It may be a few years away, but ESPN is already making and publicizing plans to cover the 150th anniversary of college football in a big way.
It won’t happen until 2019, when the sport commemorates the first game played between New Jersey and Rutgers on November 6th, 1869. In case you were wondering, Rutgers won that game 6-4. Yes, there was a time when Rutgers was winning football games.
And even though it is still some distance away on the calendar, ESPN has a video and a press release already to commemorate their year-long celebration of all things college football.
ESPN says it’ll be “150 consecutive days of cross-platform original storytelling” that will begin in August 2019 and finish up at the 2020 National Championship Game from New Orleans. Expect to see ESPN use all of their resources in going all-in with this coverage.
To join in the celebration of college football’s 150th birthday, ESPN will embark in January 2019 on a year-long, multifaceted storytelling experience woven throughout the ESPN platform to explore the sport from its modest beginnings shortly after the Civil War to the American cultural phenomenon it is today. ESPN’s initiative dovetails with the June announcement by leaders in college football to plan a celebration of the sport’s sesquicentennial in two years. That effort will be led by longtime college athletics administrator and former Big 12 commissioner Kevin Weiberg.
“I’m very pleased to have the opportunity to coordinate a nationwide celebration of college football’s 150th anniversary in 2019,” says Weiberg. “It’s wonderful to have great partners like ESPN to showcase the rich history and traditions of college football while also putting a spotlight on the opportunities it provides young people to pursue a college degree and to develop the skills needed to succeed in life after football.”
“We are extraordinarily proud to celebrate a sport that has had such a great influence on numerous generations,” says ESPN President John Skipper. “Our year-long exploration will showcase college football’s rich history, which is indelibly rooted in the fabric of American culture, and explore the current and future state of the sport. Fans can expect a comprehensive storytelling approach, presented creatively across the breadth of the ESPN platform.”
Throughout the first seven and a half months of 2019, ESPN will serve fans by featuring digital, mobile and social content examining and celebrating the unique history of college football before culminating in 150 consecutive days of cross-platform original storytelling, beginning two years from today: August 17, 2019. ESPN will take fans and users on an unprecedented journey, with new content every day on its platforms and networks that will articulate college football’s story – past, present and future – through the games, traditions, developments and people that helped shape the sport. On Day 150 – January 13, 2020 – the latest page in the sport’s extraordinary tale will be written when a champion is crowned at the College Football Playoff National Championship in New Orleans.
All the details aren’t available yet, but I’m already excited. The fact that ESPN is already promoting this a full two years in advance means the network has some huge, huge plans in store. Expect to see longform stories online, 30 for 30s, podcasts, television specials, you name it.
ESPN is always at its best when it can go all-in on an event or a theme and put all of their resources behind it. Given how much ESPN has invested in college football over the years, this should be a real treat for fans of the sport.