ESPN College Football Saturday Primetime

College Football Primetime
Starring Joe Tessitore, Todd Blackledge and Holly Rowe
Country of origin  United States
Running time 3 hours (approximate)
Original network ESPN
Original release 1984 – Present

ESPN College Football Primetime is a live game presentation of Division 1-A college football on ESPN. In the past, the presenting sponsors have been Polaroid, AT&T and Hampton Hotels. The current presenting sponsor is Hampton's parent company, Hilton. The game telecast airs every Saturday night at 7:45pm ET during the college football regular season. The game is preceded by a 45-minute-long College Football Scoreboard with Rece Davis, Lou Holtz and Mark May, all of whom also appear on the halftime report. This game telecast is also presented in high-definition on ESPN HD.


Since debuting in 1979, it has broadcast games from numerous conferences including the ACC, Big Ten and the Big East Conference. In recent years, it has primarily featured the SEC as the second-choice game to CBS' national coverage earlier in the day. Games from the other conferences typically could air either on ESPN/ESPN2 or ABC, but the does not offer such flexibility. This game is often seen as the ESPN Game of the Week along with the Thursday night telecast.

Some notable voices of ESPN College Football Primetime over the years have been Ron Franklin, Mike Gottfried and Adrian Karsten, but all have gone on to different assignments, except for Karsten, who died in 2005. Currently, the primary commentators for the ESPN version are Joe Tessitore on play-by-play, Todd Blackledge as analyst and Holly Rowe as field reporter. The secondary commentators are Chris Fowler on play-by-play, Kirk Herbstreit as analyst and Heather Cox as field reporter, all of whom also serve as the primary commentating team for ABC's Saturday Night Football.

On October 14, 2006, ESPN College Football Primetime aired on five different networks as part of ESPN Full Circle. The networks included ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN360 and Mobile ESPN.

On August 30, 2008, the ESPN2 team of Mark Jones and Bob Davie commentated the Illinois-Missouri game. A week later (September 6, 2008), the ABC team of Brent Musburger and Kirk Herbstreit commentated the MiamiFlorida game.

Ron Franklin worked the November 22, 2008 game with Ed Cunningham as they commentated the Florida StateMaryland game. This marked the first time since 2005 that Franklin called an ESPN College Football Saturday Primetime game.

Franklin-Rowe Incident

On October 1, 2005, in a game that Ron Franklin was calling along with Bob Davie, sideline reporter Holly Rowe lauded Purdue defensive coordinator Brock Spack for using all three timeouts on defense despite trailing by four touchdowns late in the game. "If the coaches are giving up," Rowe added, "what does that say to the players?" Franklin responded: "Holly, it's not giving up. It's 49-21, sweetheart."

In response to that, Mo Davenport, senior coordinating producer for college football said, "It was an inappropriate comment, and we've communicated that to Ron. There's never a reason to say something so mean-spirited. Ron apologized. We dealt with it internally."

Many believe this was the cause for Franklin's demotion from the ESPN primetime game to the ESPN2 primetime game.




By year

Game Play- by- play Analyst(s) Field reporter(s)
1990 Ron Franklin Mike Gottfried Adrian Karsten
2004 Erin Andrews
2005 Bob Davie Holly Rowe
2006 Mike Patrick Todd Blackledge
2009 Brad Nessler Erin Andrews
2010 Holly Rowe
2016 Joe Tessitore

Game features

See also


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