5 Questions with...Sun-TimesWSCR's Mike Mulligan

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5 Questions with...Sun-TimesWSCR's Mike Mulligan

By Jeff Nuich
CSN Chicago Senior Director of CommunicationsCSNChicago.com Contributor

November 11, 2009

Want to know more about your favorite Chicago media celebrities? CSNChicago.com has your fix as we put the citys most popular personalities on the spot with a new weekly feature entitled 5 Questions with...

Every Wednesday exclusively on CSNChicago.com, its our turn to grill the local media and other local VIPs with five random sports and non-sports related questions that will definitely be of interest to old and new fans alike.

This weekveteran Chicago Sun-Times football columnist and Bears expert who can also be heard with his partner Brian Hanley weekdays from 5:00-9:00 AM on WSCR AM 670 The Score as co-host of the Mully and Hanley Showhere are 5 Questions withMIKE MULLIGAN!

BIO: Mike Mulligan is a native Chicagoan and an award-winning journalist who has worked for the Chicago Sun-Times for 27 years. He is currently the papers NFL columnist. Mike is also the host of WSCR-AM 670 The Score's morning show, the Mully and Hanley Show, alongside fellow Sun-Times sports writer, Brian Hanley. Mike grew up on the South Side of Chicago and graduated from Loyola University. He is a huge White Sox fan. He and his wife, Christina, have three children.

1) CSNChicago.com: Mully, the Bears O-line has pretty much become the biggest target of fan and media criticism so far this season, which, in turn, has given another black eye to Bears offensive coordinator Ron Turner. In your opinion, what is Turner doing wrong and should all of this blame be placed squarely on his shoulders?

Mulligan: Clearly, the Bears have major problems on offense, but at least they have an excuse. They opened the season with six new starters, including three on the offensive line. Those numbers were reduced when Josh Beekman was promoted over Frank Omiyale after the blowout in Cincinnati. The defense has been awful with pretty much the same cast of characters and improved coaching. Football, as we all know, is a game won in the trenches.

Are the Bears getting the kind of line play they need on either side of the ball? No way. Sadly, thats just where the problems start. Ron Turners best coaching job with the Bears may have been in 2005 when he was forced to play with a rookie fourth-round pick in Kyle Orton and managed a ball control offense designed to complement a great defense. The defense is gone these days and so is the ball control. Jay Cutler is a great building block on offense, but sadly this team doesnt have enough around him.

2) CSNChicago.com: Back in the day, you were a frequent roundtable panelist on the ground-breaking Sports Writers on TV program that aired on SportsChannel. Comcast SportsNet Chicago President Jim Corno refers to the shows Fab Four of Bill Gleason, Bill Jauss, Rick Telander and Ben Bentley as rock stars for that era for what they and producer John Roach introduced to the sports talk industry. What was it like being on that show and tell us your most memorable moment?

Mulligan: I used to joke that the Sports Writers on TV was on the air for 13 years and I killed it in nine months...I loved being on that show. It was a thrill to take part in the conversation with Gleason, Jauss and Lester Munson, who were the threesome I joined every Friday afternoon. Its a highlight of my career and another example of a lucky break, and God knows I have had more than my share of good fortune over the years. I believe Phil Rosenthal was actually the guy who replaced Telander when Rick went national. Phil moved to the TV columnist job and felt it was a conflict of interest to be on a television show. Rick once told me it was a gift to be on that show because it was honest-to-God writers, journalists and lovers of sports and literature talking about the things they loved best. Nobody did their hair or put on makeup.

It was a loosely structured conversation designed to feel like you were eavesdropping on the table next to you. And you wanted to join in. The highlight for me was the final show when Rick and Ben came back and I looked around the table at these guys and still couldnt believe I was sitting there. I used to tell my wife that the great thing about being a sportswriter was that Id be working into my 80s at a job I loved.

3) CSNChicago.com: The Sun-Times has traveled on a very rocky road over the past several years and recently James Tyree and his investment group have to come in to save the paper from its possible well-rumored demise. As a long-time Sun-Times employee, how relieved are you and your fellow employees now that Chicago will remain a two-paper town and what, if any, changes can we expect in the S-T sports section down the line?

Mulligan: Nobody is quite sure how the product will be transformed, but I am certainly delighted that the Sun-Times will continue. I started working at the newspaper as an 18 year-old college freshman covering prep sports for the legendary Taylor Bell. I remember the thrill of my first byline as a sophomore in college and still get a kick out of seeing my stuff in print. Everything else Ive done, be it radio or television or magazine work--it all derives from the newspaper and I will be eternally grateful for the doors it has opened for me. Everybody knows its a terrible time for the newspaper industry and Ive got friends around the country who have lost jobs. Were all in transition in some sense. I believe all of the employees of the Sun-Times are anxious to see what changes are in store.

4) CSNChicago.com: Youve covered thousands of sports writing assignments over the years, tell us the worst gig you ever had to cover and why was it so brutal?
Mulligan: Wow. I have been racking my brain for a couple of days to come up with something. I got locked in the Rosemont Horizon once and had to crawl out through a giant garbage disposal. I covered a prep basketball tournament that was delayed by politicians to the point where I blew deadline. I traveled to Fort Wayne, Ind. for a Chicago Power soccer game and got stranded at the airport for a couple of days due to inclement weather. Does extra innings while doing a sidebar at a baseball game count? None of that stuff was too bad. Ive always felt like I had a great job. Ive covered multiple Super Bowls, NBA Finals, the World Cup Final and the Jordan-era Bulls as a beat guy. There have been thousands of memorable moments that far overshadow the bad ones. Heck, even the bad ones have been pretty amusing in retrospect.

