HBO’s Aguayo Fail & Touchdown Formula

August 16th, 2017

Ira Kaufman is the most beloved, revered and esteemed Buccaneers columnist in town. He has hung his hat at world headquarters since July 2016. Tampa Bay’s only Pro Football Hall of Fame voter, Ira busts out columns here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and his award winning podcasts fire Tuesdays and Thursdays.


Stick Carriers to the rescue.

Hey, somebody has to give Hard Knocks some intrigue after two rather bland episodes.

This show obviously has a lot of appeal in the Bay area because Buc fans are hungry for any morsel about their football team. But when you get past Spring Hill and Lakewood Ranch, is anybody watching this supposed “inside” look at a franchise on the rise?

We’re going to devour each episode because hey, hey, it’s the Buccaneers and we were hooked from the start. We’re into Riley Bullough and Ryan Griffin because there’s a chance they will wear pewter in the fall.

But from a national perspective, Hard Knocks has failed to reach the end zone. No wonder less than 700,000 viewers tuned in for the first installment, when Bullough got more air time than Kwon Alexander — who will soon be Tampa Bay’s best defensive player, if he isn’t already.

We saw a few glimpses of the Stick Carriers in Tuesday night’s episode, teasers designed to whet the appetite for what’s to come.

This growing movement deserves to be a main course for an HBO crew desperate for something new.

We don’t need any more looks at Gerald McCoy’s man cave or Robert McClain’s art work. Miko Grimes has had her say and we have heard Dirk Koetter swear like a sailor.


HBO’s Aguayo Miss

Buc brass, of course, has to be delighted with the opening two hours. There’s not a shred of controversy to be found at One Buc Place, despite all those cameras and all that footage.

Can we get a single mention of Doug Martin’s suspension? Where’s Ali Marpet? Anybody notice Chris Baker isn’t too fond of practicing?

This sanitized version of the 2017 Bucs needs a jolt — and takeover day is a good place to start. Jameis Winston was thrilled by the passion and energy that came from the bleachers that memorable morning, a practice session unlike any in Buc history.

But if you’re watching in Memphis or Albuquerque, you’re thinking same old Bucs. Nothing to see here.

HBO lucked into a compelling story line when Roberto Aguayo was released and cameras detailed the scene in Jason Licht’s office. It was emotional, it was real and it reminded us of what this show was supposed to be about.

Once Aguayo walked out the door, Licht should have been interviewed by those same crews about his failed draft-day gambit. Instead, Hard Knocks punted.

Stunning Rebuke

The one constant theme through two episodes is the leadership and drive of the man-child under center. Winston has fun doing his job and his concern for teammates is inspiring.

In the wake of Griffin’s shoulder injury, Winston’s stunning rebuke to a couple of reserve offensive linemen on the bench provided a brief moment of gripping theater.

Winston said what he had to say and moved on. Before the preseason opener in Cincinnati, he assured Griffin that he had his back. Then he proved it.

With three more episodes remaining, Hard Knocks needs a touchdown. I’ve got a winning game plan.

Turn the next episode over to the Stick Carriers. Let their story siege the day for 20 minutes or so. Show viewers from coast to coast that things won’t be the same in the stands at Raymond James Stadium, where teams like the Bears and Giants traditionally enjoy a shameful home-field advantage.

Koetter is tired of seeing thousands of out-of-town jerseys in the crowd. He sees an opportunity to build a dynamic fan base after a 10-year lull and he’s all in.

Memo to HBO: Speak softly and clue the rest of the nation into this movement.

Watch your ratings rise. Touchdown, Tampa Bay.

52 Responses to “HBO’s Aguayo Fail & Touchdown Formula”

  1. grafikdetail Says:

    the show is already boring (to you) let’s focus more on the fans to living it up… yeah great idea — no thanks LOL… let HBO do their job… they’re the pros 🙂

  2. SCBucsFan Says:

    C’mon Ira – you think the rest of America cares about the fannies in the Bucs seats? The problem as I see it is its too much about McCoy who is as vanilla as it comes. It was great to see Winston going after the lineman, this show has shown me he is much more of a leader then I imagined.

