Clark Kellogg is covering the Final Four as an analyst for CBS Sports. Kellogg is a former Ohio State, who played from 1979-1982, making the Sweet 16 in 1980. He was drafted in the first round by the Indiana Pacers in 1982 and played five season in the NBA. Kellogg's son, Nick, played basketball for Ohio University. His other son, Alex, also played volleyball at the Division I level. Here is ThePostGame's exclusive interview with the Kellogg.
ThePostGame: Tell me a little bit about what you're doing with the Capital One Cup.
CLARK KELLOGG: I'm serving as an advisory board member and I have been for the five years since the Cup's inception. It’s a wonderful way to join Capital One in support of on field and educational pursuits of student-athletes. The way the Captial One Cup works is men’s and women’s Division I programs compete for points all season long through fall and winter sports seasons. They accumulate points based on top-end finishes and also national championship. The men's and women’s programs at the Division I level with the points receives a Capital One Cup trophy and a combine $400,000 in student scholarships for athletes. It's a great way for Capital One to highlight championship level performances on the field, on the court, but also in terms of educational pursuits. We know that most athletes that play college sports will not play professional sports, therefore the educational component of what they do is really the guarantee to give them the foundation to moving forward successfully when their college days are over.
TPG: At the end of this season, Capital One will have awarded $2 million to student-athletes. You raised two children who went on to play college sports at a Division I level. What kind of advice would you give student-athletes currently in the spotlight to prepare for their career twilight?
KELLOGG: It’s important to take advantage of the opportunities and experiences you gain as a Division I student-athlete. It's not just the experience you gain from being part of your team, it’s the educational component and life the experiences that you gain. So many of those skills -- initiative, time management, teamwork, handling adversity, adapting ⎯ those are transferrable to the work force and to the success of your life. I always encourage our kids to embrace it and to relish it, but also to be intentional about getting the most out of it. That's what I would tell all student-athletes. These things that you’re learning and gaining are beneficial for you going forward.
TPG: I heard your Ohio State Buckeyes were ranked No .1.
KELLOGG: I love it. I love seeing the Ohio State Buckeyes leading the race for the Capital One Cup as we speak and hopefully the points accumulated over the rest of the spring sports season will us right there where we are, No. 1.
TPG: Do you have any rivalries going with your co-workers from other schools?
KELLOGG: We haven’t yet. I kind of kept things on the down-low when the Buckeyes took down the Crimson Tide on their way to the first College Football Playoff Championship a couple months ago. But as we move toward the finish line and the Buckeyes continue to maintain that No. 1 spot, I think I might reach out to some of my fellow colleagues and chirp a little bit.
TPG: Leading up to the Final Four, how exciting has this tournament been for you compared to other tournaments?
KELLOGG: It started with the first Thursday of the tournament, setting a record for the number of one-point decisions. Then things quieted down a bit on Day 2 on Friday and then the weekend games were good and then the regional finals were fantastic. When you highlighted the start and then you look at the back-end prior to getting here, I think you’ve got really one of the outstanding tournaments we've had in a while. But it always gives you what you expected or even a little more. I've always said it’s the gift that keeps on giving because of the various storylines that become part of it. The Ron Hunter and R.J. Hunter Georgia State run was captivating. You think about Peter Hooley at Albany and having lost his mom and hitting the game-winner to get them to the tournament. There’s so much to it besides the game, which are good in it of themselves, but the stories behind the guys playing and coaching the game is what captivates folks.
TPG: What are your expectations from the Final Four teams?
KELLOGG: I’ve said for the last two-and-a-half months or so that I thought Kentucky was ready to make history. They’ve already made history at 38-0. They have the chance to become one of the few undefeated national champions. I think that will be the case. They just win in so many different ways, with offense, defense, free-throw shooting, timely three-point shooting, size and depth. They just have more margin for error than any other team. Wisconsin is offensively gifted. They are the best offensive team left in the field statistically. They have been one of the top offensive teams in the country all year and they'll need that plus better defense to get a chance to beat Kentucky. The other teams, Michigan State and Duke, and you mentioned how outstanding these programs and coaches and teams are and we’ve got the best of the best in terms of long-term sustained success. I like Michigan State to have a chance to pull the upset because they’ve got some size up front that could perhaps make it difficult for [Jahlil Okafor]. They play better defensively on the perimeter than they did in the first meeting against Duke. Yet, Duke has gotten better since that meeting in November. The freshmen have grown up and been tremendously impactful. In addition to Okafor, you’ve got Matt and Tyus Jones. Justice Winslow has been one of the dominant players in the tournament for me. I think Michigan State will be able to stay close and perhaps it’ll come down to individual performances and I think I would tip my hat toward Trice and Valentine and Dawson over that group of freshmen for Duke.
TPG: Who is your key player in Kentucky vs. Wisconsin?
KELLOGG: Well, you start with Frank Kaminsky on the Wisconsin side because he such a matchup problem, although Kentucky defended him really well last year in the semifinals. They have multiple big bodies that are active and physical and agile. Sam Dekker is a really key guy for Wisconsin. He’s been off the charts the last two games. Those two guys are prominent, primary players, but Nigel Hayes is extremely important on the front line. I think in the back court, Traevon Jackson. He’s only played 16 minutes in two tournament games, but I think his steady hand and his presence is going to be a factor and something Wisconsin is going to need to move on.
TPG: For Michigan State-Duke, who do you think is a key player?
KELLOGG: I think it’s going to be Quinn Cook. He’s had a fantastic senior year. He's led this relatively young group remarkably well. I think he’s going to have rise to the challenge of playing at a level close to whatever Travis Trice plays at. It may not be necessarily a mano-a-mano matchup, but it’s one that bears watching. For Michigan State, I want to say the key guys would be the front line guys, Costello and Schilling and maybe Marvin Clark Jr., as they try to defend and rebound against Okafor and Winslow.
TPG: For Michigan State, they are coming in as a No. 7 seed. Tom Izzo has said many times that this may not be his most talented team, but he’s getting the most of out his players. What does this say about Izzo and his ability to get the best out of his guys?
KELLOGG: It says a lot about him, but you look at all of these coaches and they tend to maximize whatever they have available to them in terms of talent and skill. I don’t think that’s unique. But certainly I think Tom is one of the best in the business and has earned the kind of respect that he generates. I think it’s a credit to the kids, too. Even though they weren’t at their best early in the season, they found what works for them and they’re playing with really great confidence. I think the fact that they’re the surprising team here played out well for them. They surprise folks and they’re enjoying the journey and I think that makes them more dangerous because they are somewhat of a party crasher and I think that breeds a level of freedom and confidence that may not be quite as culpable as it would be with the other teams that were pretty much expected to be here. Certainly with Wisconsin and Kentucky and Duke felt like they had the chance if those freshmen developed and that certainly was the case.
TPG: What are your favorite Final Four memories?
KELLOGG: There’s so many of them. I think about Mateen Cleaves and that Michigan State team that won the National Championship on his uninhibited exuberance and joy that had a one shining moment. The shocking surprise of N.C. State beating that terrific Houston team was another moment that sits well with me. I think about the North Carolina team of 2009. In the day and age where you didn’t have a ton of upperclassmen stay on teams because of the early exits. That team was expected to win it and kind of rolled through the tournament that year. And finally probably the 2006-2007 Florida teams. Confident teams. Those guys chose to come back after winning in 2006. All of the pressure and expectations surrounding them repeating and they not only set out, but they got it done.