NBC slams Wariner

A regrettable decision?
Track and Field | NBC Olympics | Saturday February 02
NEW YORK–On Tuesday, Clyde Hart, who coached Jeremy Wariner and Michael Johnson to the last three Olympic gold medals in the 400m, announced that he had ended his coaching relationship with Wariner because of a contract dispute.

Michael Ford, an assistant coach at Baylor University, the school where both Wariner and Johnson competed under Hart, will now coach Wariner as he pursues repeat Olympic gold this summer in Beijing.

The decision has been met with a measure of bewilderment considering its timing – only seven months remain until the start of the Games – as well as the strong connection to Hart shared by Johnson, who serves as Wariner’s agent.

With the move a hot topic of discussion at the 101st Millrose Games, NBC’s panel of track and field experts Ato Boldon, Lewis Johnson and Dwight Stones, engaged in a round-table debate over Wariner’s decision and the potential repercussions.

Lewis Johnson: I spoke with Michael Johnson, and he said that Clyde is disappointed that he doesn’t get to finish out ’08 and Michael wishes that things worked out with Clyde set some boundaries and feels like he needs to trust Jeremy’s judgment. He said that when he was competing, he made some decisions with his agent and now he has to trust Jeremy’s decision. He said Jeremy is comfortable with his decision. He feels like Michael Ford can take him where he needs to go. He said the one thing he knows about Jeremy is that he is able to compartmentalize like he did as an athlete and is able to take direction and put it into action.

Ato Boldon: You can argue both sides of it, but from my own memory what this smells like is Jeremy saying, ‘Last year, you got 10 percent and I made $1 million. This year, I think I’m going to make $2 million so I’m only going to give you 7 percent.’ Then Clyde sees 7 percent, and is like, ‘Wait a second, last year I made 10 percent, why are you cutting me out?’ When it’s not necessarily going to mean a reduction.

Dwight Stones: Over the years, I have the opportunity to watch what happens to guys in situations like these. I’ll say names. Quincy Watts, Kevin Young, Danny Everett, Steve Lewis. None of those guys did anything after they switched coaches.

Ato Boldon: I understand that Michael trusts Jeremy’s decision, but don’t you think as his agent, he should advise Jeremy and say “You have a point, but this is something you’ve had tremendous success with. We should maybe try to find a middle ground and maintain what has been a very successful environment for you.” That’s my criticism of Michael.

Look, I left John Smith in 2002. I had the feeling that the whole training camp, the whole training schedule had turned toward what Maurice Greene wanted. John basically said Maurice is the star of the group, you are the plebs, and I said, “Good, I’m gone.” And I went and trained in Trinidad. At the same time, Emmanuel Hudson told me that he understood how I felt and that I am headstrong, and he said that this is the situation that has brought you all of your success and you should find a way to make it work. By the end of 2002, I went back and finished out the last two years of my career. Even at this point, Michael should be trying to find a way to make this work.

Dwight Stones: Jeremy is very similar to Michael in that Clyde recruited him as pretty much a relay runner. He wasn’t an open 400m star. They both developed into hot-shot open 400m stars. They followed a similar path. To me, it’s up to Michael’s responsibility to step in and play the big brother, the father figure even, and make Jeremy understand.

Lewis Johnson: I think we can all agree, that if Jeremy, even without Clyde Hart, is able to go out and duplicate his performance in 2004, that he will be Olympic champion in Beijing.

Dwight Stones: Yes, but without Clyde Hart he doesn’t break the world record. And that is the next step for Jeremy.

Ato Boldon: The great ones, the ones who become legends, never, ever, switch coaches. Carl (Lewis) didn’t. Michael (Johnson) didn’t. The bottom line is, it’s not broke. Jeremy hasn’t lost a major international race under this guy.

Dwight Stones: In the broad scheme of things, 10 years from now, when Jeremy isn’t running around in circles, what difference is whatever amount of money they are apart going to matter? If Jeremy doesn’t win this gold medal, I think he’s going to have regrets for the rest of his life.

