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, the NFL's return nearly blotted out the sun, ESPN struggled with how to cover Penn State, and Andy Roddick received a teary send-off. What would this week bring?
Total time: 480 minutes
Time (minus commercials): 370.25
TIME DEVOTED TO INDIVIDUAL SPORTS
NFL: 142 minutes (38.4%) (last week: 30.2%)
MLB: 89.75 (24.2%) (last week: 20.2%)
College football: 55.25 (14.9%) (last week: 24.2%)
SportsCenter staples (things like the "Top 10," "Encore," "What 2 Watch 4," etc.): 37.5 (10.1%) (last week: 12.8%)
College basketball: 15.5 (4.2%) (last week: 0%)
Tennis: 8.75 (2.4%) (last week: 7.4%)
Golf: 6.25 (1.7%) (last week: 4.4%)
NASCAR: 5.25 (1.4%) (last week: 0.5%)
Other sports: 4.25 (1.1%) (last week: 0.2%)
NBA: 4 (1.1%) (last week: 0%)
NHL: 1.75 (0.5%) (last week: 0%)
MOST-COVERED TEAMS BY SPORT
Green Bay Packers (NFL): 49.75 (13.4%)
New York Yankees (MLB): 25.75 (7%)
Connecticut Huskies (college basketball): 14 (3.8%)
Louisana-Monroe Warhawks (college football): 7.5 (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 Aug. 31-Sept. 13:
Peyton Manning: 76
Jay Cutler: 67
Joe Flacco: 50
Aaron Rodgers: 48
Robert Griffin III: 38
Andy Murray: 32
Ben Roethlisberger: 26
Jim Calhoun: 22
Stephen Strasburg: 21
Drew Brees: 20
Novak Djokovic: 20
Rory McIlroy: 19
Tiger Woods: 17
Derek Jeter: 16
Ed Reed: 15
CUMULATIVE STATISTICS: Jan. 7-Sept. 13
Total time: 16,216.5 minutes
Time (minus commercials): 12,191.75
NBA: 2,670.25 minutes (21.9%)
MLB: 2,278.5 (18.7%)
NFL: 1,985 (16.3%)
SportsCenter staples: 1,708.25 (14%)
Other: 1,544.5 (12.7%)
College basketball: 1057.25 (8.7%)
College football: 499.25 (4.1%)
NHL: 448.75 (3.7%)
Thursday night is football night: This year, the NFL has expanded the Thursday Night Football experience, going from eight to 13 games. There might have been the danger of burnout, but based on the amount of coverage the first two Thursday games have gotten on SportsCenter, the NFL is probably asking why it didn't do this sooner.
With 14 games on Sunday, SportsCenter can only spend so much time on a particular game, even with an extended 90-minute edition of the show. The sheer volume of highlights, the NFL's greatest strength, actually becomes its own weakness when it's recap time. Football ends up competing with football. Moving one game to Thursday clears a bit from the Sunday slate, but it most importantly moves a marquee game to a day with fewer alternatives. Sure, there was college football on that night (on ESPN, no less), but it'll take more than Rutgers vs. USF to make a dent in the NFL.
There were 41 consecutive minutes of highlights, interviews, press conferences, and reactions to press conferences following the Bears-Packers game on Thursday. Given that we saw something very similar last week for the Cowboys and Giants, it's clear that ESPN will be the biggest champion of Thursday football—especially since there are tens of millions of homes that still don't get the NFL Network.
Griffining. So much Griffining: Griffining is stupid, and you should hate yourself if you find it amusing. (Unlike Tebowing, which somehow circled from clever to dumb and back to clever.) Yet SportsCenter devoted two separate segments to this "phenomenon," totaling 3.25 minutes, topped off by Stuart Scott giving us a handy demonstration on how to Griffin. Even worse, they couldn't help but include a few handy Tebowing references for good measure. SportsCenter is dead and we are all dead and this is some kind of horrible purgatory where we are paying the price for our sins.
Holy shit, the NHL exists: Hockey got 1.75 minutes of coverage for the week, all of which was centered on the lockout of the players, and though that might not sound like much, it's actually infinity times better than what we've been getting The coverage, all of which aired on Sept. 13, was the first time since July 23rd that the NHL received an actual SportsCenter segment. That's nearly nearly seven weeks without a single mention of one of the "Big Four" sports. Now that the lockout is actually underway, don't expect much discussion of ongoing negotiations between the owners and players, even if they ever do start negotiating again.