Many of you have inquired if the announcers for ESPN’s college football opening game between Cal and Hawaii are actually at the game, which is being played in Sydney, Australia (because Larry Scott is the Howard Hughes of conference commissioners). The answer is…
For those asking: ESPN play-by-play is in studio stateside. That was the plan from the beginning
— Steven Godfrey (@38Godfrey) August 27, 2016
Why? Well, obviously to save some money, although this tactic has typically been done for games on lesser-viewed channels like ESPNU and FS1 and more often for sports like college basketball. Basically, games that typically slip under the radar and not the first game of the college football season.
The game was announced in November and for a while, it wasn’t clear if the game would air on television at all. In May, however, an arrangement was reached, although it wasn’t announced ESPN would televise until early July.
The first college fb game of season WILL be televised. Larry Scott tells us Cal-Hawaii in Sydney has been picked up. (ESPN, Fox or P12N)
— Dennis Dodd (@dennisdoddcbs) May 6, 2016
ESPN was coy in their press release announcing the opening weekend of football.
“Hawaii and California will begin the season on Friday, Aug. 26, (10 p.m. ET) from ANZ Stadium in Sydney, Australia. ESPN will televise the game with Allen Bestwick, Mike Bellotti and Warren Smith on the call”
Typically, when not sending announcers to the game, you do your best to try to not draw attention to that fact. However, the intro to the game wasn’t very subtle about it, as you can see below.
Twitter did not take kindly to this revelation, having waited so long for college football and then getting an inferior broadcast experience.
It's hilarious how the announcers realize what's happening the same time we do since they're just watching it on TV themselves.
— RedditCFB (@RedditCFB) August 27, 2016
ESPN announcers in Bristol talked about Alabama during a Cal-Hawaii play in Australia. This feels like the Bahamas Bowl.
— Jon Solomon (@JonSolomonCBS) August 27, 2016
No way these announcers are actually in Sydney, right?
— Brendan Stiles (@thebstiles) August 27, 2016
We’ll spare you more tweets lamenting this situation. Obviously, it’s not good. Being at the game lends to much better commentary, having the ability to watch, you know, the entire field, gauge the atmosphere, and keep an eye on the sidelines. You just lose a lot of insight and context doing it this way, but hey, you got to do what you can to pay Stephen A. Smith his money.
While I’d like to put the majority of the blame on ESPN, I’m not sure other networks wouldn’t follow this approach. When crazy Larry Scott keeps putting games all over the globe without the cooperation and planning of a television network, this is what you get.
The bottom line is that football is back. You survived all those other crappy months without football. Also, it’s the weekend. Life is good, despite this broadcast being as bad as the defenses thus far.