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What exactly is BTN's Ohio State 'Hard Knocks'-esque 'Scarlet and Gray Days'?

We talked to BTN about what to expect in the first episode of their behind the scenes look at Ohio State's fall camp, "Scarlet and Gray Days".

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By now, you've probably heard of the ambitious new show about Ohio State that's going to debut tonight, "Scarlet and Gray Days", which can be found on the Big Ten Network at 7 p.m. Eastern tonight. The program, brought to you by the same crew that produces BTN's critically acclaimed "The Journey", will provide a multi-episode, behind the scenes, documentary style look into Ohio State's fall camp. The first episode will include a look at the "Big Brother" meeting between freshman and upperclassmen, one on one time with Cardale Jones, Taylor Decker and Joshua Perry, show Urban Meyer's first team meeting, and more.

You don't have to listen to the teaser clips for very long to hear a familiar voice that isn't on the team at all, actor J.K. Simmons, who will be providing the narration throughout the series. Show producer Bill Friedman told us that "one of the biggest appeals to having him is that he's a huge Ohio State fan." Simmons, of course, briefly attended Ohio State and lived in Ohio as a teen. If he doesn't make at least one "not my tempo" reference about the Big Ten's plodding offenses though, we'll consider it a missed opportunity.

The program has drawn a lot of comparisons to HBO's popular "Hard Knocks", a documentary style look at NFL teams, but BTN President Mark Silverman pushed back on that comparison some in an earlier conversation with us, and Friedman did as well. The NFL can mandate a certain level of access that BTN can't, after all. And even though salty language may be common on the practice field, BTN isn't on HBO, so don't expect a parade of *bleep*s either.

Comparisons to "The Journey" may be more apt, considering that it's BTN's highest profile documentary program and Scarlet and Gray Days uses many of the same production crew members, but it also won't quite be the same. "We discussed this prior to filming, and we really wanted this show to have its own identity. We've taken specific steps to make it not seem like The Journey." The Journey, Friedman says, doesn't have a narrator, but Scarlet and Gray days does. "That affords us an opportunity to write, to be a little more descriptive."

Launching such a show like this is a massive logistical operation, involving a large team of people who have been on the road, quickly editing and parsing through 4 terabytes of footage, and  "lots of 5 a.m. wake ups, and lots of times we're not done filming until 9, 10 at night," per Williamson. Such efforts haven't dulled any appetite for future expansive projects though. We wouldn't be surprised if the BTN crew is following another Big Ten team's camp next season.

But that's next season. They're in Columbus now, and if you want a chance to see a side of camp, and of many OSU athletes that you might not get otherwise, tuning in tonight would be a good decision.