Chat Transcript: Jon Solomon


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CLEMSON, SC -- The Anderson Independent's Clemson beat writer Jon Solomon was our special guest in TigerActive Chat on Thursday. Solomon answered questions from Tiger fans for over one hour. We would like to thank Solomon for his participation, and we hope to have him back soon.


Stay tuned for future chat guest on TigerNet.


Chat Transcript


Question: Hey Jon, just wanted to holler at ya. I worked with one of your relatives at the Center for Public Integrity in D.C.



Answer: Thanks for writing. Tell Nathaniel hi for me.





Question: Do you really think a story about 18 year olds have nude picture is really news?



Answer: It's a tough call, I acknowledge that. Ultimately, I say yes. Clemson, like most universities, works hard on creating a good public image. This is one area that did not happen, for whatever reason. Also, this story speaks to the increased influence technology has on our lives. No one could have even imagined a story like this 5 or 10 years ago.





Question: When we find out that certain USC fans tampered with these guys' websites will you run that story?



Answer: I'm not aware of that being the case.





Question: What beats have you covered and at what other papers have you worked before Anderson?



Answer: Clemson is my first main beat. I have been in Anderson for five years. Before that, I covered high school sports at The Washington Post and had internships at The Richmond Times-Dispatch and The Columbus Dispatch.





Question: Who were the pro and college teams you pulled for growing up?



Answer: I'm a D.C.-area native, so I pulled for the Redskins, Orioles (I'm almost ashamed to admit that now), Capitals and Wizards/Bullets. College wise, I liked Georgetown, Maryland and Duke basketball. College football wasn't very popular up in D.C. when I was growing up.





Question: How come TB can't win a big game?



Answer: I wouldn't say he can't win it. But I see where you're coming from. It's something he and the team badly want to fix. They did have a good win over No. 25 Virginia. I wish I had a better answer for you.





Question: Do you think Airese Currie will return by FSU?



Answer: My guess is yes. Airese told me this week he was 75 percent sure he would play vs. UNC. But yesterday Clemson downgraded him from probable to questionable.





Question: What does CU have to do to turn the corner?



Answer: As someone asked earlier, turning the corner means winning big games. How do you do that? Get good players. Easier said than done, I know. Clemson's facilities fell behind some of their competitors during the 1990s. Although my belief has been that facilities lose recruits, they don't win them.





Question: Who is the surprise player of the year?



Answer: Leroy Hill, without a doubt. He has to be considered for some All-American teams right now. A year ago, he was only playing special teams. This is a Keith Adams-type breakthrough year.





Question: Which coaches at Clemson are the most accessible to the media?



Answer: I'm not sure if you mean football specific or all the sports. Most of the coaches are very accessible, particularly Tommy Bowden. Reporters meet with him every evening after practice. Brad Scott and Jim Davis are two others I have found to be very helpful.





Question: Do you believe their will be coaching changes?



Answer: I'm going to stay away from the coaching change questions out of respect for Tommy Bowden and his staff. That's a question Terry Don Phillips will have to answer, not me. I hope you all understand.





Question: when can we expect the coots to receive their loi.



Answer: I have no idea, sorry. I only cover the Clemson beat and have enough to worry about there.





Question: Are CU fans the best in the world or what?



Answer: They are pretty passionate, I'll give you that.





Question: How do you think the basketball team will do this year?



Answer: It's hard to see Clemson not being in the play-in game again, just based on who the Tigers and the rest of the ACC returns. My guess is this team will be better coached but will be less talented than last year.





Question: Can we beat FSU?



Answer: Can you? Sure. Will you? Probably not. It is at home, so Clemson has a shot. Florida State's defense is awfully good, though. They give up 10 points a game.





Question: Will we beat UNC?



Answer: Clemson should win, yes. The Tar Heels really struggle on defense.





Question: Do you think 8-4 is a realistic possibility this season and how much of a stretch would 9-3 be?



Answer: I think there is a legitimate chance to go 8-4. UNC, Wake Forest, Duke and USC are all winnable games. I think 9-3 is a stretch.





