Fox College Saturday is Fox Sports 1's challenge to ESPN's venerable College GameDay. When Fox College Saturday was announced, ESPN almost immediately responded by moving GameDay's first hour from ESPNU to the Mothership. This is actually a revamped version of last year's show which ran on the Fox Mothership. Erin Andrews and Eddie George are the holdovers from last year. Joey Harrington, who did not shine in the studio, was jettisoned to game commentary and the show was expanded to include rules analyst Mike Pereira, Fox Sports Radio's Petros Papadakis and Joel Klatt. And to bring an outsider presence, Clay Travis is on-hand to provide his brand of commentary.
Intead of having a traditional set, Fox College Saturday has a round table to supposedly allow for easier discussion and to differentiate from GameDay's anchor desk. To help Erin with the heavy lifting, Klatt has been given co-hosting duties.He does the highlights and helps to push the discussion. One of the on-set dynamics is for Pereira to pick on Papadakis. Actually, everyone picks on Papadakis. Apparently he's there for comic relief.
The big difference you'll notice with Fox College Saturday is that it's in the Fox Sports 1 studios in Los Angeles as compared to College GameDay's traveling road show. The energy and atmosphere that makes GameDay the best pregame show in sports television (along with its cast) is notably absent on Fox Sports 1. It's as if Fox is trying to use the Fox NFL Sunday formula on Fox College Saturday. And while it's not a total yukfest like the Sunday NFL pregame, there is the emphasis on fun – like the picking on Petros.
Does it work? Well, there are segments where Klatt takes the lead and the show truly becomes his. Andrews has improved after her shaky start with Fox College Saturday last year. There's only been one show in 2013, but Andrews does better handing off to this crew than when she had to carry George and Harrington in 2012. There is definitely better chemistry in this year's cast and it helps that Klatt has been brought in to co-host.
Can the show hold its own against College GameDay? No. GameDay is a Saturday morning institution. It will be tough in the early going, but if Fox sticks with it, the show can gain something of an audience. GameDay has become a cultural phenomenom and it's not going away anytime soon, and Fox knows that. But if FS1 can stay the course, it will eventually gain some eyeballs to Fox College Saturday. It just won't be making a huge challenge for the top Saturday morning pregame show.