Chat Transcript: Ken Tysiac

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CLEMSON, SC -- The State's Clemson beat writer Ken Tysiac was our special guest in TigerActive Chat on Friday. Tysiac answered questions from Tiger fans for over two hours. We would like to thank Tysiac for his participation, and we hope to have him back soon.

Stay tuned for future chat guest on TigerNet.


Question: Ken do you feel that coach Bowden at times tries to be to cute with some of his answers to the media? As a reporter does this frustrate you?

Answer: Actually, I appreciate coach Bowden's sense of humor. And I think he has gotten progressively better at media relations in his time at Clemson. I feel like I have a very good relationship with him.

Question: Are you located in the Clemson area and if not does this hamper your ability as a beat writer to get really close to the program?

Answer: I am located in Anderson and I go to Clemson almost every day, sometimes all day. I feel like I am closer to the program than any other beat writer, because I've been on the beat longer than any of the others.

Question: From your dealings with Tommy Bowden to you get the impression that 1. He still wants to be here long term? and 2. He truely feels the importance of this game?

Answer: The longer Tommy is here, the more I get the sense that he wants to be here for a long time. And he definitely feels the importance of this game. He used words like "mortuary" and "death" to describe what losing to USC is like.

Question: Sinmce you get access to the team, how's Clemson's team chemistry?

Answer: I think it's a lot better than last year's team chemistry. On any team, the more often you win, the better the chemistry is. The seniors have done a good job holding this bunch together.

Question: Do you expect both of either team to be in some type of throwback uniform celebrating the 100th game?

Answer: I don't know about USC. I don't expect it from Clemson, but I haven't investigated it a great deal.

Question: In your time as the Clemson beat writer what is the one story would have loved to write but was not able to?

Answer: I spent a lot of time last year working with Clemson's basketball coaching staff on a story about how they prepare for a game. We used the FSU game as an example. I went to practices and film sessions, but the game was against FSU, and I ended up not being able to do the story because Clemson played FSU in the ACC Tournament and didn't want to give away their secrets beforehand.

Question: What does a beat writer do all day?

Answer: I'll give you a typical Monday during FB season: Check the other newspapers at about 7:30 a.m.; do a radio interview at 8 a.m.; check e-mail and plan stories for the week 8-9:30 a.m.; player/assistant coach interviews 10-12:30; Vote for ACC plaeyr of the week 12:30-1; Transcribing tape and writing 1-5:30; Interview Tommy after practice 6-6:15; More writing 6:15-10 p.m.

Question: Will Bowden get an ultimatum to make staff changes, even specific changes at the end of the season?

Answer: Difficult to tell. I think coach Bowden's staff is better than people give them credit for, though. If not for some very serious shortcomings on the offensive line, this would be a really good team.

Question: Ken, what are your feelings about Bowden's job security and will he HAVE to make staff changes to survive?

Answer: Bowden's job is safe. I haven't heard anything about staff changes at this point.

Question: What's the food in Clemson's pressbox and how does it compare to others?

Answer: Fried chicken before the games, hot dogs at halftime. I'm not a big fried chicken person, but I was talking to an SID from Maryland last week who loves the fried chicken here.

Question: Ken, Do you live in the Clemson area?

Answer: I live in Anderson

Question: Who is going to win THE game -- and why?

Answer: Clemson will win because South Carolina just isn't very good on offense.

Question: Where is USC vulnerable?

Answer: USC's offense is just horrible. If they try to throw the ball against Clemson's corners, they'd better be able to tackle Miller or Mance before they reach the end zone.

Question: welcome ken----tell us a little bit about your background---where you are from--where you went to school...and why do you pronounce your name the way you do???

Answer: Hi milerock. I'm from Rochester, N.Y., was a decent HS basketball player, went to college at Notre Dame and my name means "Thousand" in Polish. One of my ancestors probably did a thousand really bad things once upon a time.

Question: Any chance we hear Holtz give his retirement speech before or after this game?

Answer: I haven't heard that he will, but I'm not really close to the SC program.

Question: Being a Clemson writer in Columbia, do you get more heat from Clemson fans who don't like something you write or from USC fans who don't like things you write?

Answer: I get it from both sides. It's an unfortunate part of the job, but if both sides are mad at me that probably means I am being fair.

Question: What must Clemson do to win - on Offense and Defense?

Answer: On offense: Must be patient and complete short passes and work methodically downfield. On defense, must stop the run. A trick play in this game will be important, too.

Question: I think in general the state covers clemson pretty well but it is certainly second banana to USC...Has the paper given amny thought to equal status--I speak mostly of the Sunday section....

Answer: Gosh, I think The State's Sunday section especially gives Clemson more coverage than they get from any paper anywhere. Maybe we do a bit more on USC, but I'm focused so much on Clemson that it's difficult for me to say.