Question: What is the best thing about covering sports at CU?



Answer: Being able to follow ACC sports. I grew up watching these schools. It's exciting to write about them and witness these games and personalities up close.





Question: Obligatory question of all writers who appear. How the heck did you get that job?



Answer: I wrote, wrote, wrote. From an early age, a middle age, an older age. I was fortunate and got my foot into some doors, kept plugging away, and got lucky. Ken Tysiac, the fine Clemson beat writer for The State, left the Independent-Mail right as I arrived. That opened up the Clemson job.





Question: How's the annual golf outing and what did you shoot?



Answer: The food and company is always good. I don't play golf, though. I take my frustrations out on the basketball and tennis courts.





Question: Best food in ACC pressboxes?



Answer: Tough question. I've never given it much thought. I'll think about it.





Question: If you could change one thing about Clemson's football program, it would be...



Answer: Better interview area for the media. We're right under the West end zone stands for postgame interviews. It's leaky and often difficult to hear. Clemson has plans to improve the area during the renovations.





Question: Does it make you feel old to have college athletes call you "sir?"



Answer: Yes, although I don't notice it too much. I think I'm still young enough where I'm not getting much of that - yet.





Question: Do you have a handle on Tigernet? Care to share it with us?



Answer: I do. For the life of me, I can't recall it right now. I never post anything on there anyway. I just scan.





Question: If you weren't doing this for a living, what would you be doing?



Answer: Probably teaching in some way. That's another honorable profession.





Question: You weren't in Anderson for the good old Harte-Hanks days, were you?



Answer: No. I've been here only for Scripps.





Question: Do you think the story on Clemson player web sites is news worthy? Why or why not??



Answer: See earlier question above. I do think there was news value.





Question: Which remaining team, besides FSU, do you think has the best chance of beating Clemson?



Answer: Wake Forest is a dangerous game. The Deacons give teams fits with their no-huddle, misdirection offense. The good news for Clemson is Wake plays Florida State this week and could be banged up next week.





Question: Who's the best interview at Clemson?



Answer: Among current players, I really like speaking with Tony Elliott. He is honest but not flamboyant. Charlie Whitehurst, Tye Hill, Gregory Walker and John Leake are also good interviews.





Question: Which football stadium in the ACC has the best press facilities?



Answer: Another good question I haven't thought much about. North Carolina has pretty good facilities. Plenty of phones, which is crucial on deadline.





Question: You think the Little commitment will stick?



Answer: We'll see. My understanding is Rafael Little has not made any official visits yet. It's never over until you sign.





Question: When the sports reporters don't understand the technology either, how can they be expected to accurately write about issues like the web page one?



Answer: Even if you are not familiar on a certain topic, that does mean you can't familiarize yourself with it by talking to the right people.





Question: Who "broke" the porn issue? Surely the AD or school didn't "announce" it..did they?



Answer: The State wrote the story first on Tuesday. Other newspapers, including the Anderson Independent-Mail, followed up on Wednesday.





Question: This team seems to play with more heart and fire than the last two years. Can you see a difference in team chemistry this year?



Answer: I have noticed the same thing. The QB shuffling between Charlie Whitehurst and Willie Simmons didn't help last year's chemistry. The challenge for Clemson now is not letting a tough N.C. State loss turn into a letdown Saturday.





Question: Are you related to Will Solomon?



Answer: No, although I wish I could have his jump shot.





Question: Where did you go to college?



Answer: University of Maryland





Question: Jon,It seems to me an obvious question of Tommy Bowden since the NC State game would have been to ask him that since he calls the plays after he sees the defense, and NC State only had 5 guys in the box on the 2 point conversion attempt - what was the thought process here? Was this question never asked and if it was, what was his answer?



Answer: Brad Scott discussed your question the other day. During Clemson's timeout, the staff considered running Chad Jasmin. Scott said they went with a pass because it gave them three options, rather than one. To be fair, the play was there to be made. The throw was a little low, and Elliott couldn't make the catch.