  3. BucFamous Says:

    Sorry Ira—I don’t agree with this take at all. First, Hard Knocks’ rating are horrible every year, because it usually only gets regional interest and then just fleeting mild curiosity from the rest of the country.

    As far as “interviewing Licht,” you realize the Bucs would never allow that on the air.

    HBO knows what they’re doing—this isn’t their first rodeo.

  4. johnnybuc Says:

    i thought the first episode was pretty boring but last nights show was actually really intriguing it got more into the interactions between players and had real game footage and obviously the aguayo favorite part of the show had to be either jameis walking out for practice with stick carriers chanting his name or jameis getting after those backup line men for getting griffen hurt, that’s leadership at its finest

  5. stpetebucsfan Says:

    I honestly can’t tell the difference between this HK and those that have preceded it.

    HK has never been a football show! It’s human interest show. If you’re a football junkie then yeah you’d like to see more about our actual star football players.

    But clearly they find GMC and Batman more entertaining. The Joe Dirt scenes were great with the pics of Riley and Joe Dirt and at his parents request Fabio.

    I do not disagree that folks outside the Tampa Bay area are not as intrigued as us. But they also don’t need another rehash of our depth chart…which stars are playing well and which are not.

    We already have the NFL net for 24-7 coverage of that…toss in BSPN..Fox Sports..CBS Sports yadda yadda yadda….football junkies will get plenty about Kwon and our stars.

  6. InJameisWeTrust Says:

    You may have meant nothing negative from it, but I disagree with referring to Winston as a man-child. Plus I disagree about hard knocks being bland and think you guys maybe a bit rough on Baker. I wouldn’t want to watch Raiders Hard knocks babble about the black hole,or Cleveland hard knocks rave about the dawg pound and viewers out of market don’t give a spit about the stick carriers.

  7. mike n Says:

    Gerald seems a little silly to be nice. The shot of Jameis going over to 2 O lineman and telling them Griffin is hurt but keep smiling/ have fun….. that was awesome just like last week when Jameis stood for O’Canada and everyone else got their ass up a second later.

  8. TheBucsAnthem Says:

    I honestly thought last night’s episode was a little bit dull

    I could care less about anything GMC….

    I think the reason why we’re not getting what we what to see more of is because of the moto the hard knock crews promised the franchise before they brought the cameras in and that is “To be as unobtrusive and as invisible as possible”

    They’re not there to do interviews about PRESSING SUBJECTS and I think that’s what IRA is missing…….kinda missing the point honestly.

    It’s not like the formula is any different from any other HBO hard knocks I’ve watched over the years from three different teams…….all the same formula.

    As bucs fans, we always want more…….but the show is what it is.

  9. CautiousOptimism Says:

    “Once Aguayo walked out the door, Licht should have been interviewed by those same crews about his failed draft-day gambit. Instead, Hard Knocks punted.”
    HK punted all right, as do the fans and local media. No one is putting the screws to Licht for this colossal debacle that effectively cost us a playoff appearance in 2016.
    Hey Ira, why don’t you take the initiative and solicit some accountability for this situation from the GM that apparently can’t do no wrong?

  10. JB Says:

    I agree it’s been pretty bland to start. Seeing where Jameis grew up was a good start, but there are a lot of players on the team, to StPete’s point, as a human interest show, would be just as compelling.

    I had a mixed reaction to Jameis scolding the reserve OL-men. If they were in fact not upset and laughing on the bench afterwards, they deserved it. If it wasn’t in that context, Jameis comes off like a bully. I’m going to have to re-watch it bc the show clearly is so slow I don’t even remember the “good parts”.

  11. NewTampaChris Says:

    Does Hard Knocks ever have any appeal to fans of other teams? I’m completely immersed in the Bucs, in general, but this is the first time I’ve ever watched Hard Knocks. And I’ve had HBO for years. I could not care less about the inside story of the Falcons or Rams. And I hate to tell you…fans in other cities will care even less about the Stick Carriers than they will about the team overall.

