April 26, 2001
Below are Bob Pollock’s answers to the selected questions that you submitted this past week to “Ask The Tigers”. ClemsonTigers.com would like to thank you for all of your questions submitted. We would also like to thank Bob for his time and sincere effort with “Ask The Tigers”. _______________________________________
Bob, What will it take for Clemson to get to the next level, that is to seriously give a run for the national title each year? Craig Bennett Chapin, SC
Well, that is our goal. All the ACC Championships are extremely important here at Clemson, and we have done a very good job at winning ACC Championships. But ultimately, our goal is to win a National Championship, and we should be contenders year in and year out. I think by enhancing our facilities as well as continuing to recruit the top prospects in the country and luring them here to Clemson. I think that we have outstanding coaches, a great track and field schedule, but I think that our tradition of winning will play a role. Obviously we want to get the very best student athletes. With the coaching that we have, the facilities, both academically and athletically, will enhance our chances to land the top individual, as we have done by recruiting Ato Modibo, who was the number one quarter miler coming out in the country. Dwight Thomas who is the number one 100m and 200m runner. Jacey Harper who made the Olympic team this year has really come on extremely strong as a sophomore in our program. And of course Todd Matthews and Sultan Tucker have been instrumental in the 110m high hurdles. So when you get it going in that direction, you will be a contender. And that is our goal. Clemson people deserve that, our athletes deserve that, and our alumni here at Clemson definitely deserve that.
Coach Pollock, For those of us not in the know, could you explain the role of the assistant coaches and what their role is with the program?John Hendricks Raleigh, NC
In our situation here at Clemson, primarily my two assistant coaches are involved in basically two aspects. The first and foremost, is coaching student athletes in their specific event areas. Such as in Charles’ area, he is involved with out sprinters, hurdlers and relays. Jarrett Foster is involved in our multi-events, our throwing events, our high jump and pole vault. My role is coaching the middle distance, long distance runners, and the long and triple jump. So we actually divide the various events in track and field amongst the strengths of our staff, and that is our strength as far as knowledge and expertise. We do have some overlapping as well. The other thing that I have them do from a recruiting standpoint, they recruit in their particular event areas. I oversee the entire recruiting base, because I recruit not only in their area, but in my area as well. Plus I handle all the administrative paperwork, compliance, NCAA aspects of our program as well. But I let them actually coach and recruit, which is what the majority of your assistant coaches want to do anyway.
Bob, What athlete that you have coached has the best “game time” speed? Meaning that when the gun sounds, he is the always the fastest, but maybe not when the pressure isn’t on.Darryl Milloy Columbia, SC
Probably our quickest sprinter, or the individual that is the quickest off the line when the gun sounds, may have to go to several individuals. We have had some great sprinters here. First and foremost, I look at James Trapp, who was world 200m sprinter here at Clemson, he also was a NCAA Champion as well. He also was a finalist, an All-American in the 55m and 60m dashes as well. James was a great sprinter, ended up being the NFL’s fastest man at one point during his career. Then you have Michael Green, who was another explosive individual. He does have our 55m and 60m sprint records here. Michael was another exceptional sprinter, another Olympian along with James, as well as a NCAA Champion as well. Probably looking at Michael Green and James Trapp, you definitely would have to throw in Shawn Crawford as well. He was a world champion, an American record holder in the 200m, and a National Champion in the 200m. Those three would definitely have to be the highlights of our sprinting group.
Bob, What does the team have to do to win this year’s NCAA?Jane Manchate Spartanburg, SC
I think that we are probably a year away from really challenging and contending for a National Championship. I say that because our kids are now mostly freshmen, sophomores and juniors. I think that those guys have gained not only mental but the physical competitiveness that is necessary to go after a National Championship. We have a good strong crew. Several of these guys will be returning as All-Americans. Several of these guys are Olympians in the 2000 Olympics. I think that our recruiting class and the athletes we have red-shirted will also play a role. Our freshman, Dwight Thomas, who is being red-shirted, is the fastest high school athlete to ever come out in the 100m and 200m dash. He made the Olympic team as a high school senior. So we really think that next year will be a tremendous year for us.
