ESPN College Football
ESPN College Football is the branding used for broadcasts of NCAA Division I FBS college football across ESPN properties, including ESPN, ESPN2, ABC, ESPN Classic, ESPNU, and ESPN Radio. ESPN College Football debuted in 1982.
ESPN College Football consists of four to five games a week, with ESPN College Football Primetime, which airs at 7:30 on Thursdays. Saturday includes ESPN College Football Noon at 12:00 Saturday, a 3:30 or 4:30 game that isn't shown on a weekly basis, and ESPN College Football Primetime on Saturday. A Sunday game, Sunday Showdown, was added for the first half of 2006 to make up for the loss of Sunday Night Football to NBC.
ESPN began airing taped college football games during the 1979 regular season, starting with a game between Colorado and Oregon. The network was limited to airing tape-delayed games because the NCAA controlled television rights through exclusive contracts. However, because bowl games operate outside the control of the NCAA, ESPN was able to air the 1982 Independence Bowl between Kansas State and Wisconsin live (through a simulcast with the Mizlou Television Network) – the first live football game televised on ESPN.
After the 1984 Supreme Court decision in NCAA v. Board of Regents of Univ. of Oklahoma allowed individual schools to negotiate television rights, ESPN began broadcasting live regular season games during the 1984 season, beginning with a game between BYU and Pittsburgh.
In 2007, the ESPN family of networks aired over 450 games. Also, they aired a weekly game on ESPN Radio for the first time ever.4 ESPN started that season with 25 hours of college football programming.5
Also, ESPNU has rapidly increased the coverage of spring intermural team scrimmages with entire programs dedicated to this phenomenon.6 In 2008, ESPN aired College GameDay from Florida Field prior to their spring scrimmage game.7
Starting with the 2007 season, ESPN began sublicensing games from Fox Sports Net, with the Big 12 Conference8 (later extended until 2009)9 and with the Pacific-10 Conference.10 However, the games cannot air during the “reverse mirror” slot.
During the 2008 season, ESPN aired over 400 games.11
Starting with the 2011 season, all college football games aired on ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU are broadcast in HD, with a 16:9 letterbox presentation used for all games, including the said networks' standard-definition feeds, which all games are now letterboxed.
2013 marks ESPN's 30th season of airing live college football games. Also, ABC's Saturday Night Football theme music was implemented on almost all of the college football broadcasts across the ESPN networks (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and ABC), replacing a variation of ESPN's college football theme music that had been used since 1992. It is not known if this music change is permanent or not. ESPN-produced syndication packages continue to mainly use the 2010 theme.
- College Football Live - Daily program during the season and weekly show in the offseason
- College Gameday - Weekly show (in-season) from the site of the biggest day of the game and/or significance
- College Football Final - Saturday show reviewing the highlights of the days and the biggest stories
- ESPNU programs
- Thursday GameNight (formerly the Weekend Kickoff Show)13
During the regular season, ESPN airs pre-selected Thursday night marquee matchups. ESPN2 airs pre-selected Friday night contests from lesser known Division I schools.
The weekend games with the exception of the regular season are typically selected a week or two weeks out. ABC gets the first pick of games for all the major conferences, with the exception of the SEC, in which case CBS get their first selection.
ESPN Radio airs a weekly game as well as selected BCS games including all BCS games.17
ESPNU usually airs 5 games per week.18
ESPN Classic airs selected games throughout the year.19
Championship Weekend always features the MAC Championship Game and will feature the Pac-12 Championship game every other year beginning in 2013. Previously it has featured the WAC Championship Game, the C-USA Championship Game, and the Big 12 Championship game before they changed affiliates or dropped below the minimum 12 teams required for a football championship.
The ESPN family of networks air the Division I FCS conference playoffs as well as other lower NCAA division championships.
ESPN and ESPN2 air the bulk of the games during ‘‘Bowl Week’’. ESPN Radio also owns the rights for many games including BCS matchups.21
ESPN airs the nationally renowned College GameDay. Since 1993 and almost exclusively in recent years, it has aired from the top game of the week or one of significance. For the 2010 season, the show was expanded to three hours, with the first hour airing on ESPNU.
- ESPN College Football Primetime
- ESPN College Football Primetime
- ESPNU College Football
- College Football on ABC
- ESPN Plus
- Michael Humes (2010-09-01). "ESPN and BYU Reach Agreement for Football Rights Beginning in 2011". ESPN Media Zone. Retrieved 2010-09-02.