Thursday, August 21, 2008

Crawford was wise to choose track over football

Watching the replay of former Clemson sprinter Shawn Crawford in the Olympic 200 meters Wednesday reminded me of a game at Virginia Tech in 1999.

Virginia Tech defensive end Corey Moore tripped up Clemson wide receiver Brian Wofford in the backfield on a reverse in the early stages of the game. Afterward, Clemson coach Tommy Bowden intimated that the play had been designed for Crawford, who dazzled the staff during his brief time with the football team that fall before quitting to concentrate on track.

If Crawford had run the play instead of Wofford, Bowden suggested, the result would have been much different because of the sprinter's incredible speed.

On Wednesday, Crawford received the silver medal for finishing in 19.96 seconds after two runners ahead of him were disqualified for running outside their lanes. He made the right choice by sticking with track and maturing into one of the best sprinters in the United States.

Bob Pollock, who was Crawford's track coach at Clemson, bemoaned his flirtation with football because he feared Crawford was jeopardizing what's become a fantastic track career.

Nonetheless, it's fun to speculate what might have happened if Crawford took the handoff from Brandon Streeter that day. It's even more fun to imagine what Jamaican Usain Bolt would do as a football player. At age 21, Bolt won gold medals in the 100 and 200 with world-record sprints. He beat Crawford by 66 hundredths of a second in the 200.

Imagine Bolt on the fast track in Indianapolis catching a 5-yard hitch from Peyton Manning and then turning on the jets. It would be breathtaking.

Then again, it will be fascinating to watch how low Bolt can take the world record with further training in an already golden career.

– Ken Tysiac