5 Questions with...Sun-Times' Neil Hayes

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5 Questions with...Sun-Times' Neil Hayes

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

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 local celeb feature entitled 5 Questions with...

On Wednesdays, 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 weeks guestone of the hardest working beat writers in town who covers one of the best, if not THE best team in the NBA: the 2011-12 Chicago BullsBulls fans are hoping this guy keeps covering games for the next two months as the Bulls strive to bring the city its first NBA title since the Jordan erawhat are we waiting for, its playoff time for crying out loud!...get ready for 5 Questions withNEIL HAYES!

BIO: Neil Hayes returned to his native state in 2006 after spending 15 years covering the San Francisco Bay Area sports scene. Since being hired at the Sun-Times, he has covered Northwestern football, Notre Dame football, the Bears & Bulls, while also producing features and columns on other local and national sports stories. He is the author of When the Game Stands Tall: The Story of the De La Salle Spartans and Footballs Longest Winning Streak. His book inspired the ESPN documentary, 151: The Greatest Streak, which he also wrote. Hayes is also the co-author of The Last Putt: Two Teams, Two Dreams and a Freshman named Tiger. In 2005, he was named one of the Top Ten sports columnists in the nation in the 100,000-250,000 circulation category by the Associated Press Sports Editors.

The Northern Arizona University and Rochelle Township High School graduate grew up in a home where Bears Sundays were sacred. He also spent countless summer nights trying to make out shadowy White Sox players in what appeared to be a snowstorm on UHF Channel 44.

1) CSNChicago.com: Neil, with NBA Playoff time upon us once again, the thrilling prospect of another NBA championship returning to Chicago is on everyones mind, especially within the legions of die-hard Bulls fans in our city and around the globe. Optimism runs high among fans this time of year, especially with the teams solid starting line-up and very deep bench. Simple question: should we be optimistic about them winning it all this year? Your thoughts.

Hayes: After what this franchise has been through since Michael Jordan retired, youd be crazy not to. The Bulls, Heat, Spurs and Thunder are all championship contenders in my mind with the Celtics, Lakers and Pacers being potential dark horses. The Bulls are going to need some sort of advantage to get past the Heat, whether it be a Heat player being slowed by poor performance or injury or some lights-out shooting by Kyle Korver andor Rip Hamilton, but it can definitely be done. Derrick Roses health is the key, obviously, and Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer will have to step up as well. Coach Tom Thibodeau also needs to find a way to use his bench as effectively in the postseason, when rotations are shortened, as he has during the regular season.

2) CSNChicago.com: If the stars align and both teams advance through the first two rounds as they are expected to, an Eastern Conference Finals re-match against LeBron & Co. seems very likely to occur once again. What are your top 3 on-court key elements that the Bulls need to accomplish to get past the Heat this year?

Hayes: They are going to have to match the Heats physicality. That was an issue in the regular-season finale between these two teams, when the Bulls were bullied by LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. Assuming Rose is healthy, they will also need Carlos Boozer to win his matchup with Chris Bosh, not only when it comes to scoring, but rebounding as well.

The Bulls ability to dominate the boards is a great equalizer, and they were out-rebounded in the last game in Miami.

Finally, they are going to need the Bench Mob to really step up and make a difference, by which I mean make some shots. It may be Taj Gibson, who can make an impact on both ends of the court, or perhaps Korver, as I mentioned earlier, or even John Lucas III hitting some timely threes. Omer Asik was injured in the Eastern Conference Finals last season. Many inside the Bulls organization believe not having Asik to defend the rim when Noah was on the bench was a huge factor in that series.

3) CSNChicago.com: As youve naturally already read, GQ recently published an interview with Bulls superstar Derrick Rose. In that interview, Rose stated hes still not used to the limelight and all the well-deserved attention he receives on a daily basis. He also discussed how Michael Jordans six titles with the Bulls drives him and makes him work even harder. In your opinion, is it even fair to put that kind of pressure on D-Rose at this early point in his career to compare him to MJ?

Hayes: I dont think anybody puts that pressure on Derrick. He puts it on himself. Hes a very driven individual and that drive is largely responsible for where he is today. It defines who he is. As far as handling fame, Derrick is one of the most unique athletes Ive ever covered. Ive never meet anybody -- inside or outside of sports -- who is as genuinely humble and sincere. Thats why the story about him going to management and asking them to trade Carlos Boozer for Pau Gasol earlier this season didnt make sense to me. If you know Derrick, even a little bit, you know hes not capable of that type of manipulation. Hes just not wired that way. Hes an introvert in a very extroverted world. He will grow more accustomed how he will have to live his life, but he will never be comfortable being the center of attention anywhere other than a basketball court.

4) CSNChicago.com: As someone who has interviewed countless pro athletes in the NBA, NFL and many other sports over the years, whos been your favorite athlete to interview and why?

