Over the pas several years, the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Penn State Nittany Lions have had some memorable primetime matchups, including many iconic “White Out” games for Penn State in Happy Valley. For the past two years, however, the game has been kicked off at noon as Fox’s “Big Noon” game, causing frustration among fans on both sides of the Big Ten rivalry. While we still don’t know what time the game will be this year, we did get some insight that is likely to disappoint fans of both schools who don’t enjoy Fox’s noon kickoff emphasis.

On Monday, Fox President of Insight and Analytics Michael Mulvihill joined The Joel Klatt Show: A College Football Podcast  where he revealed that following:

  • Fox has the first three picks of weekends in which they get first pick of games to broadcast.
  • Mulvihill explained that they used their first two picks on the weekends that have Michigan vs. Ohio State (which they have done every year) and utlized their second pick to grab Michigan hosting Texas.
  • Mulvihill then explained they were torn between a weekend that would have two good options- Nov 2 which has Ohio State vs. Penn State game but also Michigan hosting Oregon as well, and October which would be Oregon hosting Ohio State.

Ultimately Mulvihill shared that they traded the third pick to either CBS or NBC (he wouldn’t say who). With that news, it seemed there was a clear path for Ohio State vs. Penn State to not be at noon. The network who made the trade just had to pick the Nov 2nd weekend as there pick and then as the date came closer, pick Ohio State vs. Penn State which would then air on CBS at 3:30, or NBC at 7:30.

But that’s not what happened.  As Mulvill explained via Awful Announcing‘s transcription:

“We traded the pick,” Mulvihill said. “The choice was so difficult that we just didn’t make it. We can trade our picks in this selection process just like you would trade picks in the NFL Draft. And we actually came to a solution that I think worked out well for everybody; I think everybody’s going to be satisfied. I won’t name the network that we did the deal with because they haven’t announced yet what they did with the pick, and it’s their news to share. But I can tell you that in moving down from the No. 3 pick — we then moved up at a later portion of the draft — we ended up with five of the top seven picks in the draft, and we were still able to get that Nov. 2 date.”

So it seems like that either CBS or NBC traded to get the October 12th Ohio State vs. Oregon game which Fox couldn’t air at noon ET, and later in the draft Fox ended up getting the Nov 2nd date where depending on how the season goes will either be Ohio State at Penn State or Michigan hosting Oregon. Given how great ratings have been for Ohio State and Penn State the past few years, unless Michigan and Oregon is a top ten matchup and Ohio State vs. Penn State loses a lot of it’s potency with a few losses each you’d have to think Fox won’t mess with a good thing and would favor Ohio State at Penn State.

So that’s the rub. Fox controls the first pick that weekend. If you really want the game to be later in the day, that would almost certainly mean that one, or likely both Ohio State and Penn State were having disappointing seasons to push it out of that slot. That’s a no win situation for fans of both schools who have been very vocal the past few years that they absolutely hate the noon kickoffs for such a big game.

[The Joel Klatt Show]