stood out for me was how John Thompson embraced and responded when Fred Brown made that costly turn over. You had Michael Jordan’s shot and it was a well played game but (that moment) it was really special.”

Kellogg, though, may have a new front runner for his favorite moment with his son Nick’s team’s run into the Sweet 16.
“That will probably go right up to the top,” Kellogg said.

And if  comes down to having to potentially call a game where Nick is playing things could get really interesting for Clark Kellogg the father.

“It would be very challenging. He would relish it more than me. My son and I have a saying that we will cross that bridge when we come to it.”

But as he always does, he is likely to handle it in the same fun, yet professional manner that has allowed him to become one of the faces of the college game today and a perfect fit for the Capital One Cup Advisory Board and what it represents for college athletics.