Hayes: Interesting question. I used to have great conversations with ex-49ers quarterback Steve Young. He was the most down-to-earth superstar Ive been around. He was one of the highest paid athletes in sports and was living in a loft he was remodeling himself. He even changed his own oil. I remember a long conversation with him about handling fame. He said, Fame is an elaborate hoax the world plays on you. He went on to say if an athlete wants to get noticed, hell wear the most expensive clothes, sunglasses and be ushered into private dining rooms with his entourage. He found the best way to go unnoticed was to put his name on the restaurant's waiting list, sit down and wait like everybody else. I thought that was a refreshing perspective.

As far as Chicago guys, Paul Konerko is everything you think he is. Hes as thoughtful and humble as it gets. his Bulls teams might be the best collection of athletes in one locker room Ive ever worked with, and that extends to general manager Gar Forman and vice president John Paxson. What they say about hockey players is true, too. Most come from blue-collar backgrounds and are amazingly level-headed and easy to deal with. For the most part, they dont worry about spinning things. They are the most accountable group of athletes youll ever be around.

5) CSNChicago.com: Lastly, and this one is hard-hitting Neil so get ready: tell us your favorite basketball-themed movie(s) of all-time. Interviewers note: TVs The White Shadow is an acceptable answer.

Hayes: I loved "The White Shadow" as a kid. I never missed an episode. Ironically enough, Thomas Carter, who played James Hollywood Hayward during the three-year series run, is now a Hollywood director who has signed on to direct a movie based on my first book, When the Game Stands Tall. I havent yet had a chance to pick his brain about his days on the set of "The White Shadow," but I will. Im also a sucker for "Hoosiers." Its not only a great basketball movie, but one of the great sports movies of all time. Hoop Dreams was also excellent.

Hayes LINKS

Chicago Sun-Times Sports official home page

Neil Hayes on Facebook

Neil Hayes on Twitter

Former Illini wideout Aaron Moorehead center of college football Twitter controversy

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Former Illini wideout Aaron Moorehead center of college football Twitter controversy

A former Illinois wide receiver has landed himself at the center of college football's latest offseason recruiting controversy.

Aaron Moorehead, who caught 85 passes with the Illini from 1999 to 2002 and won a Super Bowl with the Indianapolis Colts, is currently the wide receivers coach at Texas A&M. And it's his Twitter account that's getting the attention Thursday after he sent out a string of tweets in the wake of the Class of 2017's No. 1 quarterback recruit decommiting from the Aggies on Wednesday night.

Well, all that tweeting didn't sit so well with some other Texas A&M recruits, one of which decommitted directly because of what Moorehead tweeted.

Moorehead tweeted out an apology Thursday.

A tough day for Texas A&M and a really bad day for the former Illini wideout.

Jerry Reinsdorf to be next featured guest on "Inside Look"

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Jerry Reinsdorf to be next featured guest on "Inside Look"

“Inside Look presented by Cadillac,” hosted by Comcast SportsNet’s Chuck Garfien, featuring Jerry Reinsdorf to debut Thursday, May 12 at 7:00 PM CT

CSNChicago.com to provide additional web-exclusive coverage of ‘Inside Look,’ including extended video clips

Chicago, IL (May 5, 2016) – Comcast SportsNet, the television home for the most games and most comprehensive coverage of the Chicago Blackhawks, Bulls, Cubs and White Sox, continues to delve into the lives of some of the biggest names in Chicago sports with its candid, monthly, one-on-one interview series Inside Look presented by Cadillac

Debuting Thursday, May 12 at 7:00 PM CT, Comcast SportsNet’s Chuck Garfien hosts an exclusive one-on-one interview with Chicago Bulls & White Sox Chairman/Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame 2016 inductee JERRY REINSDORF.  Since Reinsdorf’s purchase of the Chicago Bulls in 1985, the Bulls won six world championships and became one of the most iconic teams in the history of sports. In addition, Reinsdorf has done extensive charitable work to benefit the Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Park District and was awarded the Jefferson Award for Public Service for leading the philanthropic outreach of the Chicago White Sox and Chicago Bulls Charities.

In this edition of “Inside Look,” Reinsdorf discusses his life in pro basketball which includes candid discussion about the honor of entering the Hall, his fondest Bulls moments, along with his thoughts on those individuals who he considers being the key factors in his NBA success story, including Michael Jordan and former Bulls GM Jerry Krause. 