  12. tmaxcon Says:

    hard knocks is no different than any other garbage production from the entertainment industry today. Writing talent is gone in all aspects of entertainment all they can do is sequels of sequels of sequels and comic book movies not sure why anyone expected hard knocks to be of any substance.

  13. tmaxcon Says:

    hopefully GMC was paying attention to Jameis. No one celebrates a loss like the soft one.


    There is no context Jameis did the right thing PERIOD… It’s a game yet a business… GMC’s soft arse leadership kept the bucs in the basement no we have a real leader it’s going to hurt some feelings. time to man up or get out of jameis’s way

  14. Wausa Says:


    Love your podcasts and stories, but I think you are stating the obvious in this one.
    Don’t you think the area where a team is located is going to have the most interest?

    The ratings are up significantly from last year, but I think most hard knock shows are not out to get groundbreaking stories.
    Hard Knocks is more about the drama and lives of the players.

    The Bucs are not a team in transition, they are grounded and one of the most talented teams in the league and the coaches and players know it. That is why you are not seeing a Chad Ocho Cinco acting like an idiot or a Jared Goff not knowing the sun rises in the East and sets in the West.

    I for one am glad there is little drama outside of cutting players or an injury.

  15. volbuc1 Says:

    Only way to fill the stadium with fair weather Tampa residents, is to WIN. You Win they will act like they are life long fans, till they have a losing season. HBO isn’t going to win you any fans no matter how good the show is. My goodness Joe, people pay taxes here, eat, shop, live , work, raise their kids, vote, worship, etc… and they still have the nerve to walk in to Ray Jay with that stinking away jersey on,ONLY because they know they know the Bucs will probably lose. You start beating their sorry a$% over and over again then and only then will they start becoming a fan. Watching an HBO show isn’t going to change there minds.

  16. DBS Says:

    Garbage in Garbage out. That is the way the way other people see this team. This is NOT the Pats, Cowboys or Broncos. They watch constant winners not losers. What has this team given anyone to want to watch? Thursday and Sunday night game ratings are low when this team plays. So Why would this Show be any different? I don’t care what they do with it or to it. It will not change.

  17. Steven007 Says:

    Sorry Ira, but that sounds abysmal. Maybe have a G&T and try again? Could you imagine watching the recent Rams Hard Knocks and having 20 minutes devoted to their brand new Ram Tough Krewe (yes, I just made that up)? It would be bore ‘em at the Forum for everyone but Rams fans (and probably also Rams fans). Spend a few minutes on it? Sure. But 20 is egregious. I want the focus on Bucs players and coaching staff. Not some fans. I get enough of that as a participant during home games.

  18. stpetebucsfan Says:

    Dang…I don’t know what some of you expect from Licht? For those who have watched that great GOT scene where Cercei has to walk through the streets while the citizens chant…”Shame…Shame…Shame…Shame.

    Does not work for me…Cercei looks a lot better nude that TL. LMAO

    Really just get the F over it. It was a mistake. It’s not his only mistake…won’t be the last mistake…but look at all the success!!!

  19. stu Says:

    Baker=stay puff marshmellow man

  20. Bucamania Says:

    In addition to Jameis, I love what I’m seeing/hearing from Dirk Koetter and jason Licht. Man, this team has the right coaches and players in place FINALLY!

  21. Mike Johnson Says:

    The HBO show is what it is Ira. it cannot be what YOU..want it to be. HBO is working with what they up an coming team who’s not been to the playoffs in eons! Tampa is a small city market and its not going to attract anybody outside of Fl until they go to the playoffs, win a division championship or the superbow. Actually, HBO is doing a very good job…under the circumstances.

  22. bucsfaninchina Says:

    No social media warriors, aka Stick Carriers please. Focus on the team. i’ve found the first two hours intriguing without having to interview downhome Tampa country folk

  23. Lamarcus Says:

    As a fan I’m enjoying hard knocks

    As insiders like Joe and ira it’s got to be bland

    Normal. But too much McCoy I do agree with.