Question: It seems that your counterpart covering Carolina have the same topics. Are they assiged by the Sports Editor?

Answer: Yes, those stories this week were assigned by my sports editor.

Question: As a sports journalist, what did you think of Doyel's article on Clemson?

Answer: I know Gregg Doyel well and I like him a lot. I think there was a shred of truth to it - Frank Howard's record wasn't so hot, and Clemson did break rules in the '80s. But I do think Clemson is a football school. You need only see it once on game day to know that. And Clemson's fans are great. I don't like it when people make fun of them.

Question: If Clemson and USC played 10 times in the next 10 weeks how many would Clemson win?

Answer: Six or seven.

Question: Clemson seems to be losing ground to USC in state recruiting every year.. though they are no better on the field.. is Lou's power over recruits/parents that strong?

Answer: I disagree with your premise. USC had the better class in 2002, but Clemson had one of its best classes ever in 2001.

Question: Ken - Which is more open to the media - Holtz or Bowden?

Answer: Bowden. It's not even close.

Question: Have you worked in many different cities in your career? What was your favorite?

Answer: I like Clemson the best; I worked in Upstate New York before that, and it's cold there.

Question: What is your favorite sport to cover? Favorite coach to interview?

Answer: I love basketball because I grew up with it. Reggie Herring was my favorite to interview. He was very truthful and funny.

Question: How are the press facilities at Clemson and how do they compare to oter schools arond the state and conference?

Answer: The press facilities at Clemson are pretty nice. They're not as new as other schools, but the press box is big and comfortable and there are plenty of phones.

Question: If location was not an issue, what newspaper would you most want to work for and what would you want to cover?

Answer: I enjoy covering Clemson, and I like doing it for The State.

Question: What is the difference between working for the Anderson paper and the State?

Answer: There's not much of a difference. At both places, my editors were extremely supportive and encouraged creativity.

Question: Did you want to cover Clemson sports or did you have any say in it?

Answer: I absolutely wanted to cover Clemson sports. It was one of the reasons I left Upstate New York.

Question: where did you go to school?

Answer: Notre Dame.

Question: Why do you think that the general press has allowed the 'tommy on hot seat' stuff to be printed? Honestly, those in the know, including beat writers, knew this is not a real consideration for the program. I know the answer has something to do with selling print. But when it is clearly so 'incorrect' isn't it a bit manipulative?

Answer: You've never head the Tommy on the hot seat stuff from me, except when Bobby Bowden talked about it at the ACC preseason meeting. I think it started with The Sporting News. Those of us who have access to his contract understand that his buyout was too hefty and his team was too good for him to be on the hotseat this year.

Question: After 11 games, what do you think of Bowdens decision to red-shirt last years recruiting class? The injuries to the OL made it a risky decision for the short term. Your thoughts?

Answer: I think it was a great decision. OLs are so much better over the long run if you redshirt them and give them an extra year in the program. I just don't think other than Justin Miller that too many of the freshmen could have helped much.

Question: Bowdens' style is unique: specifically not the southern football poor mouth game speak, "we got whipped in the trenches" - often creates controversy for fans who want to hear the coach fall on the sword; do you think that Bowden is a)often misunderstood, b) fans just don't know what to make of his style of coach speak c)the press enjoys fanning the flames for the fans, or d) a little of all of the above?

Answer: a) and b) rarely misunderstood; he's pretty clear. c) I think Bowden himself sometimes enjoys fanning the flames. He makes it fun with his sense of humor for everybody.

Question: What is your prediction for the game?

Answer: Clemson 20, USC 16

Question: How would you describe the mental state of the Clemson team right now? I belive their confidence level is a key for this weekend...

Answer: I think they are confident and especially relaxed, which will be important.

Question: Mr. Tysiac--Why does a paper called "The State" cover South Carolina sports more than Clemson sports? Shouldn't it cover all major schools in SC evenly?

Answer: All I know and can speak for is we cover Clemson more than any other newspaper.

Question: Do you feel the OL is having trouble b/c of talent or coaching or both?

Answer: I think injuries and lack of experience have been the biggest problem. And Clemson's scheme is really difficult for offensive linemen. Will Merritt spoke to that Wednesday better than I ever could.

Question: Ken- does The State focus mostly on the midlands or does it truely try to cover the whole state of S.C.?

Answer: We try to cover the whole state, but obviously most of our circulation is in the Midlands.

Question: Do you feel journalist consider digging up dirt a part of their job? Seems to be a lot of that from SC sportswriters in general.

Answer: To me, there is no such thing as "dirt". If something "bad" happens on any beat, it's our duty to report it. And as in the case of Nagys' violations yesterday, it's the schools' duties to be honest about it. Which at Clemson they almost always are.

