Typically ESPN airs a MegaCast for the college football championship game, and it’s been a hit pretty much since inception. They also brought it out for last year’s season-opening Thursday night contest between Ohio State and Indiana, and now ESPN will air a MegaCast on Labor Day when #20 Virginia Tech travels to take on #19 Florida State.

There’s a new wrinkle, too, as ESPN will debut something called the Goodyear BlimpCast. Via ESPN’s release:

ESPN’s Labor Day night, ACC Top 25 telecast featuring the Hokies-Seminoles is now bolstered by the network’s signature MegaCast production, which provides fans the traditional telecast on ESPN and six additional viewing options across ESPNU, ESPNEWS and ESPN3 via the ESPN App. The network’s lead commentating team of Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit and Maria Taylor will call the game on ESPN, the trio’s second game together in three nights and Herbstreit and Taylor’s third in five nights.

And as for the blimp details:

The first-ever Labor Day MegaCast is elevated by the premiere of Goodyear BlimpCast, as Marty Smith and Ryan McGee will be stationed inside the Goodyear Blimp for the entire game, providing live commentary from more than 1,000 feet above Doak Campbell Stadium. Fans watching on ESPN3 via the ESPN App will experience a three-box presentation with the majority of the screen showing the typical TV vantage point, and a smaller portion of the screen fixated on Smith and McGee. The third box will show the aerial view from the blimp that fans have grown accustomed to over the years. This is the first time a game telecast will be available exclusively from the blimp angle.

The whole thing will apparently look something like this:

Is there really a technical or tactical advantage to watching from 1,000 feet up? Probably not, but it’s not your only channel. This being a MegaCast, there will of course be a Coaches Room feed. Because it’s during the regular season, active coaches obviously can’t participate, so ESPN has turned to coaches who were recently part of the sport:

A MegaCast staple, Coaches Film Room, returns on ESPNEWS, with a new twist: Coaches only. National championship winning coaches Mack Brown and Gene Chizik, and former head coaches Hugh Freeze, Todd Graham and Jim Mora will team together, without the aide of another analyst to man the clicker and telestrator. The five football minds will be located in ESPN’s Bristol, Ct., studio watching the ACC matchup in real time, with an emphasis on breaking down the Xs and Os.

The insights provided by the coaches are usually one of the better aspects of these events. If only they could have convinced the coaches to go in the blimp. Hugh Freeze and Mack Brown floating above the stadium would be amazing.

The other views break down as follows:

  • Command Center (ESPNU): A split-screen with simultaneous multiple camera views, which could include the main ESPN camera angle, the SkyCam view and isolated camera feeds of both head coaches. Enhanced statistics and real time drive charts supplement the game action.
  • DataCenter (ESPN3 via ESPN App): On-screen graphic content ranging from analytics, real time drive charts, win probability updates, curated social media reaction and more.
  • SkyCam (ESPN3 via ESPN App): A continuous feed of the camera that maneuvers above the field of play and often provides a behind-the-offense look at game action.
  • All-22 (ESPN3 via ESPN App):Watch the game the same way players and coaches study the game. This vantage point comes from high atop the stadium, providing a consistent view of all 22 players on the field at the same time.

The All-22 is always a fun way to watch, and it’s a nice reminder of what we often don’t get to see on normal angles (namely, the play down the field before the ball is thrown.)

ESPN going all-out in terms of production is always a nice reminder of just how good they are at making something, even just an opening weekend college football matchup, feel like a massive event. The Labor Day MegaCast should continue that tradition.


About Jay Rigdon

Jay is a columnist at Awful Announcing. He is not a strong swimmer. He is probably talking to a dog in a silly voice at this very moment.