Fox Sports 1's Saturday morning pregame show will air... Friday at midnight

Fox College Saturday, Fox Sports 1's answer - if you can even call it that - to ESPN's College GameDay was always slated to undergo a massive reshuffling after such a lackluster freshman season. Fox College Saturday was never going to beat College GameDay, but it wasn't supposed to get trounced 25-to-1 in the ratings, either. With host Erin Andrews off to the NFL full-time, now was as good a time as ever to try something different.

And different they will be.

The network announced Thursday a complete re-tooling of its college football pre-game efforts. Rebranded as Fox Sports Live: Countdown to Kickoff, the new show will air not on Saturday mornings, but Friday night at midnight ET. The one-hour show will then be re-run throughout the night and through Saturday morning, leading into Fox Sports 1's college football coverage on Saturday afternoon. 

“We are really excited about this concept and feel like we have an awesome group of insiders and analysts who have covered the game and competed at its highest level," Fox Sports Live executive producer Michael Hughes said in a statement.

With Andrews out, the show will eschew a traditional host's role, opting instead for four in-studio analysts and a separate panel of three college football insiders. Joel Klatt and Petros Papadakis return as hosts, and are joined by Matt Leinart and Dave Wannstedt. (Fox executives were reportedly blown away by Wannstedt's audition. On the other hand, Leinart takes a new job with a complete lack of fanfare for the first time since he arrived at USC in 2001.) Fox's dot com acquisitions Bruce Feldman and Stewart Mandel will join returnee Clay Travis as the show's insiders. 

"The format counts down the week’s biggest stories from 10 to 1, mixing in related analysis and conversation from the panel of experts," the announcement reads. "With FOX Sports also holding an expansive rights package for games this season, the show cuts away to on-site reports from the respective crews for previews of Saturday’s contests airing on FOX and FOX Sports 1. On-site game talent includes veteran broadcasters Gus Johnson, Charles Davis and Tim Brando among others."

The strategy is clear here. Better to be a perch in a bathtub than a tuna fish in the Pacific Ocean. Fox College Saturday was totally swallowed on Saturday mornings by GameDay, and figured to fare even worse this year with the debut of SEC Network's own traveling pre-game show as well as the ever-growing presence of the English Premier League on NBC Sports Network. Moving to late Friday night puts Countdown to Kickoff up only against SportsCenter, and allows for Fox Sports 1 to serve as an after party for those buzzing for content heading into the college football weekend. The audience figures to dwindle as GameDay ramps up and kickoff approaches, but considering the numbers they pulled previously, Fox will probably take that trade off.

The challenge, as with all Fox Sports 1 offerings at this point, is to siphon viewers away from ESPN. For those who are watching college football on Friday night, they're probably doing so on the Worldwide Leader. Fox Sports 1 has Colorado vs. Colorado State on the first Friday night of the season, and then only thrice more until Thanksgiving weekend - Middle Tennessee at Old Dominion on Sept. 26, Utah at Oregon State on Oct. 16, and UTEP at Rice on Nov. 21. Not exactly the type of games the GameDay crew is aching to attend.

Regardless, Fox's Countdown to Kickoff has a time slot all to itself. Now what can they do with it?

Butch Jones: "Everyone wants to talk about fancy waterfalls in recruiting, but it's about sport science."

Tennessee held a scrimmage Wednesday night at Neyland Stadium. Head coach Butch Jones cancelled the Volunteers' morning practice in hopes of producing an extra-spirited scrimmage. 

When asked if he would have hoped to see more energy in the Vols' night outing, Jones dovetailed into talking about how much his program puts into its sport science program. 

"Everyone wants to talk about fancy waterfalls, everyone wants to talk about this and that in recruiting, but it's about sport science. And I'm very proud of what we have here at Tennessee. It starts with rest, it starts with nutrition. It's basically a five-prong approach that we have in our sport science department. It starts with strength and conditioning, it starts in the training room, it starts in the operations part of it, it starts in the training room, and it starts with academics. And we take great pride in our sport science."

