The championship game was initially thought to be airing on an ESPN network, but plans apparently have changed. The press release does not mention if this arrangement is a multi-year deal, nor does it mention the possibility of any regular season games airing on the network next season.
Number of conference championship games in '17
ESPN Networks: 24
CBS & CBS Sports Network: 7
FOX Sports: 1
Note that the Pac-12 championship game moves between ESPN & FOX Sports, with FOX Sports showing it in even numbered years. ESPN also added the new Ivy League championship this season.
A few early notes for the first week of college football in 2017.
* No, I don't know where or the Big Ten rights deals with ESPN and FOX will be announced. Apparently FOX did have ads touting their new Big Ten programming during the Foster Farms Bowl and the conference championship game.
* The St. Louis Cardinals' printable schedule notes that their 9/2 game at the San Francisco Giants will air as a non-exclusive national game on FS1 at 4pm ET. Consider this important because it is one less window for FS1 to carry games from their partner conferences. It is unknown at the moment if there are other MLB game windows for FOX or FS1 that day, or if UFC will have an event that evening where either network will be carrying matches. From 2013-2015, Labor Day weekend was a UFC pay per view event weekend where FS1 carried prelim matches, but in 2016 the September pay per view moved to the weekend after Labor Day.
* Per ESPN's Adam Rittenberg, the Florida vs. Michigan game from AT&T Stadium may be moved to the Sunday night of Labor Day weekend. ESPN helps to stock the Cowboys Classic event and I would expect this to be for airing on ABC as ESPN would be carrying Sunday Night Baseball. ABC had a nice rating for the Notre Dame at Texas game in an unopposed window last year.
This helps alleviate a glut of neutral site games that ESPN could end up airing with Florida St. vs. Alabama from Atlanta, BYU vs. LSU from Houston (an ESPN operated event), Louisville vs. Purdue from Indianapolis, West Virginia vs. Virginia Tech from Landover, MD and NC State vs. South Carolina from Charlotte.
Could any others have a date change? Maybe. BYU vs. LSU won't be considered for Sunday due to BYU's written policy against Sunday competition. When Charlotte hosted North Carolina vs. South Carolina, the game was hosted on a Thursday night. That date change happened a year in advance of the date of the game and, for now, the Charlotte Sports Foundation continues to list the game for Saturday 9/2 as it may not be able to change until the NFL preseason schedule is finalized.
If NC State-South Carolina remains on a Saturday and is considered a SEC game for TV rights purposes (TV rights will be finalized in February per a request to South Carolina's media relations dept), it may be to CBS's benefit. CBS has sublicensed SEC games the past two season from ESPN for the first two weeks of the season, After the Florida St.-Alabama, BYU-LSU and Florida-Michigan games, the SEC schedule is rather weak with the exception of the game in Charlotte.
Could CBS decide to take one of the SEC games off the top? I suppose they could, but I do not know how it affects other selections later in the season, such as whether CBS would negotiate to have a lesser selection on another Saturday. I have learned, though following this stuff enough & in other aspects of life, that nothing is ever really set in stone anymore. Everything is negotiable.
* The last item for today looks at one of the provisions in the Big 12 contract for the possibility of a Labor Day Sunday game. Three of the last five have had one (all even numbered seasons). While its probably not recommended to compete with the possibility of Florida-Michigan, maybe Maryland-Texas would be looked at if FOX, for example, wanted a game on FS1 after their motorsports coverage (NASCAR trucks & NHRA) on Sunday or a broadcast network game.