670 The Score's Herb Lawrence talks Bears, Illini and more (exclusive)

670 The Score's Herb Lawrence talks Bears, Illini and more (exclusive)

Herb Lawrence is a Content/Sound Producer at 670AM The Score-Chicago. Or WSCR if you please. If you follow ratings and stuff, you know they're beating ESPN 1000 AM, or WMVP if you will, rather soundly right now. So as much as we call ESPN the Evil Empire, this is one center of the universe in which they are currently losing!

Herb Lawrence also qualified for the Boers and Bernstein “Crap of the Week” on June 21st. I saw he tweeted that out, so he should be cool with me mentioning it here. You can follow Herb Lawrence on Twitter here. Opinions are his own, not that have of 670 The Score. Also, check out his Illinois Center for Broadcasting promo on YouTube


Paul M. Banks: So how did you get started in this field, and who were your biggest influences and role models?

Herb Lawrence: I got my start as a student at Illinois Center for Broadcasting and while there I interned at The Jerry Springer Show (yes, it’s all real) and tried to intern at The Score in my final months but was rejected. Jesse Rogers (Sports Director at the time) said that since I only had a month left in school that I couldn’t be an intern because their program was 2 months long. He instead shocked me by hiring me on the spot to work the board on weekends doing Illini football.

As for influences there are many like the late Kevin Your Honor O’Connor, Matt Fishman, Jeff Dickerson, Rogers, Dan Zampillo, Mike North, Dan Jiggetts, Doug Buffone but the 3 most influential would be Jonathan Hood, who took me under his wing when he didn’t have to, and taught me about radio. Laurence Holmes, who continues to bring out the entertaining side of me and allows Joe Ostrowski and I to feel part of his show when most hosts wouldn’t do the same.

Lastly, Eric Beverly who I spent 1.5 years with producing North’s show. Eric taught me about life with his clever sayings and his actions spoke to the kind of man that he is today.

PMB: Of all your contemporaries in this city, who do you think does the best work? Not just presentation, but hard-nosed journalism?

HL: I’ll exclude the people I work with at The Score because I don’t want to come off biased so I’ll say Pat Boyle. I just like how he handles his responsibilities at Comcast SportsNet Chicago. He’s a total pro who understands the business, provides great content and entertains the audience.


PMB: Why does the media keep comparing Lebron to Jordan? Or even Kobe or whomever to Jordan, when MJ was playing, the media didn’t feel the need to incessantly compare him to Magic or Wilt or anybody….

HL: I just think that people, for the most part, think that giving LeBron any glory means that you’re minimizing Jordan’s legacy, which isn’t the case. Too many out there are letting hate cloud their judgment (one of Eric’s sayings) and not appreciating what a great player like LeBron is doing currently. NBA fans should be grateful that they have the fortune to see two of the greatest athletes in the history of sports play in their lifetime. He’s nothing like Jordan in his game or mannerisms so to compare them while one is still playing is fruitless.


PMB: It seems like CSN Chicago has become the DeathStar for U of I alums the past couple of months: Gail Fischer, Susannah Collins, Kendall Gill. Well one of those three was a call made by someone else other than Comcast, but still. What’s your take on what went down with all three of those situations?

HL: I don’t think it’s anything personal with the higher ups at CSN but just a weird coincidence that all are U of I alums. I believe Kendall Gill got too harsh of a punishment for punching Tim Doyle. I thought suspending him was justified because you can’t just punch people and get away with it, but to let him go was not smart. It wasn’t like Kendall just went up to Doyle and slugged him.

There’s more to the story that’s been let out so I’ll say that Tim has some culpability too. I don’t know what went down with Gail so I can’t comment fully but I thought she was good at her job and was one of the original hires when they started CSN here in Chicago.


