Hard Knocks to be mandatory if no NFL teams volunteer

J. Meric

With a new NFL rule, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers could be featured on Hard Knocks next season.

The NFL will start compelling teams to participate on HBO's Hard Knocks next season, per Ian Rapoport.

Teams with a new head coach, teams that have made the playoffs two years in a row (according to Rapoport just one of the past two years suffices) and teams featured on Hard Knocks over the past five years will be exempt, via Bart Hubbuch. That means that if Greg Schiano is still the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers next year, the Bucs are very likely to be featured on Hard Knocks -- unless another team volunteers.

Any coach compelled won't be very happy with it, but even Schiano would have to acquiesce. And HBO would be pretty likely to select the Schiano-led Buccaneers. A likely new quarterback (and that means a quarterback battle), a team filled with Pro Bowl talent that couldn't get it done the previous year, all the controversy surrounding Schiano -- those are some good storylines for HBO to dissect.

For that to happen, Schiano would first have to start winning some games, though. Otherwise he could be out of a job come training camp.

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