Sep 25, 2010; Tempe, AZ, USA; Oregon Ducks coach Chip Kelly (left) is interviewed by Fox Sports Net College Football Saturday sideline reporter Rebecca Haarlow (right) after the Ducks' 42-31 victory over the Arizona State Sun Devils at Sun Devil Stadium.
FOX Sports is jumping head first into its first full season of college football coverage. Gus Johnson and Charles Davis will serve as the lead broadcast team, and former ESPN reporter Erin Andrews will anchor the new "Fox College Saturday.'
One reaction that people never have to FOX Sports programming is indifference.
Since it first secured an NFL package in 1994, and an MLB package in 1996, viewers have always had a love/hate relationship with the approach that the network takes to its sports broadcasts. Heavy on flash and on-screen visuals, and with dramatic music and robotic introductions, the presentation at times takes away from the on-field action.
On the other hand, their technology and outside-the-tube thinking bring innovation to the network's coverage, things that are now taken for granted. For instance, FOX was to first to put an on-screen capsule that showed the score and time clock continuously throughout an NFL game.
This weekend, FOX jumps into the college game, kicking off their first-ever over-the-air season of NCAA football. This Saturday's matchup of USC and Hawaii (7:00pm ET) will be the first of 13 consecutive weeks of college football, including seven double-headers and 12 primetime games.
FOX Sports isn't completely new to college football, as their cable networks FX, FOX College Sports and the regional FSN outlets have all carried college games. FOX itself has carried some conference championship and BCS games, but this is the first full-season of college football on FOX that will be carried over-the-air.
Personnel-wise, FOX continues its history of bringing in big names to staff the games. The lead broadcast team includes the inimitable Gus Johnson on play-by-play teaming with the steady Charles Davis as analyst and Julie Alexandria on the sideline.
Johnson, known for his excitable calls during the NCAA basketball tournament for CBS, and Davis teamed up last season on FX, and move over together to FOX for this season. Newcomer Alexandria previously co-hosted the BTN series TAILGATE 48, and her credits also include hosting The Seven on MTV, Mets Weekly on SNY where she was nominated for two Emmy Awards, the New York City Marathon on ABC, Slamball on CBS Sports and Weekend pregame on Spike.
In addition to the full schedule of games on FOX, the network is also launching its first college football pregame show - FOX College Saturday. Hosting the show from Los Angeles will be the networks most-hyped signing of the year - Erin Andrews. The longtime ESPN reporter moves from the sideline to the studio, and expects to miss being at the games, but looks forward to the opportunity to host. "I'll miss being on campus," she says. "I did it for 10 years. I’m a sports fan and who doesn’t love having the best seats in the house right down there on the sidelines? This is another way to become more versatile and I’ll have my opportunities to get out on the field for NFL." In addition to her college football work, Andrews will also be used as a reporter during FOX's NFL coverage, primarily on the pregame show.
Working with Andrews in the studio will be former NFL quarterback Joey Harrington and 1995 Heisman Trophy winner and longtime Tennessee Titan Eddie George. Andrews is high on her new colleagues "The No.1 thing that sold me on this college football show was Eddie and Joey. The second I sat down with those two and started talking college football I was so excited. They live and breathe it. They don't agree on a lot of things and that will separate our show from a lot of other shows. You don’t want guys that think the same way about teams, players and coaching styles."
Ah yes, having a panel that agrees too much about things is a death-knoll for any sports show, right? It wouldn't be FOX without a little made-up drama, would it?
Bruce Allen is a Media Columnist for SB Nation Boston. Follow him @BruceAllen on Twitter.