ESPN College Football
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ESPN College Football
The current logo for ESPN's college football television coverage.
ESPN College Football at Philips Arena for the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship media day

ESPN College Football is the branding used for broadcasts of NCAA Division I FBS college football across ESPN properties, including ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3, ESPN+, ABC, ESPN Classic, ESPNU, ESPN Deportes, ESPNews 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 is not 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.

The American, ACC, Big Ten, Big Twelve, Conference USA, MAC, MWC, Pac-12, SEC, and Sun Belt are all covered by ESPN. ESPN began televising games for the independent Brigham Young University in 2011.[1] Through its online arm ESPN3 and the ESPN+ streaming service, ESPN carries a wide variety of other athletic conferences and games at lower divisions, spanning the full breadth of college football.


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 on September 1, 1984.[2] The first live broadcast of a regular-season night game followed that night, between the Florida Gators, who were ranked number 17, and the Miami Hurricanes, who were ranked number 10.[2]

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 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.[3][4]

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.[5] ESPN started that season with 25 hours of college football programming.[6]

Also, ESPNU has rapidly increased the coverage of spring intramural team scrimmages with entire programs dedicated to this phenomenon.[7] In 2008, ESPN aired College GameDay from Florida Field prior to their spring scrimmage game.[8]

Starting with the 2007 season, ESPN began sublicensing games from Fox Sports Net, with the Big 12 Conference[9] (later extended until 2009)[10] and with the Pacific-10 Conference.[11] However, the games cannot air during the "reverse mirror" slot.

During the 2008 season, ESPN aired over 400 games.[12]

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.[13]

Also in 2010, the company launched ESPN Goal Line, a gametime-only channel that switches between games to show the most interesting plays, similar to NFL RedZone.

In 2012, ESPN reached long-term, 12-year agreements to retain rights to the Rose Bowl, Orange Bowl, and Sugar Bowl following the dissolution of the Bowl Championship Series.[14] In November, ESPN reached a 12-year deal to broadcast the remainder of the new College Football Playoff system, valued at around $470 million per-year, giving it continued rights to the Peach Bowl and Fiesta Bowl, as well as the Cotton Bowl Classic and the College Football Playoff National Championship.[15]

For the 2014-15 post-season, ESPN implemented a major overhaul of its on-air presentation, which soft launched during the New Orleans Bowl, and formally debuted alongside new imaging for the first CFP bowl games.[16][17][18] This was used full time starting with the 2015 regular season.

For the 2020 season, ESPN implemented another major overhaul of its on-air presentation, which launched during the Labor Day weekend. Its score bug, which had been on the lower right of the screen since the 2015 season, was changed back to a score bar. The layout of the score bar, which is shown across the bottom of the screen, is now similar to Monday Night Football.


  • 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 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)[19]


ESPN airs Spring Football games and coverage.[7] Coverage includes College Football Final which wraps the annual Spring Games.[8]

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. In late October and November, games almost exclusively from the Mid-American Conference air on Tuesdays or Wednesdays, usually on ESPN2.

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 (Sunday games are exceptionally rare because of conflicts with ESPN Sunday Night Baseball and the network's professional football coverage, both NFL and Canadian football).[20]

ESPN Radio airs a weekly game as well as selected College Football Playoff bowl games including all bowl and national championship games.[20]

ESPNU usually airs 5 games per week.[20]

ESPN Classic airs selected games throughout the year.[20]

Typical games

ESPN's Saturdays during the regular season begin at 9:00 AM ET with College GameDay, a three-hour live show that previews the day's games. This counts down to the first set of games for the day, which begin at noon ET on ABC, ESPN, and ESPN2. Another set of games will begin across those three networks around 3:30 PM. At the conclusion of the second game, ABC stations will take a break for local news before the start of Saturday Night Football at 8:00. ESPN College Football Saturday Primetime starts around 7:00, as does another game on ESPN2. Late-night games (often from the Pac-12 Conference) begin on ESPN and ESPN2 around 10:30 ET, in prime time on the west coast.