Question: Since you are a redskin fan, any insight into the rumors of Spurrier not liking the pro game and his sitauation in Washingtion and maybe interested in coming back to the college game?



Answer: I don't know anything about that, sorry. It will be interesting to see how long Spurrier lasts in the NFL and how patient owner Daniel Snyder will be with him.





Question: Did you ever play organized football?



Answer: No, I never did. Played a lot of football outside with friends and organized soccer and basketball.





Question: John, I went to DeMatha High School and played football for Bill McGregor…What do you think of Morgan Wooten’s replacement?



Answer: Bill McGregor's a heck of a coach and a good guy. Remind me who Morgan Wooten's replacement is. I've been out of the D.C. area for five years now.





Question: John, do you ever feel like your editors choose a biased headline taken out of the context of your stories? Be honest. You're among friends:-)



Answer: I will acknowledge that on occasions the headlines on my stories don't match the context of the story. But I can assure you there is no bias involved. Writing headlines is tough, trust me. I've done it before.





Question: Other than Clemson who has the best Game Day atmosphere in the ACC?



Answer: Florida State. They pack in 80,000-plus fans and throw a spear that's on fire.





Question: How much longer does Lou stay at USC?



Answer: No clue, sorry.





Question: If you were a die-hard Tiger fan, would you be pro-Bowden, anti-Bowden so far during his 5 years?



Answer: That's a pretty big "if" of a question, so I can't respond. I really don't care if Clemson wins or loses.





Question: What is your favorite Clemson sports moment?



Answer: Clemson's basketball upset over No. 1 North Carolina a few years ago made for some exciting moments. I know it's not a moment, but I enjoyed watching Khalil Greene's entire 2002 season. It was amazing.





Question: What is your favorite Clemson sport to cover?



Answer: Clemson baseball. Baseball has always been my favorite sport.





Question: How come you don't give equal time to the woman's sports and cover soccer?



Answer: Newspapers make decisions based on fan interest. That's not to say there are not people who like women's sports and soccer, because there are. There are just many more who like football and basketball. I will say this: We cover many of Clemson's women's basketball games and have traveled to cover them in the NCAA Tournament.





Question: What do you think of the hurry up and wait offense we have been running



Answer: It may look odd, but Clemson has had some success with it. I don't think the coaches want to hurry up and go anymore. By shortening the game, that also helps the defense, which is playing well lately.





Question: What's the best place to eat in Anderson after second deadline?



Answer: After my second deadline there's often nothing open, if we're talking a late night game. I'm looking at Waffle House at that point.





Question: Do you root for Clemson?



Answer: No, I root for myself. I root for quick games, interesting storylines and even quicker games.





Question: Of the coach's at the other ACC schools--who is the most fun to talk to and who is the most difficult?



Answer: Bobby Bowden and Ralph Friedgen are generally good interviews. Al Groh may be difficult from a reporter's standpoint because he does not disclose injuries.





Question: Ken Tysiacs alleged he was a hoops star in high school...You guys ever go one on one?



Answer: During the offseason, we often play together in 4-on-4 and 5-on-5 games in Anderson. Watch out for Ken. He throws those elbows.





Question: how come Tysaic and the State favors the coots so much?



Answer: I don't think Ken favors USC at all. He is about as down the middle as you'll find.





Question: Do you believe the news media in this state as a whole tends to be biased towards usc?



Answer: No, I do not. The State will always give more coverage to USC because that's their local school. At Anderson, we often give more news and sports coverage to Clemson because they're closer to us and the events going on there affect our readership more.





Question: Please describe your daily work routine? How many hours a week do you work?



Answer: Mondays and Tuesdays are heavy interview days with players and coaches. Wednesdays and Thursdays are mostly spent in the office. I try to take Friday afternoon off; in the evening, I have a prep game. I work plenty of hours, believe me.





Question: Would you rather be a broadcaster on ESPN?



Answer: No, that would require me being able to speak and look decent. I love writing anyway.





