Fox Sports Preps for Eighth Straight Big Ten Championship, First Pac-12 Title Game Since 2016
Back-to-back games in two locations are no match for the network’s readiness
Fox Sports is broadcasting two of the five major college football conference championships this weekend: the Pac-12 Championship on Friday and the Big Ten Championship on Saturday. Although the Ohio State-Northwestern and Washington-Utah matchups have storylines on the field, there are plenty of moving parts behind the scenes. Similar to the players’ goal to exceed expectations, the production staff looks to rise to the occasion, even after a hectic holiday weekend.
“After Thanksgiving weekend with 11 games, two back-to-back games this weekend isn’t a problem logistically,” says Dave Jones, director, technical operations, Fox Sports. “Making sure everything is right and making these games special is our full focus. Championships are always the marquee games we look forward to throughout the season.”
Big Ten: Same Strategy in Friendly Confines
In the network’s eighth-straight season broadcasting the Big Ten Championship, Fox Sports will rely on Game Creek’s Dynasty (Fox’s A-game truck) and Edit 1 mobile units.
Jones and company are deploying 18 manned cameras throughout the stadium, including six Sony HDC-4300’s at 6X high speed. As is customary for Fox’s college-football games, fans will get both field-level and aerial shots with the help of two Vicareo RefCams, four Admiral Video PylonCams (with three cameras in each), and a SkyCam system.
As for audio, multiple stereo mics will be planted among the crowd, in the band sections, and around the stadium to capture ambient sound. Six parab mics will encapsulate all on-field noise.
Since 2011, Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis has been the home of the Big Ten Championship, and, despite the familiar environment, Fox does not take the assignment lightly.
“We know this stadium, and we know this game, but we’re going in with the same butterflies that we do every year,” Jones says. “We understand what this game means to Fox College Football and our relationship with the conference. It’s our Super Bowl.”
On the airwaves, play-by-play announcer Gus Johnson, lead analyst Joel Klatt, and sideline reporter Jenny Taft will be in the booth.
Pac-12: Back in the Driver’s Seat
After a year without the telecast, Fox is back in a big way for the Pac-12 Championship at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, CA.
“Our whole season builds to this weekend,” says Bo Garrett, lead producer, Fox Sports. “We’re definitely approaching it with a championship mindset.”
The onsite team is using Mobile TV Group’s 41HDX and 26HDX as the broadcast’s designated production trucks.
For the West Coast showdown, six Grass Valley super-slo-mo cams (also running at 6X high speed) will be deployed. In addition to RefCams and PylonCams, the TomCat jib cart will be included as a specialty cam.
“Having the clarity of four 6X-high-speed cams on our regular-season package adds a lot,” says Garrett, “not only to our replays but also with our ability to help the officials on reviews with clear, definitive looks. Adding two more for the Pac-12 will help to balance the far-side coverage.”
A four-person team will announce the game: Joe Davis for play-by-play, Brady Quinn as lead analyst, and Bruce Feldman and Petros Papadakis on the field.
Rounding Out a Year of Bringing the Best Looks to Life
The tech deployed for both contests will enhance the fan’s viewing experience. For example, the RefCam has steadily gained a bigger presence on all broadcasts.
“We worked with several companies developing HatCam technology for the past five years,” explains Mike Davies, SVP, field operations, Fox Sports. “We were able to do a lot of testing with Vicareo last season into January. We have been pleased with [the technology’s] stability, image quality, and signal clarity. We’re pushing for more alternative looks that emphasize the play breakdown and help analyze why the play happened.
Overall, Fox Sports is looking for a fitting culmination to another season. “We’re really proud of what our college-football group has done all season,” says Davies. “Our people live and breathe college football.”