The 3 SEC teams I'd want to watch in a 'Hard Knocks' type show
I’m humble enough to admit that not all of my column ideas are 100 percent original.
Every once in a while, you hear a great topic of discussion from someone else in the business.
Shoutout to my guy Peter Burns.
When I was on SEC This Morning with Peter and Chris Doering on Tuesday, they asked a fascinating question that I had a lot of thoughts about:
The NFL is deciding which team they want for Hard Knocks in 2019.
Which College Football Team would make a CFB version of Hard Knocks a MUST watch in 2019?
What team and why?
— Peter Burns (@PeterBurnsESPN) February 12, 2019
For those of you who don’t follow Hard Knocks, it’s an all-access, behind-the-scenes look at an NFL training camp. Players end up hating it because the cameras are everywhere.
We don’t get that access from programs in the SEC. Even the documentary shows that are done by ESPN or SEC Network aren’t spending weeks at a time chronicling all of these interesting stories.
So I thought about Peter’s question and I came up with my own answers.
Here are the 3 SEC teams that I’d want to see a Hard Knocks-type show about:
One thing that makes Hard Knocks great is when they follow a team with tons of pressure heading into the season. It’s like “A Season on the Brink.” Getting to see a close-up look at a team facing a make-or-break season is plenty entertaining. Auburn would be that team in the SEC.
You’d get to see a different look at Gus Malzahn, who’s usually somewhat guarded with the media. We’d get to learn about the man beneath the visor. I’m sure there would be stories about him in his high school coaching days and they’d talk to a bunch of his former quarterbacks. We’d also get to see how Malzahn is handling the play-calling responsibility in this “Gus vs. Everybody” year ahead. We’d all love to hear Malzahn yell after a missed read something to the effect of “What are you doing?! That’s bull crap!”
How Malzahn handles his quarterback room is going to be fascinating. You could do an entire episode on just the quarterbacks.
You’ve got the veteran in Malzahn’s system in Malik Willis. The 24-year-old former baseball player Cord Sandberg would make for the perfect feature subject. It’s not every day you get to dig into a college quarterback who spent half a decade in the minor leagues. It’s also not every day you get to profile a highly-touted incoming freshman quarterback like Bo Nix. Between he and the promising Joey Gatewood, that quarterback dynamic will make for easy material.
Add in the fact that Auburn opens the season with that Oregon matchup and there’s plenty of intrigue surrounding the team.
Can you imagine all the GIFs we’d get of Dan Mullen dancing? So many. Maybe too many? It would be college football’s version of this:
If Bob Wylie isn’t the Browns interim head coach, all hope is lost pic.twitter.com/UfvuKxn1Vf
— Laces Out (@LacesOutShow) October 29, 2018
But in all seriousness, Florida would be a blast to follow. The Gators have some of their swagger back, which could be for better or worse. You’d have the stories about the guys who witnessed the end of the Jim McElwain era who probably thought about leaving.
One of those guys would be Feleipe Franks. I’d love to get a behind-the-scenes look at someone who’s been a hot-button topic of discussion since he stepped foot in Gainesville. We’d get to watch how he interacts with the coaching staff on a daily basis, especially Mullen.
There’s also the added intrigue of the promising Emory Jones entering his second year. It’ll be interesting to see how someone who rarely speaks to the media is handling this whole situation.
Plus, Florida always seems like it has plenty of characters who wouldn’t necessarily clam up when the cameras start rolling. I feel like that’d be true even after guys like Chauncey Gardner-Johnson and Cece Jefferson moved on. I’d bet on there being plenty of players keeping things loose in camp after the season that Florida had.
I realize this isn’t all just about following quarterbacks around, but anything that gets me closer to an all-access look at Joe Burrow and Ed Orgeron is something I support.
Starting with Burrow, you know he’s not lacking confidence. Seeing his leadership qualities play out would make for great television. Like Baker Mayfield was in the most recent season of Hard Knocks, Burrow is a walking soundbite. He’s the same guy who showed up on campus and promptly bet a preseason All-American Devin White $100 that he couldn’t pick him off in practice. In Year 2 of Burrow at LSU, there would probably be a few moments like that.
(I’m now thinking about how awesome it would have been to have a Hard Knocks documentary crew follow around White and his horses.)
I’ve also been curious about Dave Aranda for quite some time. He’s someone you don’t hear much from, but his track record speaks for itself. What’s the closed-door relationship like with Aranda and Orgeron? Do they butt heads? Do they finish each other’s sentences? Does all of that happen?
I’d love to watch Orgeron eat gumbo and tell stories about motivational worm eating. Who wouldn’t? I imagine after the season he had, he can walk into any fine establishment on the Bayou and be treated like a Cajun king. At least I hope he would. And maybe by the end of the show, we could all speak fluent “Orgeron.”
Too ambitious? I guess I’d settle for subtitles if it meant getting a regular dose of behind-the-scenes Orgeron.