It was announced on Wednesday that FOX Sports will be the official broadcast partner of the Big Ten's new football championship game. The first title game for the Big Ten will take place in primetime on Dec. 3, 2011, and FOX will broadcast this game, as well as the title games in the five following years (the agreement runs through 2016).â†µ
This decision to partner with FOX isn't completely out of left field or anything considering FOX has a stake in the Big Ten Network, but I figured the conference would partner with ESPN. With the Big 12 not having a championship game after this season, a spot opened up in the lineup for the night game on championship Saturday, and the Big Ten seemed like the perfect fit to fill the void. The Big Ten already has a TV deal with ESPN, and putting the game in primetime on ABC would seemingly give the game maximum exposure and promotion from the ESPN family of networks.â†µ
I don't have a huge problem with the Big Ten going in a different direction, but partnering with FOX concerns me quite a bit. FOX's coverage of the BCS the last few seasons was pretty terrible, which isn't all that surprising considering FOX covers no regular season football on its national network. Regional FOX Sports channels broadcast Pac-10 and Big 12 games, but the national network does the Cotton Bowl and nothing else now that the BCS is back with ESPN.â†µ
One theory out there is that the Big Ten Network will cover the game and FOX will just broadcast it, which would make sense. Even so, the problem with that is that the BTN's coverage of football games this season has been downright terrible. I hadn't watched a game from start to finish on the Big Ten Network before last Saturday's Michigan-Purdue matchup, but after having to sit through the broadcast, I can confidently say that the coverage has regressed from last year to this year. The announcers were beyond awful and the cameramen seemed to have trouble following the ball and zooming in too much. I'm not sure why the coverage has taken a step back, but if the BTN is ultimately responsible for the title game next year, I really hope they plan on making some serious improvements in their football coverage this coming offseason.