On Saturday, Fox kicked off the first regular-season broadcast of their college football pregame show, Big Noon Kickoff, featuring Brady Quinn, Urban Meyer, Reggie Bush, and Matt Leinart, hosted by Rob Stone. While the name itself is a bit unimaginative, you can see glimpses of what Fox is hoping to accomplish here: in-depth analysis and anecdotes from analysts who spent far more time in a locker room than in a broadcast studio.
Meyer started off slowly, but his potential as an analyst was clear during their spread offense segment. Meyer led the charge in explaining just how the spread offense operates, and his extensive past as coach and teacher was obvious. He was comfortable and engaging in what was essentially a solo segment. He didn’t do as well in their traditional discussion segment, though, and repeated himself a few times.
Bush was solid if unspectacular. He tended to lean on cliches more than you’d like for an analyst and held his own to start, but faded down the stretch. Leinart really blended into the background on the whole. Having both him and Quinn seems a bit redundant given their similar resumes, and early on they haven’t exhibited any kind of chemistry or ability to play off those similarities to help make the broadcast more interesting. Quinn did try to loop Leinart into a discussion about how they felt before the first game of the season, but Meyer hijacked the attempt. It also seems like a massive missed opportunity to not have any stories shared between Bush and Leinart about their USC days.
Leinart’s performance summed up many of the negative aspects of the show so far. While it seems like Fox is trying to go for the “informed analysis and breakdowns” vibe rather than the casual fun of College GameDay, it seemed very formal on the whole. Quinn was the only one who seemed relaxed. Bush, Leinart, and Meyer struggled to find a comfort zone and seemed stiff throughout, the one exception being Meyers’ coaching segment.
But out of all the analysts, Quinn shined brightest. He gave succinct analysis and seemed the most comfortable under the glaring lights of a TV studio. Along with Meyer, he was good at drawing on his previous experience for both anecdotes and analysis. It could be very helpful for the team’s dynamic if he led the charge on most discussions with his charismatic attitude and willingness to dip into everyone else’s field of expertise during his analysis.
All in all, the show has a lot of potential. Going for a full panel of former college football guys comes with its ups and downs; it peaked when Quinn or Meyer got rolling in breaking down how specific aspects of the game will affect the outcome, but the relative inexperience of the team on TV was clear when they fell out of their flow, and the formal atmosphere didn’t help them recover there. Stone could probably do a bit of a better job keeping everyone in their comfort zones.
Fox needs to work on the general presentation if the show is to be successful.
There’s value to be had in hard-hitting, in-depth analysis, but the presence of the team is crucial for such a show that airs at 11 A.M. on Saturday morning. Right now it’s intriguing but won’t hold many people’s interest, especially given how corporate the actual studio set up feels between the giant Wendy’s ad plastered behind everyone’s head and the stiff presence of everyone except Quinn. The regular-season debut wasn’t a smashing success, but it also wasn’t a complete disaster. They have something here, they just need to figure out how to take advantage of it.