By Bill Trocchi, SI.com
College football fans have an insatiable appetite for news, information and analysis, and ESPN is banking on that fervor lasting 12 months.
The network's show College Football Live aired Monday-Friday from July-February in its inaugural season, but will run year-round in this, its second season.
"We want to capture the rabid fan base that is out there," said Michael Fountain, senior coordinating producer of College Football Live and College GameDay.
Though GameDay's two-hour show looms at the end of each week during the season, there's always enough information to go around. While GameDay has the time to focus on in-depth features on players, coaches and teams, its 30-minute counterpart takes a different approach, focusing on the news of the day in an effort to avoid cannibalizing one of the network's top franchises.
"We're making sure we are on the breaking news [on College Football Live], making sure we're providing perspective into those stories and not assuming the viewers know too much, which we are all guilty of," Fountain said. "We have separate research teams. If the GameDay staff comes up with a good nugget, do we pass it on to College Football Live or hold it for GameDay? Good question."
Trevor Matich, one of College Football Live's rotating analysts, says no one really thinks about stepping on Chris Fowler, Lee Corso and Kirk Herbstreit's toes.
"There is so much to talk about and it is topical that day," he said. "What we may say on a Tuesday, that will shift a bit by Saturday and there will be another layer or angle to add to it."
College Football Live went on the road for the first time last Thursday and Friday, preceding GameDay's appearance in Atlanta for the Alabama-Clemson game. There were only a handful of fans on-hand Thursday, but Friday's show had close to 100 viewers watching behind the set.
"It had a GameDay feel," said host Dari Nawkhoh. "To get to experience what [the GameDay hosts] experience and hang out in this atmosphere, I enjoyed the heck out of it."
The road trips will likely come to an end after tonight's broadcast from Los Angeles (which will lead into Tennessee's game at UCLA), but the show's spirit will remain intact. When College Football Live was conceived two years ago, ESPN wanted to make it different from the other studio shows in Bristol. They read several viewer e-mails, scrolled viewer comments across the bottom of the screen and aired viewer-generated video. So, though the schedule will change in the second season, that fan-oriented approach will remain the same.
"College football is fan-based as much as anything," Nawkhoh said. "College football fans seem more vocal, whether it is at the game or on message boards, than any other sport. It is a show about a sport driven by fans. Everybody has a take, so we like to let them get it out there."