ESPN College Football Championship to feature theme from John Williams

John Williams has composed a new theme for ESPN’s coverage of the College Football Playoff National Championship, titled “Of Grit and Glory.”

The theme will formally debut as TCU faces Georgia for the title on Monday, January 9, 2023.

ESPN’s Martin Khodabakhshian notes the music conveys a feeling of “fear and anticipation, triumph and failure.”

Variety, which broke the news, notes the theme is a joyful overture that moves from a fanfare to an urgent theme with rich orchestrations.

Williams, of course, is well connected to theme music with his signature sound on NBC News and NBC’s “Sunday Night Football.”

“Intercollegiate football has been at the heart and soul of our nation’s life for so long that the opportunity to musically salute this great tradition has been a particularly meaningful joy for me,” said Williams to Variety.

“The games themselves always raise the collective spirit and, in the end, the competition brings us all closer to a place where the concept of winners and losers dissolves into mutual respect and admiration. The invitation to write this music constitutes a great honor for me, and I feel especially privileged to make a small contribution to one of our country’s most treasured traditions.”

The theme, which will be used for the broadcast opening segment, was conducted by Williams with a 96-piece orchestra prior to Christmas with ESPN on hand to capture the moment. ESPN similarly did this with the relaunch of NHL broadcasts on the network.


ESPN has not decided if the theme will be used for other college football coverage beyond the National Championship game.

Williams is set to retire from film scoring after the next installment of “Indiana Jones” hits theatres.