5 Questions with...The Score's Brian Hanley

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5 Questions with...The Score's Brian Hanley

By Jeff NuichCSN Chicago Senior Director of CommunicationsCSNChicago.com Contributor
April 21, 2010
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 everyones favorite weekly local celeb 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 week veteran sportswriter who has covered just about everything for the Chicago Sun-Times over the past quarter century he can be heard with his partner Mike Mulligan weekdays from 5:00-9:00 a.m. on WSCR AM 670 The Score as co-host of the popular Mully and Hanley Show here are 5 Questions with...BRIAN HANLEY!

BIO: (from the very words of Brian Hanley himself): I was born in 1960 on the west side of Chicago at the venerable St. Annes Hospital. My late, great dad, Bernard, and beautiful and selfless mom, Suzanne, raised nine children. My five brothers, three sisters and I grew up in Oak Park and River Forest, where I attended St. Lukes grammar school. My first newspaper job was an afternoon paper route delivering the late, great Chicago Daily News. My love of journalism grew while at Fenwick High School (Oak Park), from where I was graduated in 1978 as an Illinois State Scholar.

While at Marquette University, from where I was graduated with a journalism major and broadcast minor in 1982, I was an intern for the late, great Tim Weigel at WLS-TV. With Tims letter of recommendation, I was able to gain acceptance to the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, where I did graduate work.

I began my career at the Chicago Sun-Times in 1984, as a part-time editorial assistant, while also attending Medill. My first full-time beat came in 1988, when I was assigned to cover Illinois and the Big Ten. I was fortunate to chronicle the 1989 "Flying Illini" basketball team under coach Lou Henson, a Final Four squad. In my 24 years at the Sun-Times, my beats have spanned the Sox, Cubs, Blackhawks, Northwestern, and the Bulls.

Thanks to Seth Mason, Ron Gleason, and then-owner Dan Lee -- with a tip of the hat to sports talk radio pioneer Chet Coppock -- my Score career began with the stations creation. I shared afternoon drive duties with Terry Boers, the quickest wit I have known, and Dan McNeil.

My broadcast career was reignited in 2005 under the Score brain trust of Rod Zimmerman, Paul Agase and Mitch Rosen, all of whom has taken the station to its greatest heights. From the midday show to our move to morning drive, I have enjoyed great success due to the talents of my broadcast partner Mike Mulligan, executive producer Dustin Rhoades, and sound surgeons Rock Mamola and Chris Collins, now Score sports director. Of course, the constant that has continued to amaze me throughout these many years has been the loyalty, creativity, and absolute intelligence of our listeners who are the pillars of the Score.

1) CSNChicago.com: Brian, it's the busiest time of year for all of us in our biz, especially with BOTH the Blackhawks and the Bulls in the playoffs. Tell us specifically what you think each of these two teams needs to do to really make an impact against their first-round opponents?

Hanley: Let's deal with the Hawks first since they, unlike the Bulls, will actually be advancing to the second round. Now, I wasn't thinking this while I was sitting at the United Center frustrated with 22,000 other fans Friday watching Game 1, that third-period collapse and overall subpar performance was a great education for Coach Q's team. Nothing comes easy in the NHL playoffs. The performance Sunday showed the Hawks were a quick study. The Hawks were stronger on the puck, in the net and fought for space on the ice which is the golden ticket to advancing in the NHL postseason. Great move by Coach Q to reunite his blue-line pairing of Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith. This is no time to experiment. Go with what helped get you here: quality defense. The wild card from here out remains goalie Annti Niemi. Is the rookie going to be good enough to have the Hawks hoisting their first Stanley Cup since I was a 1-year-old? The guess here is -- say it with me Hawk -- "Yessss!"

As for the Bulls, head to the nearest church and light a candle. Even if you are not Catholic. Not the 50-cent candle either. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Throw a fiver in the money box and fire up the biggest ball of wax there. Or, better yet, send your money to the Berto Center to help pay Chris Bosh's max contract come July 1.

2) CSNChicago.com: Regarding the Bears, how much will having virtually no presence in the upcoming NFL Draft hurt this team going forward or do you think theyre fine with the moves they had to make last year to get their star QB?

Hanley: The Bears like to think they are a draft-driven team. I like to think I'm as good-looking as Brad Pitt. As my pic on this page proves, I am as delusional as Jerry Angelo, who still thinks using a second-round draft pick in 2007 on defensive end Dan Bazuin was a good idea. Look up Bazuin's statistics on nfl.com and you find this: This player does not have any statistics. No picks in the first two rounds only ensures less Bears big-money busts. As for Jay Cutler, he has to be better than last year. Then again, when I look in the mirror I now see George Clooney looking back at me.

3) CSNChicago.com: Chicago has some of the best sports bars in the nation. Tell us about your favorite local hangouts?

