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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.

Coverage overview

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 also produces ESPN College Football on ABC and ESPN Saturday Night Football on ABC in separate broadcast packages.

Major conference rights

AAC, ACC, Big Ten, MAC, MWC (shared with CBS Sports Network), Pac-12, SEC, and Sun Belt. ESPN began televising games for the independent Brigham Young University in 2011.[1]


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 the University 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 recent years, ESPN and ESPN2 air games at noon, which usually includes a Big Ten game. Both networks also air primetime games, typically featuring teams from the ACC and/or SEC.

With the expansion of ESPN, including multiple networks and outlets, their coverage has likewise increased. In 2005, with the creation of ESPNU, over 300 games were aired on its networks.[2][3]

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 Conference[8] (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]

Beginning in the 2010 season, ESPN acquired exclusive broadcast rights to the Bowl Championship Series in a four year contract, where all games in the BCS would be aired on ESPN.[12]

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.

On December 20, 2014, during the New Orleans Bowl, ESPN soft-launched a new graphics package for its college football coverage (similar to the SportsCenter graphics that launched when the program began broadcasting from their new Digital Center 2 studios in August 2014) which would then be used for the "New Years' Six" bowls a few weeks later. Along with the new look, a brand-new theme music package and logo was introduced on January 1, 2015. The minor bowls continued to use the previous graphics package and theme music; it is likely that all of ESPN's college football coverage will utilize the new music and graphics in the fall of 2015 and that the network's other live sports broadcasts will implement some form of the graphics in the near future, presumably starting with the 2015 Major League Baseball season.


  • 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

Former programs

  • Thursday GameNight (formerly the Weekend Kickoff Show)[13]


ESPN airs Spring Football games and coverage.[14] Coverage includes College Football Final which wraps the annual Spring Games.[15]

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/ESPN2 airs coverage of ABC games in a "reverse mirror" format. Both networks will also air other selected midweek games and Sunday games, typically teams from more “minor” conferences.[16]

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]

Typical games

Kickoff Week is the first weekend of the college football weekend. Games include the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game and other non-conference action.[20]

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]

Non-game action

College GameDay

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.

Home Depot College Football Awards

Since 1990, ESPN has aired the show live from the Boardwalk in Orlando, Florida. The show airs several awards.[22]

Heisman Trophy Presentation

Since 1993, ESPN has aired the Heisman Trophy from New York City. It is typically an hour-long program featuring interviews with past winners and nominees (with their families and/or coaches).[23]


See also


External links