Most of us who pay attention to these kinds of moves were decently excited: One of ESPN's best known funnymen was back on their flagship program, trying to keep the nightly highlight (but mostly analysis) show quirky and sarcastic – like it was in the old days. But while we were enthused for the return of Mayne to the SportsCenter desk after a five-year absence, it's becoming apparent that Mayne gave up the majority of his job titles in order to continue working for ESPN.
In an interview with TheWrap, Mayne explained his new contract with the Mothership and said that ESPN would re-sign him for SportsCenter and trash his other responsibilities, like football coverage, ESPN the magazine assignments and horse racing. His fantastic online series "Wider World of Sports" will continue, but "will not be a prominent part of his new job description."
"It was kind of like, 'Here’s what we want from you,' and the other stuff was off the table," Mayne said. "So it was either quit or do this, and doing SportsCenter is not the worst thing in the world."
Mayne's new deal that was announced on Oct. 1 involves doing 70 episodes of SportsCenter and 10 filmed features per year, through 2015. Mayne will have to commute from his Seattle home to the ESPN studios in Los Angeles for each of his appearances on SportsCenter. A minor inconvenience, but one that Mayne will apparently embrace as "sort of a part-time job." Mayne said that he considered a move to the new rival and Los Angeles counterpart network Fox Sports 1 but told theWrap, "Fox didn't want me."
It's much less expensive for ESPN to sit Mayne at a desk for 70 shows than it is to fly him around the world filming well-produced online pieces that few people actually see. This was more of a decision based on bottom-line necessity from ESPN, and it sounds like they had most of the leverage, especially if Mayne had nowhere else to turn if he left ESPN.
Mayne will continue his welcome back week and appear on the late-night editions of SportsCenter from Los Angeles all this week with Neil Everett, and he's scheduled to host SportsCenter solo on Friday night.