FS1 steps forward with Erin Andrews, college football

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March 28, 2014 | 7:41 pm

IOWA CITY — College football is no stranger to Fox Sports, which once aired the Bowl Championship Series and the national title game.

But this is a new era of Fox Sports’ relationship with the sport. The media company debuted Fox Sports 1 (FS1) as the latest all-sports network to compete against ESPN among other channels for viewership. College football is the first battle FS1 chose to wage, and the network opens fire Thursday with Utah State at Utah.

FS1 will air Big 12, Pac-12 and Conference USA football this year, and it didn’t get the leftovers. On Thanksgiving night, FS1 broadcasts Texas Tech at Texas. On Black Friday, it airs Washington State at Washington and Oregon State at Oregon.

Locally, FS1 broadcasts the Iowa-Iowa State game on Sept. 14 and then airs Iowa State-Tulsa on Sept. 26.

“It’s so exciting,” said Joel Klatt, who will serve as an FS1 game and studio analyst this fall. “On the forefront, this is the largest sports cable launch in the history of television. It’ll never be equaled. So just to be a part of it is pretty special, there’s no doubt.”

FS1 replaced the former “Speed” channel, which already was located on most cable systems and there was no need to fight for access. Where the network is unique from other recent launchings is it chooses to compete against ESPN’s ultra-popular “College Gameday.” “Fox College Saturday,” debuts Saturday and will air two hours each week. The show’s hosts provide an eclectic mix of opinions and backgrounds.

Fox hired away former ESPN sideline superstar Erin Andrews, features former Heisman Trophy winner (Eddie George), a former Colorado quarterback (Joel Klatt), a former USC team captain Petros Papadakis, a former NFL officiating czar in Mike Pereira and a polarizing, yet thought-provoking, blogger in Clay Travis. They form the foundation of a studio show designed to compete against ESPN for pregame eyeballs.

“I’ve never met anybody who works as hard as Erin Andrews,” Klatt said. “She knows what she’s talking about it. She’s the First Lady of college football. So her resume speaks for itself. Eddie George has a Heisman Trophy. Petros knows the game. He was a captain at USC. Mike Pereira is a guy who knows the game inside and out on the both of the NFL and college level. My experience is both in the NFL and college.”

Travis writes his “Outkick The Coverage” blog with a Southern bent. He’s outspoken and opinionated, which could present some interesting discussions with both Klatt and George.

“Clay has a very unique perspective that only an author can bring,” Klatt said. “I think that type of perspective gives us a chance to talk about overarching topics in much more detail and can get the viewer something a little bit different that they don’t get everywhere else. All of those roles come to the forefront, that’s how we lean on each other and go out there and try to have fun. If we’re having fun, the viewer will have fun, too.”

WHERE TO FIND FS1 — Mediacom: 42 (Cedar Rapids, Iowa City); IMON: 52; DirecTV: 219; Dish: 150

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