Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit will be calling football games in some form this fall, though it increasingly looks uncertain if the iconic booth will be doing college football games every Saturday.
Though we're awaiting official confirmation, it appears that the MAC and Big 10 won't have college football seasons this fall because of COVID-19. That could create a situation where only certain conferences play this fall, and there's still plenty of college football to choose from. Or, it may start an avalanche of major conferences either cancelling the 2020 college football season or attempting to move it to the spring of 2021.
What would happen to Fowler and Herbstreit if there isn't a college football season this fall? According to Andrew Marchand of The New York Post, the NFL may move some games to Saturdays if there isn't college football to compete with. Disney, which owns ESPN and ABC, could potentially air these games, and Fowler and Herbstreit would be free to call the games.
There's been some thought that ESPN could ditch the booth of Steve Levy, Brian Griese and Louis Riddick that it will reportedly transition to in 2020 if college football was altogether cancelled. Marchand's report says not to bank on such an idea, though he reminds that Fowler and Herbstreit are scheduled to call the first game of ESPN's Monday Night Football doubleheader Week 1 and could be used throughout the season to call any additional games that the network may acquire.
While there's some that are high on ESPN's new Monday Night Football booth of Levy, Griese and Riddick, it was far from the network's first choice. This trio got the right to replace Joe Tessitore and Booger McFarland only after ESPN realized that they wouldn't be able to lure any of Tony Romo, Peyton Manning or Al Michaels into a booth that's become quite maligned since Mike Tirico left for NBC after the 2015 season.
So if college football is altogether cancelled, why not set aside this booth and try Fowler and Herbstreit on Monday Night Football for the 2020 season? It's possible that the network fears that the two would be so good that they would struggle to move them back to the college booth in 2021. That may be a good problem to have, but Herbstreit and Fowler are so engrained in the college game that it's hard to imagine them not calling the primetime Saturday NCAA games moving forward.