Ato Boldon: Jeremy will hover around 43.4 if I were a betting man right now. If LaShawn Merritt steps up, we can have a good match-up. If Angelo Taylor steps up, we can have a great match-up. But Michael’s record will still be there.

Lewis Johnson: Jeremy is comfortable that he will get what he needs from Michael Ford and if he is close to how he ran in 2004, he’s well on his way to becoming a repeat Olympic champion. But will he get from this gentleman what he needs to break the world record? We’ll have to wait and see.

Ato Boldon: As the most recently retired here, I will say that you never let money get in the way of what works.

Final word. If you’re Jeremy Wariner, do you change coaches seven months before the Olympics?

Lewis Johnson: No.

Ato Boldon: Absolutley not. No chance. Not even after 2009 Worlds are over.

Dwight Stones: No. If you ever make a change, it’s during an off year.

I think that discussion makes a lot of sense.

agreed, if nothing else this create a drama he doesn’t need. Whether he can compartmentalise well or not he has created a new element of pressure he didn’t have before. He may actually lose some potential $ because of this, sponsors may view his lack of loyalty t Hart as a negative.

Well we will soon see if Hart really was the reason for Jeremy’s success and silence this matter!

I suspect things are so well established by Hart they will continue on an upwards curve - until there is some unexpected issue, such as an injury that takes a while to heal after which he has to return, for example, with a major championship just a few weeks away. Under Hart, this guy became bullet-proof and never screwed up a major. Not saying the new guy doesn’t also know his (Hart’s) stuff, but that is always the risk you take when you switch, especially if you are the kind of athlete who leaves all care and responsibility up to someone else (ie, a coach).

Johnson backs Wariner for gold

Eurosport - Thu, 31 Jan 11:33:00 2008

World record holder Michael Johnson believes Jeremy Wariner will not suffer from his recent coaching change and should win gold in Beijing.

More StoriesWariner headed Down Under
Johnson, who is the Olympic and world 400 metres champion’s agent, said that he had played no part in Wariner’s decision to sever ties with long-time coach Clyde Hart and switch to Michael Ford.

Hart announced he had ended his coaching relationship with Wariner because of a contract dispute.

“I know that Clyde is disappointed, but he has accepted it,” Johnson said.

“Jeremy would have preferred for Clyde to continue coaching him, but it didn’t work out and he has accepted it. So they have moved on in their separate ways.”

Johnson and Wariner’s manager, Deon Minor, say they were not involved in the decision.

“Neither one of them came to me at any point and asked me to help in the situation because both understood the awkward situation I would be in,” Johnson said.

Johnson, who holds the 400m world record, said Wariner should grab gold in Beijing.

“I think he will win (in Bejing),” Johnson said. “He’s a lot more focused this year and a lot more grown up.”

Johnson also said he believed Wariner would break his world record at some point.

“No doubt about it,” Johnson said. “It is extremely difficult to do, but Jeremy has so much talent. Whether it happens this year, you never know.”


Good discussion, but it’s pretty much what you’d expect everyone to be saying. :).

How does everyone feel about these statements?
Does anyone believe that neither MJ or Deon Minor were involved, or even knew about this beforehand?
Why would MJ say that Wariner is “a lot more focused this year and a lot more grown up” if, in fact, he wasn’t promoting this change?
Why would he consider such a risk OK for Wariner when he never considered it for himself?
Who was negotiating for Wariner if it wasn’t his agent?
Hart was not asking for a higher percentage, so what- or who- prompted Wariner to consider such a move now?
As Cicero would ask: “Cui Bono (Who benefits)?”

These guys are dead on the money! Read Stones’ list of J Smith fugitives!

Another point might be made is the case when Williamson left Hart and what his progress has been since? As has been remarked, there are certainly more intangibles involved than a familiarization with a predecessor’s established elites’ training program.

