Lightning led to ESPN having to use real wide angles for Alabama-Arkansas.

Mother Nature did not wait long to have an impact on the college football schedule on Saturday. Up north, the start of Michigan’s home game against Maryland was pushed back by at least an hour due to lightning strikes in the Ann Arbor area. Down in Fayetteville, a similar weather issue did not push back the kickoff between the Alabama Crimson Tide and Arkansas Razorbacks, but it did force ESPN to restrict what cameras they could use at the start of the broadcast.

Because of the weather conditions in the area, and apparently according to company policy, ESPN was limited in what cameras they could use to broadcast the game. Perhaps due to legal and safety concerns for those operating the equipment on the field, ESPN started the broadcast using cameras that were higher up and in a safer spot. As a result, it appeared as though viewers were watching ants play for a while. ESPN’s Peter Burns tweeted about it at one point:

The broadcast got off to a unique start when it was analyst Greg McElroy and not play-by-play voice Dave Pasch welcoming viewers to the broadcast after the conclusion of College GameDay. As we soon found out, Pasch was having a microphone issue taken care of with his headset, so this broadcast was firing on all cylinders right from the jump.

Pasch quickly joined McElroy as cameras went to the broadcasting duo in the booth, but when the game got started, we were treated to a wide-view shot of the field from the top of the stadium for the opening kickoff and Alabama’s first play from scrimmage.

Sometimes you just do whatever it takes to get the job done. And considering the weather issues and the risk it would pose to those operating the cameras and other equipment down on the field, this was a suitable Plan B given the situation. Of course, Pasch made sure to alert any viewer who tuned in a little late exactly what was going on.

ESPN did manage to get a few closer shots at certain points on the field. Once the mandated company policy time limit expired, it was business as usual for the ESPN broadcast. Just in time for Alabama’s second touchdown.

And the rest of the broadcast has looked much more as you’d expect. But with the No. 1 Crimson Tide up 28-7 in the first quarter, Arkansas may prefer if ESPN can zoom back out as far as possible so nobody has to witness the rest of this game.


About Kevin McGuire

Contributor to Athlon Sports and The Comeback. Previously contributed to Host of the Locked On Nittany Lions Podcast. FWAA member and Philadelphia-area resident.