5 Questions with...Crain's Chicago's Ed Sherman

53754.jpg

5 Questions with...Crain's Chicago's Ed Sherman

By Jeff Nuich
CSN Chicago Senior Director of CommunicationsCSNChicago.com Contributor
September 30, 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 sports journalist who pens the popular Business of Sports and Golf blogs for Crains Chicago Business, not to mention a weekly hosting gig on WSCR AM 670s Chicagoland Golf Show (Saturdays mornings at 6:00 AM)here are 5 Questions withED SHERMAN!

BIO: Ed Sherman spent 27 years at the Chicago Tribune covering everything from the girls high school badminton to the 1985 Bears Super Bowl team. For 12 years, Sherman has covered golf on a regular basis. He now is a featured contributor to Crains Chicago Business and its online counterpart ChicagoBusiness.com. He also worked with Dan McNeil on a new book entitled "The Great Book of Chicago Sports Lists. Sherman grew up in Wilmette and attended the University of Illinois. He resides in the north suburbs with his wife, Ilene, and two boys, Matthew and Sam.

1) CSNChicago.com: Ed, with the big 2016 Summer Olympics announcement coming up on October 2nd, if Chicago does indeed get the nod, explain the pros and cons of having the Summer Games here in our fine city from a business perspective?

Sherman: Let's put business aside for a minute. The best event I covered in my years at the Tribune was the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. The atmosphere was incredible. You truly feel like you are walking with the entire world when you enter an Olympic venue. It would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience if the Games came here. I am all for Chicago getting the Olympics assuming all the finances are in order.

However, that's a big if. The Chicago organizers keep telling us that they have a solid plan to make sure everything comes in at budget. Really, does anyone truly believe them? I'm remodeling our house and all I can say is that we've blown past our starting budget. That'll be the Olympics times a zillion. I would hate to see Chicago get in over its head and leave a deficit that will hinder the town for generations.

2) CSNChicago.com: You enjoyed a solid career run at the Chicago Tribune for over two decades, and have now thrived in your career move to the digital side with Crains Chicago Business. In your opinion, do you think print newspapers still have a shot at succeeding or has todays younger generation completely crushed that hope due to todays new media technology?

Sherman: A couple of years ago, I spoke to a high school class. I asked how many kids read the newspaper, and maybe 4 kids out of 50 raised their hands. Obviously, that doesn't bode well for the future of newspapers. The younger crowd is completely into new media, and the older crowd is moving in that direction too. The coverage is immediate and, in many respects, more comprehensive than what you see in newspapers.

I'm still a newspaper guy at heart, but I am troubled by all the cuts that are taking place. You're seeing dramatically reduced sports sections with fewer writers. I can't see how you can attract new readers by giving people less. I hope newspapers survive, but I'm not so sure they will.

3) CSNChicago.com: CSNChicago.com readers may not know that you covered the White Sox as a Tribune beat writer in the late 80s. Most sports fans believe that would be the best job in the world (going to all the games, traveling, eating in the press box, etc.). Set the record straight Ed, it isnt all fun and games, right?

Sherman: I think you need a special personality to cover baseball. My good friend Joe Goddard did it for 27 years at the Sun-Times. I don't know how he survived that long.

I just felt like I never had a life when I was covering baseball. The travel was relentless. You barely got your bags unpacked before you had to go on the road again. Then, virtually all of the games were at night, requiring you to do a deadline dance on a daily basis. The every day grind wears you down quickly. People used to ask if I was rooting for the Sox? My standard reply was that I rooted for fast games.

Don't get me wrong, from a professional standpoint, covering baseball was a terrific experience. It greatly enhanced my reporting skills and definitely taught me how to write on deadline. Also, even though the Sox of 1986-88 were terrible, I got to hang out with some incredible baseball people. Tony LaRussa, Carlton Fisk, Tom Seaver, Don Drysdale, Jim Fregosi, just to name a few. I got to know Ozzie Guillen when he was just a rookie. Great memories.

Looking back, I'm glad I put in three years covering baseball. Im also glad I didn't have to do a fourth.

4) CSNChicago.com: Now that the Chicago area golf season is slowly winding down, any off-season local indoor facility recommendations you can pass along to help us keep our swings in tact?

Sherman: "Winding down? Hey, I'll be out there playing golf into November. I've got to make up for all the days we lost from what they allegedly called summer.

We are blessed with several good indoor and outdoor facilities during the winter. I am a big fan of TopGolf in Wood Dale. The place is unlike any driving range you have ever seen. The balls have computer chips embedded in them and you hit to targets that record information. It is all displayed at a video monitor at your station. You can play games, etc. Very cool.

As for domes, the White Pines Golf Dome in Bensenville is among the best anywhere. Mike Munro runs a first-class operation. Be sure to say to hello. He's there 247.

5) CSNChicago.com: As a father with two sons (one being a Sox fan, the other a Cubs fan), how in the world do you keep peace in your house, especially during any crosstown series?

Sherman: I never thought I would allow anything with a Cubs logo in my house. I'm one of those people who thinks the perfect day is when the Sox win and the Cubs lose.