Question: Ken, do you think that Phil Kornblut slants his recruiting reports to favor USC and Coach Holtz?

Answer: I doubt that. I think Phil would be run out of business by Clemson people if he was biased toward USC.

Question: How has sports writing changed from the older days ... when today's columnists were beat writers themselves?

Answer: Difficult to tell since I'm only 33. I think Watergate changed the cozy relationships all journalists once had with their sources, but that was before my time.

Question: Do you media guys try to set Bowden up to rip officials? Seems like somebody always tries to get a comment on them during press conferences. LOL.

Answer: We like to give Bowden the opportunity to speak about them. If he feels like he is being cheated and wants to stand up for his program, that's his prerogative. If he wants to avoid the fine and keep quiet, that's his prerogative, too.

Question: Ken- how would you compare the football facilities at USC and CLemson?

Answer: I've never been in USC's weight room or recruiting areas, so I couldn't comment. I don't know nearly as much about USC as you guys might think.

Question: Any rumblings about coaches or players leaving after the season?

Answer: Other than Rodney Allison and Chattanooga, I haven't heard anything.

Question: Care to give a prediction for Saturday's game?

Answer: Clemson 20, USC 16.

Question: Is it tough being the beat writer for Clemson at a paper as biased as The State?

Answer: I don't think we're biased. OL Nick Black did a senior thesis study that included The State and concluded we are not biased.

Question: What was your impression of the staff from working with the basketball staff on the answer you gave earlier?

Answer: I think they know their stuff and I was impressed at their camaraderie with the players. They seemed to have fun watching film together.

Question: Any inside info as to bowl possibilities for the Tigers?

Answer: I think if you win Saturday, you go to the Tangerine Bowl and could get invited early next week. If not, you'll probably go to the Continental Tire Bowl in Charlotte.

Question: Ken, Did you read the piece Greg Doyel wrote earlier in the Charlotte Observer about Clemson's tradition. If so, what was your candid opinion of the editorial??

Answer: I think Clemson is a football school despite what Doyel said. I know Doyel and like and respect him, though, and he did make some valid points about Frank Howard's record and Clemson's violations in the story. But as I said before, you are a football school because of your fans and because of how important football is in Clemson.

Question: Ken, in reference to Bowdens humor, some times his "jokes" don't come across in print, they sound like serious comments. Is there anything writers can do to make a better distinction between humor and serious comment?

Answer: I try to say "joked" when he's joking. Not sure there's anything else we can do.

Question: Can you give a shout out to my boy Tigerbdog. He loves your stuff. Thanks.

Answer: Well, it's good to know somebody enjoys my stuff. Thanks poppatiger and Tigerbdog!

Question: How much do you read webboards (like TigerNet) during the week?

Answer: I read TigerNet at least four times a day. I don't read any others.

Question: Ken, do you headline your own material, or does an editor do it after you turn the story in? Headlines can really color the perception of a writer's bias don't you think?

Answer: An editor writes my headlines. They know what kind of headline they need to fit the space; I can't see that on the page from here in Clemson.

Question: Do they still have those big 'ol brownies in the press box?

Answer: Yup. They're pretty good, too. Blond and chocolate brownies.

Question: During the time you've spent covering Clemson, who's been the one athlete that you most enjoyed covering and interviewing?

Answer: Willie Simmons is one of my favorites; also Edward Scott, Terrell McIntyre, Harold Jamison, Nick Eason.

Question: Clemson fans will go to their grave swearing the State is a pro-USC paper. Is that a fair assumption?

Answer: I don't think so. I work awfully hard to present Clemson better than any other writer in the state.

Question: Where did you go to school?

Answer: Notre Dame.

Question: Ken, who are the top three sports writers in the state in your opinion?

Answer: I'd hate to single people out for fear of leaving out somebody. I think there are a lot of good writers in the state.

Question: Which Clemson coaches are the easiest to work with?

Answer: They're all easy to work with. Bowden and Shyatt are a lot more accessible than you might think.

Question: I see Charlie Bauman In The Chat Room. I think a "What's he doing now" would make an interesting story.

Answer: Good point. I'll mention it to my editors. We've gotten good responses from our Flashback stories we've been doing every Saturday. WE need to do more of those.

Question: Who is your all time favorite Clemson interview?

Answer: Reggie Herring

Question: Why is USC's offense terrible - Irons is a good back. Pinnock has been good in the past. Loss of Petty made that much difference?

Answer: Quarterback is an awfully important position. If you can't throw it these days, you've really got trouble.

Question: Do you think Justin Miller is the ACC Rookie of the Year?

Answer: I think he is. But I think McLendon will win the award because the majority of the All-ACC voting block is in NC. Darryl Blackstock of VA also is very deserving.

