After the 2022-23 college football season, ESPN will no longer have broadcast rights to any Big Ten football games for at least seven years conference signed new media rights deals with CBS, Fox, and NBC. The move ends a 40-year relationship between ESPN and the Big Ten, and the network’s college football analysts aren’t exactly happy about it.
ESPN’s College GameDay college football pregame show was in Columbus, Ohio on Saturday morning, ahead of Ohio State and Notre Dame‘s top-five showdown – one of the final Buckeye football games that ESPN will broadcast for the foreseeable future.
Before the show, ESPN analyst Rece Davis had a blunt and simple message for the Ohio State crowd, declaring that the pregame show will be back in Columbus, regardless of the current media rights deals.
Rece Davis just told the crowd “if you think some television contract is gonna keep us from coming to the banks of the Olentangy, HELL NO!”
Great atmosphere here this morning on set from @CollegeGameDay pic.twitter.com/gh9Gkbfs0B
— Brendan Gulick (@brendangulick22) September 3, 2022
“If you think some television contract is gonna keep us from coming to the banks of the Olentangy, hell no, baby!” Davis told the crowd in a video shared by Brandon Gulick.
Davis’ emphatic statement echoes his comments earlier this month when the GameDay personality said “I don’t see us avoiding the Big Ten.” But even if GameDay does continue to broadcast from Big Ten schools, ESPN analysts like Kirk Herbstreit will no longer be calling Big Ten game
Kirk Herbstreit said he is “sad” Big Ten games will no longer be on ESPN after this season, but he will call at least two Ohio State games this season, as he’ll be on the call for the Buckeyes’ Sept. 24 game against Wisconsin.
He also shared his reaction to the 12-team CFP news. pic.twitter.com/DCBug1j51v
— Dan Hope (@Dan_Hope) September 2, 2022
“Well I’m sad,” Herbstreit, an Ohio State alum, said when asked about the new media rights deals in a video shared by Dan Hope. “I love Ohio State, I love the Big Ten. I love coming to these stadiums. It’s a highlight to me anytime we can come here, obviously, or go to Penn State or Wisconsin – any of them. To have that not just so much for GameDay but for the game games to not be able to have that opportunity.”
However, Hebstreit also notes that the new media rights contracts aren’t forever, and he isn’t ruling out calling Big Ten games in the future.
“Who knows what will happen after that,” Herbstreit said of the deal’s conclusion. “So I don’t think it’s the end of my opportunities in my career, but for that time period, it will be. I definitely wasn’t celebrating it. But it’s the business. Like we’re all seeing, everything is evolving in this sport, everything is changing. I’m trying to keep an open mind to all of it and just do the best I can through it.”
There’s still plenty to figure out as the Big Ten and ESPN move forward, but it’s clear that the severed relationship does not sit well with the network’s on-air talent.