The season debut of the HBO series “Hard Knocks” debuted Tuesday night, and the team in focus this year is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Coach Dirk Koetter has joked that “we got a little Boise State ‘Deep South’ working here.”
Boise State’s numerous ties in the premiere were on display. Naturally, Koetter was seen plenty, and while talking to quarterback Jameis Winston in his office, a Boise State helmet the team wore in the time he coached the Broncos (1998-2000), an Idaho State helmet and a Highland High helmet were seen. Koetter played at Idaho State, and played and coached at Highland in Pocatello.
First among the rookies getting the spotlight wasn’t first-rounder O.J. Howard but fifth-rounder Jeremy McNichols, the former Boise State running back. Special teams coach Nate Kaczor told Koetter that McNichols “looked nice” working in the passing game.
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“He started as a receiver at Boise State his first year, he was a wideout,” Koetter said.
McNichols is highlighted trying to catch up to the small details of the game, knowing the ins and outs of the Buccaneers’ calls. Coaches tell him to study hard so it becomes natural.
“I’m second-guessing myself sometimes,” McNichols says.
Later, McNichols is seen talking with one of his youth football coaches, the hip-hop superstar Snoop Dogg. He’s “Coach Snoop” in McNichols’ phone, but he calls him “Uncle Snoop.”
“All the things you learned in college are going to be super-sized, times two,” Snoop says.
“That’s real. At this level, it’s all mental, I learned that fast,” McNichols responds.
Snoop tells him, “Jeremy, you know I love you.”
Fellow rookie and former Boise State player Thomas Sperbeck was shown in the montage of players being cut early in training camp. Sperbeck was let go July 30 and was given an injury settlement because of a hamstring injury.
“You did nothing wrong, you can’t beat yourself up over that, because you can’t control it,” Koetter said.
Former Boise State running back Doug Martin, entering his seventh season with Tampa Bay, has made two Pro Bowl teams and rushed for 4,227 yards in his career. He will be suspended the first three games because of a PED violation, but he’s still No. 1 on the depth chart. That storyline is bound to be part of the series, but Martin stole the one scene he appeared in Tuesday for another reason.
As rookie cornerback Maurice Fleming was singing “Dancing Machine” by The Jackson 5 in front of the team, Martin jumped on stage and did Michael Jackson’s famous moonwalk.
Former Boise State cornerback Jonathan Moxey also plays for the Bucs.