NFL Network has stepped into the big leagues

Eli Manning and the Giants take on the Eli Manning and the Giants take on the Carolina Panthers in a Week 3 matchup Thursday. Photo Credit: AP

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Neil Best Newsday columnist Neil Best

Neil Best first worked at Newsday in 1982, then returned in 1985. His SportsWatch column debuted on Sept. ...

College football is not the same game as the NFL, as Tom Coughlin helpfully pointed out to Greg Schiano after a disagreement about kneel-down protocol Sunday.

And it's not only coaches (and replacement officials) who must learn that lesson. It also affects the people who bring us the action on television.

That is what makes the NFL Network's announcing crew so unusual. Unlike their counterparts in the No. 1 booths at CBS, NBC, Fox and ESPN, Brad Nessler and Mike Mayock moonlight on weekends on big-time college games. So does sideline reporter Alex Flanagan.

The challenge was modest when this group first was assembled in 2011 and NFLN carried games only late in the season as colleges were winding down. Now the network has 13 Thursday games spread over nearly four months, including Giants-Panthers this week.

So how is this going to work, both in terms of logistics and knowledge?