Every team has them: rabid fans that just can’t get enough information. They look for any glimpse behind the scenes that they can find, hoping to know about even the most mundane details of the players, coaches and support staff behind the performances that rivet them every game.
Recently, Kansas City Chiefs fans have received such a peek with the new web series “The Franchise”, a bi-weekly look behind the scenes into the daily operations of an NFL franchise. Early episodes have included peeks into the war room on draft night, candid conversations between coaches and players, and at times have made the viewer feel like they are in the room when vital decisions are discussed and made. These have been received very well, with lots of people getting hyped up for and discussing each episode as they come out.
The Kansas Jayhawks are hoping to capitalize on a similar interest in how things work behind the scenes, as they recently announced plans for an 18-part series covering the KU Football program. This series will be distributed on Big 12 Now, the new offering from ESPN+ that focuses on the conference. The first 4 episodes are expected to drop in August and will cover the coaching search and aftermath of hiring coach Les Miles. The remaining 14 episodes will air weekly and will follow the team throughout the season. If you haven’t already seen the trailer, you can catch it below:
Looking at the trailer, a few things immediately jump to mind. First, it seems like Jeff Long was in on this idea early, with actual footage being shot during the coaching search with an eye on creating this type of documentary series. Alternatively, they could have gone back to recreate various shots of important events after the fact, reenacting important scenes to craft the story that we are seeing being told. This definitely seems to be the case with scenes including Les Miles, as I find it hard to believe that they both knew Miles was going to be the main target of the coaching search and that he agreed to be on camera prior to agreeing to take the job.
That being said, I don’t think that using reenactments to tell the part of that story lessens the impact or value of this series, especially as we continue through the season. This series definitely has the potential to shed some extra light on how the program works, and will give the transparency that many people (myself included) were clamoring for during the David Beaty era. Hopefully we will see real evidence of honest self-assessments throughout the program. I’m hoping to see them tackling serious discussion and decisions during the series, even if it is done in a way to spin as much positive press as possible.
Additionally, as “The Franchise” spends quite a bit of time talking about the individual players and providing background on them, this type of show, if successful, could a lot of the lesser-known players get some potential airtime. These additional stories can help fans to build a greater connection to less visible players and could potentially even help spotlight guys that would normally be missed by scouts. Since KU has at least some level of editorial control over the production, I can envision a scenario where this type of show could provide a recruiting edge, especially for players that are worried about getting exposure that they might need to make a push for playing at the next level.
Ultimately, we won’t know exactly how good this peek into the program is until it is complete. But with the success of “The Franchise” so far, it’s a no-brainer for the athletic department to try and build off of that success. But while the Chiefs are jumping into the second act of the Patrick Mahomes story, the Jayhawks are hoping to start at the beginning of what should be a compelling story, as Jeff Long and Les Miles try to bring the Kansas Football program back to respectability. If told correctly, this series has a chance to not only serve as a positive marketing tool for the department, but it could potentially immortalize anything this duo can achieve AS IT IS HAPPENING, which is something that we rarely get to see. I can’t wait to see what it has to offer.