Hanley: I'm sure our city has a number of great sports watering holes. However, I have spent much of the last three decades traveling while covering the Cubs, Sox, Bears, Hawks, and Bulls and colleges. So if you are looking for places to bend an elbow from Vancouver to New York, Toronto to Phoenix, I got you covered.

Given my age -- the big 5-0 next month -- and my 2:30 a.m. wake-up each weekday, the closest I get to Chicago wee-hour nightlife is driving through River North on my way to the Score. Then again, you can often find Mully, me and our crack production staff sharing an end-of-the-work-week double-cheeseburger and a beer or three at the Billy Goat with fellow Chicago third-shifters around 10 a.m. on a Friday.

4) CSNChicago.com: As you well know, there is plenty of competition in morning radio in Chicago, but you and your partner Mike Mulligan continue to hold your own by delivering a solid show to Chicago sports fans each weekday morning. Outside of having a sports format, what do you think differentiates you and Mully from the rest of the pack out there?

Hanley: It starts with us being born and raised here. I truly believe in Chicago fans talking Chicago sports. We won't waste your time with why Rutgers football team is struggling. And while Mike squared down the dial are killing time wondering what Golic should give up for lent (just a thought: radio), my guy, Mike Mulligan, is taking our listeners behind the Halas Hall curtain.

Mully and I have a combined 50 years logged on different sports beats for the Sun-Times, the best sports section in town. We can put stories in context given the players, coaches and front-office types we have covered and share some humorous stories from those beats along the way.

Our executive producer Dustin Rhoades, who joined the team last summer, has elevated the show to new heights with great guests and segment ideas. He is simply the best in the business. Add in the smart and creative listeners we have come to know both on the air and in person at our Boys Nights and Days Out events and it is a winning, and fun, formula.

5) CSNChicago.com: Speaking of your partner, hes a Sox fan and youre a Cubs fan any wagers planned between you two once the crosstown series takes place this summer?

Hanley: Given the two teams' starts this season, we have decided to take that money and use it for group therapy sessions.

BONUS QUESTIONCSNChicago.com: Anything you want to promote Brian? Lets hear about it

Hanley: We would love to see everyone Friday, May 7, at Carmichael's Steak House, 1052 W. Monroe here in Chicago. We'll be hosting our third-annual Boys Night Out for the Kids. All proceeds benefit the great work being done at The Chicago Children's Advocacy Center and the dedicated people working to protect abused children. There will be sports stars from around town and great live and silent auction items, including tickets to Cubs and Sox games and plenty of sports memorabilia. You also might find me and fellow Cubs sicko Dustin Rhoades at The Cell this weekend heckling head case Milton Bradley, just for old times sake.

Hanley LINKS:

WSCR AM 670"Mully and Hanley" home page

E-mail "Mully and Hanley" at The SCORE

MMQB's Peter King's thoughts on Trubisky, Howard, White and the Bears offense

MMQB's Peter King's thoughts on Trubisky, Howard, White and the Bears offense

In just the last three NFL seasons the Bears have changed every significant skill position on the offensive side of the ball. Gone are quarterback Jay Cutler, running back Matt Forte, wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, and tight end Martellus Bennett.

It's a new era in Chicago for more reasons than one, and Monday Morning Quarterback's Peter King shared his thoughts on what that might look like in his latest NFL Power Rankings.

King has the Bears ranked 28th, ahead of just the New York Jets, Cleveland Browns and San Francisco 49ers. But he's optomistic on a few fronts.

  • Free-agent signing Mike Glennon is grinding his teeth over the drafting of QB Mitchell Trubisky (second pick in the draft), and he has one season to stake his claim for the job. (I wouldn’t be optimistic in the Glennon household.)
  • Second-round tight end Adam Shaheen will step in early in a prominent offensive role.
  • The starting quarterbacks from 2016—Jay Cutler and Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley—were all let go, an odd development for a team that retains the same coach, offensive coordinator and GM
  • At quarterback, I don’t just assume that Glennon/Trubisky will automatically be better than what Chicago had last year. Thankfully, running back Jordan Howard came out of nowhere (the 2015 fifth round) to gain 1,313 yards, to rank a stunning second in the NFL. It’s vital he doesn’t have a sophomore slump. In short, I can’t see the Bears being .500 unless one of the quarterbacks emerges as a top 20 passer by early in the season.
  • Most important factor to this team this year: Of course it’s the quarterback race between Glennon and Trubisky. That one’s too obvious. There’s another one. Kevin White was the seventh pick of the 2015 draft. In two years, he’s played four of 32 games, caught zero touchdown passes, and had zero impact. This is the year the Bears have to see some degree of explosiveness and/or competence out of a player drafted ahead of Vic Beasley, Melvin Gordon and Marcus Peters.
  • Bears prediction of 10 words or less: Trubisky is the quarterback by Thanksgiving. It doesn’t matter.

King's final thought might be his most interesting. Trubisky starting by Thanksgiving would put the Bears in Week 12. Quarterbacks coach Dave Ragone doesn't seem intent on delegating any starting duties out in the preseason, but perhaps that would change as the season moves along. Shaheen will be asked to do plenty of learning and growing in his first season, while it's clear White needs a breakout season after the Bears moved on from Jeffery in the offseason.

