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Erin Andrews leaving college football duties to focus on Fox's NFL coverage

Erin Andrews leaving college football duties to focus on Fox's NFL coverage Photo:

One of the college football’s most well-known broadcasters is stepping away from the sport.

SI.com has learned that Fox Sports reporter Erin Andrews, who hosted Fox Sports 1’s college football pregame show last year after high-profile college football assignments at ESPN, will no longer have a broadcasting role in the sport. The move coincides with the news Sports Illustrated broke earlier this week that Pam Oliver is moving to the network’s No. 2 team for her 20th NFL broadcasting season and Andrews has been elevated to the No. 1 sideline spot, joining the team of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman. Andrews also has entertainment responsibilities with Dancing With The Stars.

Fox is expected to announce its full college football lineup in the upcoming weeks, including who will replace Andrews. A representative from Fox Sports declined to comment when contacted Thursday night.

Andrews was a major part of college football coverage at ESPN, where she worked as a sideline reporter on ABC and ESPN’s top games and hosted the first hour of an expanded College GameDay program on ESPNU. She then moved from ESPN to Fox two years ago with Fox looking for college football talent, a transaction that came with Fox heavily investing in college football, including entering a 12-year-agreement with the Pac-12 in 2012 and a 13-year agreement with the Big 12 the previous year.

Last year, with the debut of Fox Sports 1, Andrews was tabbed to host Fox College Saturday. The show was given the impossible charter of competing against GameDay and was pummeled in the ratings: The ESPN juggernaut averaged 1,830,000 viewers while FCS averaged 73,000.

Sports TV executives are paid to oversell talent, and Fox oversold the idea that Andrews would siphon college football viewers from ESPN. But Fox College Saturday -- heavy on personalities and light on breaking news and information you could not find elsewhere -- was going to struggle regardless of the talent on the show given ESPN's dominant position and standing with viewers on Saturday mornings.

Then there is this: ESPN's upcoming SEC Network. The new network's pregame show, SEC Nation, debuts Aug. 28 at Columbia, S.C. It will travel to SEC game sites and feature the full-time broadcasting debut of Tim Tebow. There's also NBCSN's Saturday coverage of Premier League soccer, a property that gained a healthy amount of sports viewers last year. Saturday morning is a killer time slot and Fox Sports has been considering abandoning it to put its college pregame coverage elsewhere.

As for Andrews, the NFL is something that has been on her mind for a couple of years. Upon being hired by Fox in 2012, Andrews told SI.com that she would not close out the idea of doing sideline reporting on college games for Fox, though she had her eye on the NFL. She said working in the league “has always been a dream.” That dream is now reality.

 

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