Question: Ken, I always enjoy your features on players and the quotes you get from them. Who has been the most interesting player on this years team.

Answer: Willie Simmons. He's very accommodating, very classy, and I just feel sorry for him that things have turned out this way. That's not to say I don't like Charlie Whitehurst personally, because I do. But Willie waited a long time for his chance, and it didn't work out.

Question: Is Eason's Achilles tendon serious?

Answer: I think he will play Saturday.

Question: Ken. USC gets their OWN section of the paper on Sunday. How can your possibly say that is fair? Why doesn't The State just have a whole section by itself for all college scores on Sunday like the AJC. Would that not be more fair?

Answer: The only reason this was done was to make sure we had two "front pages" - one with USC on teh front and one with Clemson on the front. Some USC fans complain because their stuff isn't in the "regular" sports section, and Clemson's is. We'll never please everybody, I guess.

Question: Do sports writers check out sports boards like Tigernet or FGF?

Answer: Every day.

Question: Do you enjoy the Clemson baseball games?

Answer: I love Clemson baseball games. I think it's a great atmosphere and I think it's a great place for teenagers to hang out and have wholesome fun.

Question: Maybe I'm wrong but it seems that the media in general treats Lou like he's a sweet little old man and they buy into everything he says - i.e., his poormouthing. It also seems that he can make remarks that folks find funny but the same remarks by Tommy or a number of other coaches are taken as harsh, senseless, etc. Do you agree and, if so, why do you think this is the case?

Answer: I just don't know about Lou Holtz. I'm not close enough to USC to see what he says in order to have an opinion on how it is interpreted. I think we treat Tommy fairly, and I'm pretty sure he feels the same way. If he didn't, I'm confident that he would let us know.

Question: do we have anything to look forward to in basketball this year? any positives? any chance of finishing higher than 7th in the conference or should we be happy with 7th, 8th or 9th

Answer: I'd be surprised if you finished higher than seventh. I think Edward Scott is worth the price of admission every day and Sharrod Ford is a budding star. Defense should be better, too.

Question: Are you a Notre Dame fan at heart?

Answer: Not nearly as much as when I was in college. After seeing so many wins and losses each week in covering sports as a writer, you get to realize that winning isn't everything.

Question: How'd you learn about Clemson, coming from N.D. and New York?

Answer: I submitted resumes all over the place when I felt I was ready for a big-time beat. The Anderson Independent was the first paper to call me.

Question: odd question of the day: how exactly do you pronounce your name?

Answer: "Tishins". It means "Thousand" in Polish.

Question: So how did a northern, ND alum get interested in CU sport?

Answer: I was looking for a big-time program to cover, and the Anderson Independent was the first one to call me. I love it here. I really do.

Question: How much do you collaborate with your counterpart covering USC? Themes are identical sometimes.

Answer: When themes are identical, lots of times that is because a good editor is coordinating the stories. My editors at The State are outstanding.

Question: Were you and Coach Holtz at ND together?

Answer: I was there when coach Holtz was there.

Question: Why don't you print more quotes from opposing teams players and coaches

Answer: That's a good question. We only have so much space, and I think Clemson fans would rather hear their own team's perspective.

Question: As a Notre Dame grad, what are you feelings towards Holtz? Do you believe Under the Tarnished Dome is more fact that fiction?

Answer: I think he is a very good coach. My problem with Under the Tarnished Dome was that the writer would hammer Holtz with two sides of an issue. First he would say Holtz was too lenient with discipline; then they would slam him for suspending Rick Watters and Tony Brooks before the USC game in 1988.

Question: Why doesn't Bob Spear Respond to Emails? What was with the The State reprinting Greg Doyels article several days later?

Answer: I can't speak for Spear responding to e-mails, although I can tell you he's a great guy. I think we reprinted that story in our weekly Sunday "opinion" page because obviously a lot of fans were interested in it.

Question: Did Holtz have problems at Notre Dame, or not?

Answer: He won a lot of games there. I know Notre Dame's admissions standards are extremely high; that might have been his biggest difficulty.

Question: Since you're an ND grad, what was your opinion of Holtz when he was the coach at your school?

Answer: He won a lot of games and is very popular there. But I think Tyrone Willingham will do an excellent job there, too.

Question: Can you give us any predictions for Tiger basketball? Will we finally see the improvements that Larry has been promising us?

Answer: It all hinges on you finding somebody who can score from the perimeter. If Chey Christie can make some threes, you will be in good shape.

Question: Has there ever been anything that has happened to you as a sports writer that made you wish you had become a fireman instead?

Answer: Sometimes when I read Tigernet and see the criticism, I wished I'd stuck with chemical engineering in school. I don't let my wife read Tigernet because she gets really mad when people criticize.

