Throughout the college football offseason, realignment dominated much of the discussion as the Pac-12 Conference struggled to come to terms on a new media deal. As a result, the conference is currently left with just four teams heading into the 2024 season, which many are indicating will end its time among the Power Five and, perhaps, its existence altogether. UCLA, USC, Oregon and Washington are joining the Big Ten Conference in 2024, while Arizona, Arizona State and Utah will be members of the Big 12 Conference. In total, the Pac-12 has currently lost eight of its 12 teams heading into next season, reshaping the college football landscape for years to come.
On this weekend’s edition of College GameDay, ESPN aired a segment discussing the dwindling regionalization of college football. Throughout the piece, there were lines such as, “It feels like the game as we love it is destroying itself to save itself,” and, “College football as a regional game of rivalries is fading from memory.” The entirety of the segment, voiced by Wright Thompson, was played on 610 Sports Radio in Kansas City, Kan., during which show hosts Bob Fescoe and Josh Klingler discussed the irony of the top rightsholder airing such a feature.
“The game is not destroying itself,” Fescoe said on Monday morning’s edition of Fescoe in the Morning. “ESPN is destroying the game.”
ESPN has part of the Big 12 broadcast rights and exclusive media deals with the SEC and Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). The network had a chance to renew its Big Ten package; however, it ultimately decided that the SEC was a better value proposition, according to recent comments made by ESPN President of Content Burke Magnus to Barrett Sports Media. Momentum is reportedly increasing towards a move that would see it add existing Pac-12 members UC Berkley and Stanford in addition to Southern Methodist University, a current member of the AAC
“We kind of liked those Saturdays where there were rivalry games,” Fescoe said. “Now there aren’t, [and] we need to get those back. You know what we need to do? Smaller conferences; more regionalized; and get the rivalries back. Oh, you mean where we were a decade ago, sir?”
“Before you guys stepped in and offered up everybody a bunch of money to move around,” added Klingler.
Fescoe discussed the termination of rivalry matchups such as Texas-Texas A&M and Kansas-Missouri because of contracts from television networks. Airing such a segment, he expressed, is insulting to the intelligence of college football fans. Furthermore, it draws questions about how objectively the network can cover the teams and conferences without interfering with business interests. As a result, there was considerable pushback towards the piece on social media.
“You are the reason why we’re here,” Fescoe said, addressing ESPN. “Look in the mirror and understand you’re the problem in all of this. The only problem in college athletics right now is ESPN… or FOX. Well, FOX went along with it because ESPN led the charge.”
“ESPN cannot lament it,” Klingler added. “They are the ones that cannot. They can’t say, ‘We wish it was how it was.’ You cannot produce a piece like that because you’re the source.”
‘The Dan Patrick Show’ Criticizes Sound on ‘Thursday Night Football’
“You pay all this money for that game [and] you can’t hear that it sounds like crap.”
Thursday night’s matchup between the New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers ended up being a compelling game to watch throughout the first several quarters and was enhanced by the stellar images and presentation from Amazon Prime Video. The Thursday Night Football property recently garnered record-setting streaming numbers from its season premiere, according to a custom integrated streaming report by Nielsen Media Research.
Even so, there was critical feedback from many fans watching regarding the sonic experience of watching the game. Viewers complained that there was an inherent lack of crowd noise and field-level sound, making it more difficult to fully immerse themselves in the atmosphere.
“You pay all this money for that game [and] you can’t hear that it sounds like crap,” Patrick “Seton” O’Connor, an executive producer of The Dan Patrick Show, said on Friday. “There’s no atmosphere – you’ve got no crowd sound; the mics are all over the place. It’s terrible.”
Show host Dan Patrick concurred with this point, relaying that his wife walked by the television and thought something was amiss with the sound. When she asked Patrick what was happening, he replied that it was due to the presentation from Prime Video. Although most viewers ended up watching the game anyway, the inadequate soundscape detracted from the aura of the contest and dampened the viewing experience.
“I love [Kirk] Herbstreit [and] I love Al Michaels, but when I have the game on, do you ever have your stereo in your car and you have the bass and the treble set and somehow it gets reset – and everything’s reset to medium?,” Paul Pabst, an executive producer of The Dan Patrick Show, said. “You’re like, ‘Where’s the highs? Where’s the lows? It has that feeling.’”
The lack of dynamic contrast and aggregate timbre caused some viewers to connote that the broadcast sounds flat despite the stellar, highly-experienced commentary team. Improving on the sound and other customer feedback will be critical in incentivizing non-ardent fans to return to the property or try it altogether.
“We’ve created the atmosphere that is so good that you don’t even have to go to a game,” Patrick said. “With the sound of it, the TVs, [and] the quality… it’s almost a better experience sometimes when you’re sitting at home.”
