ESPN, in conjunction with Paragon Marketing Group, will air nine weeks of the nation’s best high school football games during the 11th annual GEICO ESPN High School Football Showcase across ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU. The 13 games in the season-long series are in addition to the 13 previous ESPN High School Kickoff games this past weekend.
In total, ESPN will feature the country’s leading college football recruits with 45 players ranked in the ESPN 300 and 23 State Champions taking the field between the 26 slated games in the Kickoff and Showcase.
Hoover High of Alabama is the only school to play twice on ESPN this year and both games are at home. Hoover plays this weekend and on October 24. Hoover features the # 9 ranked recruit in the nation, cornerback Marlon Humphrey who is uncommitted.
St. Augustine of Louisiana has the # 1 recruit in the nation, running back Leonard Fournette who is also uncommitted. St. Augustine will host John Curtis High School of Louisiana on October 4 at 5:00 pm on ESPN2.
Two California schools will be aired on ESPN when De La Salle plays at St. Mary’s (Stockton) on Friday, September 13 at 7 pm on ESPNU. In the past some San Diego schools have played on the ESPN High School Showcase, a game at Torrey Pines was one of the local games in the past.
Each school receives about one thousand dollars or more depending on which EPSN network covers the game. But most or all of the licensing fee the visiting school receives usually gets spent on traveling costs.
The production costs for ESPN are significant. High school games have a similar production quality that an ESPN Thursday college football broadcast has in cameras, graphics, replays and talent. An experienced source says that the production costs between $ 65,000-$ 70,000.
But some of the highest rated high school games have similar viewing numbers that a college game gets on ESPN2 on Saturday night and clearly ESPN is making a nice profit margin.
The highest rated high school game on ESPN was in 2005 when Nease (Florida) played Hoover (Alabama) with Nease featuring Tim Tebow. The game got a 1.0 rating, one million households.
The reason why schools don't ask for more in licensing fees is because ESPN knows that the kids want to be on television, especially ESPN. And many coaches say that getting one game on ESPN can change a team or programs perception. For many the televised game is the highlight of the year, win or lose.
Some coaches have said that they would be willing to lose money on the game simply because of the positive boost that the team, program and community receive from the national television coverage.
ESPN analyst Rene Ingoglia and play-by-play commentator Adam Amin will be the lead team for ESPN’s high school football games this season.
There may be more games added in the future, including an open time slot for a game on September 13th at 5 pm on ESPN2.
Schedule by the Numbers
2 California schools (De La Salle, St. Mary’s)
22 players ranked in the ESPN 300
23 state champions
Schedule This Season
All Times are PST
Date, Time, Game, Network
Fri, Aug. 30, 8 pm, Colquitt (GA) at Hoover (AL), ESPNU/ESPN3
Mon, Sept 2, 12 pm, Godby (FL) vs. DeMatha (MD), ESPN
Thur, Sept 5, 5 pm, Katy (TX) at Taylor (TX), ESPNU
Fri, Sept 6, 5 pm, Oscar Smith (VA) at Lake Taylor (VA), ESPNU
Fri, Sept 13, 5 pm, TBA, ESPN2
Fri, Sept 13, 7 pm, De La Salle (CA) at St. Mary’s (CA), ESPNU
Fri, Sept 20, 7 pm, Chaparral (AZ) at Desert Mountain (AZ), ESPNU
Fri, Oct 4, 5 pm, John Curtis (LA) at St. Augustine (LA), ESPN2
Fri, Oct 4, 7 pm, Washington (FL) at Bishop Gorman (NV), ESPNU
Fri, Oct 11, 5 pm, Pike (IN) at Carmel (IN), ESPNU
Fri, Oct 18, 3 pm, Don Bosco (NJ) at Paramus Catholic (NJ), ESPN2
Thur, Oct 24, 5 pm, Tuscaloosa (AL) at Hoover (AL), ESPNU
Fri, Nov 1, 5 pm, Gainsville (GA) at Loganville (GA), ESPNU
ESPN Top 300 ranked Players on the Schedule
School, Pos., Player (ESPN Top 300 Rank, College)
St. Augustine RB: Leonard Fournette (No. 1, uncommitted)
Paramus Catholic CB: Jabrill Peppers (No. 2, Michigan)
Oscar Smith DT: Andrew Brown (No. 5, Virginia)
Hoover CB: Marlon Humphrey (No. 9, uncommitted)
Gainesville QB: Deshaun Watson (No. 16, Clemson)
John Curtis WR: Malachi Dupre (No. 26, uncommitted)
Chaparral CB: Tyler Whiley (No. 71; ASU)
Desert Mountain QB: Kyle Allen (No. 74; Texas A&M)
Godby OLB: Jacob Pugh (No. 108; Florida State)
Paramus Catholic OT: Juwann Bushell-Beatty (No.122; Michigan)
Booker T. Washington DE: Chad Thomas (No. 125; Miami)
2012 State Champions On the Schedule
Lake Taylor (Virgina)
De La Salle (California)
John Curtis (Louisiana)
Booker T. Washington (Florida)
Bishop Gorman (Nevada)
Paramus Catholic (New Jersey)