Michigan St. vs Northwestern Live Blog

By Paul M. Banks

So #25 Northwestern has their first ranking in 41 years, and loses to Illinois in overtime, but this is a chance for a statement game here. A win over #11 MSU and the Wildcats would likely keep their ranking.

This is a game of magnitude, why isn’t Erin Andrews here?

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What’s the Next Step Up for Erin Andrews?

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By Paul M. Banks

ESPN sideline princess Erin Andrews is a huge star in the internet and sports nerd worlds, but now she has the proper card to play in order to go more mainstream. And it’s not the “sex sells” card. To find out what new asset EA has going for her, continue reading after the jump.

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TYRUS THOMAS EXPECTED TO MISS 4-6 WEEKS

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By Paul M. Banks

The young season has certainly been very rough for Tyrus Thomas so far. Although we’re just 5 games in, he’s already had a spat with Coach Vinny Del Negro over playing time, and seen his contract extension with the Bulls declined. On the exact same day he was told there was no long term place for him in Chicago, he also missed a game versus Milwaukee with “flu-like symptoms”. This comes on the heels of an off-season in which the Bulls aggressively tried (and failed) to trade him. And this past summer also saw Chicago draft two players (Taj Gibson and James Johnson) who play his exact same position. The message is clear.

And then today this was announced (from Chicago Bulls.com)

“Chicago Bulls forward Tyrus Thomas suffered a fractured radius of his left forearm during a weight training session this morning at practice. X-rays confirmed the injury and he will undergo surgery tomorrow. The surgery will be performed at Rush, by team physicians Dr. Brian Cole and Dr. John Fernandez, and assisted by Dr. Mark Cohen. Thomas is expected to be out four to six weeks. In four games (three starts) this season, the Louisiana State product has averaged 8.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg and 1.75 bpg in 21.0 mpg. Currently in his fourth year with the Bulls, Thomas has appeared in 229 games (95 starts) and posted averages of 7.7 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 0.9 apg, 1.34 bpg and 0.82 spg in 19.9 mpg.”

His NBA career is starting to remind me of the main character in the film “Sideways.” The journey of life keeps giving him major blow after major blow after major blow. For a top 5 pick, he certainly has been a bust during his career in Chicago, and obviously this injury doesn’t help matters.

He suffered a very minor injury this pre-season, and I thought his response to the media was very telling of his character, and attitude. One day at the Berto Center in October, The Score’s David Schuster asked him something along the lines of how he was feeling about the practices and workouts he missed. Thomas responded. “What did I miss? I know the offense, it’s preseason.” In a best case scenario, the response is indicative of him not liking the media, and not wanting to talk to reporters very much. Worst case scenario: it’s indicative of him lacking worth ethic and desire, and the motivation to get stronger and better in convalescence. Now with this new injury on his hands, let’s hope for the sake of the Bulls and their fans, it’s the former and not the latter.

The one person who truly gained from this occurrence is Taj Gibson, who is now cemented in as the starting 4 for the time being.

Pierre Thomas is Just Plain Better than Reggie Bush

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By Paul M. Banks

Among Saints RBs, the un-drafted free agent is playing vastly superior to 2006’s #2 overall pick.

The New Orleans Saints offense has been RIDONKOLOUS this season, averaging a NFL best 40 points per game. The next closest team is the Indianapolis Colts and they’re a whopping ten points per game behind. The Saints offense is also naturally number one in yardage, and they rank 6th in passing. Drew Brees and his high powered air attack often come to mind first, but it’s actually the ground game where the Saints are truly heavenly: New Orleans is currently 3rd in rushing. And the backfield’s big star is the highly touted Heisman trophy winner with the flashy reality star girlfriend, right?

WRONG! It’s his “back-up,” the undrafted afterthought from the south suburbs of Chicago that no one thought would even make the team.
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Take a look at Pierre Thomas’s numbers this season: 56 carries, 314 yards, 5.6 yards per carry average, 3 TDs. Now take a look at Bush’s: 45 carries, 175 yards, 3.9 ypc, and 1 TD. Bush is listed as the starter, but Thomas is (deservedly) getting more work. Well, you might argue that Bush’s strength is pass-catching, but Thomas has him beat there too with a better yards per catch on both the season and in career averages.

