DIBIASE: Ranking the best SportsCenter anchors

Justin Dibiase

11 p.m. For most of the country, this time of day has special meaning. At 11 p.m., Americans put their kids to bed, grab a bag of chips, settle into their favorite recliner in front of the TV and wait for the day’s top sports stories on the one and only “SportsCenter.” Often imitated but never replicated, “SportsCenter” has been a staple of American culture for over 25 years. As the years have passed, “SportsCenter,” like a young LeBron James, has matured before our very eyes. Sets, music and segments have come and gone, but the one thing that will always keep “SportsCenter” the media giant it is today is its anchors. There have been the good, the bad and the ugly in front of the Bristol, Conn., cameras. As they critique and report on the athletes of today, here’s a stab at categorizing the anchors of today and yesterday.

Kings of All the Land

Scott Van Pelt: Besides hair, Van Pelt has it all. His enthusiasm and love for all sports make him an easy choice to top this list.

Memorable quote: “Useful shot, that. Useful!” (done in a British accent during golf highlights).

Kenny Mayne: The king of dry humor, Mayne has been a mainstay on “SportsCenter” since 1994. Mayne has also embarrassed himself on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars,” where he cha-cha’d his way to the losers’ circle.

Memorable quote: “That must be a Homer, Simpson, ‘cuz the pitcher just said ‘D’oh!'”

Dan Patrick: The recently departed “SportsCenter” anchor had his share of good shows on ESPN. In the ’90s, Patrick teamed with Keith Olbermann – a team that in its heyday was better than Jordan’s Bulls. He has the look of a serious journalist and the gift of gab that allows him to excel in an environment such as “SportsCenter.”

Memorable quote: “You can’t stop him; you can only hope to contain him.”

Rich Eisen: The now-NFL Network star was a joy to watch during his time on ESPN. Working alongside Stuart Scott, Eisen is best known for his impersonations and his ESPN reality show “Beg, Borrow & Deal.”

Memorable quote: “Don’t bring that Kool-Aid into my gym party.”

They Ain’t Playas,

They Just Crush A Lot

Linda Cohn: Cohn has been a staple on “SportsCenter” since 1992. A model of consistency, Cohn is not always the funniest anchor, but she does her job well. She is the peanut butter to the jelly that is “SportsCenter.”

Memorable quote: “He’s so clutch, and he doesn’t even know it!”

John Anderson: Often overlooked, Anderson does his job, and he does it well. Anderson, though being with ESPN for close to a decade, brings a youthful energy to the show. He is a cross between the comedy of Mayne and the smarts of Patrick.

Memorable quote: “Oh ESPN Top 10 – more fun than shopping for handbags with the Hilton sisters.”

Rece Davis: Davis does not do “SportsCenter” too often, but he is very enjoyable as the host of “College Gameday.” His cool demeanor and smart presentation makes the viewer feel smarter after watching him. Davis is definitely on his way to great things in the world of broadcasting.

Memorable quote: “The bases are like Canada during the Vietnam War … full of Dodgers.”

Keith Olbermann: Olbermann left the network in 1997, citing problems with management as the reason for his departure. Olbermann was a natural at his job and was the perfect ying to Patrick’s yang. Olbermann now hosts his own show on MSNBC.

Memorable quote: “It’s deep, and I don’t think it’s playable.”

BOO-Yah’s (Overrated)

Chris Berman: Berman wouldn’t be all that bad if he were a lower profile anchor, but one would expect a better product from a six-time National Sportscaster of the Year. His trademark player nicknames are cute but get old after a while. Much respect is given to the Swami for his work, which spans four decades; however, time is passing him by, and current anchors are well in front of him.

Memorable quote: “Ryan ‘Mom, I can’t palm a basketball, I wish I had’ Langerhans”

Stuart Scott: Scott has been a regular on “SportsCenter” since his debut in 1993. He brings great energy to his broadcasts, but it is often difficult to understand what he is saying. Stu gets too carried away with style and at times loses the integrity of the highlight. Nevertheless, he’s still an asset to ESPN.

Memorable quote: “You ain’t got to go home, but you got to get the heck up outta here.”

Craig Kilborn: Kilby is a funny guy; that’s for sure. He was too funny to do sports, though. He was great on late-night TV, but his annoying dialogue made me not want to watch “SportsCenter” at times.

Memorable quote: “And he takes the ball and does that nifty little shot where he forces it through the rim.”