Question: Are you allowed on the practice field and if so how does Duane coleman look?

Answer: I am not allowed to watch practice, but I'm told Duane Coleman looks very good. He's fast and doesn't go down easily.

Question: Need someone to carry your computer, Saturday? Is the pressbox heated?

Answer: It's heated, but it will be full Saturday. From what I understand, The State alone will have eight writers and one editor there. This game is very important to us, obviously, because our readers place somuch emphasis on it.

Question: How do you compare Lovett and Herring?

Answer: Obviously their schemes are different. Lovett is more of a zone guy and Herring liked to play more man. Lovett is more reserved talking to the media; Reggie would say just about anything.

Question: ahhhh! so sports writers DO read the boards...

Answer: Of course we do.

Question: Have the Tigers been practicing under the lights?

Answer: Yes. It's dark by the time practice ends now.

Question: Send much time on the internet? What's your handle on here?

Answer: My handle is Hunter. But I think I've only posted once in the five years I've been a member.

Question: Is Maryland going to be a contender from now on?

Answer: Probably. Ralph Friedgen is a genius, in my opinion.

Question: Do you think the ACC is growing in strength? Duke seems to be making noise now.

Answer: I think the ACC is weak this year in football. FSU probably will be the BCS representative and it is 1-3 outside the conference so far.

Question: Ken, How many years have you been covering Clemson sports?

Answer: Since July of 1995.

Question: Speaking of officials, do you feel that Clemson seems to be on the receiving end of a lot of bad calls from the ACC refs? I'm not referring to any particular plays or games but it seems like we are treated as the red-headed stepchild of the ACC by the refs.

Answer: I think Clemson has gotten a lot of bad calls this year, but so have Clemson's opponents. An example is the Duke game. Derrick Hamilton's fumble on the game-winning field goal drive wasn't called a fumble, but neither was a Duke fumble on the tying touchdown drive.

Question: I've noticed that the state usually has predictions on the usc and Clemson games. Who makes those predicitons and who will make the prediction for this week's game?

Answer: I'm not sure. I haven't been asked to predict this week's game, except to write three reasons why Clemson will win earlier this week.

Question: Ken- has The State sent someone to Williamston to get scoop on D. Watson's recruiting and the NCAA investigation?

Answer: I'm pretty sure just about every media outlet in SC has had reporters investigating the situation.

Question: Is Black's analysis going to be published anywhere?

Answer: I don't know. He hasn't quite finished with the quantitative analysis, and we've already done the story.

Question: Ken thanks for your candidness. Any signs of quarterback controversy at Clemson these days?

Answer: I don't think so. I think Willie could make a push for the starting job in the spring, but Charlie is just very talented and very poised.

Question: Ken, Don't you think Bowden has a very dry sense of humor and most people don't pick up on it?

Answer: I think some people don't quite understand his humor, but I can assure you, he's a funny guy.

Question: Ken, I think you and The State does a much better job than others in this State. However, it still seems like the State likes to take derogatory "jabs" at Clemson... a recruiting analyst based out of California said that he's never seen a state's media as biased towards one school as South Carolina... do you agree with this statement?

Answer: Thanks, TygerMan. I disagree. Nick Black was mentioning Tennessee, and he said that state is much more biased toward UT at the expense of Memphis and Vandy.

Question: Does the Tiger basketball team have ANY shot at being improved?

Answer: If Chey Christie has a big year as a scoring guard, Clemson could be a lot better.

Question: Are there any challenges to covering Clemson when seasons overlap? (like this time of year with football and basketball and later with basketball and baseball?)

Answer: I don't get much sleep this time of year. Overlap between baseball and basketball isn't quite as bad.

Question: Do you think McClinton will play tomorrow?

Answer: No. If I were him, I wouldn't play, either, just one week after as big a scare as that.

Question: I think you do a very good job of covering Clemson and I think The State provides the best coverage in the state. However, that doesn't mean your paper isn't biased towards usc. After all, they basically have their own seperate section each Sunday. They had special sections for their bowl games and their stuff is promoted prominently on the website.

Answer: We have our own separate section on Sunday, but USC fans complain because they're not in the regular sports section. And my stories are promoted on the website, too. So I don't know.

Question: How is life different without Bob Bradley around?

Answer: I miss Bob's historical perspective, his sense of humor and most of all his friendship. He made Clemson and the Frank Howard legend what they are with ingenious promotion. He was one in a million.

Question: Does off the record, REALLY MEAN OFF THE RECORD to you?

Answer: Yes. And everybody who has ever gone off the record with me would tell you I have been true to that.