I hate to point this out, Coach, but that approach you listed only had four prongs. Nevertheless, Jones was rolling.

"Your pillow and your mouth are very, very important, because it's sleeping, it's hydration, and it's how you take care of your bodies, and it's your hydration, it's your nutrition. And a lot of young players really, really struggle with that end of it. You need nine hours of sleep. There's a study that has been done about the percentages of rest and injury prevention. Young players struggle with that, and it's getting all things that championship teams do to take care of yourself."

Experience practice as a triple option quarterback

The folks at New Mexico hooked quarterback Cole Gautsch with a GoPro for a recent practice and let him do his thing. As someone who always fancied himself a triple option quarterback in backyard football, I found this pretty interesting.

Why Chip Kelly has a different practice schedule than the rest of the NFL

Grantland (and FootballScoop!) contributor Chris B. Brown (perhaps better known as @smartfootball) had a new piece Thursday about one of his favorite subjects - Chip Kelly. The crux of the piece is how Kelly, once ridiculed by the NFL at large for being different, is now changing how the NFL does business. Perhaps the best example of what makes Kelly different is his practice schedule. 

For years now, the standard NFL practice schedule has dictated that Monday is dedicated to cleaning up the previous day's game, Tuesday is an off day, Wednesday and Thursday are for heavy game preparation, things begin to ramp down on Friday, Saturday is a light walk through in preparation for a Sunday game. Rinse and repeat 16 times over, year after year after year. 

Kelly doesn't do that. 

As Brown writes:

Screen Shot 2014-08-14 at 9.45.30 AM

Hear Kelly explain it himself on the Ross Tucker Podcast: 

"We give Monday off, and then we're back here on Tuesday and that really starts our week," he said. "A little bit of a clean up of the last game we played, really just making corrections. I don't think you need to show them every single play from the game before. With the advent of all the technology they have I guarantee every single one of our players has watched the game themselves before they get back in here on Tuesday. They all have iPads, they all get the games downloaded to them. We spend a little bit of time on correction and then we move on to our next opponent. We start insertion to our next opponent on Tuesday. We're probably a day ahead of everybody. Red zone's in on Thursday instead of Friday where it normally is in the NFL. Friday we're cleaning it up and Saturday we're back on the field running around a little bit faster than most people do. It's not a walk-through day for us. And then Sunday we go play."

Bill Polian asked why Kelly pushes his team so hard on Saturday. "Through our research through science, that you need to get the body moving if you're going to be playing," said Kelly. "We used the same formula when I was at Oregon. I spent a lot of time studying how to go about it and how we think that you should train, and it worked for us there, and so we used it here. If it didn't work here we would have changed it. I believe that it worked through our first season and our players are really invested in what we're doing right now."

Kelly also proudly noted that his team was almost completely healthy through his 11-5, NFC East-winning debut season, saying, "Almost every day last year we had our entire roster - 53 players and eight practice squad players. There weren't many weeks where we didn't have everybody up."

Like everything else that he does, Chip Kelly practices differently because it works. If he didn't, he'd change it. 

Jump to around the 13-minute mark. 

Video: Liberty unveils new unis, and now has 27 uniform combinations

During a team meeting on Tuesday night, a new set of uniforms was revealed to Turner Gill's Liberty squad.

The new additions, plus the introduction of a matte red helmet, bring the total possible number of uniform combinations to 27. You can see all of the variations here, and at the end of the video below.

Judging from this reaction, the players were pretty stoked about the new options.

The red helmet with the eagle on the side looks really sharp, and having so many options at the FCS level is a great selling point on the recruiting trail. We also understand that Coach Gill normally lets the captains pick a uni combo for each game, which is a pretty cool perk in itself.

liberty1 liberty2

liberty3 liberty4


Recent News

D-III program in Texas teams up with Nike for a...

Video of the Day - Inside Indiana football with...

Three and out - The Titans are hiring a Wi-Fi...

The Scoop | HS Scoop
Hot | New | Must Read