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, ESPN showed its love for former employee Urban Meyer, Stephen Strasburg's pushed it to the limit, and Michael Vick got injured, again. What would this week bring?
Total time: 446.75 minutes
Time (minus commercials): 329.25
TIME DEVOTED TO INDIVIDUAL SPORTS
NFL: 117.5 minutes (35.7%) (last week: 36.5%)
MLB: 77.5 (23.5%) (last week: 25.3%)
SportsCenter staples (things like the "Top 10," "Encore," "What 2 Watch 4," etc.): 42.25 (12.9%) (last week: 11.9%)
College football: 33 (10%) (last week: 5.8%)
Other sports: 29.75 (9%) (last week: 7.9%)
Little League World Series: 12.75 (3.9%) (last week: 4.7%)
NASCAR: 10.5 (3.2%) (last week: 3.7%)
Golf: 5.5 (1.7%) (last week: 2.6%)
NBA: 0.5 (0.1%) (last week: 1.7%)
NHL: 0 (0%) (last week: 0%)
College basketball: 0 (0%) (last week: 0.3%)
MOST-COVERED TEAMS BY SPORT
Los Angeles Dodgers (MLB): 21.25 (6.5%)
New York Jets (NFL): 10.75 (3.3)%
Penn State Nittany Lions (college football): 9.25 (2.8%)
Los Angeles Lakers (NBA): 0.5 (0.1%)
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. 24-30:
Adrian Gonzalez: 28
Roger Clemens: 24
Josh Beckett: 23
Mark Sanchez: 23
Peyton Manning: 23
Tom Brady: 22
Tim Tebow: 22
Russell Wilson: 21
Mike Wallace: 20
Cam Newton: 16
Ryan Tannehill: 16
Bryce Harper: 15
Stephen Strasburg: 14
Carl Crawford: 14
Robert Griffin III: 13
CUMULATIVE STATISTICS: Jan. 7-Aug. 30
Total time: 15,299.25 minutes
Time (minus commercials): 11,491.5
NBA: 2,666.25 minutes (23.2%)
MLB: 2,122 (18.5%)
NFL: 1,743.25 (15.2%)
SportsCenter staples: 1,628.25 (14.2%)
Other: 1,478.25 (12.9%)
College basketball: 1041.75 (9.1%)
NHL: 447 (3.9%)
College football: 364 (3.2%)
Return of the Rocket:
Roger Clemens is 50 years old. He hasn't pitched in the majors since an ill-fated comeback with the Yankees in 2007, one that was remembered more for Yankees radio commentator Suzyn Waldman vocally messing her pants in the middle of a game. He's eligible for the Hall of Fame next year, but might not get in because, you know, sanctimonious sportswriters. Now that he doesn't have to worry about prison anymore, Clemens has caught on with an independent team outside Houston. He's also hinted at wanting to pitch for the Astros before the end of their season. The whole thing might be a transparents way of pushing back his HOF eligibility, and possibly, bettering his chances. No one should pretend this comeback is anything more than that.
So yeah, ESPN spent 8.5 minutes over three days on him. There was an exclusive interview, a preview of his start, and a breakdown of literally every batter he faced. Plus, the poor Baseball Tonight guys debating how productive Clemens could be in the majors.
One day, ESPN might not be able to lean on the New Yorks and Bostons of the world for ratings. They might want to be able to spotlight better, younger teams and a new generation of superstars. That's going to be tough unless the Mike Trouts and Bryce Harpers of the world become household names. Stuff like SportsClemens doesn't help.
New ways to look at football: SportsCenter welcomed the return of football with a series of Outside The Lines reports chronicling the growing issues of player safety, ranging from Pop Warner to the NFL. As is the case with much of OTL's work, it was excellent, even if they weren't covering a whole lot of new ground. Altogether, the series totalled 25 minutes, and was consistently the highlight of each show. One of the best reports was on the death of a semi-pro player, and I can't recommend it highly enough.
Penn State picks up where it left off:
Even with the heavy sanctions against Penn State's program, avoiding a television ban might be an enormous victory. SportsCenter spent nearly a third of the time allotted for college football on the Nittany Lions' first year following the Sandusky scandal. Most of the coverage was for the players who stayed, the brave community of Happy Valley who stood by their team, and new head coach Bill O'Brien's attempts to field a competitive team despite having nothing to play for. All of this led up to Penn State's opener against Ohio, which happened to air on ESPN. Funny how that works out.