Bears QB coach Dave Ragone doesn't mind this type of turnover

Bears QB coach Dave Ragone doesn't mind this type of turnover

John Fox hates drama within his locker room. Through his first two seasons, it's one of two things we've definitely learned (see departures like Brandon Marshall and Martellus Bennett, trading hubris for harmony). The other thing is his hiding lineups and injuries from the media as best as possible.

With first round pick Mitch Trubisky spending a good chunk of last week in Los Angeles for NFL-mandated rookie events, he returns, now full-time, into the quarterbacks room with the man brought in to start this season, Mike Glennon. Veterans Mark Sanchez and Connor Shaw will provide the sidebars. But it's Glennon who'll have to ignore a sense of déjà vu. Not feeling this is his Jameis Winston 2.0 all over again, as much as the blueprint indicates that's exactly what it is.

Perhaps more so than offensive cooridnator Dowell Loggains, it's quarterbacks coach Dave Ragone who will be in charge of taking the room's temperature. But he truly believes he won't be preoccupied with that as the Bears take the field this week for OTAs.

"It's one of those things, within a quarterback room, about helping the starter, getting that starter ready to play,"  Ragone said two Fridays ago, following the first day of rookie minicamp in Lake Forest. "For anyone who's ever been in that room, egos are not egos when there's a starting quarterback, then the guys behind him.

"Mike's a professional, as well as Mark and Connor. Mike's done a good job of not just embedding himself within the system, but with his teammates. The draft was over, he came in Monday, we went in the classroom and Mike was asking questions about protections. It was as professional as you could imagine."

On Tuesday Glennon will speak publicly for the first time since Trubisky's name was called April 27. The workouts are still non-contact, only in jersey tops and shorts, and an opportunity to see how well the system and rhythm with new receivers is grasped, and how snaps are split.

"It is our job, at the end of the day, to get the starter ready, and obviously getting everybody else feeling ready to play. So we'll figure that out as time progresses," Ragone said.

We'll have to wait until late July and August for a cleaner measure of how practice time is split up, and even then the priority is to get Glennon ready for 2017. But last weekend was Ragone's first chance to see Trubisky on the field, on Halas Hall property.  And he liked the way the signal caller of the future handled the most basic of basics.

"Just calling the system, the new plays, getting out there and having 11 guys line up where they're supposed to, being in charge of that. It's all a process," he said. "Every quarterback is different. They all have different strengths, different weaknesses. So when is a guy ready? When can he play? That doesn't even enter my thought process. To me it's getting each guy – a veteran or a rookie – coached to how we want them, get them ready to play, and then, obviously, playing to their strengths when they're on the field."

So just as he did waiting his turn at North Carolina, the plan (which can always change) is to have Trubisky needing to master "mental reps" for the third time in four years.

"When you're not in, getting the physical rep, mentally you have to go through those exact same mechanics:  How you view the defense, what you're seeing from the back end, where you would go with the football," Ragone said. "If you're not getting that physical rep, that's what you have to do. It'll be the same for everybody that way."

It's not like Trubisky is a stranger to Ragone, who stays close to coaches at his prep alma mater, St. Ignatius High School outside of Cleveland. When the Bears' interest in Trubisky intensified, it brought him back to a 2012 state playoff game between Ignatius and Mentor High School. A triple-overtime, 57-56 loss. Trubisky threw for 411 yards, and ran for 138 more.

"I've known about Mitchell since high school. My high school coaches still have scars of what he was able to do against them his senior year. I think every highlight that gets shown, that's against my high school, so we have a rule, we don't talk about that. It's like Fight Club in the quarterback room."

And with the signing of Glennon and the drafting of Trubisky, the quarterback move in between - of signing free agent Mark Sanchez through much local wailing and gnashing of teeth – now gains more clarity.

"This early on you can feel his being in different buildings, his presence about that," Ragone said. "His ability to relate things, from a personal side and professional side, and you can see the interaction he's already had with Mike and Connor. Those are invaluable. He's been through a lot in a nine-year career.  

"He's a very talented individual and has a lot of experience to draw from. He was a top 5 pick in a big media market (New York) in which he was asked to play (helping the Jets reach the AFC Championship game each of his first two years). He was also asked to play as a veteran, so telling Mike, 'Hey, I saw this…I did this.' To me, he's been a great asset so far."

So Ringmaster Ragone has more excitement than dread about that quarterback room's energy, experience and potential. And he's more interested in serving them than policing them, all with a great sense of respect for whom he's spending all that time with.

"Every quarterback I've been able to coach at this level has been an honor," he said. "I understand being a quarterback at this level. At the end of the day, there aren't many of them. You do the quick math, there's less than 100 that play at this level. I hold that with a very high esteem when you're the top of your position in what you do."