Kickoff Week is the first weekend of the college football weekend. Games include the Advocare Classic, the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game and other non-conference action.[21] One game will air on ABC on Sunday night, and second game will air on ESPN on the following Monday night. After the first week of the college football season, the NFL season begins, and so these windows are filled with NBC's Sunday Night Football and ESPN's Monday Night Football, respectively.

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 the Division II and III championship games.

ESPN and ESPN2 air the bulk of the games during ''Bowl Week'' (which contrary to its name extends to well over two calendar weeks because of the huge number of bowls, many created by ESPN's own event division, the networks air).[22]

Through the network's online arms WatchESPN and ESPN3, the ESPN networks cover the breadth of almost all levels of college football.

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.[23]

Heisman Trophy Presentation

Since 1994, 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 or coaches).[23]


See also


  1. ^ Michael Humes (2010-09-01). "ESPN and BYU Reach Agreement for Football Rights Beginning in 2011". ESPN Media Zone. Archived from the original on 2010-09-04. Retrieved .
  2. ^ a b "Gators and 'Canes to Meet in Orlando for 2019 Camping World Kickoff". ESPN. April 26, 2016. Archived from the original on August 21, 2016. Retrieved 2019.
  3. ^ "Jackson set to return for 39th season - tvlistings - ESPN". Retrieved 2014.
  4. ^ "More than 300 games scheduled - tvlistings - ESPN". Retrieved 2014.
  5. ^ "ESPN Media to Provide Extensive Multimedia Coverage of the 2007 College Football Season". Archived from the original on October 11, 2008. Retrieved 2016.
  6. ^ "ESPN Press Room - for Media Professionals (formerly ESPN MediaZone)". ESPN Press Room U.S. Archived from the original on August 28, 2008.
  7. ^ a b "ESPNU to Feature Extensive Spring College Football Coverage with New Hookn Ladder Franchise". Retrieved 2009.[dead link]
  8. ^ a b "College Game Day to Originate From Spring College Football Game for First Time Ever April 12". Retrieved 2009.[dead link]
  9. ^ "ESPN to Televise Big 12 Regular Season College Football". Archived from the original on July 11, 2012. Retrieved 2009.
  10. ^ College Football on ESPN#Coverage
  11. ^ "College Football Schedule". Archived from the original on July 8, 2012. Retrieved 2009.
  12. ^ "College Football Talent". Archived from the original on March 26, 2010. Retrieved 2016.
  13. ^ "ESPN and BCS Reach Four Year Agreement". Archived from the original on August 18, 2009. Retrieved 2016.
  14. ^ "ESPN Reaches 12-Year College Football Agreement With Orange Bowl". Bloomberg Businessweek. Archived from the original on January 7, 2013. Retrieved 2012.
  15. ^ "ESPN Strikes Deal for College Football Playoff". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2016.
  16. ^ "It's College Football's Nation, we are Just Living in it". Brand New. Retrieved .
  17. ^ "ESPN debuts new college football graphics for bowl season". Awful Announcing. 2014-12-20. Retrieved .
  18. ^ "ESPN appears to have a new college football scorebug". Awful Announcing. 2018-08-26. Retrieved .
  19. ^ " - TVLISTINGS - ESPN's weekly college football update". Retrieved 2014.
  20. ^ a b c d "ESPN Press Room - for Media Professionals (formerly ESPN MediaZone)". ESPN Press Room U.S. Archived from the original on December 10, 2009.
  21. ^ "New Franchise to Capture Excitement of College Football Season Kickoff". Archived from the original on November 19, 2008. Retrieved 2016.
  22. ^ "ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Radio, and ESPN Mobile TV to Provide Coverage of 29 College Football Bowl Games". Archived from the original on March 26, 2010. Retrieved 2016.
  23. ^ a b Retrieved 2009. Missing or empty |title= (help)[dead link]

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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