Bengals next up for “Hard Knocks” series

HBO chose to film the dysfunctional Bengals for its next installment of “Hard Knocks.”

The cable channel and NFL Films chose one of the league’s least-successful teams of the last 18 years for its next “Hard Knocks” training camp series. Last year, the Dallas Cowboys were the ones followed through training camp.

HBO started the program in 2001 with the Baltimore Ravens. Bengals coach Marvin Lewis was the defensive coordinator in Baltimore then, so he’s familiar with how it works. Still, television executives had to do some arm-twisting to get the team to go along.

The Bengals have only one winning record since 1991, when owner Mike Brown took over. One intriguing subplot will be how Brown, who shies away from cameras, comes across in the episodes. Brown didn’t attend a news conference about the show.

If there’s a better fit for “Hard Knocks”, I’m hard pressed to think of it. Having the opportunity to be filmed on a daily basis should make Chad Ocho Cinco’s day and maybe get him to stop crying (literally) about wanting to get traded.

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Couch Potato Alert: 9/5

U.S. Open semifinals and finals
The men’s semifinals start at 12:00 PM ET on Saturday and the women’s final takes place at 8:00 PM ET that evening. The men’s final will take place on Sunday, starting at 4:00 PM. All matches will be broadcast on CBS. Here’s the TV schedule and Christopher Glotfelty’s preview of the matches.

San Diego State at Notre Dame
Both programs are reeling, hanging on for dear life, and just trying to find players to line up on the field. The Irish are on a roll, sort of, coming into this year’s opener with a modest two-game winning streak from last season. SDSU is coming off an embarrassing home-opening loss to Cal-Poly San Luis Obispo, which was their second home loss to the Mustangs in three seasons. This contest will played on Saturday in front of a nationally-televised audience on NBC at 3:30 PM ET.

Miami at Florida
This prime-time matchup used to be circled on the calendar of all college football fans as a must-see game with the winner gaining the advantage in the battle for the top recruits from the state of Florida. But times have changed; the Canes are coming off a 5-7 season, and just trying to get the program back on its feet. Oddly enough, Miami has a 12-8 all-time record at “The Swamp.” Tune in Saturday night at 8:00 PM ET on ESPN for another chapter in this in-state rivalry. [Official Smack Talk Thread]

Arizona Diamondbacks at Los Angeles Dodgers
Less than a week ago, the Dodgers seemed to be free falling in the NL West pennant race. They lost 9-3 in the opener of a three-game series in Arizona, and things didn’t look good with the Diamondbacks starting Dan Haren and Brandon Webb that weekend. But the Dodgers turned their season around by scoring 13 runs against the Arizona’s top two pitchers and were able to win both games. The rematch is set for this weekend at Dodger Stadium, with Friday night’s game on ESPN and Saturday’s contest on Fox’s regional baseball telecast.

Dallas Cowboys at Cleveland Browns
You could call this encounter “The Battle of the Media Darlings.” With five prime-time games this season, the Browns are trying to prove that their 10-6 record last season was no fluke. They play host to the Cowboys, who seem to be everyone’s fashionable Super Bowl pick. And if you’ve been watching “Hard Knocks” on HBO, you know that the Boys’ roster depth has taken a big with several pre-season injuries. Dallas fans shouldn’t be concerned, however, as every one of their 13 Pro Bowlers will be in uniform on Sunday. Check your local Fox listings to see if they are televising this game at 4:00 PM ET. [Anthony Stalter’s preview of the game.]

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