Bristolmetrics: Joe Paterno Rescues ESPN From The Most Boring Week In SportsS

When last we met, ESPN spent a bunch of time outside the Big Four sports, Euro 2012 got wall-to-wall coverage, and we all found out that the Sunday edition of SportsCenter is the one to watch (if you have to). What would this week bring?

Total time: 442.75 minutes
Time (minus commercials): 326.75

TIME DEVOTED TO INDIVIDUAL SPORTS
MLB: 87.5 minutes (26.8%) (last week: 36.2%)
SportsCenter staples (things like the "Top 10," "Encore," "What 2 Watch 4," etc.): 60.5 (18.5%) (last week: 16.7%)
NBA: 49.25 (15.1%) (last week: 13.1%)
Olympics 24.5 7.5% (last week: 0%)
Tennis: 24.5 (7.5%) (last week: 7.5%)
College football: 22.25 (6.8%) (last week: 0.3%)
NFL: 17.5 (5.4%) (last week: 2.7%)
Other sports: 16 (4.9%) (last week: 9.8%)
Golf: 10.75 (3.3%) (last week: 7.1%)
NASCAR: 8 (2.4%) (last week: 1.3%)
College basketball: 4.75 (1.5%) (last week: 0.1%)
NHL: 1.25 (0.4%) (last week: 0.4%)

MOST-COVERED TEAMS BY SPORT
Penn State Nittany Lions (college football): 22.25 (6.8%)
Miami Heat (NBA): 20 (6.1%)
Boston Red Sox (MLB): 7.75 minutes (2.4%)
Duke Blue Devils (college basketball): 4.75 (1.5%)
Green Bay Packers (NFL): 4 (1.2%)
Minnesota Wild (NHL): 0.5 (0.2%)

MOST-MENTIONED SPORTS FIGURES
Rather than break down the amount of time a specific athlete or figure was covered, we counted how frequently names were mentioned in the transcripts from the week. The 15 most-mentioned sports people for July 6-12:

Dwight Howard: 58
Roger Federer: 51
Joe Paterno: 43
LeBron James: 41
Andy Murray: 37
Serena Williams: 30
Kobe Bryant: 30
Dwyane Wade: 29
Jerry Sandusky: 29
Tiger Woods: 29
Ray Allen: 27
Drew Brees: 23
Mike Trout: 22
Justin Verlander: 22
Bryce Harper: 21

CUMULATIVE STATISTICS: Jan. 7-July 12
Total time: 12180 minutes
Time (minus commercials): 9166.5

NBA: 2,598.75 minutes (28.4%)
MLB: 1,408 (15.4%)
SportsCenter staples: 1,309.25 (14.3%)
NFL: 1,161 (12.7%)
College basketball: 1040.25 (11.4%)
Other: 997 (10.9%)
NHL: 446.25 (4.9%)
College football: 206 (2.3%)

Notes

The worst sports week ever: Thanks to baseball's All-Star Game, there were two consecutive days with no Big Four games of any kind, unless you want to count the USA-Dominican Republic basketball game on Wednesday. How did SportsCenter adapt? They talked a lot about the Dwight Howard trade that may never happen, and offered several reports onTeam USA basketball. They even showed MLS and highlights from the Champions Tour (formerly the Senior PGA Tour). Perhaps this an indictment of how highlights to SportsCenter have become what music videos are to MTV, but I didn't notice a huge difference in the tone or even the content of the show, even in a dry week.

ESPN goes hard on Paterno: After barely mentioning the Jerry Sandusky trial last month, the release of the Freeh Report was too much of a national story for SportsCenter to ignore. More than one-third of the Thursday show was spent going over the findings of the report (mainly the information on Paterno). On top of that, they also replayed an interview with Jay Paterno that aired and re-aired earlier in the day, legal analysis on potential settlements, and even spent some time on the possibility of NCAA action. It was solid information presented in a concise, thoughtful manner. Best of all, there was only 15 seconds of Matt Millen.

ESPY coverage wasn't overboard: The only mention of the award show on Wednesday's edition was a 2.5 minute montage of the big winners of the night, and a 2.75 minute tribute to Arthur Ashe Courage Award winner Pat Summitt. Considering there was almost no other sporting event to cover that night, devoting five-plus minutes to the show was rather understated.