Preps Talk

5 Questions with...Richard Roeper (Part 2)

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5 Questions with...Richard Roeper (Part 2)

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

February 24, 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 weekthe second installment of a special two-part edition of 5 Questions with as we interview one of the nations top film critics and media personalitieshes an author, TV star, sports enthusiast, pop culture expert and an incredibly-popular syndicated columnist who appears on page 11 locally in the Chicago Sun-TimesChicago is proud to call him one of its very ownhere are 5 Questions withRICHARD ROEPER Part II!

BIO: Richard Roeper is a columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times and the author of eight books, including Bet the House, to be published in 2010. He hosts "Starz Inside" on the Starz channel, and is a regular contributor to the Reelz Channel. Each week, his exclusive online, on-camera reviews appear on richardroeper.com, Starz, hulu.com, YouTube and other sites.

1) CSNChicago.com: Rich, thanks for joining us for a second-straight week. Simply put, 5 Questions just arent enough when we have you as our guest. Lets talk sportsyou played baseball in your younger days and are a huge supporter of 16 softball to this day. Off the top of your head, tell us your finest Little League moment and your top career highlight in softball?

Roeper: Little League? Pitching my first no-hitter at the age of 11. I walked probably five or six guys, but still a no-hitter! I was in heaven. Softball? Still playing at my age and avoiding any serious injury since I had rotator cuff surgery about a decade ago. At this point, I'm content to have made the move from shortstop to second base, and I'm happy to be a spray-hitter. My hitting role model used to be Dick Allen; now it's Ichiro.

2) CSNChicago.com: Youve never hid your love affair with the Chicago White Sox. Regarding the 2010 White Sox, outside of starting pitching, what would you say is their biggest strength going into the seasonand their biggest weakness?
Roeper: There's no doubt the starting staff is the strong point, if they stay healthy. Peavy could win 20 games, Danks and Floyd might win 17, and let's say Buehrle wins 16. You just don't see that type of production from your front four any more. Weak spots? Let's just say I'm CONCERNED about a few players staying healthy. Do we get Carlos Quentin all year, or for a couple of months?

3) CSNChicago.com: Name the Top 3 greatest sporting events youve witnessed in person?
Roeper:

1. The White Sox winning Game Two of the World Series: that's the moment when I realized they weren't going to be stopped.

2. The Bulls clinching their first NBA Championship: I was fortunate enough to be part of the Sun-Times team covering many of those playoff runs in the 1990s, and I've never seen a competitor more talented AND more determined than Michael Jordan.

3. Evander Holyfield defeating Mike Tyson in the first fight at the MGM Grand in Vegas: I've never been in a sporting arena where the atmosphere was so charged. When Holyfield sent Tyson sprawling to the canvas, the place just erupted.

4) CSNChicago.com: Our state has seen its share of black eyes over the past several years (the latest being Lt. Gov. hopeful Scott Lee Cohens sex scandal). If you were in a position to change anything about Illinois politics right now, whats the first thing you would do?

Roeper: Invent a time machine, find Abraham Lincoln and bring him to the here and now so he could give us a lecture on what it means to represent the great state of Illinois.

5) CSNChicago.com: As a pop culture expert, you have seen and heard just about everything from the news and entertainment world (more often bad, than good). Whats your current Now Ive seenheard everything moment?

Roeper: John Mayer, a talented musician and a man who has dated Jessica Simpson, Jennifer Love Hewitt and Jennifer Aniston, giving one of the most self-destructive interviews in modern history. Mayer needs to remember the wisdom of "Broadcast News," when William Hurt says, "What do you do when real life exceeds your dreams?" and Albert Brooks hisses, "Keep it to yourself!"

CSNChicago.com: Thanks again Rich, well certainly be reading your coverage leading up to and following Oscar night on March 7. Also, a reminder to all CSNChicago.com readers: make sure to check out Richs highly-anticipated new book Bet the House: How I Gambled Over a Grand a Day for 30 Days on Sports, Poker, and Games of Chance when comes out on April 1st.

Roeper LINKS:

Official Richard Roeper website

Richard Roeper columnsChicago Sun-Times

Richard Roeper "Fan Page" on Facebook

Richard Roeper on Twitter

Power Rankings: #10 - Homewood-Flossmoor

Power Rankings: #10 - Homewood-Flossmoor

NBCSportsChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting July 30, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 24.

School: Homewood-Flossmoor

Head coach: Craig Buzea

Assistant coaches: Tom Cicero, Zac Wells, Alex Pratt, Daron Williams, Eric Schreiber Jr., Bart Czachor, David James, Josh Blair, Josh Forney and Matt Ramos

How they fared in 2017: 9-2 (6-1 Southwest Suburban Conference). H-F made the 8A state playoff field, defeated Lake Park then lost to Naperville Central in second round action. 

