While much has been made of how Fox Sports 1 will take on ESPN in terms of nightly studio programming, little focus has been placed on how it will go after the Worldwide Leader in one key area: college football Saturdays. It looks like we have part of our answer.
FS1 will launch a college football pregame show this season that will air head-to-head (Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon ET) with ESPN's College GameDay. Fox will supplement the show with day-long live game coverage from the Big 12, Pac-12, and Conference USA on both FS1 and Fox. While CBS, NBC, and other cable networks air select college football games, this is the first real attempt made to compete with ESPN on a day-long basis.
Host Erin Andrews and analyst Eddie George will return to Fox's college football coverage for a second consecutive season; they hosted the network's primetime pregame show last year. Dropped from the show is analyst Joey Harrington, as he will move from the studio over to game coverage with play-by-play man Craig Bolerjack.
Sources tell SB Nation that the entire FS1 studio lineup will feature Andrews hosting, with analysts George, Petros Papadakis, and Joel Klatt. Outkick the Coverage editor Clay Travis and NFL on Fox rules analyst Mike Pereira will also contribute to the show.
One interesting aspect of Fox's pregame show is the goal of making the panel geographically diverse in order to claim balanced coverage of all the conferences, not just those Fox has broadcast rights to. Papadakis has spent much of his career working Pac-12 telecasts, while George won the Heisman as an Ohio State Buckeye, and Travis is one of the biggest SEC media names around.
The network's studio team will likely stay busy, as Fox will air primetime games nationally every week. Fox Sports 1 will typically air games at noon and 3:30 p.m. or 4 p.m., as well as late night games and primetime tilts on Thursday and Friday nights.
UPDATE: Fox later announced today that they will also have a separate, primetime edition of Fox College Saturday, which will air as a 30-minute pre-game to the nighttime Fox broadcast every week. It will be hosted by Rob Stone (who hosts much of the network's soccer coverage) and feature George and Klatt as analysts. Stone, George and Klatt will work halftime segments for Fox Sports 1's afternoon telecasts.
Stone's role within Fox's college football coverage will be quite large, as he'll host the network's Thursday night pre-game show, with analysts Coy Wire and Ryan Nece. Thursday night games will be called by Justin Kutcher, with Klatt and Papadakis serving as analysts.
Saturday's remain the domain of Gus Johnson, who is Fox's lead college football play-by-play man. He returns alongside Charles Davis, with reporter Kristina Pink. Their first broadcast will be on September 7 as Oklahoma visits West Virginia.
Fox Sports 1 games in the afternoon will be feature three broadcast teams: the aforementioned Bolerjack and Harrington will call games with Ryan Nece on the sidelines, Kutcher will work with James Bates (analyst) and Brady Poppinga (sidelines), while Adam Alexander (play-by-play) will call games with Chris Simms (analyst).