Northwestern and Illinois Alums in Sports Media: Ultimate List

Northwestern and Illinois Alums in Sports Media: Ultimate List

No one hates Northwestern.

No one possibly could.

Well, the main purple flag waver in sports media today also happens to be the most hated man in sports media, but that’s a different issue. You can’t hate the school just because D-Money (CC @TheGoodDrJim) went there. Well, University of Illinois grads do in fact hate Northwestern. You can see it in the way Illini people schadenfreude the train wreck that is the 2013 Northwestern football season. I’ve told my people not to take joy in what’s happened at NU. (The local and national media declaring Northwestern BCS bound and Pat Fitzgerald the next Nick Saban, only to see it come crashing all down into a college football season that will have no bowl appearance).

So where does the hate come from?

The “Chicago’s Big Ten Team” marketing campaign.

All Big Ten alumni bases in Chicago took offense to it, none more so than the University of Illinois. From there, the University of Illinois Alumni Association took a couple shots at Northwestern and then things took off from there! When Tim Beckman took over the Illini program, he put up a big N Cat logo with a line through it in the Illini football meeting room.

Then he made his team slogan W.I.N. or W.I.N.T. “Whatever is needed Today.” After Northwestern had “W.I.N. What’s Important Now” for many years. So we have a legitimate rivalry on our hands.

And the rivalry game will be played Saturday, in Champaign, 2:30 on Big Ten Network. Northwestern is 3.5 point favorites. It’s the LOL Bowl, the Land of Lincoln trophy or LOL trophy game. And given how both of these teams are playing, the LOL contest will certainly have you ROTFL or LMAO. Here’s my game preview and prediction at this link.

But for this post I’ve listed as many Northwestern and Illinois alums in the national and local sports media as I'm aware of.

We start with Northwestern as they have the most impressive list of journalism school alums of anyone.

In this department, no one can match Northwestern. Period.

And you hear that from Bristol and the Chicago Tribune whenever Northwestern sports is doing something nationally relevant. When that happens, it’s “OMG this four letter network talking head went to Medill” over and over again.


We begin with ESPN’s Darren Rovell.

You have to hand it to him. The idea of soulless corporatism masquerading as journalism is flourishing. Everyday, we’re seeing the news become more shill and less actual news. And that’s as Rovellian as it gets. Love him or hate him, Rovell acolytes are taking over, and we’re getting more and more product placement in spaces where important and relevant information used to be.

Why are we supposed to care about Adidas and their shoe deal with Derrick Rose again? That has relevance on our lives how? I’m so sick of new gym shoes and gym shoes contracts as “news.” I cared about that stuff at age 12-14. Then I grew up and matured. And I could never dumb myself down enough to sleep in the cold for 2 days, then risk getting trampled on, for the “chance” to spend $200 on gym shoes just because some NBA player was paid handsomely to pretend like he likes those gym shoes.

And the whole thing itself is anything but newsworthy.


ESPN Pardon the Interruption Michael Wilbon – these lists are in no particular order. And some people will get a quick blurb, while others will not. There is no rhyme or reason for this. If Chicago Now paid me more I would put in the effort to do a detailed blurb for everyone. Also, I know there will be some names that I missed. And I apologize for that. No offense intended. But this list is now final, and there will be no edits. Again if Chicago Now paid me anything remotely close to my market value, I would take the extra time and do more research for this. And dude, this thing is already like 1,600 words as it is, so how much time do you expect me to put in?

The Northwestern list is comprised of both undergraduate school alums and the Medill school of Journalism at Northwestern

USA Today Christine Brennan

ESPN J.A. Adande

Sun-Times Mark Lazerus

Chicago Tribune David Haugh


Comedy Central and megabrand Stephen Colbert – there is a “Sport Report” feature on the Colbert Report

Chicago Tribune/Big Ten Network Teddy Greenstein -One of two people who were a big help in constructing this listicle. So thank you. Can someone please make a parody Twitter account of Tedward (CC The Good Dr. Jim) I think it’s long overdue. I’ll get you kick-started. Email me for some funny ideas that I’ve already thought of.

CNN Rachel Nichols- Diane Sawyer’s daughter-in-law has seen her career trending upward big time in the past year or so.


ABC/ESPN Brent Musburger – Didn’t pick the Ohio State vs Northwestern game when appearing on ESPN College Gameday. Wanted to remain neutral because he was calling that game from Ryan Field that night. And he remained objective, non-biased by…..doing his appearance wearing a Northwestern, Venric Mark jersey. No, this was not intended to be ironic; to my knowledge.

