The reimagined USFL is hoping to provide a broadcasting experience like you’ve never seen or heard before. The revamped league will be launching on Saturday with a simulcast on Fox and NBC providing a plethora of enhancements to the viewing experience.
Among the bells and whistles that the production teams plan to roll out are live play-by-play drone coverage, four helmet cams and a double sky cam — which has been used before, but never included one flying behind the defense.
“You can’t do that in college football or the NFL,” Chuck McDonald, who is producing USFL games for Fox, told The Post. McDonald is also Fox’s producer on “Big Noon Kickoff,” the package for the network’s marquee college football games on Saturdays.
Why wouldn’t the NFL and college football allow this?
“It’s like everything, it took awhile for them to get the trust for us to get the sky cam allowed in the NFL in the first place,” McDonald said. “There’s some concern about where the wires are. They’re now in front of the play. Are we able to get them out of the way of getting hit by a punt or a pass? We aren’t sure we can; it takes a while, and in a lot of ways this will be a proof of concept for the NFL and college football to look at.
“That’s the beauty in this league — we can do things that an established league isn’t ready to let you try.”
The cameras will be in the huddle. They’ll be there for the snap. Graphically, first downs will be judged optically — as opposed to being ascertained by referees trotting out sticks and chains. The only constraint for the production teams is player safety.
Fox Sports and NBC Sports, in somewhat of a rarity in the industry, have been highly collaborative on ideas.
“It has been great to be part of the collaborative process between the two companies,” NBC Sports’ USFL coordinating producer Matt Marvin — who also produces the network’s NASCAR coverage — told The Post.
“There has been incredible cooperation and an abundance of ideas exchanged between everyone involved. We’re excited to see how the First Person View drones will enhance coverage and take fans inside the action in ways they’ve never been before.”
The sound will even be different. McDonald said 32 players will be mic’ed up, as well as coaches and officials.
“We’ll be able to eavesdrop on coach-to-player and player-to-player communication on a much larger scale than what fans are accustomed to,” said Marvin.
As far as announcers, Fox is rolling with experienced crews. Its top crew will be Curt Menefee and Joel Klatt, with Brock Huard on sidelines; its secondary crew will be Kevin Kugler and Mark Sanchez.
NBC will have Jac Collinsworth and Paul Burmeister on play-by-play, with Jason Garrett, former NFL fullback Michael Robinson and former NFL defensive end Cameron Jordan as color commentators, and Zora Stephenson and Corey Robinson as sideline reporters. Sara Perlman will host studio coverage.
Among a team of sports media veterans, Garrett was the name that popped out as a new broadcaster.
“I think his passion and relatability came across during rehearsals. Jason has been a quarterback, head coach, coordinator and a position coach in the NFL, so his football knowledge of him is unparalleled, but he displayed the ability to put things in terms that we could all understand, ”Marvin said. “He also has a tremendous energy that you can really pick up on. Football has been such a big part of his life and that is reflected in the way he calls the game.
The USFL’s 43 games this season will be distributed across Fox, FS1, NBC, USA Network and Peacock.