As Mayne returns to Bristol-based SportsCenter, his co-anchors strap in for the ride

Kenny Mayne
(Eric Lars Bakke/ESPN Images)

For the first time in nearly a decade, Kenny Mayne will host SportsCenter from ESPN’s Connecticut studios tonight, the first step in some recent changes announced for the network’s signature news and information franchise.

John Anderson
(Allen Kee/ESPN Images)

Mayne, who in recent years has contributed to SportsCenter as a fill-in anchor on the 1 a.m. ET edition from Los Angeles as well as a feature reporter, will now anchor from Bristol on a regular basis. Since he joined ESPN in 1994, Mayne has been one of the network’s most popular figures, known for his offbeat style, dry humor, and unique sayings

Mayne’s return to Bristol is welcomed by his longtime friend John Anderson, who will co-anchor tonight’s 11 p.m. ET SportsCenter with him as well as Tuesday night’s program at 10:30 p.m.

“I have considerable experience with Kenny and I’m better for it,” said Anderson. “One, because he’s just great, and I love him.

And so literally, every once in a while there might be something I can contribute but it’s like being in a heavyweight fight: If you decide you’re going to try and throw haymakers with him, you’re just going to lose and you’re going to look dumb doing it. SC’s John Anderson on co-anchoring with Kenny Mayne

“The other part is you learn a really valuable lesson about is that there’s nothing worse on television than a really, really funny guy, and someone who thinks they’re funny trying to keep up with him,” he said. “And so literally, every once in a while there might be something I can contribute but it’s like being in a heavyweight fight: If you decide you’re going to try and throw haymakers with him, you’re just going to lose and you’re going to look dumb doing it.”

Mayne last anchored SportsCenter from Bristol on a regular basis in 2008. Anderson said co-hosting many programs with Mayne taught him to do something he otherwise would never do.

“He’s the only anchor I know where I try to read his stuff beforehand,” he said. “Because otherwise there’s a chance I might not be able to function and do my job. If it just comes and hits me out of right field on the temple, then I’m no good, I’m just laughing – I’m just one more guy in the audience who’s just enjoying Kenny instead of doing my job.

“It still doesn’t prepare you for everything but at least it gives you some footing to begin with.”

Connors looks forward to anchoring first SportsCenter with Mayne
Kevin Connors
(Joe Faraoni/ESPN Images)

Veteran SportsCenter anchor Kevin Connors will work with Kenny Mayne for the very first time on the Wednesday (10:30 p.m. ET) and Thursday (10 p.m.) night editions of the program.

“I’ve been at ESPN for nearly a decade and, incredibly, never shared a studio with Kenny,” said Connors. “That said, it will be a lot of fun developing on-air chemistry together and bringing our loyal SportsCenter viewers some funny, informative, provocative, funny and . . . funny shows.”

I’ve been a fan of Kenny’s since I first saw him on SportsCenter back when I was in college and, I’ve heard, he was quite fond of my work at Ithaca College Television.
– Kevin Connors on Kenny Mayne

Connors normally works on SportsCenter editions after 9 p.m. with a variety of co-anchors.

“We’re all looking forward to welcoming Kenny back to Bristol to rejoin the SportsCenter at Night team,” he said. “Kenny’s great mix of humor and spontaneity will blend perfectly with the strong group of anchors currently in place on SC at Night.”

A former college basketball player at Ithaca (N.Y.) College, Connors has long admired Mayne’s work.

“I’ve been a fan of Kenny’s since I first saw him on SportsCenter back when I was in college and, I’ve heard, he was quite fond of my work at Ithaca College Television,” he said. “My bet is this will be a mutually fulfilling relationship.”