Coaches wonder if pros outweigh the cons with access shows
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) Coaches view distractions the same as injuries – the fewer the better. That's why Atlantic Coast Conference coaches are cautious about doing an all-access television show such as Showtime's ''A Season With.''
Many don't see the return on their investment as being worth it.
''I would at least want to hear them paint the picture of what it was really going to be like before I said yes or no,'' Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente said.
Many ACC coaches share Fuente's view – they see the benefits, especially with recruiting, but wonder if those outweigh the potential distractions that could occur during four months of shooting.
Florida State has opened its doors for this year's series. The first episode aired on Sept. 6, which was the day after the Seminoles' season-opening win over Ole Miss and airs on Tuesdays through Nov. 29.
The series is similar to NFL Films' ''Hard Knocks: Training Camp'' that airs on HBO during the preseason. North Carolina State coach Dave Doeren likes watching both to see how teams handle preseason practices. But when it comes to finding a strategic edge, especially with the Wolfpack hosting the Seminoles on Saturday, he didn't expect to find one.
While the show may sway a couple future recruits, there are concerns about the potential distraction and impact it could have on a team's season.
The Seminoles were considered to be a national championship contender before the season started but are 5-3 and ranked 19th. It is the first time since 2011 that they have entered November with three or more losses.
''You'd have to look at in totality and see what it did for you. It's certainly not helping them,'' Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson said the program's impact on the Seminoles. ''They're 5-3. I don't know a team who's ever done it who had a good season.''
Stephen Espinoza, the executive vice president of Showtime Sports, said the production crew and school are in constant contact about storylines but that the network retains creative control. Schools see a copy of the show before it airs but that is to make sure no NCAA compliance violations are taking place and there aren't any student-athlete privacy issues, especially with injuries.
''The reasons why the show is successful is it is someone from the outside giving a look at a program. It is something different than what would be produced by a conference or school,'' Espinoza said. ''The bottom line is that it is a relationship of trust. We're trusting the school to be open and candid and they're trusting us to be objective.''
The show is likely to give Florida State another boost with a national audience getting a behind the scenes look Jimo Fisher's program.
Fisher said that high school players who have come in for visits have liked how it gives them a deeper look at the program.
''It is a different experience but it is like they (the production crew) are part of the football staff now,'' Florida State running back Dalvin Cook said. ''It's good that we get to show everyone what we do and the life of an athlete in college.''
Espinoza said that the network would like to get a geographic mix in future seasons but that he would not be averse to another ACC team doing it next year.
Clemson would fit Espinoza's formula: an elite program with a compelling coach, but linebacker Ben Boulware can't see the Tigers doing it, especially since they ban social media during the season.
''People would get to see the ins and outs of what we do, but for the players I think it's a distraction,'' he said. ''Those lights and cameras are cool probably for about a week, but that definitely would get annoying.''
Another unlikely school is Virginia. First-year coach Bronco Mendenhall did a similar series last year when he was at Brigham Young and still regrets the decision.
''People act differently when cameras are around, and no matter how long they're there, there still is an effect,'' he said. ''Highs are a little higher and lows are a little lower, and there's more drama and less work because it's more story.
''After doing it – and I was the one that wanted it and agreed to it – the return on investment didn't give the outcome I was thinking it would.''
AP Sports Writers Aaron Beard in Raleigh, North Carolina, Pete Iacobelli in Clemson, South Carolina, Hank Kurz Jr. in Charlottesville, Virginia, and Charles Odum in Atlanta contributed to this report.
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