CFB’s Top 10 Best “Hard Knocks” Candidates
Tuesday’s premiere of the eighth season of HBO’s “Hard Knocks” got us thinking: Which college programs would we love to see the cameras rolling for?
We start at the bottom of the barrel: the Roadrunners of Texas-San Antonio. (Meep! Meep!)
There’s something captivating about seeing a nascent college football built from the ground up. And in Larry Coker, the show would have a great protagonist: A folksy Oklahoman, one decade after coaching the dominant 2001 Miami Hurricanes, trying to make the most of his last (we assume) opportunity at age 64.
It sounds like the plot of Necessary Roughness. Coker even kind of looks like Fightin’ Armadillos coach Ed “Straight Arrow” Gennero (Hector Elizondo).
Best Potential Scene: Coker staring glassy eyed at a photo of him holding the 2001 BCS championship trophy.
Photo Credit: Jeff Huehn/UTSA
Remember how a foul-mouthed Rex Ryan captured America’s heart two years ago? Just imagine how entertaining the uber-intense Bo Pelini would be. Especially if he was caught on camera talking about wanting to beat up grandfatherly K-State coach Bill Snyder. (Fingers crossed.)
QB Taylor Martinez would be a guy you’re pulling for: The object of Cornhusker Nation’s constant ire, trying to break through and no longer make crippling mistakes. Most important, can the player with a career 57.4 completion percentage prove that he can throw a pass?
Best Potential Scene: The awarding of the black shirts. How awesome would it be to see someone pull a Steve Lattimer and celebrate their “place at the table?” (No, we’re not implying steroid use at Nebraska.)
Photo Credit: Douglas Jones/US Presswire
There’s just something zany about proponents of pass-heavy attacks. And fans/viewers love it.
Head coach Dana Holgorsen lives life the same way he coaches the Mountaineers offense: Fast and loose. He took time out of his summer in June to learn how to fire a musket. He has a penchant for flip-flops, sky-diving and late night trips to nearby casinos.
We wouldn’t be able to turn away. We’d also be curious to see firsthand how QB Geno Smith and other returnees react to the significantly longer road trips. And how Mountaineers fans are still dealing with couch-burning being a felony.
Best Potential Scene: Aside from Holgorsen, watching AD Oliver Luck constantly remind the cameras how awesome his son, Andrew, is.
Photo Credit: Joshua S. Kelly/US Presswire
Ducks head coach Chip Kelly has so many good one-liners that there’s an entire Twitter handle, @Chipisms, devoted to them.
The one that’s most repeated is when he was asked to give an opening statement at a 2011 press conference: “Opening statements? Is this a debate? (Turning to then Oregon running back LaMichael James) LaMichael: Thermonuclear war. Are you for it or against it?”
In addition to Kelly’s “Chipisms,” fans would be very happy to look agape at Oregon’s ridiculous athletic facilities some more. No one said that “Hard Knocks” can’t mix with “Cribs” and have it be good TV.
Best Potential Scene: Kelly and the rest of the football staff sighing/tensing up as they’re told by the receptionist, “Phil Knight is here to see you.”
Photo Credit: Kirby Lee/US Presswire
Whether he’s slapping himself silly or using strange catch phrases to rally his team, John L. Smith is one of the most weirdly entertaining figures in college football. That he’s a last-ditch hire for the Razorbacks in the same year that he files for bankruptcy makes this a juicy, SEC soap opera.
You also have a Heisman Trophy hopeful in running back Knile Davis. Not only is he a man-child capable of squatting 600 pounds, he has a back story that’ll make you pull for him. He’s coming back from an injury that sidelined him for all of 2011 and playing in honor of his beloved stepfather Warren Morgan, who succumbed to lung cancer one month before his freshman season in Fayetteville.
Best Potential Scene: John L. Smith meeting with his accountant after receiving a paycheck.
Photo Credit: Beth Hall/US Presswire
The Ol’ Ball Coach is never one to shy away from a spotlight. He could be sporting a goofy hat at practice (or running one shirtless for that matter) or trading verbal barbs with rival coaches. Whatever it is, he’s going to make waves because everyone loves a good heel.
And there are no fewer than two Gamecocks players you couldn’t turn away from. Running back Marcus Lattimore is a Heisman contender and a first-round NFL prospect attempting to bounce back from a season-ending knee injury in 2011. Defensive end Devin Taylor, while also an intriguing draft prospect, is more entertaining for his apparent penchant for Speedos and cougars.
Best Potential Scene: Spurrier calling former Gamecocks QB Stephen Garcia to see if he’s resisting the Montreal night life.
Photo Credit: Brad Barr/US Presswire
Whereas the other teams on this list would provide fun entertainment, a video chronicle of Penn State’s 2012 season has the potential be an award-winning, gritty sports documentary.
Imagine watching head coach Bill O’Brien about to make a seemingly-innocuous decision before pausing to ask, “Wait, is this something JoePa would have done?” And the audience wouldn’t know whether that’s a good or bad thing.
Or the on-camera interviews from players who opted to stay/honor their commitment to Penn State. Or the PSU lifers and State College residents who have worshipped the Nittany Lions for their entire lives and are now in purgatory with heavy NCAA sanctions.
Please tell us something like this is actually in the works.
Best Potential Scene: Watching the players, especially those returning from last year, react when they see the names on the back of their jerseys for the first time.
Photo Credit: Rich Barnes/US Presswire
“Hard Knocks: Washington State.” Suggested alternative title: “Swordplay with Mike Leach.”
See Wazzu’s head coach send unconventional wedding gifts to celebrities. See Leach effortlessly compare his players to Civil War generals. See Leach go on and on about what makes pirates so awesome. See Leach give advice on what to say if your wife has a mustache.
And remember, Leach isn’t just a sideshow. He transformed Texas Tech into a feared Big 12 team in the shadow of Texas, Texas A&M and Oklahoma. Seeing his Air Raid offense click with the Cougars would be immensely satisfying.
Photo Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea/US Presswire
On the field you start with Les "Mad Hatter" Miles. You’ve met him before. He’s been known to subsist on Tiger Stadium grass.
Don’t forget about the players, either. Wouldn’t you love to find out what drives the Twitter eccentricity of Tyrann “Honey Badger” Mathieu (or just his eccentricity in general)?
And Twitter would collapse on itself at first introduction to Mo Isom, the former LSU women’s soccer goalie who’s trying to make the football team as a placekicker. Think of her as a taller, much more attractive version of Danny Woodhead when he was fighting to make the Jets in 2010.
And there's seeing the daily pressure on QB Zach Mettenberger as he tries to make the most of his second chance. His arrest on five misdemeanor charges in a 2010 bar fight got him booted from Georgia.
Best Potential Scene: Miles' driving lessons to his daughter, Smacker.
Photo Credit: Derick Hingle/US Presswire
If you only need one reason, that’s easy: The Song Girls.
Overall, USC is the one college program that can compare to an NFL team in terms of star power.
Lane Kiffin’s wife, Layla, could have a reality series all to herself. She has proven adept at recruiting assistant coaches and would be an Orange County housewife we’d actually pay attention to. Not enough WAG action for you? Let us introduce you to QB Matt Barkley’s girlfriend, Brittany Langdon.
And as a national title contender, they have plenty of steak to back up that sizzle. The arrival of former Penn State star Silas Redd only makes them scarier.The Trojans just know how to have fun.
Best Potential Scene: A tie between watching Kiffin accidentally commit secondary infractions every episode and waiting for Snoop Dogg to drop by practice again.
Photo Credit: Kirby Lee/US Presswire
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