Big Noon Kickoff Credit: Fox

“I wonder if this will be the first week Big Noon Kickoff beats GameDay,” asked The Athletic’s Stewart Mandel on X. “They’re at the center of the storm this morning.”

This didn’t appear to be an uncommon thought on Saturday morning as the will-he-or-won’t-he drama surrounding Jim Harbaugh and whether or not he’d be allowed to be coach Michigan against Penn State swirled.

Conventional wisdom might suggest that if Fox’s Big Noon Kickoff hadn’t been able to overtake ESPN’s College GameDay during the height of the Deion Sanders-Colorado hype, it probably wasn’t going to happen at all this year.

But the Michigan sign-stealing scandal might just be the perfect college football story. A rare gem of a controversy whose absurdity builds upon itself every day. And Fox not only just so happened to have the broadcast of Saturday’s Michigan game, but they also had the foresight (or good fortune) to schedule Big Noon Kickoff live from Happy Valley beforehand.

That meant that as the University of Michigan tried to rush through a temporary restraining order to allow Harbaugh to coach Saturday, they were live on the scene. And when news broke that the judge would not hear the issue until next week, squashing those hopes, they were right there. And as the BNK crew discussed the issues surrounding the scandal and its fallout, Michigan flags waved behind them and Penn State fans booed accordingly, especially when Michigan Man Charles Woodson laid down the hammer with an NSFW defense of Michigan from the studio table.

Fox also had Bruce Feldman pop in every few minutes to provide updates on the legal situation. While ESPN’s Pete Thamel was the one who actually broke the news that Harbaugh definitely would not be allowed to coach Saturday (prompting a reversal by Feldman), the constant updates from the scene allowed them to seem like they owned the story.

While GameDay made a solid decision to broadcast from Athens this Saturday before two-time defending champ Georgia’s SEC showdown with Ole Miss, it was also the predictable decision. And that made it feel less necessary to watch, especially as Big Noon Kickoff had direct access to the day’s biggest drama. All signs point to the ratings for Michigan-Penn State being through the roof because of it, meaning there were probably more eyeballs than usual on the pregame show.

Will all of this pay off with a Big Noon Kickoff ratings win? Probably not, though we might expect to see them make significant gains, especially in the final hour. They’ve gotten close before, but it’s hard to see them breaking through just yet, especially as GameDay still remains the more vibrant of the two shows (McAfee trumps Meyer in the TV energy department).

What will be interesting is where BNK goes from here. Will they follow Michigan from here on out in the same way they chased Colorado to start the season? Will GameDay try to beat them at their own game and do the same? If Jim Harbaugh isn’t able to coach, will they pull out the stops to get him on their set? There are a lot of ways this could play out, for Michigan and for Fox Sports.

[AA on Twitter, Fox,

About Sean Keeley

Along with writing for Awful Announcing and The Comeback, Sean is the Editorial Strategy Director for Comeback Media. Previously, he created the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician and wrote 'How To Grow An Orange: The Right Way to Brainwash Your Child Into Rooting for Syracuse.' He has also written non-Syracuse-related things for SB Nation, Curbed, and other outlets. He currently lives in Seattle where he is complaining about bagels. Send tips/comments/complaints to