Also, take a look at career rushing numbers. Thomas- 237, 1191, 13, 5.0 yards per attempt, Bush- 463, 1725, 15, 3.7. Since they’re running behind the exact same offensive line, I think we know who should truly be “starting”.

Is it any wonder Reggie Bush is much more known for his reality “star,” famous-for-doing-absolutely-nothing-of-value girlfriend Kim Kardashian than he is for his game?

Aside from having one good pass catching year (his rookie season of ’06), he’s done next to nothing in the NFL, but still has a $12 million a year contract. Because of those facts, you could say he’s been a bigger bust than…insert your own joke about his insipid celebutante significant other here. And perhaps motivation is the problem with Bush. He already has the money and the women, so maybe he doesn’t care about working hard to obtain anything else?

The journey from college to the NFL could not have been more different for NOLA’s two tailbacks. Bush came in with more hype than a summer event movie, and emerged from the nation’s most dominant program, USC. Although picked 2nd, he was expected to be #1 overall while Pierre Thomas went undrafted out of Illinois, a program which has been among the worst in all of FBS for most of this decade. Look no further than the 2008 Rose Bowl, where USC slaughtered Illinois 49-17, to figure out who had the pub working for them in their college days. In the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that Thomas attended the same alma mater as this author, and grew up pretty close to where I did. He prepped at Thornton Fractional South, a rival SICA Conference school in Lansing, IL. So I know his roots well. illinois_pierre_thomas_sm

And Thomas’ humble beginnings are probably a big part of his desire to succeed, and that drive is making him a much more productive player than the “can’t miss” prospect.  Thomas’ 5.6 ypc is 6th in the NFL, his former Illini teammate Rashard Mendenhall is 7th at 5.4. Very ironic; a program which has been the worst in the Big Ten much of this decade has produced two of the NFL’s top runners this season.

When the Saints take on Atlanta Monday night (Notice I did not use the “when the Saints march in” expression, I didn’t want to torture you by repeating one of the most shopworn phrases incessantly spewed by the laziest of journalist hacks) it will be Thomas, not Bush who sets the pace on offense.

Who knows The Sports Bank better? Championship Faceoff

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By Rikki Greenberg

I’ve known Banks for a little over 2 years now and it’s has been quite the experience. We’ve sat together at press conferences and basketball games and mingled with fellow NBC street teamers at various clubs/bars in the city.

With all this time put in, I think I know a great deal about Mr. Banks, but when it came time to decide the “Who knows Banks better?” Championship Faceoff, I thought of two people who are special in his life.

Let’s meet the contestants.

First we have Lisa, Paul’s long time girlfriend. They have been dating for close to a year and lived together for much of that time, so Lisa should have an edge with ample time spent in close proximity to Banks. lisandmesoxgame

Let’s give a big round of applause for the second contestant, Soxman. He and Banks have an undeniable bromance that has blossomed since they met in 2007.

So who is it going to be? The best friend or the significant other?

Let’s find out!

1. First thing Banks does in the morning…

Soxman: Checks the number of hits the sportsbank had over night and the comments his story received.

Lisa:  This is a toss up depending on the day. Checks his email comes to mind, but so does drinking caffeine (coffee, red bull, or the like), grunting at me for waking him up, or going poop. Pretty much sums up his morning ritual.

What does Banks really do?
I go online, check/update the site/email, etc.

And the Winner is…
Soxman

2. Best interview with a celebrity/athlete/politician…

Soxman:  Soxman of course.  Just kidding.  The best write-up of an interview Banks did was with former Philadelphia Eagle Vince Papale, who won an NFL roster spot through an open audition the team once held. He would likely answer Steve Stone or one of his United Nations Environmentalist peeps.

Lisa: Juice Williams, Howard Zinn, or Dan Bernstein

Who really was Banks best interview?guillen
Ozzie Guillen

And the winner is…
Nobody

3. Athlete/celebrity/politician Banks was most impressed by…

Soxman: Bill Belichick, Al Gore, Erin Andrews and Elizabeth Banks

Lisa:  Paul is so fickle. This one is hard. It changes daily. I would guess Natalie Maines, Tara Reid, or Michael Moore.

