Pac-12 Classics returns for its third season reliving memorable Conference football games

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After months of detailed planning and archive digging, a third season of Pac-12 Classics will show 12 memorable games dating from 1978 to 2013. This season also marks the first time a game that originally aired on Pac-12 Networks was included as one of the 12 memorable battles to get the hour-long documentary treatment. Season three premieres Tuesday, August 26 at 8:00 p.m. PT and provides viewers an in-depth look into more commentary and storylines than ever before.

The production team including Ayan Murtaza, Segment Producer for Pac-12 Networks, Chris Hunt, Associate Producer for Pac-12 Networks and Jim Thornby, Senior Show Producer for Pac-12 Networks tackled the making of Classics as a three-pronged process.

To put it mildly, the first phase was a logistical challenge. Production and programming departments select which 12 games to showcase. When selecting games, two factors come into play - availability of re-air rights and if a certain element of drama and human interest surround the game.

To truly take viewers on a journey back in time, production teamed up with Pac-12 Networks Archives Director Patrick Phillips and Archives Coordinator Glen Scott to compile backstories and trademarks of the year the selected game was played.

During the next phase of compilation, the production team fanned out across the Pac-12 footprint to gather interviews from individuals who played key roles in the games. A total of 75 interviews were conducted for the series, with legends including Jim Harbaugh, Mike Riley, Dennis Erickson and David Shaw joining former players, media members and storytellers alike to sit down and share their memories.

"It was a privilege to conduct these interviews,” Murtaza said. “I had the opportunity to hear their stories in person after watching them on TV growing up. It was so enjoyable then, and it conjures even great memories now as I look back nostalgically."

During the interview process, producers played highlights of games and asked detailed questions of the interviewees surrounding the clips, capturing timeless stories and moments first-hand from those who were there to experience it.

“I don’t know how much I’m going to remember (at the beginning of interviews), and 40 questions and 45 minutes later, (coaches and players) remember everything,” said Thornby.

“The best part of traveling to conduct interviews for classic games is the human interest stories that come from intriguing subjects. This was exemplified in talking to Jerry Allen, who showed how much the Oregon ducks football program has meant and continues to mean after seeing him tear up during two interviews I have done with him,” said Murtaza.

The post-production phase closes out the show process, and all the magic comes together. Producers spend time writing scripts that combine storylines collected along the way, paired with game footage. Part of putting the puzzle pieces together include adding photos and music that are attributed to the time period in the episode.

In this series, reliving the game is only half the adventure. It’s the anecdotes that make Pac-12 Classics spectacular.

“It’s almost like therapy for them,” said Hunt. “I believe everyone’s got a story to tell, and we certainly have collected some great ones for year three of Classics.”

For more information on the show and a complete listing of season three episodes, click here.