These days, it's really easy to bash ESPN. I've had trouble finding things I liked about the four-letter sports news media giant other than Baseball Tonight, Scott Van Pelt on SportsCenter, Jay Bilas' college hoops analysis, Dave O'Brien's baseball play-by-play and fights between Mel Kiper and Todd McShay.
But two things have really started to put the World Wide Leader back into my good graces: SportsCenter Live! and SportsCenter L.A.
SC Live! was a long time coming. Mothers, wives, sisters and girlfriends have ragged on men for years about their following of the morning highlight show because "you're watching the same show over and over again." And they were right ... and still, we watched. But now, each live edition of SportsCenter provides a fresh take on last night's news ... even if it is the same group of highlights. Hosts come in and break news, shift the coverage of stories and have even added different top plays.
My favorite part of the live show is when it gets a phone call from one of last night's headline makers. That, and it keeps me away from having to watch or listen to Mike & Mike In The Morning.
And in an attempt to rule the west coast sports scene, ESPN opened a studio in Los Angeles. Having a presence in the land of low rider's, Dr. Dre and Hollywood gives the WWL more credibility as it covers pro teams such as the Dodgers and Lakers along with USC football and UCLA basketball.
Yet, I feel as if the biggest winner of this whole ordeal is me.
I have found myself watching SportsCenter's late edition every day this week. And while it's target audience is its west coast viewership, the late-night highlight reel attracts people like me: College kids who do not sleep.
So, what's next for ESPN? Permanent College Football GameDay sets in Florida, Texas and California? Or how about a real College Basketball GameDay hub in South Bend, Ind., for Digger Phelps. How about a return to Carbondale?
OK, I officially asked for too much.