We truly are a house divided. My youngest, Sam, and I are Sox fans. My wife, Ilene, and my oldest, Matthew, are Cubs fans. In regards to my kids, I think it is a case of sibling rivalry. There's no way they were going to root for the same team.

Actually, it is a lot of fun, especially during the Cubs-Sox series. We usually try to go to a game or two, and things can get quite spirited. I remember one year the Cubs were on the verge of beating the Sox when A.J. hit a booming homer in the ninth to give the Sox the victory. My son Matt was crushed.

I remember thinking that as a father, I felt bad for him. You want your kids to be happy.

However, I have my priorities. The Sox just beat the Cubs. Let the kid suffer.

Seriously, I am just glad my kids are baseball fans. They already have been to many Major League parks, and this year I took them to the All-Star Game in St. Louis. Getting to share baseball with them has been one of the great thrills of my life.

BONUS QUESTIONCSNChicago.com: Ed, you have a new book coming out that you wrote with The Scores Dan McNeil, tell us about it and where can we pick one up?

Sherman: Our new book "The Great Book of Chicago Sports Lists" should be in stores in a few weeks. Dan and I basically ranked anything and everything in Chicago sports and beyond. I did lists on Walter Payton's best games, best-and-worst trades, most forgettable Bears quarterbacks, worst Cubs all-time meltdowns (couldn't resist that one), and the top 100 athletes in Chicago sports history. One guess on who is No. 1.

Dan provided his own distinct viewpoint on not just sports, but also some pop culture related to Chicago. For instance, he ranks top actors and bands from our town. However, the list that I am sure will get Dan the most attention is titled: Guys who never got teased in the shower. The preface for that list makes it clear that Dan is the author.

In addition to our lists, we also had guest contributors. Shortly before he died, Norm Van Lier ranked the toughest Bulls. Hawk Harrelson ranked the toughest White Sox. Other contributors include Dick Butkus, Dan Jiggetts, Mike North, Len Kasper, Pat Hughes, John McDonough, and CSN's Jim Corno.

Our goal is to stir the debate about a bit. We hope people enjoy it.

Sherman LINKS:

Crains Chicago BusinessBusiness of Sports blog

Crains Chicago BusinessGolf blog

Ed Sherman on Facebook

Ed Sherman on Twitter

Notre Dame fires defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder

Notre Dame fires defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder

Notre Dame fired defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder on Sunday, ending a rocky three-year tenure in South Bend. 

Greg Hudson, who was on staff as a defensive analyst, was named interim defensive coordinator. VanGorder is the first assistant coach fired by coach Brian Kelly at Notre Dame. 

"This is a difficult decision," Kelly said in a statement. "I have the utmost respect for Brian as both a person and football coach, but our defense simply isn't it where it should be and I believe this change is necessary for the best interest of our program and our student-athletes.

"It's never easy to make a change on your staff, but I'm confident in Greg's ability to lead our defense. As a former player at Notre Dame and an experienced defensive coordinator, he not only understands the expectations necessary to compete at the highest level, but he'll bring a fresh perspective to our sideline, practice field and meeting rooms."

The struggles of VanGorder's defense have been at the heart of Notre Dame's 1-3 start to the 2016 season. The Irish allowed 50, 36 and 38 points in losses to Texas, Michigan State and Duke, with the latter one of the program's more embarrassing defeats at Notre Dame Stadium in the Kelly era. 

After Week 4, Notre Dame ranks 101st in scoring defense (33.5 points per game), 104th in yards per play allowed (6.18), 93rd in red zone touchdown rate (68.75 percent), 89th in forced turnovers (four), 126th in sacks (one) and 108th in tackles for a loss (17), among other damning statistics. 

Even with a host of NFL talent on its roster last season, Notre Dame's defense only ranked 35th in S&P+, which was good enough for the Irish to reach the Fiesta Bowl but not good enough for them to earn a spot in the College Football Playoff. 

Hudson was hired as a defensive analyst this year after spending 2013-2015 as Purdue's defensive coordinator. The 1990 Notre Dame graduate also served as a defensive coordinator at East Carolina and Minnesota, and held coaching positions at Florida State (linebackers/assistant head coach, 2010-2012) and Cincinnati (assistant coach, 1997-2000). 

"Obviously, this is a difficult day for our coaching staff, but I'm excited and honored about the opportunity that coach Kelly has afforded me," Hudson said. "We've got to improve on defense, without a doubt, and I'm confident that we will. We have great student-athletes and a tremendous defensive coaching staff. I can't wait to get started with our group."

Fitzgerald's diagnosis for 1-3 Northwestern: 'Those are the things that losers do'

Fitzgerald's diagnosis for 1-3 Northwestern: 'Those are the things that losers do'

Four games. Three losses. And Pat Fitzgerald is not happy.

