This is a regular feature breaking down, minute-by-minute, the content that appears on ESPN's 11 p.m. edition of SportsCenter throughout the week.
When last we met, Roger Clemens's comeback was more important than actual baseball, thePenn State hype picked up where it left off, and Outside The Lines hammered away at the dangers of football. What would this week bring?
Total time: 437.25 minutes
Time (minus commercials): 330
TIME DEVOTED TO INDIVIDUAL SPORTS
NFL: 99.75 minutes (30.2%) (last week: 35.7%)
College football: 80 (24.2%) (last week: 10%)
MLB: 66.75 (20.2%) (last week: 23.5%)
SportsCenter staples (things like the "Top 10," "Encore," "What 2 Watch 4," etc.): 42.25 (12.8%) (last week: 12.9%)
Tennis: 24.5 (7.4%) (last week: 4.9%)
Golf: 14.5 (4.4%) (last week: 1.7%)
NASCAR: 1.75 (0.5%) (last week: 3.2%)
Other sports: 0.5 (0.2%) (last week: 9%)
NBA: 0 (0%) (last week: 0.1%)
NHL: 0 (0%) (last week: 0%)
College basketball: 0 (0%) (last week: 0%)
MOST-COVERED TEAMS BY SPORT
Dallas Cowboys (NFL): 49.25 (15%)
New York Yankees (MLB): 21.5 (6.5%)
Penn State Nittany Lions (college football): 16.25 (4.9%)
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 Aug. 31-Sept. 6:
Tony Romo: 65
Andy Roddick: 49
Eli Manning: 44
Tiger Woods: 40
Rory McIlroy: 26
Kevin Ogletree: 23
Roger Federer: 18
Juan Martin del Potro: 17
Denard Robinson: 15
Mark Reynolds: 13
Tom Brady: 13
Miles Austin: 13
Stephen Strasburg: 13
Le'Veon Bell: 13
Bill O'Brien: 12
CUMULATIVE STATISTICS: Jan. 7-Sept. 6
Total time: 15,736.5 minutes
Time (minus commercials): 11,821.5
NBA: 2,666.25 minutes (23.2%)
MLB: 2,188.75 (18.5%)
NFL: 1843 (15.6%)
SportsCenter staples: 1,670.75 (14.1%)
Other: 1,520 (12.9%)
College basketball: 1,041.75 (8.8%)
NHL: 447 (3.8%)
College football: 444 (3.8%)
The NFL returns to stomp the shit out of every other sport:
After nine months of offseason talk that had ESPN focusing on things like concussions, bounties, suicides, and referee lockouts, SportsCenter quickly put all that nonsense behind it. Sure, this was the season opener, and featured perhaps the two biggest and most recognizable teams in the NFL, but spending 45 straight minutes (no commercials) on a single regular season game is a bit much.
Because there were no other games this week, both the Cowboys and Giants dominated the NFL's air time, with the Cowboys getting a few more minutes, presumably because they won. It was the first time in 2012 in which the Cowboys were the most discussed NFL team on SportsCenter, and the first time Tony Romo was the most mentioned athlete, but it probably won't be the last.
How do you solve a problem like Penn State?
To be fair, the first week of college football wasn't filled with a bunch of exciting games, the Penn State-Ohio opener was one of the few close contests, and it was technically an upset. It would have been a big deal without the scandal. But for Penn State to be the most discussed college football team all week? Obviously, that's about the off-the-field stuff. And yet, nearly all of the coverage focused on the game itself. There was no mention of Jerry Sandusky, and the scandal, when it was mentioned, was alluded to with glancing prose before quickly steering back to football. Phrases like "coming back" and "writing a new legacy," for example.
It'll be interesting to watch going forward if PSU continues to get disproportionate coverage, even as the novelty of their return to football wears off. If they don't want to get into the dirty details of the cover-up, it'll be harder to justify giving the Nittany Lions pride of place.
The end of Andy:
Andy Roddick never became the savior of American tennis that he was built up for in his early years, but the guy still had a fantastic career, and just happened to have the misfortune of playing during the peak years of a couple legends.
It was only when Roddick announced his looming retirement that ESPN began to follow his US Open matches. The coverage built, and after he was eliminated on Wednesday, they showed a lengthy montage of Roddick's career highlights. It was a nice gesture, but only emphasized the fact that Roddick got more attention for walking away than he did from playing competent, unspectacular tennis.