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Reviewing “La Familia” SU Football’s ‘Hard Knocks’ Series

Times are changing. It’s something SU athletics acknowledged five years ago when they began to invest in a digital media team to help with recruiting. There has been noticeable year-by-year improvement in Syracuse’s YouTube, Twitter and Instagram accounts. “Extended Cut” has been one of the bigger hits among fans. The Daily Orange has done some nice reporting on this.

This summer, the digital team has stepped it up to new heights. A long-form video series on Dino Babers’ training camp, titled “La Familia.” All three episodes have eclipsed 10,000 views and the first video netted 24,000 eyes on YouTube. I decided to watch the latest release, Episode 3 of the series, with a critical eye to assess its entertainment value. 

Warning: The following contains satire.

0:03 — Dramatic long shot of Syracuse players leaping up the Carrier Dome’s upper deck bleachers starts us off. I mean this looks sick. There’s no way around that. But it also looks like the kind of workout you would do with the sole intention of looking sick. 

0:13 — Athletic trainer Sean Edinger is screaming his head off. I love this. At one point it sounded like he yelled “I don’t care if you’re alive!” I really don’t think he really said that, but that’s my best guess after rewinding several times. Do not quote Orange Fizz on this.

0:34 — This time quite audibly, Eidnger yells “this is our home.” C’mon Coach, it’s our HOUSE. That’s a botch.

1:44 — Tommy DeVito rolls up looking like Pauly D from the Jersey Shore. Black tank top, two gold chains, shades and a headband with the Italian tricolor on it. This is the content we need.

2:15 — Camera follows players up until they enter the film room. Then the door shuts on the camera. I like that. Can’t risk a secret getting out. Who edits these? The same intern that accidentally told the world Babers was on a five year deal? Can’t be trusted. No cameras in the film room.

4:22 — First player spotlight of the show is Iffy Melifonwu. Excellent choice. And while he didn’t say anything particularly exciting, he looked great in the training footage. 

5:51 — Enough of the sled pushing, let’s do some homework. Mikel Jones and an academic advisor waxed some poetic on the student athlete grind. This was kind of boring, but hey…. It was about school.

6:39 — Kendall Coleman practice montage. Okay.

8:19 — Wow! They were losing me, but I’m here again. Coleman doesn’t only sack quarterbacks at an impressive rate, but he’s also a poet. He read a poem on the program. It went like this.

On an oddly sunny day 

I couldn’t help but stare as the branches stretched and stepped down the hall

Unlike most lemons the lemons on this tree are unusually sweet

And the bark soft and smooth

Although sweet, a kiss would still make one pucker

I’m only vaguely familiar with the tree

But I already think I love her

9:05 — Back to Melifonwu, who gives us some really good insight this time. He’s the youngest of five. They all lived with his mom. His brother Obi is on the Patriots. Iffy was on the field after New England won the Super Bowl in Atlanta. He got to touch the Lombardi Trophy.

11:05 — There’s only one way to end a good training session. La Familia ends the same way. The ice bath way. Lee Kpogba makes his cold tub debut. Everyone is suffering together. It’s a beautiful thing.    


I have to start with the title. It’s a curious choice. Why did they go with the Spanish translation instead of simply going with The Family? Moving past that, it is immediately apparent that the production of this is excellent. It looks almost as professional as Hard Knocks. Content-wise there is a lot of good stuff. The goal should be to humanize the athletes. They accomplished this with Coleman and Melifonwu in this episode, and others have had the spotlight in prior episodes. The only thing that makes it short of excellent is the lack of drama. Hard Knocks will be entertaining this season because Antonio Brown is freaking out about his helmet, not because Derek Carr is working hard on his footwork. Obviously, a series that comes straight from SU Athletics will never include conflict. That will remain a shortcoming as far as pure entertainment. Regardless, from a recruiting perspective, this is an A+. SU fans should be very glad “La Familia” exists.

The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.


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