Northwestern alumnus Mike Greenberg (BSJ ’89) was the honorary captain Saturday for the Wildcats home opener versus Syracuse. Greeny, the co-host of the nationally syndicated ESPN radio show “Mike And Mike in the Morning” and host of SportsCenter was at Ryan Field when the Cats beat the Cuse 48-27.
Greeny and his partner Mike Golic, The Herd with Colin Cowherd and SVP & Russillo will hit the road for hyped up college football and NFL games this year. They’ll be in Evanston on Friday, Oct. 4, in advance of Saturday’s match-up with “Greeny’s” alma mater vs. the Ohio State Buckeyes.
He was gracious enough to grant me an exclusive interview today by phone.
Paul M. Banks: what was your big break and what led to you getting where you are today?
Greeny: “My first big break was that my father grew up with a guy who later became an executive at Westinghouse radio. He got me a job at WMAQ Radio which no longer exists. I literally got paid $7 an hour as a production assistant. I worked my way up to being a regular PA, and a really big break took place when a guy named Ron Gleason who was the Sports Director, was hired when they started The Score.
And he had seen me work, and my enthusiasm, and he hired me to one of the original producers. I just get begging for the opportunity to be on the air, and slowly but surely they let me do little things. Until eventually they gave me a huge break when they let me cover the Michael Jordan championship era Bulls. So I was on the road with them, and I was able to parlay that into a job at CLTV.
I was there for over a year, and then ESPN started ESPN news, so my agent got me an audition, so I’ve been here since 1996.”
Today, Gleason is News Director at WBBM Newsradio.
Banks: who are some of your journalism role models and mentors
Greeny: “When I was in Chicago, I learned a lot from the different people that were close when I was a producer, two of them in particular: Dan McNeil and Mike North. I remember when we started everyone said that North wouldn’t make it, he wouldn’t succeed because he didn’t have any training. He just had the courage of his convictions, he was going to do it his way, and if he hadn’t done that, he would not have succeeded, so I try to remember that when it comes time to make decisions in my career.
And I was a producer on Dan McNeil’s show 20 years ago, and if you listen to our show today, I think you’d hear a lot of things that are similar. I learned a lot about radio, how to do a show, from Dan. A lot of the philosophy about how to do a show I learned from him.”
Part 2 of this interview, Greenberg discusses Jay Cutler, the Bears, Derrick Rose and the Bulls.
Below you'll see a portion of Greeny's ESPN College Gameday segment from this past Saturday with the NU football team:
Banks: What your thoughts on this year’s NU team? And what if both Ohio State and Northwestern are undefeated heading into that big showdown in Evanston in a few weeks, which looks very likely given that both teams will be favored in all their games between now and then. How about ESPN College Gameday coming to Ryan Field?
Chances of Gameday in Evanston?
Greeny: “I certainly think it’s possible. I don’t get to make that decision. But either way we’re doing Mike&Mike from the campus of Northwestern and that’s a thrill for me, something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. Having Gameday there would be great for the team and the school and everybody. I don’t get any say in that decision, but certainly I’m rooting for it.
As far as this year’s team, I think they’re a good football team. There are some schools because of their history and tradition are always somewhat overvalued relative to what they often are. And I think with Northwestern because we don’t have some of that tradition, we’re frequently undervalued. We’re better than we’ve been for the last three or four years. We’ve had better football teams than most people realize.
Right now we’re a good team, and I think people are starting to notice that."
"I’m not saying we’re going to win all our games, but I don’t think there’s a game on our schedule that we can’t win. So we’ll go forward and see what we can do, but I think this has a chance to be a really special year."
Banks: The main competition to be the Gameday local would be either #19 Washington at #5 Stanford or #24 TCU at #14 Oklahoma. Obviously, the polls will change quite a bit between now and then which will influence the decision. However, NUvsOSU is a night game broadcast on the ESPN family of networks. And we all know that’s a really big factor in deciding where Chris Fowler and company are sent.
And the University has set up an official tailgate section for the students this year. It's cleverly titled "Fitzerland." Here are the details on that.
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