Question: Regarding Doyel's article, you said Doyel's negative comments about Howard's record were legitimate. I don't understand why The State and Doyel wanted to take a shot at the late Coach Howard. He had many friends at the State when he was alive. Please explain.

Answer: Doyel doesn't work for The State. My point about Howard is that the man built the Clemson athletic program from the ground up, so he is remembered as a legend. But his winning percentage was only .580. So in that respect, some of the other legendary coaches have surpassed him. That's what I meant about Doyel having a point on Howard

Question: Ken, many Tiger fans thought your collegue Michael Smith was unusually biased for a sportswriter. How do you respond to that, and do you feel the new Gamecock beat writer is more "middle-of -road?"

Answer: I really liked working with Michael Smith and I thought he was a consummate professional. If he had been biased, my editors wouldn't have kept him on the beat. I also think Joe Person will do a great job.

Question: Ken, since you're a ND alum, do you think Lou Holtz "bent" and broke a few rules to accomodate his football program at ND

Answer: I don't think so. Notre Dame is on network television for every home game. Imagine selling that to recruits. They don't have to cheat to win.

Question: Ken, since you're a ND alum, do you think Lou Holtz "bent" and broke a few rules to accomodate his football program at ND

Answer: I don't think so. Notre Dame is on network television for every home game. Imagine selling that to recruits. They don't have to cheat to win.

Question: How good is Tim Bourret and do you get special treatment because y'all are ND alums?

Answer: Tim Bourret is a genius and is very fair. I really respect his input and appreciate the great access he gives all reporters at Clemson; he's outstanding. But I don't think he would treat me differently because I'm an ND alum. He's too professional for that.

Question: How would you describe the press facilities compared to other schools in the ACC?

Answer: They're excellent, except that leaking water from the glass in front of the press box can be a problem. But there is a lot of space up there and a lot of access to power and phones. It's one of the best in the league.

Question: Thanks for coming in to TAC today... how was it adjusting to 'The South'?

Answer: Other than getting used to the drawl, it was pretty easy. Y'all are pretty hospitable down here.

Question: How has the internet changed your job and the purpose of a newspaper in paper form?

Answer: Yes. Because information is available to you more quickly and easily, we have to find ways to get deeper inside the program than in the past with good features and stories such as the ones I've done watching film with Woody Dantzler, Ed Scott and Tommy Bowden and Brad Scott.

Question: You mentioned something about Tommy staying at Clemson earlier - Do you feel when he first got here he viewed Clemson as a stepping stone or do you really believe he viewed this place as somewhere he could retire?

Answer: My guess is that his father told him Clemson is a sleeping giant. I think Tommy thought he could retire here, but was open-minded enough to know that the fans are difficult to please here, too. The danger in getting too attached is that your heart will be broken if you're fired. I saw that with Tommy West - a good man and a good coach, even though he was fired.

Question: The State seems to have cut the number of staff writers it sends to Clemson games. Is that true and how does the State typically staff a Clemson game now?.

Answer: We used to send one columnist to USC and one to Clemson when we had two columnists. But now Gillespie is a feature writer, and Spear does more USC games because USC is closer. I still think Cobb Oxford and Karl Geliske, two free-lance guys who work with me on Saturdays, do a magnificent job.

Question: Do you think the Tiger Pride improvements are going to put is at the level we desire? Any word on what the Heritage Endzone project will be like?

Answer: I think you should have built a new basketball arena rather than renovating Littlejohn. I think the football renovations and baseball renovations will be first class.

Question: How does Littlejohn look on the inside? Anyway it is done before the Duke game?

Answer: I haven't been inside Littlejohn yet for insurance and liability reasons. I think it will be done for Duke.

Question: Did you once write rhat you thought CU players looked like popsicles in all orange?

Answer: Yes I did. I stand by that. I don't like the all orange.

Question: How bad will Nagys suspension hurt?

Answer: It will hurt depth in the post. But you've still got a lot of good players at those positions.

Question: How are you enjoying fatherhood?

Answer: It's an absolute joy, the thrill of a lifetime. Thanks for asking.

Question: When you interview opposing coaches in Football what do you think the opinion of Tommy Bowden is?

Answer: I think they have respect for Bowden, particularly as an offensive strategist.

Question: Did Bob Bradley ever teach you any tricks of the trade?

Answer: Not any tricks, per se. But his professionalism was an example to everyone.

Question: Off the record, you've got one of the greatest jobs on God's green earth. Fight tooth and toenail to keep it.

Answer: Thanks, RevDodd.

Question: Ken- Thanks for coming in and being so candid. We tried to stump you and many of us are not crazy about The State but you seem like a stand up fellow.

Answer: Thank you, Lumbee. I enjoyed having an opportunity to chat.

Question: Heard anything on Roscoe Crosby?

