HBO, which has long produced the excellent documentary series Hard Knocks about NFL teams in training camp, will now be extending its similar 24/7 series to college football, the network announced Wednesday.
And the Florida Gators will be the first team featured.
From an HBO release:
HBO Sports’ landmark franchise 24/7 breaks new ground this October when it launches an all-access college football series chronicling four programs in-season – Florida, Penn State, Arizona State and Washington State – as they meet the demands and challenges leading up to and through gameday, it was announced today by Rick Bernstein, executive producer, HBO Sports.
“For many years, we have been enamored with the storylines and unrivaled traditions of college football, and we’re excited for the opportunity to expand the 24/7 franchise into the realm of college sports,” said Bernstein. “Viewers will feel the tremendous electricity of some of the best atmospheres in the country, and see the meticulous preparation and challenges facing these programs in the build-up to gameday and during the game action. We are excited for the challenge of delivering a four-part series of four different college programs over a four-week period with the production values and storytelling associated with our 24/7 franchise.”
Narrated by Liev Schreiber, the voice of HBO Sports’ Emmy® award winning documentaries and the 24/7 and HARD KNOCKS franchises, this four-part, limited college football series will document the lives of head coaches Dan Mullen (Florida), James Franklin (Penn State), Herm Edwards (Arizona State) and Mike Leach (Washington State), players, assistant coaches and more over one week during the regular season. 24/7 COLLEGE FOOTBALL will run for four consecutive weeks in October, beginning WEDNESDAY, OCT. 2 (10:00 p.m. ET/PT) with an hour-long special spotlighting the Florida Gators. The series is a collaboration between HBO Sports and Lucky 27 Media and Sport & Story.
24/7 COLLEGE FOOTBALL will also be available on HBO On Demand, HBO NOW, HBO GO and partners’ streaming platforms.
It’s important to note, despite most fans being most familiar with Hard Knocks when it comes to HBO and football, that this series branches out from the 24/7 series, not Hard Knocks itself. Bernstein has not been listed as an executive producer on Hard Knocks since 2009, per IMDB, and it’s not clear exactly which HBO Sports personnel will be producing this series beyond one named producer, or how involved they will be — especially given that that producer is named last in HBO’s release.
Sport & Story’s Bo Mattingly serves as an executive producer of the series. Mattingly has produced other college football television programs, including the Kansas University-focused “Miles to Go,” for ESPN+ and “Training Days: Rolling with the Tide,” which followed Nick Saban and the Alabama football program’s training camp, for ESPN.
“We are thrilled to be a part of such a prestigious and award-winning HBO franchise, and work with some of the most talented people in the industry,” said Mattingly. “This is a great opportunity to showcase college football and we appreciate the access these schools have given us for this landmark series.”
Zac Reeder, of Lucky 27 Media, helped develop the concept of the college football series, and will serve as an executive producer. Reeder was an executive producer on “The Outpost.”
Heading up the production team for HBO Sports is vice president & senior producer Bentley Weiner, who has overseen the boxing, hockey, golf, and NASCAR installments of the 24/7 franchise. “This is an exciting new chapter for 24/7,” says Weiner. “We will have camera crews embedded with each team for one week of their respective seasons, with edit rooms running simultaneously in New York, to give viewers a revealing and timely look at what goes on behind the scenes at some of the most interesting programs in college football. We’re thrilled to have a representative from the SEC, Big Ten and two Pac-12 schools as part of this new initiative.”
That said, while I’m not that familiar with the perennially Emmy-winning 24/7 series or with what Mattingly has done for ESPN — I watched about 10 minutes of that Les Miles doc, and the only thing I remember vividly from it is that his daughter’s name is Smacker — I have few qualms saying that the standards for quality are going to be very high.
Consequently, this is probably going to be something that Florida touts a time or two in the run-up to its airing.
I wouldn’t expect that much to be revealed by a series like this, especially with Florida inviting cameras and microphones in leading up to a game against Towson — probably the coaching staff’s preference to having embedded folks prior to this Saturday’s game against Tennessee or the early-October showdown with Auburn — but I do think we should probably be blocking out that hour on October 2, if for nothing else than high-quality documentation of our favorite program.
If there is some semblance of a quarterback controversy between Kyle Trask and Emory Jones as of next week, though, the peek we get behind Florida’s curtains might be truly enlightening.