Question: A follow-up to an earlier question: if you had to choose, Maryland or Georgetown?



Answer: Choose what? Do you mean which school I'd like? I went to Maryland, so I'd choose the Terps.





Question: Who is the most interesting sports personality you have interviewed associated with Clemson? The most interesting not associated with Clemson?



Answer: At Clemson, I was really intrigued by Woody Dantzler and Khalil Greene. They didn't like the attention of the media, so that made it tough. But it always interests me how an athlete becomes so great. Not associated with Clemson? Sorry can't think of one off the top of my head.





Question: Do you know how the ACC office keep officials accountable for their errors? Why don't you publish a list of all the officials after each Clemson game?



Answer: The ACC handles those matters privately. There is a coordinator in charge of the officials who monitors their work. Coaches are allowed to send questionable plays to the ACC office each week.





Question: We know the state did the first reporting on the alleged porn story....any idea who told the state? ole ken just start surfing? outside source? inside source? anyone approach you about running it?



Answer: Ken and The State would have to respond to that.





Question: How can Clemson beat UNC in basketball in Chapel Hill?



Answer: Score more points. Sorry, couldn't resist. This year, it's not going to happen. It may not happen for a while with Roy Williams there now.





Question: How can a Terp cover CU sports?



Answer: Remain unbiased, fair and accurate about what I am covering. It's not difficult. I think my work has shown I handle that without any problems.





Question: Were Maryland fans as rude, obnoxious and violent as they are now when you were a student there?



Answer: Yes, they were pretty rude in the mid to late '90s, too. I didn't care for it then and I don't care for it now.





Question: woody durham on mickey's show said he had heard there was a possibility of playing non counting conference games post expansion...have you heard anything like that??



Answer: No, that's the first I've heard of that.





Question: Sooo...if we toss a flaming pitchfork, would we beat FUS?



Answer: Maybe if you bring a live tiger out there.





Question: Do you think that Virginia Tech and Auburn are the only schools to have a setting closest to Clemson?



Answer: They're good comparisons, yes.





Question: How's the pay?



Answer: OK. You don't get into sports writing for the pay.





Question: How can you say usc is is The State's "local" school when that paper uses such a name and claims to be the only paper to provide statewide coverage?



Answer: That's a fair question. Look at it this way: The Washington Post covers much of the metro D.C. area. Which college teams do they cover heavily? Maryland and Georgetown. Virginia and Virginia Tech get some coverage but not as much because they are further away.





Question: Used to be a neat breakfast place downtown in Anderson. Cops, drunks, graverobbers, sportwrtiers everyone ate there after 1 a.m. Wish I could rmember the name. Maybe Kerry can recall...



Answer: That's OK





Question: Which road trip is the worst to make in the ACC as a reporter?



Answer: Duke football trips are never really exciting. I imagine a lot of ACC reporters say Clemson is the worst trip because of its location.





Question: Which is more exciting - dunk or three?



Answer: Jump shot inside the arc off the glass





Question: Do you have a favorite hat, sportscoat, cigar that is your trademark?



Answer: LOL ... no, maybe I should get one, though.





Question: Why do you like sportswriting? Were you a journalism major?



Answer: I always loved sports, always loved writing, so it seemed natural. Yes, I was a journalism major.





Question: Have you seen MD's new bb facility and your opinion?



Answer: Yes. It's very impressive. I'm a little old-fashioned and like Cole, but the Comcast Center was done well.





Question: Jon come on jump shot exciting gmab



Answer: I get tired of seeing dunks and threes all the time. Tim Duncan, to me, is incredible to watch.





Question: Any chance that Brad Scott will go to Duke to be their Head Coach?



Answer: No clue





Question: Do you think that Bowden is too snippy with the media sometimes?



Answer: Not at all. He's very accessible.





Question: Can you stuff it?



Answer: I wish. I'm all out of time. Thanks to everyone for asking questions and sharing your thoughts. Without fans, we wouldn't have our jobs. Enjoy the game this week.



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