The issue was % of income to Hart and MJ says Wariner’s agent & manager played no part in it…:rolleyes:

A real cynic might even go so far to suggest MJ drove it to protect his WR.

Gee- and I thought agents and managers were there to negotiate the money!
As they say- money talks- bullshit walks.

I don’t know if there are any cynics brave enough to say that in public, as MJ could have a lawsuit to respond with.

They surely could have negotiated a contract if they’d seriously been keen to stick together. I rekon Wariner wants the 200/400 double, and he’s given Hart a few seasons to try and get him running 19.xx’s but this past season - when he raced over the 200m significantly more - he actually ran even slower 20.19 down to 20.35. I’m not sure, but maybe he wants a coach who’ll allow him to follow a slightly more traditional training regime which is more power/speed orientated. His awesome 400m endurance would suffer, but he’d back himself to keep it good enough in relation to his new found short speed to break the WR and hold Merritt off. This may have been prompted by Merritt’s 19.98 last season. It dosen’t matter how much more running strength Jeremy has, if another 400 specialist starts running 19.8/19.7’s then he may very well be done for - unless he can follow suit. And he’d be completely aware of that. I mean, Hart is famous for his tempoish training’s, which obviously provides awesome 400m strength, but must sacrifice pure speed work in responce. MJ was a freak of nature, so we can’t use him as an example of Hart’s programe being capable of producing 19.xx, that’s just unfair to everyone else in the world. Wariner will struggle to break 20 if he keeps to Hart’s training, and he knows he may well need sub-20 to keep Merritt off his heels and break the WR.

I highly doubt it would have anything to do with Wariner wanting to break 20s. That would be totally bizarre.
As you said, if his endurance would probably suffer - he wouldnt get the near the WR then. JW strength is his awesome endurace. The way he finished the 400m off in Osaka suggested he could have gone at least anoter 50m at that pace.
Just because Merritt broke 20s, doesnt mean he can run 43.5!
JW has won everything from NCAA to WC and Oly, only thing left is the WR, and i dont think he has done himself any favours by leaving the guy that has taken him to 43.4

Who said Merritt’s finished with 19.98? The likelihood is that Merritt will soon take over Wariner if things continue in their current form. You must’ve seen Merritt’s facials after the Osaka 400m final, he knows he’s got every chance in the world of knocking the guy over. It’s only a matter of time. And I didn’t say it was a smart move, but I wouldn’t doubt that Wariner wants an olmypic 2/4 double, MJ did it, so if he dosen’t, even if he goes on 2 break the WR, he still missed the greatest feat MJ ever accomplished, or maybe 2nd greatest after his 19.32. Narrowly breaking the WR is worthless, MJ was capable of busting way down in2 the 42’s, things just never came together at the right time 4 him 2 do it. Wariner wants 42x, and if anyone ever does that without being capable of running sub 20, well, that’s probally seb coe endurance with a sprinting specialists speed. Highly unlikely. I agree completely, Wariner’s endurance is off the scale’s. I personally believe he’s achived the best 400m endurance of any runner ever, and that also leads to the fact that there’s probably very little room for improvement in an endurance sense. 0.28?? Maybe…just, 0.46?? Maybe Vlasic will go 3.56 this year? Aint gonna happen. He needs sub-20, and he know’s it, and he’s making the move that he feels will give him a better chance of achieving it.

He wants a change but goes with the same program administered by a cheaper clone of the original??
Look to the money- and who wants who’s cut of the pie.

Hmm. I don’t think Wariner is delusional enough to think he can do an olympic 200/400 double. The 200m field is pretty deep with talent right now.
Breaking the 400m WR is worthless? Peculiar claim.

as good as JW is OG 200 /400 double would probably leave him with 1 individual medal and it wouldn’t be gold.

You guys are funny. Wariner would never get through the USA trials in the 200.