Who was Banks really impressed by?
Ask me again next week, I’ll probably have a different answer, so “next question” as Bill. Belichick would say

And the winner is…
Lisa, although we should give Soxman at least half a pt. there.

4. Favorite television show…

Soxman: Lost
Lisa: Family Guy, Bill Maher, the Simpsons, Big 10 College Gameday

What really is Bank’s favorite television show?
Family Guy

And the winner is…
Lisa!

5. Brand of toothpaste Banks brushes with…

Soxman: Whatever he could get at the dollar store.
Lisa: Crest – or whatever I buy for him when he’s out

Which brand really captures Banks attention in the morning?
Anything Whitening

And the winner is…
Lisa!

6. If Banks wasn’t a web content creator/manager he would be….

Soxman: An environmental lobbyist

Lisa: A house husband. J/K. He’s tried a lot of stuff, but I think he’d get an office job or be a teacher. He’d be a really good teacher.

What would Banks really be doing?
Small Business Owner

And the winner is…
Nobody ?

7. Banks biggest pet peeve…

Soxman: PR departments that don’t know the “relations” part of the job.

Lisa: Traffic, driving, incompetence, stupidity

What really gets Banks annoyed?
The horrible Chicago traffic, the fact that I can’t go on I-55 to hometown unless its at hours other 2-8pm, because soutbbound traffic is ALWAYS RIDICULOUSLY BADbelichickhalloweencostume

And the winner is…
Lisa

8. Weirdest habit…

Soxman: Always referring to himself as Paul “M” Banks
Lisa:  Paul loves to pull on his shirts. It stretches out the necks and it really bugs me.

What really is Banks weirdest habit?
Running the hair dryer over my body to get warm before I go to sleep. I think it works to  relax myself. I learned the process from my Dad, who referred to it as “going to Florida.”

And the winner is…
Nobody ? Oy gavult! You guys are killing me over here!

9. Song he most frequently quotes lines from:

Soxman: Anything from Kanye West…although maybe not so much anymore.

Lisa: This one is hard, he doesn’t really quote songs. Movies, literature, Family Guy…those are all in his wheel house. I am going to venture a guess, it would be some rap/hip hop lyric about getting ass and being bling or something from Smashing Pumpkins or Blur.

Which song is it really?
Something hip-hop or DMB.

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And the winner is…
Tie! Extra point to Lisa for being extra specific.

10. Team he is the biggest supporter of…

Soxman: Chicago White Sox and New England Patriots.

Lisa: This is another one of those that it really depends on the day. He’s passionate and abundant with his love and hatred of teams. Among his top 5: Illinois, Northwestern, Blackhawks, the Bulls, and the White Sox. At least he’s got passion.

Which team really sends Paul’s heart racing?
Illinois

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And the winner is…
Lisa!

THE GRAND CHAMPION OF “WHO KNOWS BANKS BETTER” IS…

LISA! (7-2.5)

Sorry Soxman. It looks like you’re going to have spend some more quality time with your bromance partner Mr. Paul M Banks.

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Erin Andrews Video Stalker (and Blazers Fan) Released on Bond

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By Paul M. Banks

The demented weirdo accused of secretly videotaping ESPN sideline princess Erin Andrews through a peephole leading to her hotel room was released from court yesterday. Michael D. Barrett (not the former Cubs catcher, may I remind everyone) is an insurance executive accused of uploading videos of Andrews, and other unsuspecting nude women to the Internet. According to the Federales, Barrett makes his videos by modifying peepholes in hotel room doors, using a hacksaw and a cell phone camera, and then tries to sell them to celebrity gossip site TMZ.

Barrett, the pride of Westmont, Illinois, was released on $4,500 bond and ordered to wear an ankle monitoring bracelet, follow a strict curfew (this should put a damper on his obviously bustling social life) and stay off the Internet. He’s next due in court on the 23rd. After being released late afternoon yesterday, this ladykiller avoided commenting publicly and left in his yellow Mustang. Andrews’ attorney Marshall Grossman, has not publicly commented yet.

