Through a sustained PR blitz, Fox Sports Live has positioned themselves as the "fun" alternative to SportsCenter. In recent years, ESPN has kept the anchors of the flagship show from breaking the ESPN mold. The thinking behind ESPN tightening the reigns on SportsCenter and preventing anchors from breaking out of that bubble is that no one anchor becomes bigger than the show. To that extent, ESPN has been successful in managing their talent, but it has also led SportsCenter to be rather vanilla.
Many of us like to reminisce about the old days of SportsCenter and dynamic teams like Dan Patrick and Keith Olbermann and more dynamic personalities that made SC for lack of a better description, more fun.
Now comes word from Bristol that SportsCenter is bringing back one of their more "fun" anchors after a long absence. Kenny Mayne will return to the anchor chair in ESPN's Los Angeles studio as backup for Stan Verrett and Neil Everett:
— Josh Krulewitz (@jksports) August 21, 2013
Mayne hasn't hosted SportsCenter regularly since… since… since I don't even know when. It's been a long, long time. Mayne was one of SportsCenter's most eccentric, popular personalities as an anchor and then he seemingly dropped off the radar in recent years. He's been doing horse racing and Mayne Street video vignettes and largely has gone unseen by the masses.
The timing is certainly the most interesting element of Mayne's return to SportsCenter. You could say he was Jay & Dan before Jay & Dan even existed. Mayne won't bring SportsCenter back all on his own, but it does point to ESPN taking the shackles off their flagship show in response to the presence of Fox Sports 1. In fact, Mayne's return along with that of Keith Olbermann shows a change in philosophy at ESPN.
Moreso than hilarious antics and crazy catchphrases (YAHTZEE!), Mayne can bring back a vibrancy that has been somewhat missing from SportsCenter. Hopefully this leads to ESPN allowing their other anchors to open up and show more personality as well. It could go a long way in holding off the challenge of Fox Sports Live and FS1.