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 vs Michigan City (IN)

Sept. 1 vs Lutheran North (MO.) at East St. Louis

Sept. 7 vs Stagg

Sept. 14 @ Bolingbrook

Sept. 21 vs Lincoln-Way West

Sept. 28 @ Lincoln-Way East

Oct. 5 @ Bradley

Oct. 12 vs Andrew

Oct. 19 vs Sandburg

[MORE: 69 Days to Kickoff - Lincoln-Way West]

Biggest storyline: Can the Vikings, now without their dynamic WR/RB Justin Hall (NIU), get back to the postseason and play deeper into November?

Names to watch this season: QB Dominick Jones and DB Wynston Russell (Oregon State)

Biggest holes to fill: The Vikings have a good number of returning starters back in 2018 (five offense, six defense). The team boasts plenty of talent. But who can step up and be the go-to guy? Who replaces Justin Hall?

EDGY's Early Take: The Vikings have become a traditional power in Chicago's south suburbs and in the overall Class 8A field. Head coach Craig Buzea is looking for a breakout season and he has the ingredients in the program. The offense will be led by junior QB Dominick Jones. He has some firepower behind him in senior RB Leon Tanna. Keep an eye senior TE Jack Schmitz as well. The defense is also talent-heavy. Look for senior DL Isaiah Coe and senior DE/OLB Charlies Brooks to help carry the load. Oregon State commit senior DB Wynston Russell is the lone returning starter in the secondary.

With Roquan Smith and others, Bears moving closer to elite defense in a hurry

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USA TODAY

With Roquan Smith and others, Bears moving closer to elite defense in a hurry

As encouraging as some elements of the 2017 season was for the Bears defense, it wasn’t enough. Ranking in the top 10 in fewest points and yards allowed left linchpins like lineman Akiem Hicks setting “top five” as a declared goal.

With what has happened within the last 13 days – from the first preseason game vs. Baltimore through the long-anticipated arrival of Roquan Smith – the Bears have had arguably seen a handful of developments that could put “elite” within reach of a defense intent on being just that.

The developments have been the play of linebackers Kylie Fitts and Isaiah Irving, and now topped off by the Smith addition. The reasons are obvious – a linebacker-dependent defense (as all 3-4’s inherently are) has moved to the brink of realizing impact from not one, not two, but possibly three.

None is being given a leading role in an already good defense. But what they all represent are high-speed additions in a sport where speed rules and rivals pad-level in importance. Fitts and Irving have flashed off the edges, and Smith was the No. 8 pick of the draft for his speed in getting to targets, followed of course what he does to them when he gets there.

How any change occurs remains to play out, and Vic Fangio has used rotations in his front seven’s. One scenario could be Smith easing in as part of nickel packages, where the Bears have used a 4-2 front and would have Smith and Danny Trevathan as their ILB’s. Likewise, Fitts and Irving present edge options in that package as well as in base 3-4.

Perspective, please

Understand: No criticism of any sort is directed at either of the incumbents. No knock on Nick Kwiatkoski, who has in two seasons and this training camp established himself as an NFL inside linebacker. Nor is it a diss of Sam Acho, who is a physical edge presence with some pass-rush pop. The Bears need both, REALLY need both. 

But the 1983 Bears ranked fifth in the NFL in points allowed with Al Harris as part of a linebacker corps that included Mike Singletary and Otis Wilson. Jim Finks drafted Wilber Marshall in the 1984 first round and Ron Rivera in the second. Harris remained the starter but the Bears also jumped to third in points allowed with Marshall and first the two years after that.

Elite.

Hall of Fame defensive lineman Dan Hampton said years later that Marshall – nicknamed “Pit Bull”by teammates – was the single best individual player on that elite defense, and the player that took things to another level entirely. And as Marshall told Hall of Fame NFL writer Rick “Goose” Gosselin, who created the special-teams ranking system used by every NFL team and now hosts "Talk of Fame Radio:”

"They had Mike [Singletary] sitting on the sidelines when I’m playing middle linebacker on third down. So I wasn’t just a rush guy, like the guys on the end that you see them go 90 percent of the time."

Sounding like a bill of particulars for Smith.

Best guess that Smith – wearing the No. 58 that Marshall wore – will have a new level of impact for a defense that just added a piece with a chance to earn the designation of “elite.”

Fitts and Irving are younger, faster options on the edge. Fitts is bigger and faster (4.69 sec. 40) than Irving, but one can never be too rich, too thin or have too many edge rushers.

And Smith, who had 6.5 sacks last season at Georgia (his only credited sacks in three seasons there), projects to be the fastest Bears linebacker with a documented 4.51-sec. time in the 40 – faster than Lance Briggs, Brian Urlacher and…well, you get the point.

And speed is the route to “elite.”