The battle is on between Fox Sports 1 and ESPN, but nary a mention was made during a recent teleconference featuring Ohio State alum Kirk Herbstreit of ESPN’s Saturday morning staple College Gameday.

Still, the presence of new competitor Fox Sports 1 was felt.

A change in College Gameday is proof.

The show’s entire three hours will now air on ESPN. In previous years, the first hour, beginning at 9 a.m., aired on ESPN2.

Herbstreit is in his 18th season on the show that also includes Lee Corso and Chris Fowler, who replaced Craig James. Desmond Howard, a Cleveland native, also appears on the show. That’s some serious longevity for Herbstreit.

He has but one answer when asked why it’s worked so long — chemistry.

Corso and Fowler have always enjoyed a playfully argumentative relationship. Some advised Herbstreit to join in on that, he said. He rejected the idea, saying that he needed to be true to himself.

“And I think what you see now 18 years later, that’s just grown over time and the greatest thing that I love about our show is despite what some fans might think, they never ask us to say anything,” he said. “They never ask us, ‘Hey, can you guys have a fun argument about this topic?’ It’s just they give you the sheet and they tell you what the topics are, and if you happen to agree, then you agree; and if you happen to disagree, you disagree.”

Needless to say, the topic of Ohio State, which opens against Buffalo at noon today, came up during the teleconference. Herbstreit believes the Buckeyes can have a place in the national championship race, which most people expect to include Alabama going for a three-peat under coach Nick Saban.

He was asked to put the national championship picture into focus.

“I think that there are teams that you could probably bring up from each conference that think that they have a shot to get up there and compete,” he said. “Out west, there’s Stanford and Oregon, and I think depending on how that game goes, the team that’s still standing out in the Pac 12 could have a shot.”

And the Buckeyes?

“I think people feel that Ohio State with Braxton Miller, Ohio State offensively, should be really, really talented this year, and they have a lot of freshmen that are going to participate and they seem to be the team to beat in the Big Ten.”

But he cautioned fans that the Buckeyes should not sleep on one team in the Big Ten.

“But I really believe, and as much talk as there is about Ohio State, and I think it’s legitimate, if there’s one team that Ohio State needs to be careful of within their own division, I think it is Wisconsin,” he said. “With a couple of veteran quarterbacks in [Joel] Stave who comes back and senior Curt Phillips, who played late, and they have [wide receiver Jared] Abbrederis back and the running backs are outstanding. I love Melvin Gordon. We’ve seen James White and what he can do. You know they are going to have a great line. Chris Borland is back to lead a pretty physical front seven.”

Channel surfing

Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Cincinnati Bengals airs its season finale Tuesday night. … Fox Sports Ohio will televise 81-of-82 Cavaliers games for the upcoming season. … Green’s Bridget Linton joins FSO as the newest Fox Sports Ohio girl.

George M. Thomas can be reached at Read the Sports Media blog at Follow him on Twitter at and on Facebook at