Jun 20, 2021; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Country musician Brad Paisley on the NBC Sports set with former NASCAR Cup Series driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. before the Ally 400 at Nashville Superspeedway. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

NBC is paying a reported $350 million annually for the Big Ten’s broadcast rights, which includes primetime football on Saturday nights. While NBC anticipates a major ratings boost from its new partnership, expectations should be tempered amid what looks to be a weak primetime slate, at least initially according to veteran college football reporter Brett McMurphy.

Not exactly a murderer’s row. Fans on Twitter made plenty of jokes at NBC’s expense, mocking the broadcast behemoth for setting aside a primetime slot for Maryland, a school not known for its football prowess (at least recently), to play AAC newcomer Charlotte on national television.

To be fair, NBC’s primetime options for Week 2 were extremely slim pickings, with alternatives including Delaware at Penn State, Eastern Michigan at Minnesota, Richmond at Michigan State, Temple at Rutgers, UNLV at Michigan, UTEP at Northwestern and Youngstown State at Ohio State. NBC still has plenty of compelling matchups in its back pocket, though, unfortunately, we won’t see them until the conference schedule ramps up, probably in late September or early October.

For the Big Ten, this marks the end of a 40-year partnership with ESPN, with the sides unable to negotiate a new deal. The Big Ten will also air games on Fox and CBS, though the Saturday primetime window belongs to NBC.

About Jesse Pantuosco

Jesse Pantuosco joined Awful Announcing as a contributing writer in May 2023. He’s also written for Audacy and NBC Sports. A graduate of Syracuse’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications with a master’s degree in creative writing from Fairfield University, Pantuosco has won three Fantasy Sports Writers Association Awards. He lives in West Hartford, Connecticut and never misses a Red Sox, Celtics or Patriots game.