    And yes. Nobody watching this but bus fan

  24. Roy T. Buford Says:

    Feature the stick carriers on HBO and Bucs are the laughing stock of the league. Kudos to the group, but Packers, Steelers, Cowboys, Patriots….you get the picture…fans are just as rabid in much larger droves. I thought the “they are loud today” fans got the right amount of attention. The media is setting up Bullough as either the sad cut-down segment in HC’s office or a huge success story. Hard Knocks picks a guy like that every year. Let them focus on Jaemeis and GMC…fine….more the mantra of Dirk’s big stick anyway.

  25. Hawaiian Buc Says:

    What’s funny to me is the same people that were scared of Hard Knocks as a possible distraction are complaining there isn’t enough controversy in the show? Huh? The show has been fantastic in my opinion. We have a great cast of characters, and the show is highly entertaining. My wife (who could care less about football) has loved both episodes. You see, that’s what so many of you don’t get. Hard Knocks isn’t made for football fans. It’s made for everyone. It has been highly entertaining, but we are only going to get snippets of the stuff we really want to see. That’s just the way it works. You have to take the show for what it is. If you don’t, you’re going to be disappointed.

  26. Hawaiian Buc Says:

    Since most of my friends are not Buc fans, I have a pretty good insight to what they think about the show. Everyone I talked to thought the first episode was okay, but the second was really good. Everyone loves GMC and Jameis.

  27. Hawaiian Buc Says:

    Wait a second, maxi pad had something negative to say about GMC? No way, that can’t be true. I thought the circus left town already?

  28. Hawaiian Buc Says:

    “Feature the stick carriers on HBO and Bucs are the laughing stock of the league. Kudos to the group, but Packers, Steelers, Cowboys, Patriots….you get the picture…fans are just as rabid in much larger droves.:”


    That’s simply not true. If it is, why are players like JJ Wilcox saying they’ve never seen anything like it? You can watch other teams training camp on TV, and none were anything like ours on that day.

  29. Wausa Says:

    Good post(s) @Hawaiian Buc

  30. unbelievable Says:

    Winston going after the reserve o-lineman was probably my favorite part.

    I hope to see more about the stick Carriers as well. Even though we are past that day chronologically, there’s no reason HBO couldn’t do more with it in the next episode (they don’t put all the clips in exact order anyways as we’ve seen).

    But Ira, didn’t we hear that the ratings for the 1st show were something like 30% higher than last year? I’d say that its doing alright then…

  31. Q Says:

    Very true hawaiian

  32. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    I disagree with Ira for the first time. The stick carriers do not deserve more coverage. Tell me, after that one big day…how full were practices filled with fans?

    Every video I saw showed plenty of empty seats.

    So I have to wonder, did the stick carriers just show up for the cameras or do they REALLY want to support the team? You want to show the national media things have changed? Then have a presence that cannot be denied.


    So far as Hard Knocks, I enjoyed it. But to be honest…I never watched any other season of it, so why expect non Bucs fans to watch it? I heard ratings were good.

    What Ira failed to do is check the ratings for previous seasons of the show. 700,000 isn’t that far below the all-time average.

  33. Eric Says:

    Ratings for first episaode was up 32% over last year.

  34. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    Oh, the Premiere had a 32 percent jump in the ratings of last year’s premiere.

  35. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    tmaxcon, it must really suck being you. Always so negative. I pity ya.

  36. Nosetackle Says:

    Roy T. Buford I Agree. I might add the xtra motivation/push behind the stick carriers/fans is self serving for a couple of profit minded folks.

  37. koby kilpatrick Says:

    I just read someone complaining cause they aren’t getting drama or seeing what they want (Ali Marpet/Doug Martin).

  38. BFFL Says:

    I like the part where they showed a jw pass in slow mo and it took up a quarter of the show…lol

  39. RayJameisStadium Says:


    Ira missed his beet salad last night. This was an Aguayo like article. But just like with Aguayo, I’m over it. I’m looking forward to your next article.