More on this from the Huffington Post. Excerpts of this article are in italics, my commentary in bold

Barrett continues to be a danger to Andrews and “a danger to other women,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Grimes told U.S. Magistrate Judge Arlander Keys during Barrett’s bond hearing Monday.

Magistrate? People still use that word? it makes me think of Braveheart, and inspires me to start talking in ye olde English

“Yes, Judge, there are other women,” Grimes said. “He has used his computer to disseminate these videos to the world.”
Grimes said the government has confiscated two computers and cell phones used by Barrett, and “feels strongly that those items will provide further evidence.”

Of course, those other women, who are just as victimized as EA, don’t get to go on Oprah
Like the Andrews videos, the videos of the other women were shot through a door peephole and uploaded to the Internet under a name Barrett used, “GOBLAZERS1,” Grimes said.

Barrett’s parents are from Portland. Trailblazer nation, be proud. You have a sick person with a distorted view of the world within your community, but enough about Zach Randolph…

…Of course, you were able to trade him out of town, so maybe you can get Barrett off your bandwagon too.

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Andrews appears in at least eight videos nude. An FBI affidavit said Barrett specifically asked for a room next to Andrews at a Tennessee hotel where seven videos were likely taken. An eighth video may have been shot at a Milwaukee hotel. Barrett was described by his attorney, Rick Beuke, as having plenty of money and a good track record at work. Beuke said his employer, the Combined Insurance Co., based in Glenview, where he is in insurance sales, is “very supportive.”

Well, if he’s such a great North Shore guy, why is spending his time on this stuff? If he has so much money and stability, why can’t he find a woman to willingly take her clothes off for him?

But Combined Insurance spokeswoman Amy Burrell-Tichy said later Monday that Barrett has been suspended from his job and “there is no timeframe with this suspension.” She declined say whether he would be paid while suspended. She said the company is cooperating with the FBI and conducting an internal investigation because the affidavit alleges Barrett may have used Combined Insurance computers in the alleged crimes.

So remember that the next time your computer at work kicks you off Facebook.

Write About Erin Andrews, Increase Your Blog Traffic!

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By Paul M. Banks

If you’re a start-up sports blogger, here’s a tip for you. It’s a way to increase traffic quicker and more effectively than any SEO (Search Engine Optimization) program or employing any social media consultant. Write and post pictures about Erin Andrews.

And this isn’t simply saying “sex sells” either. There’s something about her, and just her that seems to rev up the search engines of web geeks, bloggers, and horny sports nerds.

As the major buzz surrounding the peephole video conveyed, as did a half-dozen EA stories on the internet prior to that, no one else in sports has a cult following on the internet this large. But the question is, why the obsession with Erin Andrews? She’s good, but not great at her job, so it’s not that. And it’s not the eye candy thing either; as there’s plenty of other women who are just as beautiful on Eastern Seaboard Programming Network; and many more on competing networks.

Don’t get me wrong, I like blonde hair, boobs and booty as much as the next guy. And I’ll be the first to admit that EA is quite easy on the eyes…but she’s not a modern day Helen of Troy, who mythically possessed “the face that launched a thousand ships.”

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Perhaps it’s the geek factor. She’s described herself as a dork and homebody, despite what others may think, and perhaps all the web nerds identify with that. I’ve me Ms. Andrews once in person in the media room, before an Illinois-Wisconsin game. It was a very pleasant although uneventful exchange. She was quite polite, and probably a lot nicer in person than the “FSU Cowgirl” Jenn Sterger would be in person. You forgot who Jenn Sterger was? Yeah so did I, and the rest of the sports blogosphere.

I only bring her up because Sterger attacked Andrews on a Florida sports talks radio show about a year or so ago. The bitter and dejected Sterger devoted part of her slot to trying to figure out why there’s such a following surrounding Andrews, and then described herself as the “number one girl on the computer.” What metric she used for that remains unclear, but I’m sure Google Analytics is making no effort to copyright that technology. Andrews is the number one girl on the computer, period. And probably a big part of that is due to her seeming down to Earth and nto obsessed with herself, her image, her looks and her popularity. I can’t say the same about most of the sports blogosphere darlings. It seems like many of them never matured past the tenth grade.

Of course, how many of them once had to be fondled by the slimiest man alive, Bruce Pearl