ESPN Mike Greenberg

Big Ten Network/WGN AM 720 Tim Doyle – tweeted a few times recently about Blake Griffith. I’m assuming that’s some inside joke about Blake Griffin that I don’t know about. Also tweeted in October that the Chicago Bulls were going to win the NBA Title, if everyone stayed healthy

BTN Dave Revsine- I love his work. I love what this guy does. I just wish they didn’t force him to do the MEATHEAD bit during the show open. “ON BIG TEN NETWORK AND BEYOND NEXT!!!! NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!” This is why I hate all NFL highlight shows, because they SCREAM AT YOU TOO MUCH

BTN Chris Martin


Chicago Sun-Times Rick Morrissey

Chicago Sun-Times Rick Telander

Voice of the Cats Dave Eanet


CBS 2 Megan Mawicke – went to Indiana for undergrad, but again Medill people are all over this list

ABC 7 Michelle Gallardo – news, not sports reporter. Although she’s a zillion times more athletic than I’ll ever be, as she does those insane Iron Man triathlon things regularly. Also, I forgot to include her on my list of the 10 hottest Jewish Women Alive. And that was wrong my part. Especially today, as it's Channukah! Mazel Tov!

Kevin Fishbain- Chicago Bears beat writer for Shaw Media at PFWA member. I think Hub himself is a Northwestern grad too.

Kevin Ding- NBA and LA Lakers columnist for Bleacher Report

Steve Weissman- ESPN anchor

Michael Lev- Orange County Register, NFL/USC/Media beat

Crain’s Danny Ecker



Former Comcast Sports Net Chicago personality Gail Fischer

Former Comcast Sports Net Chicago personality Kendall Gill

Former Comcast Sports Net Chicago personality Susannah Collins – okay, I guess the Indiana Hoosiers student section is in charge of CSN personnel decisions. I kid, I kid.

We all know the circumstances that led to the station firing/not renewing the contract of these three former Illini.


BTN Stephen Bardo

Fox 32 Jill Carlson

WGN Andrea Darlis

Sun-Times Seth Ruen

ESPN Michelle Steele

The Score Ben Finfer

Legend and icon Roger Ebert

Tina Akouris – auto racing reporter for Sun-Times media;

CBS 2 Ryan Baker – He’s all over anything and everything Illini. Especially Illini basketball. He summed up the Cliff Alexander situation perfectly, and fairly.

Will Leitch – founder of Deadspin, which is our generation’s New York Times. Seriously, as we head to 2014, DS is the new “paper of record.”

Dave Eggers – McSweeney’s publisher, as influential a person in the world of books today as you will find.

WGN 720/Red Eye- Alex Quigley

Hugh Hefner – no elaboration needed


The Sports Bank/Fox Sports Paul M. Banks – I didn’t put myself on this list, Penn, the online equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize winning Harrisburg Patriot-News, put me here when they referred to me as a “national media pundit.” Also, I have a “tag” (meaning I’m a searchable news topic category on Deadspin. A lot of people on this list don’t have that)

ABC 7 Rafer Weigel – The other main contributor to the compilation of this list. Thank you! Tedward and Rafer are the “headliners;” one from Northwestern, one from Illinois, of this list. They know everyone.


CBS 2 Dave Wischnowsky – was a voice of reason in Aug-Oct when local and national media declared Pat Fitzgerald the next Bear Bryant, and heir to the thrones of USC and Texas. Wisch simply pointed out that Fitz had a 26-31 conference record entering the season and zero conference titles; at a time when ESPN and the Chicago Tribune were deeming him Coach of the Year.

Yahoo/Red Eye/Chicago Now's  Scott King

ESPN Chicago Bears expert Jeff Dickerson – does great work.

Finally, a side note, you want to know why 670 The Score is CRUSHING ESPN 1000 into a million little pieces in the ratings department? Because just about every guest on WMVP is an ESPN employee. Almost every single one. That’s why I hardly ever tune in. Imagine if WSCR, owned by CBS,  had nothing but CBS personalities on, what would that do for the ratings?

Paul M. Banks is the owner of The Sports, an affiliate of Fox Sports. He’s also an analyst for multiple news talk radio stations across the nation; with regular weekly segments on NBC and Fox Sports Radio. Follow him on Twitter (@paulmbanks) and RSS

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