I got a call Saturday afternoon from an OU fan who couldn't find the ballgame on television. Turns out, we were still three hours from OU-Kansas State kickoff, so that was one problem.
But there was another hangup. The game was where it never had been before.
Big Fox. Not Fox Sports Net nor its pseudonyms Fox Sports Oklahoma or Fox Sports Southwest. Not Fox Sports Plus or Fox College Sports.
Big Fox. The Fox of the NFL. The Fox of the World Series. The Fox of the Daytona 500.
The Fox that launched in 1986 and within 21 years had shoved aside NBC, ABC and CBS as the highest-rated network in American television.
Now you know why we call it Big Fox.
Big Fox was in Oklahoma last Saturday night, for the OU-KSU game. Big Fox is in Oklahoma this Saturday night, for the OSU-Texas game.
And Big Fox will do wonders for Big 12 football.
The Big 12 finally has a national platform to showcase its games. Every conference is affiliated with ESPN, but for lo these many years, the Southeastern Conference has had CBS airing a nationally-televised game on Saturday afternoon. It's been a boon to the SEC.
Big Fox can do the same for the Big 12 and the Pac-12, the two leagues that will share Big Fox's Saturday night window.
I've long wanted the Big 12 to sign up with Big Fox or NBC just as competition for ABC/ESPN. Don't let ABC/ESPN get too comfortable in its near monopoly. This is the next-best thing.
Until now, Big Fox had dived sparingly into college football. It bought the BCS series for a few years, and it televises the Cotton Bowl.
But now, Big Fox is all in with a weekly prime-time game. Southern Cal-Hawaii in Week 1, Nebraska-UCLA in Week 2, Southern Cal-Stanford in Week 3, OU-Kansas State in Week 4 and now OSU-Texas.
“This enhances our sports Saturday programming,” said Larry Jones, Fox Sports' chief operating officer. “We are in the big event business. Expanding our whole sports presence on Saturday afternoon and Saturday nights is very important to us.
“We're going with sports almost 52 weeks a year on Saturday night.”
There will be growing pains. The early ratings on Big Fox are not strong.
OU-KSU drew a 1.7 rating last week. Notre Dame-Michigan got a 4.0 on NBC, Florida State-Clemson got a 3.2 on ABC and even Arizona-Oregon got a 2.1 on late-night ESPN.
The week before, the USC-Stanford slugfest drew a 2.5 rating (3.8 million viewers), while Notre Dame-Michigan State on ABC drew a 3.2 and Tennessee-Florida on ESPN drew a 3.1.
The reason for the weak numbers is clear. Many fans don't yet know that Big Fox is an option.
You scroll through ABC, the ESPNs, Fox Sports Net and any other channel that's been showing college football for years. If you don't have a list in front of you, a game can get lost.
Big Fox will need time to imprint its brand on Saturday night.
“This is a big deal for us,” said Big Fox analyst Charles Davis, who was in Norman last week and will be in Stillwater this week. “When you think of college football, you haven't thought of Fox on a week by week basis.
“Having a game every single week, on a national deal, that allows people to think of us. ‘If I'm going to watch a game, let's see what Fox has to offer.'”
It can't hurt that Big Fox has offered up three straight weeks of big-time upsets. UCLA over Nebraska. Stanford over SC. K-State over OU.
Let's not pretend that Big Fox has the cachet of ESPN. The new Big 12 contract gives the conference greater access to ESPN, and that's always a good thing. ESPN drives the boat in American sports promotion.
But one of the downsides to ESPN is that every league is affiliated with ESPN. Conferences have to share the megaphone.
That's why the SEC has had a great marketing advantage over the years. ESPN talks incessantly about the SEC because of its great football, then SEC gets the plush national-TV window on CBS. Now the Big 12, with Big Fox, gets some of that bounty.
Erin Andrews hosts Big Fox's studio show, a plum catch for Big Fox considering her popularity at ESPN. Play-by-play man Gus Johnson is a basketball icon. Davis is a charming Tennessee Volunteer who does his homework – last week at a virtual OU pep rally, he trotted out the name Jim Tatum.
“When Fox decided to make the commitment all out to college football, they demonstrated it not just by money paid out, not just clearing Saturday evenings for our window, they went out and got people that are some of the best in the business,” Davis said, referring to Johnson and Andrews.
“I'm just happy to ride shotgun in this bad boy.”
We're happy to have you here in Big 12 country. Welcome aboard, Big Fox.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at email@example.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.