A solution to the Hard Knocks dilemma

HBO has a problem. The network that airs the ultra-popular Hard Knocks television series just can’t seem to find a compelling team willing to participate in 2012.

Compounding the issue is the fact that despite the 32 franchises the NFL has to offer, HBO doesn’t have 32 options to choose from. The show needs a big market team with even bigger personalities. The same reason many of us would love to see the Saints or Jets on the program is the same reason why we wouldn’t necessarily want to watch the Rams or Cardinals.

So how does HBO solve the problem?

Simple. Abandon the current format and adopt the one used by HBO’s other popular sports series, 24/7. Instead of following one team through training camp, follow two teams scheduled to play each other in Week 1 up to and through the conclusion of the game. It’s a successful formula implemented for every Floyd Mayweather fight and has also been used in each of the last three years for the NHL’s Winter Classic.

According to the New York Post, the Giants, Jets, Broncos, Falcons, Texans, 49ers and Redskins have already turned down the opportunity to appear on Hard Knocks this season. And while that eliminates several marquee games scheduled for Week 1, I believe there is still an option on the table that would satisfy all of our desires.

Oakland RaidersRaiders fans would welcome the opportunity to invite HBO into The Black Hole.

Pick the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders, who are scheduled to butt heads in the second half of a Monday night doubleheader on September 10.

By themselves, the Chargers and Raiders don’t exactly bring the most captivating storylines or big-ticket athletes to the table that teams like the Saints and Broncos are capable of providing. But together, these two franchises make up one of the league’s most intense rivalries.

You’ve got a head coach on the hot seat and a quarterback looking to bounce back from an underwhelming 2011 campaign in San Diego, while a new era under head coach Dennis Allen is set to begin in Oakland. Can Robert Meachem fill the void left by Vincent Jackson? Is Darren McFadden healthy enough to play 16 games this season?

Both teams have stadium issues, both teams hate each other and both teams have a common enemy in newly minted Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning.

In addition, the new approach to the show would take us behind the scenes to witness how each team prepares for a regular season game. That beats the hell out of the preseason matchups we are normally treated to in which the team’s top players head for the sidelines after one quarter of action.

Hard Knocks: Chargers vs. Raiders sounds a lot better than Hard Knocks: Jacksonville Jaguars. Hell, if the drama unfolds the way I think it will, I might even fly to Oakland and buy a ticket for the game.

Unless HBO wants to comp me one for giving them the idea.

Hit me up on Twitter: @JoeFortenbaugh

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