5) CSNChicago.com: The Mully and Hanley Show on The Score has done a terrific job in gaining listenership in such a short period of time. Explain the chemistry with you and Hanley and why it works so well and, a follow-up question, whats the one topic that you guys disagree on more than any other?

Mulligan: Were both long-time Sun-Times sportswriters, but weve covered different beats at different times and therefore our stories and experiences are different. But they come from the same place. A guy stopped me at the store recently and told me we sound like long-time friends having a conversation. Thats about it. Brian is a great guy to work with, very conscientious and professional and well-prepared. More than that hes a good man who cares about the people he works with and looks out for everybody. It may sound effortless over the air--at least I hope it does--but we have a great staff of people working with us, including our executive producer Dustin Rhodes, sound man John Rock Mamola and the inimitable D.J. Nozar. Those guys do a lot of heavy lifting. The thing we disagree on more than any other? The poor guy is a Cubs fan.

Mulligan LINKS:

Chicago Sun-TimesMike Mulligan columns

WSCR AM 670Mully and Hanley page

Mike Mulligan on Twitter

In The Loop: The Blackhawks' 9-1 February by the numbers

In The Loop: The Blackhawks' 9-1 February by the numbers

The Blackhawks went 9-1 in February and did so in emphatic fashion.

The Blackhawks outscored their opponents 44-24 in the month and scored four goals or more in each of the nine wins. The only loss came after the team's bye week, a 3-1 loss at home to Edmonton seven days after winning 5-1 in Edmonton.

A big reason for the Blackhawks' recent surge is because of the production of Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. Toews scored seven goals and had 11 assists in February and was named the league's second star of the week this week. Patrick Kane had nine goals and seven assists.

Scott Darling went 3-0 in his starts and gave up just four goals in those games. Corey Crawford went 6-1 with a 2.71 goals against average.

Despite the Blackhawks' success in February, the Minnesota Wild still lead the division. The Blackhawks beat the Wild twice in February, but the Wild went 7-2 in the rest of February, including tonight's 5-4 overtime win against the LA Kings to sit three points ahead of the Blackhawks and still with two games in hand.

Watch the video above to see Pat Boyle break down these Blackhawks numbers.

Fire putting finishing touches on roster as season nears

Fire putting finishing touches on roster as season nears

The preseason has finished and it's officially a match week for the Chicago Fire.

The Fire, which travel to Columbus on Saturday for the season opener, returned from preseason training in Florida on Sunday and began the team's first full day back in Chicago with the team's annual kickoff luncheon on Monday. The team's players, coaches and staff interact with fans and the media ahead of the upcoming season.

Two players, UNC-Charlotte products Brandt Bronico and Matej Dekovic, were introduced to the audience a couple hours before the club announced the two 2017 draft picks had signed contracts. Bronico, a central midfielder drafted in the third round, and Dekovic, a center back/left back taken in the fourth round, both signed one-year deals with club options for the following three years.

Dekovic could add some much needed depth in central defense, but is a logical candidate to go out on loan to USL affiliate Tulsa. Dekovic, 23, is Croatian and counts as an international player even though he played three years collegiately with the 49ers. The Fire have nine international players on the roster with eight slots for them. The Fire could trade for an international slot, but if Dekovic goes out on loan he won't count against that number. Coach Veljko Paunovic was asked about potential outgoing loans, but didn't give specifics other than to say they have "made some decisions" and "are still working on that."

Bronico and Dekovic don't figure to play major roles this season, but there could still be more moves ahead. The lone trialist in the final week of the Fire's training camp, former Columbus Crew defender Chad Barson, was not retained. General manager Nelson Rodriguez said Ryan Taylor will be the latest right back to join the Fire on trial. Taylor, 32, made 55 English Premier League appearances with Wigan Athletic from 2005-2009 and 61 more with Newcastle United from 2009-2015. This season he has made 12 appearances for Port Vale in England's third tier, the most recent of which on Jan. 20 when he scored a penalty kick.

[RELATED: Fire players downplay importance of undefeated preseason record]

"Ryan Taylor will join us this week," Rodriguez said. "He's a very experienced player, he plays a lot of different positions, which we like. We like that versatility. We love the attitude that he's expressed towards coming on trial, which is not easy for an accomplished player. We'll look at him this week, maybe look at him for two weeks. I don't know how long it will take, but he is an option for us."

The Englishman would also take up an international slot.

A potentially bigger move is the one Rodriguez hinted at regarding a third designated player. Currently, David Accam and Nemanja Nikolic are the Fire's two DPs, meaning one more DP spot is available.

"We have the latitude, we have the cap space, the budget space and the resources within MLS and within our ownership to add another DP," Rodriguez said. "We've looked at a few players. Two of the players that we had on our list, we didn't make offers for so I want to be clear the two players we were tracking, one signed in Mexico with a big club in Mexico and one went to China for big money so they're off our list.

"There are still two players that we're tracking. I think as we get deeper into the start of the season, even though the first window is open, it's tougher. I would say we would likely look at the summer, or, as we did last year, forego the summer and concentrate on January. I still think it's hard to integrate players midseason."