In covering BCS championship games, including Florida's 24-14 victory over Oklahoma in the 2008 final, Fox didn't have a clue. Fortunately for viewers, ESPN has taken over the BCS coverage.
But when it comes to covering the NFL, Fox is at the top of its game. The network turned in a stellar performance in covering Super Bowl XLV on Sunday night from Arlington, Texas. The low-key announcing team of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman covered all angles with their usual expertise, and they didn't overwhelm viewers with a lot of meaningless facts.
After the Packers jumped to a 14-0 lead, Aikman noted that the more experienced Steelers appeared to be jittery. “The Packers seem to be much calmer in their approach,” said Aikman, who led the Dallas Cowboys to three Super Bowl titles.
Late in the game, after the Steelers rallied to cut the lead to 28-25, the Packers responded with a lengthy drive and a 23-yard field goal for the final 31-25 score. “The Packers really answered the bell on that drive,” Aikman said.
The pair summed up the Packers' first Super Bowl title since 1997 succinctly after the game. Buck said, “This game was everything anybody could have hoped for and maybe even more so coming down to the last possession for the Pittsburgh Steelers.”
Said Aikman: “Aaron Rodgers was sensational. When you look at all the injuries in the ballgame for the Packers to overcome – like all season – it's pretty fitting. It's well-deserved by Mike McCarthy and his staff.”
In the fourth quarter, Fox had a nice clip of Packers linebackers coach Kevin Greene exhorting linebacker Clay Matthews by shouting, “It is time! It is time!” Matthews responded by forcing a fumble on Rashard Mendenhall that changed the game's momentum.
Fox also didn't overuse NFL Rules expert Mike Pereira, bringing in him on the only coach's challenge. Pereira correctly noted the pass to the Packers receiver Brett Swain was incomplete.
Chris Myers and Pam Oliver concentrated on the sideline reporter's most important role, supplying injury reports. Fox provided solid information on the numerous injuries, including two to the Packers defensive backs. They didn't conduct those silly interviews with the coaches after the first half.
When Oliver interviewed Packers receiver Greg Jennings after the game, she blubbered and failed to ask a question. Fortunately, for viewers, Jennings still gave a good response about the numerous injuries his team had overcome.
Myers interviewed Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, who noted that turnovers played a big part in his team's loss.
Fox's studio crew also paid the Packers numerous compliments after the game.
“Right now, Aaron Rodgers is as good as anybody in the league,” host Curt Menefee said. I don't think he'll ever have to answer another Brett Favre question.”
“I think ‘Lombardi,' the play, just got an extension on Broadway,” analyst Howie Long said. “We might just be seeing the start of a young dynasty.”
The game also had to have been emotional for Super Bowl radio play-by-play announcer Kevin Harlan. As a youngster, Harlan, the son of former Packers chief executive Bob Harlan, served as a ball boy at Packers training camps.
*President Barack Obama did a good job of holding off an onslaught of questions from Fox News Channel host Bill O'Reilly, who rarely gave Obama time to answer a question before firing off another. After receiving an invitation from Obama to attend his Super Bowl party, O'Reilly declined. “I wouldn't want to ruin a party for you guys,” O'Reilly said.
*Fox provided a nice patriotic approach for TV's biggest spectacle. Several NFL greats read excerpts of the Declaration of Independence while surrounded by military and civic groups. Michael Douglass wrapped up the pregame with a stirring narration on highlights that displayed the nation's determination in recent history.
*All the Fox studio analysts except Terry Bradshaw, the former Steelers star quarterback, picked the Packers to win the game.