Answer: It's always difficult to tell about Roscoe. He's always got so many people pulling him in so many different directions.

Question: also off the record, nice job on here today! Folks in TAC are giving you high marks.

Answer: Thanks, RevDodd. I've enjoyed this.

Question: Do they still make beat writers cover prep games as well?

Answer: Some do, some don't. I don't, just because Friday is my only day off during football season.

Question: In your opinion, is Carolina South's downfall the result of recruiting too many JUCO players? It would seem that when trying to build a program, a good coach would seek the best freshmem available so they have ample time to learn the system. Do you think that the recruitment of so many JUCOs is an indicator that Holtz is about to bail out of UCS? I mean, it seems he's looking for quick results rather than a solid foundation.

Answer: I wouldn't write off USC just yet. If they'd only had a successful quarterback, they would have been a lot better off this year.

Question: you work with Cobb? Cool..tell him I said to ask him about stealing the Burger King sometime. thanks!

Answer: I will ask him tomorrow. I do work with Cobb, and he's great.

Question: When did you graduate from ND and have you ever read "Under the Tarnished Dome"

Answer: 1991. I've read it. As I mentioned before, my big criticism is that the book hammered Holtz on two sides of every issue.

Question: Is this the last year for Larry if he doesn't make significant improvement in the W/L Column?

Answer: If I knew the answer to that, I would have written it in The State already. I think people need to get behind Larry and the basketball team this year rather than anticipating the end of Shyatt's tenure before the season even starts.

Question: Have you heard anything from old beat writers for Clemson like Tom Layton and Josh Peter? Where are they now?

Answer: I hear from them occasionally. Layton was working near Asheville, N.C.,for a religious publication last I talked to him. Peter is with the Times-Picayune, I think, in New Orleans.

Question: Why do you think Clemson will win 20-16?

Answer: You guys will get one big play in the passing game and one big trick play, and your defense is good enough to hold USC to 16 points.

Question: In your opinion who has the best recruitors, CU or USC?

Answer: I think recruiters at both schools have done a great job, as evidenced by top-10 recruiting classes by CU in 2001 and USC in 2002. It would be tough to choose one over the other.

Question: Has anybody ever offered you money to write a bad article on another school or a good article on a team?

Answer: Never. And I'd never do it.

Question: do you think Tommy Bowden plans to retire in Clemson?

Answer: Difficult to tell. I think Tommy is always aware that he needs to win a lot of games if he plans to retire in Clemson.

Question: who is a team in the ACC you dislike greatly. C,mon, I know you have one.

Answer: I don't dislike any of them.

Question: what do you think will be the keys to a Clemson win tomorrow?

Answer: Defense must stop the run; Offense must be patient and complete short passes.

Question: Ken: for what its worth I think you do a reasonably good job remaining neutral on the two teams.

Answer: Thanks, century. If I didn't do that, you'd never be able to take anything I wrote seriously.

Question: How close are we to being a BCS contender program each year? What needs to be done?

Answer: The first step would be to improve the offensive line. Facilities are the other big thing, but that's being addressed.

Question: do you think recruits pay any attention as to who wins the USC/Clemson game? Does it make a difference in their decisions?

Answer: I don't think it makes much of a difference.

Question: Ken: do you think Marlboro and Northwestern deserved to be kept out of the high school postseason?

Answer: I have an opinion on that, but I'm sorry, I can't share it.

Question: Ken: do you think Tommy Bowden acts more or less aloof than Lou Holtz?

Answer: I don't cover Holtz at all, so it's difficult to tell.

Question: Ken: who is the best coach in the ACC right now?

Answer: Mike Krzyzewski.

Question: Is it hard for you not to cheer for the team you are covering sometimes.

Answer: No. If I was cheering for a team, I would lose my objectivity, and then you would never be able to take seriously anything I say.

Question: Ken: with the game starting at 8pm (almost) how hard will it be to do a good job covering all aspects of the game with such an incredibly short deadline?

Answer: Very difficult. We prefer afternoon games. My game story will have to be filed the minute the game ends.

Question: Ken: what do you like best about covering Clemson football? Least?

Answer: Best: The atmosphere at Death Valley. Least: Spending nights and weekends away from my family.

Question: ken: do you think Death Valley is still as intimidating as it used to be?

Answer: I can't say. I wasn't here in the 80s.

Question: ken: how responsible do you think the coaching staff is for keeping these kids out of trouble off the field?

Answer: It's difficult to keep an eye on these kids 24 hours a day.

Question: Ken: if you could offer any advice to Tommy Bowden concerning the game tomorrow what would it be?

Answer: I don't think Tommy needs my advice. He knows far more about football than I could ever dream of knowing.

Question: Are you hearing anything about how soon the "Heritage building" will be started and if any changes or additions should start after this season?