Bob, What is the secret to producing a championship type program every year?Randy Jeffries Greenwood, SC
I think to produce a championship type teams, first of all it starts with your higher up administrators, if they are supportive of your program, if they back, which ours does here at Clemson. I think second of all, your assistant coaches. Your head coach is only as good as your assistant coaches, and Charles Foster and Jarrett Foster both are excellent coaches, do a great job with our kids, not only on the track but off the track. And obviously when you look at your assistant coaches, you go out there and if you recruit good student athletes, that not only have the potential and ability, but the desire to excel, those are the individuals that you want to continue to keep building and producing championship teams.
Bob, In recruiting, how much do you put on performances, potential, attitude, etc.?Jonathan Drake Mt. Pleasant, SC
I think when you go out and recruit, obviously performances are a major factor. But, hopefully, you look beyond the performances that they have indicated, but also how are they going to develop within your program. Whether they are going to mesh well with the chemistry of your program. You also need to look at the ability as a student. Are they a high risk as a student, because obviously if that is the case, they won’t last long in your program and you will be replacing them. And here at Clemson, we look for the total individual as a student, and as an athlete. And we have had a great deal of success here. With the assistance of Vickery Hall, which is a tremendous asset with our program. Character. We check the references out not only through high school coaches but through guidance counselors, teachers, through other coaches that know these students as well. Also, when they come down and visit, if our kids are receptive, and they feel like those individuals will respond within our program, we give them a high mark, and obviously we want them to be part of our program.
Bob, Who is the future of Clemson Track?Rick Irmo, SC
I think the future of Clemson track will be a young man by the name of Dwight Thomas. Dwight was the fastest high schooler coming out last year, he was an Olympian in the 2000 Olympics. He is a tremendous individual, a very competitive individual. A lot of people don’t realize that not only can he run a 100m and 200m, but he is an excellent hurdler as well. He can run on our 4 x 100 meter relay as well as the 4 x 400 meter relay. So he is a very versatile individual who can add a great deal of depth, not only on the ACC level, but the NCAA level as well.
Bob, What is the relationship between the football staff and track staff, since a number of athletes in the past have participated in both here at Clemson.Beau Biddle Florence, SC
Well, in the past here at Clemson we have had a good working relationship with the football coaching staff. We have had James Trapp, Charlie James, Doug Thomas, and Larry Ryans, who were very solid football players here at Clemson. Several went on to play in the NFL, and of course James Trapp is still with the Baltimore Ravens. Certainly those guys add not only depth but quality into our program. And if you have a good relationship with the football staff, and certainly if those guys have the desire to want to both, and track really complements football, I think, because speed is something that NFL teams are looking for no matter what position you play. And currently here with Tommy Bowden and his staff, we do have a very good relationship with them. Presently, there are two young men that they signed for this year’s football team that we were instrumental in recruiting them as well to be part of our program. Clemson fans are going to be excited to see these guys bring a lot of speed to the field and the track.
Bob, Based on what you have seen from the plans of Clemson’s indoor track facility to be built soon, how will it compare to some of the others around the country…namely Arkansas, UNC’s new facility and other southeastern schools? Good luck and thanks.Craig Bennett Chapin, SC
Well, I think the indoor facility will be a recruiting tool that will enhance our program not only at the ACC level, but at the national level as well. The University of Arkansas has a beautiful facility, the NCAA will be hosted there, they are great supporters of their program. North Carolina, who has already begun their facility and is due to be completed here very shortly, is another state of the art facility, which I think will enhance North Carolina’s program and continue to build a rich tradition that they’ve developed. But I think our facility here at Clemson, which hopefully will be started here very shortly, will help up recruiting at the conference and national level. It is one in which we as coaches were able to design the interior of the facility, making one of the best, if not the best facilities as far as the utilization of the space. There are two pole vault runways, two long and triple jump runways, two areas to high jump, eight lanes for sprinting, wide curves which will allow for great performances in indoor track. So we are certainly looking forward to getting into this facility and allowing outstanding teams to come in here and compete against us.
Next week’s guest on “Ask The Tigers” will be two of the top five golfers in the nation, All-Americans John Engler and Lucas Glover.
April 19, 2019