New York – Yesterday afternoon, FOX Sports conducted a press call to preview the 2014 college football season. FOX Sports kicks off the season with four straight days of hard-hitting action, led by Fresno State at No. 15 USC on Saturday in prime time on the FOX broadcast network. Other games include Rutgers vs. Washington State on Thursday at 10:00 PM ET and SMU at No. 10 Baylor on Sunday at 7:30 PM ET, both on FOX Sports 1. A full schedule of this week’s games, including broadcaster information, can be found below.
FOX Sports also debuts two college football studio shows beginning Friday night at 12:00 AM ET with FOX SPORTS LIVE: COUNTDOWN TO KICKOFF on FOX Sports 1. The live one-hour program features analysts Joel Klatt, Dave Wannstedt, Matt Lienart and Petros Papadakis with college football insiders Bruce Feldman, Stewart Mandel and Clay Travis getting fans ready for kickoff on Saturday. On Saturday evening, FOX COLLEGE FOOTBALL PREGAME airs at 6:30 PM ET on the broadcast network with host Rob Stone joined by analysts Wannstedt and Klatt breaking down the biggest stories from the sport before FOX Sports’ biggest game of the day – Fresno State at No. 15 USC – kicks off at 7:30 PM ET, with Gus Johnson, Charles Davis and Molly McGrath on the call.
FOX Sports presents college football fans some of the most exciting matchups in the country this season, with more than 100 games scheduled across its national and local broadcast and cable platforms. Top contests featuring Big 12, Pac-12 and Conference USA teams appear on the FOX broadcast network, FOX Sports 1, FOX Sports Networks (FSN), FOX College Sports, FOX Deportes and FOX Sports GO all season long, culminating with the Pac-12 and Big Ten conference championship games on back-to-back nights on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 5 and 6.
Highlights of today’s call are transcribed below.
Joel Klatt expressed concerns about how the College Football Playoff selection committee defines the four “best” teams and about how sitting athletic directors can remain impartial:
“I do have a couple of concerns – one is the contradiction in the verbiage that they’ve thrown out there. I know they’ve made it painstakingly clear that they’re going after the four best teams in college football, not the four most deserving teams in college football, which on its face sounds great, but when you put “best” rather than “deserving,” subjectivity comes in, perception comes in, and all of a sudden you’re looking at teams that might have done something that was extraordinary and truly played above their heads in games that they probably shouldn’t have won, and this committee might be able to say, accurately, that they’re not one of the four best teams, but they’ve had one of the four best seasons. I would rather see that team in than out, so I think that this is going to value recruiting and perception much more than it is the team that really comes from nowhere and is able to play above their heads and really deserves to have a shot at it.
“The other piece that I’m concerned about is I know there’s a lengthy refusal policy, but what it doesn’t apply to is the sitting athletic directors and teams in their own conferences. The level of money that we’re talking about – $18 million for a semifinal, $22 million for a potential national championship game – if a team from your conference that’s not your team goes to the Playoff, rather than one of the other marquee bowls, then they have a chance at that extra $22 million. That extra $22 million would be roughly about $1 million – depending on how many schools are in your conference – it would mean that amount of money to you as an athletic director due to conference revenue-sharing. That’s a really clear bias that could be entered into the equation, and I’m really interested to see how it all comes out. They’ve protected themselves by keeping the final vote private, which I don’t agree with – if you’re going to have transparency in part of the process, it should be in all of the process.”
Charles Davis says strength of schedule and perception will likely play a big role in the selection committee’s decision:
“The mindset of the public is going to be different, because they’re trying to get the four best teams – whether they call them “best,” “deserving,” or whatever. When you start talking about Cinderella not being a part of this, it goes against what people have loved about the NCAA basketball tournament, which is picked by a committee. Let’s say Marshall runs the table. What if they go 13-0 or 14-0? If they are presented for possibility there and are up against a two-loss Power Five conference team, do you really think that the people on the committee are going to look at it and say, ‘Who would you take on a Saturday? Marshall, or one of those Power Five teams?’ What if Marshall had that special year? They’re not likely to get a sniff.
“We keep hearing about strength of schedule. You’re never going to equalize it out in college football – it’s just not going to work that way. Some years when you think you’ve got a great schedule, the teams that you thought were going to be tough turn out not to be. Will some of those brand-name teams get little a bit of a pass down the road if their strength of schedule isn’t as great, but they’re a Brand-X team, versus another team that may not be that may or may not have a tougher schedule? It’s all still out there for us to find out, and I wish the committee luck. I think they’ve got an almost-impossible job in so many different ways. I can’t wait to watch them try and do it.”