Nor should he be after the way his team played in a 24-13 loss to 20th-ranked Nebraska on Saturday night in Evanston. The Wildcats have issues that perhaps shouldn't be expected to be overcome against a team has loaded with offensive firepower as the Huskers, but when Nebraska gifted Northwestern a pair of goal-line fumbles, taking 14 points off the board, it seemed like a game the Cats could have — and maybe even should have — won. It's because the offense not doing anything with those fumbles wasn't the lone mistake in the game, not by a long shot. Fitzgerald laid them all out in succession, his team's Saturday-night screw-ups: holding penalties that negated key third-down conversions, a Clayton Thorson interception in the end zone that snuffed out momentum, a missed extra point and a missed field goal by increasingly inaccurate kicker Jack Mitchell and a defense that was shredded for 556 yards of Nebraska offense.

So yeah, Fitz was not happy.

"You cannot do that and expect to win. Those are the things that losers do," the head coach said after the defeat. "And when you’re 1-3, that’s why you’re at where you’re at. When you self-inflict, when you get penalties in crunch-time situations, you throw interceptions in the red zone, you miss extra points, you miss field goals — want me to keep going? You keep adding all those things up, it ends up equaling a loss. And we’ve had three of those games.

"The young men in that locker room have got to figure out the discipline that it takes to be a winner consistently. We’ve typically been that way during my time, and for whatever reason right now we are choosing not to do that. And I’ve got to get that fixed, that’s the bottom line. We know how to win, but we can’t do the things that losers do. That’s what we’re doing right now. You are what your record says it is, and it’s not very good. We’ve got to get it fixed, and we’ve got to get it fixed in a hurry."

Saturday, the list of mistakes was long, but this style of play hasn't been limited to one week or one night. Season-opening losses to Western Michigan and Illinois State came in gut-wrenching fashion, first thanks to a Thorson fumble at the goal line and second on a walk-off field goal to an FCS opponent. All three losses have come in the friendly confines of Ryan Field, but that home-field comfort hasn't prevented Thorson from turning the ball over, play from both the offensive and defensive lines that earned press-confrerence call-outs from Fitzgerald, a banged-up secondary getting a similar tongue-lashing Saturday and a defense as a whole not playing in a fashion that mirrors the at-times dominating performances that unit turned in a year ago.

So excuse Fitzgerald if he can't pinpoint one thing that's disappointed him the most.

"I think the biggest disappointment is three losses," Fitzgerald said. "Three games that if we play the way we’re capable of, we have an opportunity to win all three. That starts and ends with me. I’m going to look hard at why we’re not playing and executing consistently. Are we asking guys to do too much? Are we thinking out there? You can make an excuse for the young guys, but if you go out with the 1s, you’re expected to perform. And if you don’t perform, you don’t deserve the right to go back out there as the 1.

"We’re four games in. There’s enough evidence on tape of who we are, and now we’re a very inconsistent football team. And that fits squarely on my shoulders. I’m not going to pout, I’m not going to feel sorry for myself. The only way I know how to fix it is to go out and do it, go out and practice it, go out and fix it."

The head coach is putting the blame on himself, but the players aren't shrinking from their responsibilities, either.

On offense, in particular, things have not gone well. Finishing drives was a particular talking point Saturday after the Cats had seven drives end in Nebraska territory, with another stopping at midfield, but coming away with just scores on just two of those drives. Northwestern reached the red zone just once but had three other drives end inside the 30-yard line — with two interceptions and a turnover on downs.

Getting close to the end zone but coming away with nothing is a fine little microcosm for the season as a whole. The three losses have been by a combined 14 points. But you don't get a win for getting close.

"We’re close, and I think as a team, looking at our three losses, we’re tired of being close," wide receiver Austin Carr said. "Offensively, we need to finish. Defensively, we need to put a whole game together. I’m telling the guys that we have to come together stronger, we can’t let this break us, we can’t let these losses ruin our whole season, we can’t throw in the towel. We’re going to focus on going 1-0, we’re going to learn from our mistakes, we’re going to look forward, we have to keep pushing.

"It’s just mental toughness. Getting deep into a drive, we have to lock it in. ... I think we had a lot of great preparation this week. Winning a Big Ten game is hard. I think we can just get tougher in the head game."

Winning in the Big Ten is hard. Unfortunately, the Cats found winning outside the Big Ten to be hard, too. Things will get tougher before they get easier. Next up is a game at Iowa, and that's followed by Michigan State, Ohio State and Wisconsin in three of the four games after the visit to the Hawkeye State. Northwestern is still getting its feet under it, something that proved difficult against teams from the MAC and from the FCS. Doing it against Big Ten title contenders is a whole different challenge, as the Cats found out the hard way on Saturday night.

"We go out to Iowa City, we’ve got to perform. That’s going to be tough. That’s going to be an awesome environment, they’ve got unbelievable fans. It’s going to be an incredibly huge challenge for us, and if we don’t go out there with the right attitude and the right preparation, we’ll get our fannies whipped, we’ll get crushed," Fitzgerald said. "So these guys better figure it out pretty quick. They better walk out of the locker room, they better hug whoever they love, they better go to bed, then they better wake up and get ready to get their rear ends coached off this week. Because that’s what’s going to happen.

"I’m not going to sit here and I’m not going to take it and I’m not going to accept it. They better buckle it up. They better start hydrating right now. Because it’s not acceptable the way we’re playing right now. Starts and ends with me, so I’ll fix it."