Answer: It's still in the planning stages because now they're adding it to the West End zone project.

Question: Do you ever bring your kids to games? Where would you want them to go to College?

Answer: I've got a 2-year-old. I brought her to a baseball game once. I just hope my children go to school wherever will make them happy.

Question: Ken:do you think Bowden is on the hotseat if he loses to USC tomorrow?

Answer: No. I think he is a better coach than many people give him credit for.

Question: OK, when will the west end zone project start? This year?

Answer: Not this year, I don't think. They are stepping back and taking another look at the planning because they are combining the Heritage and West End zone projects.

Question: If you feel you can't offer advice to Tommy Bowden because he knows more about football, then what gives you as a writer the right to criticize him in articles by using terms such as "questionable call?"

Answer: I'm not aware that I've ever written "questionable call," except about officiating. I think there are certain times when a coach's judgment can be questioned by just about anybody with a brain. But for me to give advice to Bowden for tomorrow would portray a self-importance that I just don't possess.

Question: Good Afternoon Ken, Please comment on the on-going NCAA investigation into South Carolina's recruiting practices and how it may affect future recruiting. Do you think a more pro-active presence by South Carolina's compliance office may have prevented the dark cloud over their football program?

Answer: I have no idea. I am so busy covering Clemson that I don't think much about the USC stuff and I just don't have much first-hand information on them.

Question: Ken--how will the basketball Tigers fare this season??

Answer: Chey Christie's 3-point shooting will be the key. If he performs well, they could be fairly successful.

Question: How confident is the team about tomorrow's game?

Answer: Very confident. And relaxed. The pressure is all on USC because they need to win to reach a bowl.

Question: Ken: if you have kids, would you send them to Clemson or USC?

Answer: I would send them anywhere they want to go, provided I could afford it.

Question: Ken, do you try to write good stories or just sell newspapers?

Answer: I try to write good stories. If I do that, newspapers will sell.

Question: In your opinion how does Miller and Mance stack up to other Cornerbacks in the country (In particular Miller)? Thanks

Answer: Charlie Taaffe (MD OC) told me last week the Miller and Mance were the best corners they had faced as a tandem since Notre Dame's corners. I think he's right. These guys are outstanding.

Question: have you ever looked at the photographs of the football games on tigernet ?

Answer: Now that's something I don't often do.

Question: have you seen the new tiger insider magazine ?

Answer: I read every Tiger Insider that comes out cover to cover. I think these guys do a great job with it.

Question: who is your favorite player on this team to interview?

Answer: Willie Simmons. He's very classy, smart and accommodating.

Question: Did "The State" hold off on the NCAA USC questioning or did "The Atlanta Journal Constitution" simply get the info first?

Answer: I don't know. I don't cover USC.

Question: What is your opinion of the Heritage Building? Can it really make a recruiting advantage?

Answer: I think it can make a difference, but it's not the most important thing to a recruit.

Question: Does your work ever reach AP reports? Seems here in Atlanta Tiger fans are lucky to get two sentences for the game reports on a Sunday.

Answer: Sometimes it does. But most of the time it goes out over the Knight-Ridder wires, to which some newspapers subscribe and some don't.

Question: Ken - In your opinion, why is O'cain calling the plays instead of Scott.

Answer: O'Cain, Scott and Bowden all have a say in the play calling, and not necessarily in that order.

Question: Ken- what team are u betting on this weekend? clemson is a 5 point favorite, and try and give a straight answer instead of beating around the bush..

Answer: I don't gamble. But I am picking Clemson 20-16.

Question: What do you see as your next goal, do you want to move on?

Answer: I would like to play power forward for the New York Knicks.

Question: I heard not too long ago that having access to newspaper sites were going to start charging fees. Heard anything related to this?

Answer: I've heard that, but I haven't seen too many papers actually do it. I think it's important to have as much free information as possible on the Internet, for my own self-interest in terms of research purposes, of course.

Question: Who's better from the Big Ten? Iowa or OSU?

Answer: I haven't seen either team play so much as a down, so I'm not qualified to say.

Question: What is Bob Gillespie's role? He doesn't seem to write much.

Answer: Bob Gillespie is our feature writer now. He writes very long, exquisitely researched feature stories and wins lots of awards for them.

Question: Ken---how would you characterize the perception of Clemson as an academic and athletic institution with reporters from other regions of the country??

Answer: All I can tell you is my own impression before I came here from New York. I knew Clemson had a strong fb reputation and had won a national title in 1981. I knew it was a good engineering school because it came up as such when I was researching colleges for myself. Those were my initial impressions.

Question: I imagine The State will follow others in requiring subscription or fee for archives. That's where the research money is to be made.

Answer: We do require a fee for archives already.

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