That nip in the air means only one thing—it’s that time of year again! The best season in sports is finally upon us with all its demonstrative glory and pride. As college football returns around the nation, one television network is granting unparalleled access to fans and audiences to one of the country’s best teams.
Last month Showtime announced it would chronicle the full season of Notre Dame’s Fighting Irish in a documentary series with an unrivaled behind-the-scenes look at Coach Brian Kelly’s 2015 team as they play like champions to achieve greatness and fight for the national title.
Set to run 11 more 30-minute episodes weekly throughout the entire college football season, A Season with Notre Dame Football premiered last night as part of the premium cable network’s football block, following a victorious season opener against the Texas Longhorns last Saturday.
Though Notre Dame practically already has its own network on national television with NBC since its partnership in 1991, the Showtime series shadows the Fighting Irish and their coaching staff with a bold look inside the dedication of this team.
The premiere episode follows how practice makes perfect with access to the ups-and-downs of the student-athletes—young men who play each week, while juggling the rigors of their academic lives. It isn’t easy and we can see the struggles in their faces and actions.
From cameras at the training grounds in Culver, to the South Bend campus, the show takes viewers and fans to the locker room, the classrooms, dorms, houses, and apartments of coaches and players as they create a balanced and concrete mindset for their quest to win and prove their value. With the Fighting Irish bringing new quarterback Malik Zaire to the forefront as they dive into the 2015 season, it will be particularly interesting to watch the team work together.
In an interview with Comcast Sportsnet, A Season With‘s excutive producer, Jason Sciavicco explained the dynamics behind depicting and presenting the lives of Notre Dame’s student athletes.
“We wanted to make sure with this show it wasn’t just about football,” Sciavicco said. “All these kids go to class still and we thought it was important to show within the show that they don’t just do football, they have to balance academics and football. And we explained that to the professors and the administration, and they agreed. They want to show that side of it. Notre Dame is very proud of their academic standards, so that’s definitely a big piece of our show.”
Executive Vice President and General Manager, Stephen Espinoza of Showtime Sports expressed his excitement in a press release of the unprecedented access network cameras would have at Notre Dame, following the players and coaches.
“We’re honored and thrilled to be granted access to profile a college football program with a legacy as storied and as fascinating as the Notre Dame Fighting Irish,” said Espinoza. “The passion of the players and head coach Brian Kelly will make for a compelling television series that will appeal beyond hardcore college football fans to all viewers who appreciate great storytelling.”
There’s great potential to a documentary series like this. With Notre Dame football being so rich in history and beloved by so many, an exclusive look into the world of college football will make it a compelling one to watch every week. Throughout the season, we will not only understand the heart of the sport, but the players who are making history. Nonetheless, it will be interesting to watch and think, how much do we really see?
“The last thing we want to be is exploitative,” said Espinoza. “We realize that that the things we depict can have a lasting impact.”
Since HBO’s NFL training camp series, Hard Knocks and their complex, multi-layered series State of Play that explored the relationship of sport to larger societal issues, documentary-style programs about the intricacies of sports have become popular with television networks, catapulting many to invest in this new found genre.
The last time Showtime worked with the prestigious university was for HOOPS U, a documentary following the Notre Dame men’s basketball team through the final months of the regular season, both on and off the court and into the ACC Tournament.
The football team’s coach Brian Kelly spoke out, saying he sees a great benefit in inviting the Showtime cameras on campus.
“I think anytime that you’re putting together a weekly show, you want to make sure that you’re real and it’s not, you know, a public service announcement each week,” Kelly said. “We get that, and Showtime and their production people want something that is certainly indicative of what goes on here on a day-to-day basis. Having said that, we never want to embarrass any players, coaches, or the university. I think we’re pretty clear on how we’ll collaborate in getting that to that end.”
Irish fans can keep up with all the action of their favorite team week-in and week-out every Tuesday at 10pm on Showtime and Showtime On Demand. Be sure to check your local listings!
A Season With (@ASeasonWith) September 01, 2015