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, SportsCenter turned into a Thursday night football postgame show, "Griffining" swept Bristol, and the NHL got coverage for the first time in months. What would this week bring?
Total time: 428.25 minutes
Time (minus commercials): 321.5
TIME DEVOTED TO INDIVIDUAL SPORTS
NFL: 131.25 minutes (40.8%) (last week: 38.4%)
MLB: 80.75 (25.1%) (last week: 24.2%)
SportsCenter staples (things like the "Top 10," "Encore," "What 2 Watch 4," etc.): 37 (11.5%) (last week: 10.1%)
College football: 33.75 (10.5%) (last week: 14.9%)
NASCAR: 15.5 (4.8%) (last week: 1.4%)
Golf: 7.75 (2.4%) (last week: 1.7%)
Other sports: 7.5 (2.3%) (last week: 1.1%)
NBA: 4.75 (1.5%) (last week: 1.1%)
NHL: 2 (0.6%) (last week: 0.5%)
College basketball: 1.25 (0.4%) (last week: 4.2%)
MOST-COVERED TEAMS BY SPORT
New York Giants (NFL): 39.75 (12.3%)
New York Yankees (MLB): 12.75 (4%)
Southern California Trojans (college football): 10.5 (3.3%)
North Carolina Tar Heels (college basketball): 1.25 (0.4%)
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 Sept. 14-20.
Eli Manning: 41
Miguel Cabrera: 40
Cam Newton: 30
Matt Barkley: 24
Mike Trout: 23
Tiger Woods: 21
Rory McIlroy: 20
Peyton Manning: 19
Alex Smith: 19
Vernon Davis: 15
Tom Brady: 15
Chipper Jones: 15
Wes Welker: 15
Matthew Stafford: 13
Cristiano Ronaldo: 11
CUMULATIVE STATISTICS: Jan. 7-Sept. 20
Total time: 16,644.75 minutes
Time (minus commercials): 12,513.25
NBA: 2,675 minutes (21.4%)
MLB: 2,359.25 (18.9%)
NFL: 2,116.25 (16.9%)
SportsCenter staples: 1,745.25 (14%)
Other: 1,575.25 (12.6%)
College basketball: 1058.5 (8.5%)
College football: 533.25 (4.3%)
NHL: 450.75 (3.6%)
It was USC schadenfreude week:
ESPN was the forefront of those pumping up USC before the start of the season. The Trojans were going to be the team to finally put an end to the SEC's reign of dominance. That all came crashing down when USC lost at Stanford, and SportsCenter was there to soak up Lane Kiffin's tears. Nearly a third of the college football coverage last week was focused on USC's loss and the ensuing fallout. We even got some beautiful footage of an angry Kiffin storming out of a media session when someone asked about player injuries.
The Trojans are going to be covered, with one narrative or another. If they continue to struggle, ESPN will focus on petty dramas like Kiffin being a dick to reporters. If USC wins out, ESPN, the home of the BCS Title Game, will revert to championing the Trojans to head off a potential LSU-Alabama rematch, the last thing the network wants.
The Giants are America's team:
In another week dominated by NFL coverage, the Giants were, once again, the most mentioned team, which can't come as much of a surprise. They are the defending champs, they were involved in the kneel-down fiasco that became the biggest controversy of Week 2, and their Thursday night battering of Cam Newton dominated the Thursday show. Hard to call "East Coast bias" there.
Then there's the Patriots. While the Cardinals played a hell of a game and ended up winning in Foxboro, there was no attention given to Arizona's impressive defensive performance. No postgame comments from players or coaches, barely a mention of them starting the year 2-0 against two good teams. All of the focus was on how the Patriots lost, why they sucked, and the problems with New England's offense, capped by an intellectually dishonest story on how Wes Welker was being phased out of the offense (he had 5 catches for 95 yards against the Cardinals, then 8 for 124 against the Ravens).
ESPN has teams they care about and teams they don't, and that's never going to change.
The lockout officially began last week, and SportsCenter offered 15 seconds more hockey coverage this time around, so stop complaining. The network was even kind enough to give viewers a breakdown of the issues the players and owners are debating, something they had not yet done in primetime. There were some additional mentions of players signing overseas, but that was about it. ESPN did the bare minimum. They acknowledged the lockout's existence, and moved on.