Stewart Mandel believes the playoff and selection committee are huge improvements over the BCS system:
“The selection committee as a concept is a big improvement from the BCS standings. There was not any accountability with the coaches poll or the BCS computers. Anybody that has studied those has said they were stripped down without scoring margin as part of it, and it wasn’t true math. I think the idea of 13 people who are solely dedicated to focusing on this – spending their Mondays and Tuesdays watching game tape, breaking down stats and of course debating among themselves, is an improvement. That being said, there’s never going to be a “right” four teams. In my research that I did for my book, where I went back and applied it to the past five seasons, not once would we have said that those are the obvious top four. Whereas in the BCS last year, everybody pretty much agreed it was Florida State-Auburn. The more teams you add to it, the more controversy there’s going to be because there are just more teams that are going to have a legitimate claim to those last couple spots.”
Davis breaks down the Week 2 matchup between Michigan State and Oregon:
“For some reason, people kind of anointed Ohio State prior to the Braxton Miller injury, and it’s almost like people forgot that Michigan State won the conference last year and returns a whole lot of great players. They beat Ohio State head-to-head. They’re going on the road carrying the banner for the Big Ten. For Oregon, their nemesis in recent years has been Stanford, and what’s Stanford’s style of play? It’s heavy-duty running the ball on offense, being extremely physical – a physical, excellent tackling team on defense. All those yards-after-catch, yards-after-contact, open-field plays that Oregon is used to getting, that hidden yardage they weren’t getting against Stanford. For Oregon to win the Pac-12, they have to beat Stanford. They know that. For Oregon to clearly get into playoff consideration and have a chance to be an undefeated team, they have to beat Stanford twice this year, and what I mean by that is Michigan State is Stanford. If you take Michigan State, Stanford and Wisconsin and strip their identity in terms of uniform, you’re essentially getting the same team, same style, same philosophy. Oregon has to do that twice this year.”
Dave Wannstedt on the situation involving Josh Shaw and if it will be a distraction:
“I’ll say one thing – the quickest way to be defeated is to be distracted.”
Wannstedt on the University of Miami and if the Hurricanes can contend for the ACC Championship:
“Al Golden knows what it takes to get it done. They have had some tough issues with the probation, and that’s behind them. Everyone is talking about them starting a freshman quarterback, and to have to go there is a little bit of a concern. More importantly, how they play defense is just crazy. I’m pulling for them, but they have some issues to deal with.”
COLLEGE FOOTBALL ON FOX SPORTS WEEK 1 SCHEDULE
· Rutgers vs. Washington St. (CenturyLink Field, Seattle, Wash.)
o Thursday, Aug. 28 (10:00 PM ET), FOX Sports 1 & FOX Sports GO, Tim Brando, Joel Klatt and Jenny Taft; #RutgersvsWazzu
· Colorado St. vs. Colorado (Sports Authority Field at Mile High, Denver, Colo.)
o Friday, Aug. 29 (9:00 PM ET), FOX Sports 1, FOX Deportes & FOX Sports GO, Craig Bolerjack and Ryan Nece (Deportes: Pablo Alsina and Francisco X. Rivera); #RockyMountainShowdown
· North Dakota St. at Iowa St.
o Saturday, Aug. 30 (12:00 PM ET), FOX Sports 1 & FOX Sports GO, Justin Kutcher & Coy Wire; #NDStvsIowaSt
· Troy at UAB
o Saturday, Aug. 30 (12:00 PM ET), FOX College Sports & FOX Sports GO, Mike Morgan, JC Pearson and Steffi Sorensen; #TroyvsUAB
· Central Arkansas at Texas Tech
o Saturday, Aug. 30 (7:00 PM ET), FOX Sports Regional Networks & FOX Sports GO, Mark Followill, Brian Baldinger and Lesley McCaslin; #CentralArkvsTTech
· Samford at TCU
o Saturday, Aug. 30 (7:00 PM ET), FOX Sports Regional Networks & FOX Sports GO, Brendan Burke, Ben Leber and Christian Steckel; #SamfordvsTCU
· Fresno St. at #15 USC
o Saturday, Aug. 30 (7:30 PM ET), FOX & FOX Sports GO, Gus Johnson, Charles Davis and Molly McGrath; #FresnoStvsUSC
· SMU at #10 Baylor
o Sunday, Aug. 31 (7:30 PM ET), FOX Sports 1 & FOX Sports GO, Joe Davis, Joey Harrington and Kris Budden; #SMUvsBaylor
– FOX SPORTS –