In addition, viewers are urged to check out Comcast SportsNet’s website, CSNChicago.com, for additional interview content never before seen on TV.  Fans will also be able to watch every Inside Look guest interview online after it debuts on Comcast SportsNet.  Comcast SportsNet will also re-air Inside Look with Jerry Reinsdorf on the following dates/times: Fri , May 13 at 9:30 PM (on CSN+HD) - Sat, May 14 at 8:30 PM (on CSN+HD) - Sun, May 15 at NOON - Wed, May 18 at 12:30 PM - Thu, May 19 at 4:00 PM - Fri, May 20 at 1:00 PM (on CSN+HD) - Sat, May 21 at 2:30 PM (on CSN+HD) - Tue, May 24 at 4:00 PM - Thu, May 26 at 1:00 PM - Fri, May 27 at 5:00 PM & Sat, May 31 at 5:30 PM (on CSN+HD). (Schedule subject to change).

Note the following quotes from Inside Look with Jerry Reinsdorf presented by Cadillac premiering Thursday, May 12 at 7:00 PM on Comcast SportsNet:

Reinsdorf on entering the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame

“I don’t look at it as my entering.  I think I am the representative of a lot of people.  I am really the front guy.  I pick people and put them in their jobs and, if I do my job right and if they do their job right, I get a lot of credit…and if they don’t, I get ripped.”

Reinsdorf on Michael Jordan:

“No one knew what was coming.  I didn’t know what was coming.  No one knew what Michael Jordan was going to be.  I think if they had known what Michael Jordan was going to turn out to be, I don’t think they would not have sold the team.”

Reinsdorf on Jerry Krause:

“Jerry Krause was the genius that put this organization together.  He had Michael…he doesn’t get credit for drafting Michael, but you have to put the right pieces around him.  The single biggest move he made was trading Charles Oakley for Bill Cartwright.  I don’t think we win the first couple championships without Bill Cartwright.  Jerry Krause certainly belongs in the Hall of Fame for what he did.  In fact, I would not be going into the Hall of Fame if it weren’t for Jerry Krause.”

Reinsdorf on who he will be thinking about during his Hall of Fame speech:

“I will be thinking about Jerry Krause and (former Bulls Executive VP-Business Operations) Steve Schanwald and Michael and Scottie (Pippen) and Phil (Jackson) and the fans of Chicago. You have to remember the fans of Chicago supported us when we were bad.  During the period after Michael left, we weren’t in the playoffs for seven years or so and we led the team in attendance, not every year, but the aggregate.  So, I will be thinking about the fans of Chicago and how happy the Bulls make them.”

Buckeyes' QB depth a question after Stephen Collier tears ACL

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Buckeyes' QB depth a question after Stephen Collier tears ACL

Last year, Urban Meyer had quite an enviable quarterback conundrum on his hands. He had three talented, experienced options at quarterback, any one of which seemed capable of leading Ohio State to national-championship contention.

This year? Well, let's just say there's a much, much smaller margin for error — and it just got smaller.

J.T. Barrett will undoubtedly be the starter this season, something Meyer didn't settle on until the middle of last season. But behind Barrett things just got much trickier, as backup Stephen Collier will reportedly miss the upcoming season after tearing his ACL.

Meyer's plethora of options is gone, as both Cardale Jones and Braxton Miller have moved on to the NFL. Barrett, meanwhile, looks capable of being one of the best quarterbacks in college football, as he was two seasons ago, when he finished fifth in voting for the Heisman Trophy. And with a full season at his disposal — Meyer waffled between Jones and Barrett for much of last season — the redshirt junior appears primed for a massive campaign.

But he'll have to stay on the field or the Buckeyes' hopes might be doomed.

Two years ago, Barrett played a remarkable regular season but suffered an ankle injury in the season finale, requiring Jones to come in and surprisingly lead the march to a national championship in three postseason starts. Last year, Jones started several games before Meyer tabbed Barrett, but Barrett still missed a game after being named starter due to suspension.

Backup quarterbacks have proven especially valuable to the Buckeyes in the past three seasons under Meyer. Last year there was the safety net of Barrett when Jones struggled. The year before, both Barrett and Jones impressed when thrust into starting duty because of injuries to Miller and Barrett, respectively. And the year prior, Kenny Guiton was sensational in limited action as Miller's backup, throwing 14 touchdown passes.

Collier was expected to battle redshirt freshman Joe Burrow for the gig backing up Barrett, but he's obviously out of the mix now, leaving Burrow as the only other scholarship player on the quarterback depth chart behind Barrett. Four-star quarterback recruit Dwayne Haskins will join the team as an incoming freshman this summer. And perhaps redshirt freshman Torrance Gibson could move back to quarterback. Gibson was a five-star quarterback recruit last year before the log jam at the position forced a move to wide receiver. But he's still listed as a "quarterback/wide receiver" on Ohio State's roster, so a switch back could be possible.

None of those guys have played a down of college football before, but Burrow and Gibson both have the same level of experience and redshirt-freshman designation that Barrett had when he took over for Miller and led the Buckeyes during the 2014 title-winning season.