In addition to watching the National Football League, Pabst frequently consumes college football on Saturdays, including the prime-time presentations. When he is viewing those games, he can feel the noise of the crowd permeating through the speakers and be part of the crowd.
“It’s thunderous,” Pabst said. “The crowd noise almost overwhelms [Chris] Fowler, sometimes in a good way, and it’s hard to tell what’s going on there.”
Finding games on Amazon Prime Video has been a difficult proposition for some users, evidenced by O’Connor describing how it took him 10 minutes to begin watching the Giants-49ers game last night. The game was broadcast regionally on FOX for those in the New York metropolitan area, but for O’Connor, he noticed that the network had the baseball contest between the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies on instead.
“I look and I’m like, ‘I swear there was a game tonight,’ and I see it’s in the first quarter.’ What the hell is going on?,” thought O’Connor. “Oh, that’s right. I forgot Amazon was a thing; it’s just not a TV destination all the time for me.”
Gregg Giannotti on Taylor Rooks: ‘Send in a 10’ to Get Players Talking
“I also thought, ‘Why don’t we use more attractive women in interrogation scenarios?'”
This week’s Thursday Night Football matchup between the New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers came off a record-setting week for Prime Video, according to an integrated streaming report by Nielsen Media Research. There were questions surrounding the impending contest off the field pertaining to injuries, and the TNF Tonight pregame show did its best to address pertinent information.
New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley headlined the team’s injury report after suffering an ankle injury last week, something the team publicly called a sprain. New information was divulged on Thursday night from Barkley himself after features reporter Taylor Rooks asked him about his injury. He then proceeded to reveal that he was dealing with a mild high ankle sprain, an impediment more serious than originally thought.
WFAN host Gregg Giannotti watched the entire pregame show and watched the desk discuss the state of New York football, including New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson. The report from Rooks, a reputable source of information who formerly worked for SportsNet New York (SNY) occurred shortly thereafter. While she has a network of contacts and insider information about the league, Giannotti believes there was another reason she got the exclusive story.
“It’s funny because all we heard was, ‘It’s a regular ankle sprain; not a high ankle sprain,’” Giannotti explained Friday morning on WFAN. “Then Taylor Rooks gets over there and finds out it’s a high ankle sprain. I was thinking, ‘You know what? I’d tell her anything too. Whatever you need to know, Taylor, about me, I will tell you.’”
Giannotti watched the Giants lose the contest 30-12 and fall to a 1-2 overall record, but he also began to ponder over the manner in which Rooks was able to effectively do her job. It led him to make a proposition on the air that challenges the effectiveness of the team’s beat writers because of their collective age and appearance.
“I also thought, ‘Why don’t we use more attractive women in interrogation scenarios?,’” Giannotti said. “This is what I was thinking about after I saw this last night. Art Stapleton couldn’t get that out of Saquon Barkley – I love Art Stapleton, but there’s no way. Taylor Rooks got it out of him right away, so why don’t we send in some of these interrogation scenarios where people are just totally zipped up – send in a ‘10’ in there, [and the] next thing you know, ‘Yeah, it was him. He did it, and I did it. We did it together!’”
Giannotti’s co-host Boomer Esiason was surprised to hear Rooks get that information from Barkley, and has not seen anyone in the media react to the occurrence. The injury update changes the way in which people consider his timeline for a return and was a part of the Prime Video broadcast that Giannotti valued.
“Yeah, of course, great reporting,” Giannotti said. “I’m just thinking about all the Giants beat writers sitting around – old guys who look like me just stewing and trying to hide farts in the locker room.”
Arizona Sports Extends Deal With Coyotes
“We look forward to an exciting season delivering Coyotes coverage on-air, online and on the Arizona Sports app.”
Arizona Coyotes fans can keep their presets the same. The team has extended its relationship with Bonneville in Phoenix.
The new deal is a one-year extension to keep the Coyotes on the company’s two Phoenix-area radio stations, 98.7 Arizona Sports and ESPN 620 AM and on the statiations’ website and app.
“We are excited to continue our partnership with the Arizona Coyotes and the Meruelo Group,” Bonneville Phoenix senior vice president and market manager Ryan Hatch said in a statement. “We look forward to an exciting season delivering Coyotes coverage on-air, online and on the Arizona Sports app.”
As part of the extension, Burns & Gambo will welcome Coyotes president and CEO Xavier A. Gutierrez and general manager Bill Armstrong for weekly segments. Wolfe & Luke will be joined weekly by head coach André Tourigny.
“We are very pleased to extend our partnership with Bonneville Phoenix and are thrilled to have Arizona Sports 98.7 and ESPN 620 broadcast all Coyotes games this season,” Gutierrez added. “There is a tremendous amount of excitement about our team, and we look forward to Arizona Sports 98.7, the Valley’s sports leader, providing our fans with outstanding Coyotes coverage all season long.”