Should there be a college version of Hard Knocks?

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When you enter the months of July and August, everyone starts to get that feel and buzz that football is back. Fans want to get an early sense that their team can do better than what they did the previous season. This is especially true at a place like Penn State, with the Nittany Lions coming off a losing season for the first time under head coach James Franklin.

Getting an inside look at the preparation going on in training camp at Penn State would make for an intriguing storyline to follow in some sort of behind-the-scenes look similar to HBO’s wildly successful Hard Knocks series. Penn State fans got a brief taste of the action behind the scenes in Happy Valley two years ago with HBO’s 24/7 series, which also spent time with the Florida Gators, Arizona State Sun Devils, and Washignton State. But that was focused on just one week’s work heading into a home game.

What if there was a full-blown college version of Hard Knocks chronicling the entire preseason process for one specific team?

Every August, Hard Knocks follows an NFL team through the preseason and it is must-see television for football fans of all ranges. This year’s team in the Hard Knocks spotlight is the Dallas Cowboys, with former Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons a big part of the storyline as a first-round draft pick last spring.

With the success the NFL has with Hard Knocks, I believe HBO or perhaps their main competitor Showtime should aim to bring a college version of Hard Knocks to reality. And if HBO or Showtime passes on the idea, perhaps ESPN or FOX could work something up.

ESPN has dabbled in the concept before, so we know this is right up their alley. In 2018, ESPN produced a four-episode series centered on Alabama. Training Days: Rolling with the Tide. You can still watch the series online with a Hulu subscription.

Big Ten Network also got in on the Hard Knocks-style of fun in 2016 with a three-episode look at Michigan State football, fresh off a Big Ten championship in 2015.

There are several schools that would be very good candidates to be on a Hard Knocks-style series, including Penn State. Notre Dame, Alabama, Ohio State, USC, LSU, Michigan, and Oregon could all make for interesting storylines as well.

I believe there should be a Hard Knocks-style show every year focusing on one specific college football program. It would get great ratings and at the same time show what it takes to go through the grind of training camp to make the team for the season.

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