WSU football to be featured on HBO show

The Cougars will be on a ‘Hard Knocks’-type show this fall.

By Theo Lawson / The Spokesman-Review

It’s official: Washington State’s football program will be spotlighted in an HBO program this fall modeled after the network’s “Hard Knocks” documentary series.

Saturday morning, the school teased HBO’s arrival — and recognized rumors that started floating last week for the first time — with a Tweet from the Washington State Football account.

A graphic shows Cougars cornerback Marcus Strong placing a helmet over his head, with a text overlay reading “Coming Soon: The Cougs on HBO.”

No other details have been released yet, like if the program will adopt the same “Hard Knocks” name the network’s NFL reality show uses, or when the show will actually visit WSU’s campus. HBO representatives visited Pullman Thursday and sent a camera crew to Friday’s late afternoon practice at Martin Stadium.

It’s expected that the show will return to the Palouse for one week during the regular season, presumably coinciding with a WSU home game. The Cougars host four Pac-12 games in 2019: UCLA (Sept. 21), Colorado (Oct. 19), Stanford (Nov. 16) and Oregon State (Nov. 23).

A report from earlier in the week indicated HBO was planning to focus on four schools: WSU, Arizona State, Penn State and Alabama. The series will apparently film an Oct. 12 game between the Cougars and Sun Devils in Tempe.

Eighth-year WSU coach Mike Leach figures to be a major focal point in the show’s coverage of the Cougars. Cameras and boom microphones were at Leach’s hip the majority of Friday’s practice, but also picked up sound and footage from various drills, dropping a mic and camera into the popular “bull in the ring” drill the Cougars open every practice with.

Leach didn’t formally brief players about the show’s arrival, but once he noticed HBO cameras around the perimeter of the field, he told the Cougars in their pre-practice huddle “just to ignore them.”

“It’s all right,” Leach said. “Just ignore them. Practice ignoring the cameras, because they want a genuine look and we’re not going to get our work done unless we effectively ignore one another.”

The “Hard Knocks” NFL show, currently in its 14th season, offers unmatched glimpses into the professional and personal lives of players, filming in their locker rooms, meeting rooms and occasionally following athletes into their homes.

It’s unclear how the show’s access would change at the college level, or if the privacy of the student-athletes would be protected in any instances by FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) laws.

“I don’t care, it’s just cameras,” WSU right tackle Abe Lucas said. “It doesn’t matter to me. Half the time there’s so many cameras out here and I don’t know what they’re for, so I don’t care.”

Added Lucas: “I don’t watch TV too much as it is, so I don’t know a lot about HBO. And I don’t really have an opinion on it, I haven’t really thought about it.”

Inside linebackers coach Roc Bellantoni said the show would bring good exposure to the school that would help on the recruiting trail — and didn’t think the cameras were too much of a distraction on day one.

“They get to see us in a different light,” he said.

Talk to us

More in Sports

University of Washington Men's Soccer team plays UCLA at home on September 22, 2019.
Community sports roundup: Bartlow picked 6th in MLS draft

The UW defender and south Snohomish County native was selected by the Houston Dynamo.

Los Angeles Rams pass game coordinator Shane Waldron is seen before the NFL football NFC championship game against the New Orleans Saints Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Report: Seahawks to hire Rams’ Waldron as new O-coordinator

The 41-year-old was L.A.’s pass-game coordinator for the past three seasons under coach Sean McVay.

FILE - Seattle Seahawks offensive tackle Chad Wheeler (75) is shown before an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta, in this Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020, file photo. The Seattle Seahawks said Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021, that offensive lineman Chad Wheeler is no longer a member of the team following his arrest last weekend for investigation of domestic violence. (AP Photo/Danny Karnik, File)
Seahawks cut ties with Wheeler after domestic-violence arrest

The offensive lineman, who was set to become a free agent in March, was charged with three felonies.

Seattle Sounders sporting director Chris Henderson greets a player after a soccer training session Monday, Feb. 22, 2016, in Seattle. The Sounders play Club America in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal round on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Opportunity too good for Cascade High grad to pass up

Former soccer standout Chris Henderson looks forward to new position with Inter Miami

Is Mike Hopkins the right coach for the University of Washington men’s baskethall program’s long-term future? (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
POLL: Is Mike Hopkins the right coach for UW hoops?

The Huskies have seen both tremendous highs and discouraging lows during Hopkins’ four-year tenure.

Left, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes celebrates with Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (87) and teammates after the AFC championship NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday in Kansas City, Missouri. The Chiefs won 38-24 (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson). Right, Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady celebrates with his teammates after winning the NFC championship NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers in Green Bay, Wisconsin on Sunday. The Buccaneers defeated the Packers 31-26 (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps).
Old (Brady), young (Mahomes), different Super Bowl 55 awaits

Only 22,000 will be let in the stadium, with vaccinated health-care workers getting 7,500 of the tickets.

Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Kendall Graveman, left, throws to Houston Astros' Alex Bregman during the first inning of a baseball game Monday, July 27, 2020, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Mariners spent offseason building a better bullpen

Seattle added experienced arms to a group that has struggled mightily the past two seasons.

A flag with the new logo for the newly-named Seattle NHL team, the Seattle Kraken, flies atop the iconic Space Needle Thursday, July 23, 2020, in Seattle. The hockey expansion franchise unveiled its nickname Thursday, ending 19 months of speculation about whether the team might lean traditional or go eccentric with the name for the league's 32nd team. Seattle's colors are a deep dark blue with a lighter shade of blue as a complement. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Kraken games to be televised on ROOT Sports

The expansion franchise also hires John Forslund as its new television play-by-play announcer.

Seattle Seahawks wide receiver DK Metcalf (14) runs with the ball as New York Jets inside linebacker Harvey Langi gives chase during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Seahawks position overview: Wide receiver

DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett are a winning duo, but Seattle may need more at receiver.

Most Read