Plan on some of the best Big 12 football games starting early this season, at least the ones broadcast on Fox.
For fans, that could mean adjusted travel and abbreviated tail-gaiting, among other adjustments.
During this week’s “upfront” presentations by the networks to advertisers and the press, Fox Sports announced that its best college games for the upcoming season will be placed into the 11 a.m. Central time slot.
Fox representatives had shared the new strategy with Big 12 athletic directors during the recent spring meetings in Scottsdale, Ariz. Fox is going with a newly revamped college football pregame show featuring Urban Meyer and Reggie Bush, among others, making the 11 a.m. time slot crucial.
Since it’s highly doubtful that any Fox games from the Pac-12 will be forced into a 9 a.m. kickoff, that leaves the Big 12 and Big Ten to fill the early time slot.
“They did share with our ADs that they want a strong presence in that time slot,” Big 12 spokesman Bob Burda said Tuesday. “What they said is they want to own the early [TV] window.”
The early kickoffs aren’t popular with local merchants or fans, who have to arrive early. Oklahoma has complained about early kickoffs, especially for home games, as recently as last year’s Big 12 meetings in Los Colinas.
“It’s a very real issue,” Oklahoma AD Joe Castiglione said at the time. “I’m just upset at the lack of sensitivity.”
Burda said Big 12 ADs understand the Fox approach but did make it clear that –because of geography and weather – there’s a big difference between 11 a.m. kickoffs in September and November.
Fox will be alternating its top Big 12 selections with ESPN with the first three week’s games to be locked in by June 1. ESPN is expected to announce its selection this week, perhaps as early as Wednesday. LSU at Texas would be one potential hot property for both Fox and ESPN.
The annual Texas-Oklahoma game in Dallas would be an obvious target for a Fox 11 a.m. kickoff.