With the college basketball season set to get underway in full force this weekend, longtime CBS analyst Clark Kellogg took some time to discuss the pressing issues facing the sport. Kellogg, making the rounds to discuss his role as an advisory board member for the annual Capital One Cup, awarded annually to the best men’s and best women’s D-I athletics programs in the country, spoke about the proposed NCAA stipend, realignment and his picks for the season.
Q: What pre-show rituals do you have?
Kellogg: I tend to carve out a few minutes of quiet time just to spend in prayer prior to the game. I’ll find a restroom or a room off to the side, right before we go on air, maybe just 5-10 minutes beforehand after we visit with the coaches and review my notes. I just find a quiet place to spend time in prayer.
Q: What is the best atmosphere in college basketball?
Kellogg: The most enjoyable from last season -- I had never been there -- was San Diego State in the Viejas Arena at the Aztec Bowl for a huge game against Brigham Young. I have not been in a better environment than what was there last year at San Diego State.
Q: Favorite news source?
Kellogg: I really enjoy the CBSSports.com site and I know this might be sacrilegious, but ESPN does a good job with their basketball. I like USSportsPages.com. It gives me a chance to really follow the beat writers covering teams that we’ll broadcast. So that’s a good central resource to be able to get some up-close stories about the teams, players and coaches that I’ll cover.
Q: How do you think realignment will affect basketball programs?
Kellogg: Because it’s still such a moving target I don’t think we’ve gotten to a place where it’s settled yet. There’s a number of things still to be decided such as when the teams are actually going to be able to move. But when you look at it in the basketball context, the programs that have been traditionally pretty good or excellent in basketball -- I’m thinking of Syracuse and Pitt going to the ACC -- I just don’t think that changes. I think it enhances that conference in terms of basketball because of what those schools bring. A school like Missouri going to the SEC, Texas A&M, I just think those programs are going to be strong and some may actually be strengthened by the conference affiliation.
Q: What are your thoughts on the $2,000 stipend from the NCAA? Is this a good or bad idea? Do you think it will have an influence on players’ school choices?
Kellogg: I like the idea; I think it’s long overdue. ... My wife and I, we’ve had three children that have been Division I scholarship athletes and we were fortunate enough to be in a position to supplement their scholarships with this kind of cost of attendance money, so I’m glad to see that conferences will have an opportunity to do that as part of the cost of doing business at the Division I level. The next step will be how do you continue to serve the student-athletes in the best way, in all areas -- financially with the scholarship and making sure that they have a chance to get meaningful degrees as well.
Q: Who are your top five teams and players to watch this year?
Kellogg: I usually group them by six or eight. But the top handful that I’ve kind of looked at as teams that seem to be championship caliber: You start with North Carolina, I think, because they return everybody from a team that got to the Elite 8 last year. I would also put Kentucky, Ohio State, I would put Duke in that group, Syracuse and UConn, and not far below them I would look at Florida and Vanderbilt as teams that I have my eye on too. Top freshmen, I haven’t seen these guys but just reading about them I know they’re going to be guys I’m going to be looking forward to seeing play. Kentucky has three of them in Marquis Teague, Anthony Davis and Michael Gilchrist. Austin Rivers at Duke, obviously. And then the big kid at UConn, Andre Drummond. I’ve not seen him much, but I’ve heard about him. And out west there’s Quincy Miller at Baylor, who’s gotten a lot of notoriety, and then down south, Bradley Beal at Florida. Another kid out west, Nick Johnson at Arizona. Those are some of the guys that I’ll kind of put under the isolated camera.
Q: What thoughts do you have on “one and done” in college athletes?
Kellogg: Initially when the rule was first instituted six years ago to have kids be … one year removed from high school and 19, I was interested to see how it would play out. I thought it would be good, I thought it would be one year of college if kids were fully planted in college would be better than no college. Now that we’ve had some time elapse, I’m of the mindset that we re-craft that rule and that kids that desire to leave right out of high school should have that opportunity if they so choose to do it. And those who choose to go to college should be required to stay ideally three years. … So I’d like to see a new rule instituted that would incorporate those things. I think that would be the best of both worlds. I think it would help the kids most importantly, but I think it also would help both games, the college game and the pro game. I don’t think there would be any downside to that with both games.