  40. pick6 Says:

    the stick carriers thing is cool, but HBO has no way of telling how ephemeral or sustained the phenomenon might be, so they may not want to hand several minutes over to naming and detailing it. i mean, it only spilled over into the real world 3 months ago (draft party) and is based on a quote from a coach who is in the 2nd year of coaching in a place that hasn’t let a coach stick around for more than 3 years in a decade.

    also, whether we like it or not the fan base has a reputation for being extremely fair weather, and the weather hasn’t been fairer in a decade and a half, so you’ll have to forgive their skepticism that there’s a fan movement afoot that deserves a third of an episode to explain.

    i think they made good use of the energetic takeover footage. sorry the JBF media family didn’t get the publicity of getting the word “stick carriers” on the episode, but they did make buc fans look good

  41. pick6 Says:

    re-reading the article. Ira, it’s your column and you can use it however you want, but that felt like an advertisement wrapped in a complaint, and not a sportswriter’s column. i get that JBF (in which i include commish, ira, etc) wants to ride the #stickcarrier thing to as much national prominence as it can create, but….when others pick up on it, it’s journalism. when you are dedicating more copy than all other journalists combined to a thing that JBF effectively co-created, it’s not journalism, it’s publicity\advertising

  42. InJameisWeTrust Says:

    Completely agree with pick6. This one is a swing and a miss, Kaufman

  43. Pickgrin Says:

    “This growing movement deserves to be a main course for an HBO crew desperate for something new.”

    “Memo to HBO: Speak softly and clue the rest of the nation into this movement.
    Watch your ratings rise.”

    The “Stick Carriers takeover” was 1 practice a week and a half ago. How much and for how long do you expect HBO to milk footage from the 1 practice.

    If those who named and claim some degree of leadership of/affiliation with this “movement” wanted a higher degree of visibility that the Hard Knocks cameras could easily assist with – then why weren’t there multiple TC “takeovers” planned? Or at least more than the 1 time…

    Hate to say it Ira but it almost sounds like you are whining that HBO didn’t feature the stick carriers as much as you guys would have liked.

    I thought they afforded the moment with the appropriate treatment and attention. They showed the fans being loud and very into that practice and the players responding.

    What did you expect? For the HK narrator to say – “the ‘Stick Carrier’ movement – started by a podcast warrior named The Commish and organized via the good folks at (best source of Buccaneer news anywhere) is really making their presence known at training camp…” LOL

  44. Steven007 Says:

    Pick6, Pickgrin, Hawaiian and others, thank you for inserting some sanity into the discussion and saying it better than I did (though I did think the Ram Tough Krewe was a nice touch, ha-ha). Seems Ira’s cereal was replaced with an old tab from the Merry Pranksters 😉

  45. Rob Says:

    NO ONE is tuning into Hard Knocks to watch interviews with fans watching practice.

  46. Bird Says:

    Wa wa wa . Don’t watch then

  47. Nole4JabooANDdBucs Says:

    @grafikdetail, @pick6, @Hawaiian and others thank you!
    I read Ira’s article and had to look twice to convince myself I was reading such absurdity.

    Stickcarriers have to prove themselves just like the team!

    I thought we didn’t whay HKs to be intrusive and a distraction!

  48. Nole4JabooANDdBucs Says:

    didn’t want

  49. Dreambig Says:

    Hard Knocks has been awesome. Not boring at all. In fact my wife who likes football but always loves background on the players thought this weeks episode was great. We dont need drama, we needs things to keep gong exactly like they are.

  50. Dm4bucs Says:

    Pick6 and pickgrin hit it on the head. These episodes have been far from dull and as a stickcarrier I want to see more about the players, give me some Kwon, Marpet, DSmith, etc.. The movement is supposed to be about the team, not how much HK time we get…

  51. Brett Says:

    I’m such a huge Bucs fan. I did a free trial of HBO for a week, and was so unimpressed I didn’t evn buy a month of HBO to see the rest. Yawn. Making me sleepy just thinking about it.

    BTW they played the Aguayo being cut clip on other sports cable networks.

  52. BurgDweller Says:

    I’ve watched Hard Knocks every year since it debuted in 2001. This season is no different from previous ones. The show is very formulaic and every season they follow a couple players on the bubble. Hence, the following of Roberto McClain and Riley Bullough. The show also focuses a lot on the players personal lives as well. Maybe this is your first time watching Hard Knocks Ira and you were expecting it to be just about football, but that has never been the case with this show.