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

64460.jpg

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

Badgers make it official: Linebacker Vince Biegel out for several weeks

vince-biegel-badgers-0930.png

Badgers make it official: Linebacker Vince Biegel out for several weeks

After it was reported Thursday night that Vince Biegel would be sidelined while recovering from surgery on his foot, Wisconsin officially announced Friday afternoon that the senior linebacker will be out of action for several weeks.

"I really hate any time a player has to miss time due to an injury, especially a senior like Vince," head coach Paul Chryst said in the announcement. "Vince has such a passion for football and loves playing the game. This team is very important to him, and he is very important to our team. What you appreciate is that you know he will do everything in his power to get back on the field as soon as possible."

Biegel's absence comes during the Badgers' toughest stretch of the season. After scoring a huge win last weekend over a top-10-ranked Michigan State team, Wisconsin is set to take on No. 4 Michigan on Saturday in Ann Arbor. After that comes games against second-ranked Ohio State and Big Ten West Division rivals Iowa and Nebraska.

Biegel has 156 tackles in 46 career games with 35.5 tackles for loss, 18.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. This season, he's made nine tackles with two tackles for loss and a sack in four games.

Wisconsin is beset by injuries ahead of this weekend's matchup with Michigan. Biegel will join fellow starting linebacker Chris Orr on the injured list, Orr out for the season. And just Thursday, the Badgers announced that kicker Rafael Gaglianone will miss the remainder of the season with a back injury. Week-to-week injuries have also affected a majority of the team's extremely deep running back corps.

Fire hope to damage rival Columbus' playoff hopes Saturday on CSN+

Fire hope to damage rival Columbus' playoff hopes Saturday on CSN+

The Chicago Fire’s current three-game road trip started with back-to-back losses and Saturday’s trip to Columbus represents the last chance to salvage something from the road trip.

To start the trip the Fire lost to New York City FC 4-1 and followed up with a 1-0 loss in Seattle. The Fire are trying to avoid the second 0-3 road trip of the season, following a similar cross-country trip in May.

Saturday’s match at the Columbus Crew will be televised on CSN+ (channel finder). Coverage begins at 6 p.m. with Fire Pregame Live.

Back on March 19, the third match of the season, the Fire hosted the Crew and the game was a goalless draw. The two teams also played in the U.S. Open Cup on June 28, a 2-1 Fire win.

Norwegian-born forward Ola Kamara has since emerged as one of the best goalscorers in Major League Soccer this season. The 26-year-old joined the Crew in the offseason, but made just three substitute appearances totaling 50 minutes in the team’s first nine matches. The trade of Kei Kamara, no relation, opened up a spot at forward and Ola Kamara took advantage.

Kamara has five goals in the past four matches and is up to 15 on the season despite starting just 19 matches. He did not play against the Fire in March, but started in the Open Cup loss to the Fire and was subbed off at halftime.

[SHOP: Get your own Fire home jersey here]

The Fire (6-15-9, 27 points) are freshly eliminated from playoff contention while Columbus (7-12-11, 32 points) is still holding onto hope, but barely. The Crew’s 3-0 loss at D.C. on Wednesday was a crippling blow to Columbus’ playoff chances.

After Saturday's match, which is also Columbus’ home finale, the teams will play again in the next match for both on Oct. 13 at Toyota Park. The international break will split up the matches, but the Fire will return home from the road trip to host the Crew for the third time in 2016.

Two Fire players will leave to join national teams during that break. David Accam will rejoin Ghana for its opening World Cup qualifier against Uganda on Oct. 7 and play at South Africa on Oct. 11. Collin Fernandez will join Peru’s U-20 team.

Injury wise, Matt Lampson is still out for the Fire. Cedrick Mabwati is out for the Crew and playmaker Federico Higuain has missed the last four games, but is listed as questionable.

Chicago Fire at Columbus Crew

TV: CSN+ (channel finder)

When: Coverage begins at 6 p.m. with Fire Pregame Live

Where: MAPFRE Stadium, Columbus, Ohio