CBS Sports' Clark Kellogg highlights 3rd annual Tip-Off Banquet


“In terms of ethics in sports, if you were hypothetically playing the President of the United States in a game of H.O.R.S.E., would you let him win?” This was a ruse women’s basketball head coach Susie Gardner stated at this year’s Tip-Off Banquet speaker, Clark Kellogg. Being the head sports announcer at CBS Sports and a major contributor to each year’s NCAA basketball tournament, Kellogg got that exact opportunity just a year ago. Gardner teased the former NBA star about the game because Kellogg lead “H.O.” to nothing and found himself losing on the final letter of the game to the outmatched and less talented President Obama.
The night began with some formal introductions and thanks to this upcoming season’s sponsors, a prayer and then quickly transitioned from Athletic Director Jim Cole to the night’s guest Clark Kellogg. Being the third speaker to be highlighted in these annual events, Kellogg began with a few jokes of the previous guests Dick Vitale and Jay Bilas. “I know ‘Dickie V’ and it does not surprise me one bit that he went over his allotted time of 40 minutes,” he mentioned of Vitale’s tendency to talk a great deal.
Kellogg continued his speech with mentions of his career and the path that has gotten him to the point he finds himself today. He said, “My wife asked me ‘What do you have to say of value at an event like this? How are you qualified for this? You have never had a real job a day in your life!’” The crowd chuckled in response before Kellogg agreed to her every word.
Throughout Kellogg’s speech, one could not avoid coming to the realization that the speaker of the night was passionate about the game of basketball and gave all of his thanks to God and others in his family. He spoke with vigor and confidence about the power of believing in your abilities and thanking God for everything that happens in your life. In fact, he emphasized taking life one step at a time and focusing at the tasks at hand. “It’s great to be wherever I am. I choose to be in these places. Nearly every place I am at, I choose to be there, except for the hazards on the golf course. Those are accidental and unfortunate,” he said.
When asked in the press conference before the speech what motto he lived his life by, Kellogg responded with, “Don’t major in minors.” He followed this up with the teachings and advice that he gave throughout his entire speech. He emphasizes to always strive to become better than what you are. “We tend to believe what we are doing is major when, in fact, most things we do in life are minors,” he preached.
Kellogg also mentioned expectations he has for the Bears and advice he could give to young athletes. He says he has gotten the opportunity to talk basketball with Coach Hoffman and is extremely impressed with his philosophy and attitude towards his team. “He believes in the direction they are going in,” he said. “It should be interesting to see where the Bears are in the future. I will have to check up on them,” he added.
The third year annual speaker, Kellogg, concluded his speech with the reading of the poem Winners are people like you. He emphasized his belief that effort, attitude and faith can be the driving force to lead any team to victory.
After the conclusion of Kellogg’s speech, it was the coaches’ opportunities to introduce their new squads and send a pitch to possible fundraisers and fans to come out and support Mercer basketball this season.
After Coach Susie Gardner’s witty remark to Kellogg, she spoke adamantly about the need to fill the seats of the UC Arena this upcoming season. “1,428 is the largest crowd of fans we have ever had at a women’s basketball game. We have about 3,500 seats in this place. We need to fill this place up when Notre Dame comes in town,” she added. With that being said, over 2,500 people were in attendance for the homecoming season opener versus Auburn on Nov. 11.
Once her squad was announced, Coach Gardner passed the floor over to Head Coach Bob Hoffman for the men’s turn. Hoffman came to the stage with fire and energy as if it were game day. “At 211 degrees, water is really hot. When water hits 212 degrees, it begins to steam. It steams to the point where it can start an engine. We need you to make that one degree of difference. Filling this place up will make that difference,” he said. Hoffman continued with lofty goals as he stated: “We can be cutting down the nets in March and have Clark talk about us on TV. We need to hang up a banner in here,” he concluded.
The men’s team was then introduced and talks of season tickets were at hand. Men’s basketball players collected raffles from the surrounding tables and a free giveaway was awarded to one of the members in attendance.
All in all, it was a night of passionate speeches, high hopes of success and expectations of filling the University Center Arena on a consistent basis. Kellogg left an image of success and calming confidence, while the coaches left emotions flowing and excitement swirling for the start of the new season.