SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly understands Showtime’s cameras could be a bit of a distraction, but felt the opportunity to showcase the university and football program on another national platform was too good to pass up.
“A Season with Notre Dame Football,” a behind-the-scenes look at the Irish similar to HBO’s “Hard Knocks” series, will premiere Sept. 8 at 10 p.m. ET. Showtime will air 30-minute episodes of the series every Tuesday night throughout the season.
Kelly realizes there’s a risk of added distractions for his players, but said having cameras and production crews embedded with the team — like production company 3Penny Films, NBC camera crews and Fighting Irish Digital Media — isn’t anything new.
[ND CENTRAL: SHOWTIME Sports to chronicle ND season with weekly show]
“It’s kind of something that we’re used to here,” Kelly said. “And to have an opportunity to showcase our program and what we do and how we do it, with the people from Showtime, we thought it was something we couldn’t pass on. That ultimately was why we went with opening up our program to them.”
One thing Kelly made clear is Showtime’s program won’t paint anyone or anything in a negative light. The sixth-year Irish coach expects to have “great collaboration” with Showtime that will lead to episodes providing a look at the football team that isn’t unfair, but also isn’t just P.R.
“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.”
[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Notre Dame fans!]
The biggest benefit to during the Showtime series, though, comes in recruiting. Notre Dame already plays all its home games on NBC (the Shamrock Series will be on NBC Sports Network this year), and frequently earns primetime kickoffs on ABC even if it’s playing a sub-par opponent. But with recruiting far more competitive than it was 25 years ago, Kelly sees the benefit in getting his message out to high schoolers on another platform.
“We’re definitely going to be able to tell our story each week during the year,” Kelly said. “We’re going to talk about a lot about why we think 17 year olds should come to Notre Dame.”