Now on to Susannah Collins, she was treated so unfairly by Blackhawks ownership that the process made her an accidental folk hero (which is great). Mr. Wirtz was heavy handed in his treatment of Susannah and I think he realizes that now. Most of my contemporaries and I found her Sports Nutz videos hilarious and knew that they were not to be taken seriously. To fire her over that was hypocritical when they have a woman beater (Bobby Hull) on the team payroll. If they’re gonna have high moral standards, then just be consistent. I think beating your wife is much worse than ‘racy’ videos. The best part of this story is still to be written because I believe that she’ll be back on our televisions soon (hopefully).


one of the greatest things to happen in the history of the visual image

PMB: Predictions on this upcoming Bears season? Will Jay Cutler win over the hearts and minds of Chicagoans this fall? How come he doesn’t have any endorsement deals, given what a celebrity he is in this town?

HL: I don’t like to make predictions before training camp even starts, but it looks promising for the Bears this season. When it comes to Cutler, he is his own worst enemy. Sure the line has been lackluster, but not all those sacks should be attributed to them. Jay holds on to the ball too long, doesn’t recognize the blitz fast enough and wants the big play more often than not. Hopefully, Coach Trestman’s quick release passing game will transform Jay into a better signal caller like he’s done with so many past pupils.

As for the endorsements, I’m befuddled on why he has so little. You can see that he has some acting chops in his NFL apparel commercial that’s out so maybe he just wants to keep his mind mostly on football. It sure would soften his surly image that he has around the league if he did more spots like that one.


PMB: Year one of the Tim Beckman regime could not have gone any worse, what do you see happening in year two? How about Beckman’s prospects down the line?

HL: I’m not too high on Coach Beckman after year number one, I expected better from the 7-6 team he was handed. There’s no lack of talent on last year’s team either with 4 players selected in the 2013 NFL Draft. Seemed like the team wasn’t organized at times, indecisive on which QB to play and quit on him at the end of the year. Now, I like hiring Bill Cubit to run the offense this season, it’s a definite upgrade from that garbage co-coordinator stuff they were doing last season. This year doesn’t seem promising for the Illini but hopefully the newly married QB Nathan Scheelhaase is focused and stays healthy, LB Jonathan Brown continues to progress into the beast he’s gonna be and the other teams in the B1G take it easy on my boys from Champaign.

As for the future, getting QB Wes Lunt to transfer over from Oklahoma State was a major coup. I heard Aaron Bailey, the highly touted freshman QB from Bolingbrook, isn’t afraid of competition and isn’t gonna lay down and let Lunt assume the job when Wes is eligible in 2014. What the Illini really needs is a big time booster like T. Boone Pickens (OSU) or Phil Knight (Oregon) to come in and update the facilities, travel and uniforms so the football program can get the big time players in to maintain a winning program.

The guy that has that type of money and love for the Illini is Shad Khan, current owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Hopefully, he moves that team to LA, it’s just not working down there in J-ville, and makes even more boatloads of money by selling the team. And then he invests his money more wisely with the Illini.


PMB:  At least John Groce has things moving in the right direction. Where do you see Illini basketball going? Do you think they can really be dominant in recruiting the top prospects of the Public League?

HL: I know Coach Groce will be successful during his time down in Champaign but I just wonder for how long? His ability to recruit and put his type of basketball on the court reminds me so much of Bill Self that it gives me pause. Hopefully, with the renovations being done to the State Farm Center & the recruits he has coming in like Kendrick Nunn, Malcolm Hill, Jaylon Tate and transfer Rayvonte Rice coming in he realizes that this is the best place for him to be.

I believe that getting the public league players to stay with their state school is important but not at the expense of forgetting other fruitful regions like Indiana, St. Louis and downstate Illinois.

Paul M. Banks is the owner of The Sports Bank.net. (“Quasi-endorsed” by Philadelphia Eagles Coach Chip Kelly) He’s also an author who contributes regularly to MSN, Fox Sports , Chicago Now, Walter Football.com and Yardbarker

Banks has appeared on the History Channel, as well as ESPN and CBS radio all over the world. The NFL, NBA expert does a weekly spot for 95.7 The Fan. President Barack Obama follows him on Twitter (@PaulMBanks), like him on Facebook

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