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College Football’s 150th Anniversary to be a Year-Long, Multifaceted Storytelling Experience Across ESPN

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  • 2019 College Football Season Will Mark the Sport’s Sesquicentennial

To join in the celebration of college football’s 150th birthday, ESPN will embark in January 2019 on a year-long, multifaceted storytelling experience woven throughout the ESPN platform to explore the sport from its modest beginnings shortly after the Civil War to the American cultural phenomenon it is today. ESPN’s initiative dovetails with the June announcement by leaders in college football to plan a celebration of the sport’s sesquicentennial in two years. That effort will be led by longtime college athletics administrator and former Big 12 commissioner Kevin Weiberg.

“I’m very pleased to have the opportunity to coordinate a nationwide celebration of college football’s 150th anniversary in 2019,” says Weiberg. “It’s wonderful to have great partners like ESPN to showcase the rich history and traditions of college football while also putting a spotlight on the opportunities it provides young people to pursue a college degree and to develop the skills needed to succeed in life after football.”

“We are extraordinarily proud to celebrate a sport that has had such a great influence on numerous generations,” says ESPN President John Skipper. “Our year-long exploration will showcase college football’s rich history, which is indelibly rooted in the fabric of American culture, and explore the current and future state of the sport. Fans can expect a comprehensive storytelling approach, presented creatively across the breadth of the ESPN platform.”

Throughout the first seven and a half months of 2019, ESPN will serve fans by featuring digital, mobile and social content examining and celebrating the unique history of college football before culminating in 150 consecutive days of cross-platform original storytelling, beginning two years from today: August 17, 2019. ESPN will take fans and users on an unprecedented journey, with new content every day on its platforms and networks that will articulate college football’s story – past, present and future – through the games, traditions, developments and people that helped shape the sport. On Day 150  – January 13, 2020 – the latest page in the sport’s extraordinary tale will be written when a champion is crowned at the College Football Playoff National Championship in New Orleans.

“The 150th anniversary underscores how college football has played such an integral part in the lives of so many people,” says five-time National Championship head coach Nick Saban. “ESPN’s year-long project will celebrate the sport while showcasing the impact it has had on our society. To me personally, as a coach and former player, the influence college football has had — not only on me, but on so many student-athletes we have coached over the years — is immeasurable.”

“I’m excited that college football will get a special celebration in 2019,” says former Ohio State running back Archie Griffin, the only two-time winner of the Heisman Trophy (1974-75). “Every one of my six brothers and I went to college and played the game of football. My father worked three jobs. College was not an expectation in my house. Football was the vehicle we used to get that education. To my family, the game meant everything.”

“When I was a kid, there was a guy by the name of Johnny Rodgers,” says former USC All-American defensive back and Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott. “He lit it up, and he made the game magical to me. I remember listening to Lindsey Nelson on TV, hearing Tom Harmon and Chris Schenkel. The game gave me so many experiences. You know what college football has meant to a lot of people. It has touched souls east, west, north and south. Thank you for all the great moments I have witnessed on and off the field of dreams. This is a great game.”

“Quite simply, my four years at Michigan molded me into the man I am today,” says 1991 Heisman Trophy winner Desmond Howard. “As a young man, my two head coaches, Bo Schembechler and Gary Moeller, bestowed life lessons on me which will forever have an influence on my life. On the field, winning the Heisman Trophy and entering the same sacred fraternity as my childhood idol, Tony Dorsett, remains one of the greatest honors I have ever achieved. I enthusiastically look forward to college football’s 150th anniversary celebration.”

“I’m thrilled with this initiative,” says former player, coach and current ESPN College GameDay personality Lee Corso. “College football has had a tremendous impact on our country and it’s meant everything to me personally. I’ve gotten so much out of playing, coaching and talking about the game, but more than anything, I love the connection with the fans.  That’s what really has made it so special for generations.”

Additional details on ESPN’s 150th anniversary plans will be announced at various times leading up to this commemoration.

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Media contact: Derek Volner at 860-384-9986; Derek.Volner@ESPN.com and @DerekVolner