What a wild and weird world we live in, but it appears that my headline is in no way click bait. … you came here on the promise of that headline being true and so I am here to deliever:
According to Sports Business Journal, the two networks signed off on a deal that would allow Joe Buck to join his longtime booth partner, Troy Aikman, on ESPN without breaking his contract.
Why? Well… B1G football generates millions and Buck costs millions, so if you can get the former for the latter… cool.
The game they landed? The 2022 Thursday night college football opener between Penn State and Purdue.
That is a good get. For Joe Buck!?!?!
The details behind the scenes are that both ESPN and Fox Sports signed a contract with the Big Ten in 2017, that states each network can carry 27 Big Ten football games per season.
Where this is actually fun is that who has what game is decided (basically) like a fantasy baseball draft: each network gets picks to select the broadcasts rights for the weekend of their choosing. While the networks do not pick specific games, they get to select weekends.
Obviously both groups know which teams will be playing each weekend — and that certain dates, like rivalry weekend — are pretty quick to go off the board.
That said, because of the Buck trade, Fox will have the rights to 28 games this season, and ESPN will have the rights to 26. He said that is was as simple as Fox asking ESPN not to select the Penn State – Purdue opener during any of their selection opportunities.
ESPN obliged, obviously, which allowed Fox to land the opening weekend as well as the the rights to broadcast the Nittany Lions and Boilermakers in prime time.
Ourand noted that if Fox had sought much than that as compensation for Buck, ESPN would have likely walked away. He also notes that had it unraveled that way, ESPN would’ve pivoted and (likely) offered their Monday Night Football play-by-play spot to Al Michaels. Michaels, if you do not keep track of the ins-outs of broadcasting — is a free agent who will likely sign with Amazon for Thursday Night Football.
All in all, a solid situation for all involved. Buck keeps his security blanket with Aikman and Fox gets a kickoff game that should be entertaining, at worst.