Pac-12 Networks’ The Drive: Pac-12 Football Returns With Two-Team Format, Senior Coordinating Producer Michael Tolajian at Helm
The highly anticipated return of Pac-12 Networks’ original docu-series The Drive: Pac-12 Football will feature a two-team format for season three, splitting its focus between Oregon State University and University of Utah football programs.
Season three of The Drive: Pac-12 Football will consist of 30-minute episodes featuring both teams airing weekly across all seven Pac-12 Networks throughout the fall. It is the first all access, quick turnaround docu-series following collegiate teams to run on television concurrently with the season. Similar to previous seasons, The Drive will go behind the scenes to give viewers an unprecedented look at Oregon State and Utah’s quest for a Pac-12 Championship. From the first whistle of training camp to the final play of the season, Pac-12 Networks production crews will be embedded within the Beavers’ and Utes’ football programs, delivering a rare insider’s point of view.
“Authentic storytelling and inside access have been key elements in making The Drive one of Pac-12 Networks’ most valuable franchises over the past two seasons,” says Pac-12 Networks President Lydia Murphy-Stephans. “This season, Oregon State and Utah have a unique story arc that made returning to a two-team format very appealing. We are very excited these two programs will be featured in The Drive‘s third year.”
Unlike other all-access sports documentary series, The Drive production team tackles aggressive editing deadlines to turn around practice, game, and off-the-field storylines in a 3-5 day window. This demanding week-to-week production schedule gives viewers a near real-time look into the season for each team.
“Oregon State football is excited to participate in The Drive,” says OSU head coach Gary Andersen. “It’s a tremendous opportunity for our student-athletes to be showcased and for fans to see the work they put in during the course of the season. It’s a unique time for Beaver football as a new coaching staff and players build a foundation for the program. On behalf of Oregon State football, I want to thank Pac-12 Networks for this incredible opportunity.”
Oregon State is embarking on the 2015 season with a new look and feel, as Andersen takes over as head coach. Andersen, who achieved tremendous success at Wisconsin and Utah State, inherits an Oregon State team that finished 2014 with an overall record of 5-7, and return key playmakers like RB Storm Woods and WR Victor Bolden. Similar to Utah, Oregon State’s 2015 schedule holds early challenges with a nonconference battle against Michigan week 2 in Ann Arbor, as well as their conference opener against Stanford on September 25.
“We are honored to be selected as a featured team on The Drive this season,” says Utah head football coach Kyle Whittingham. “It is great national exposure for our program and allows us to get our team in front of a lot of people and let them see what Utah football is all about.”
After finishing the 2014 season with a 9-4 overall record, including a 45-10 win over Colorado State in the Las Vegas Bowl, the Utah Utes have a lot to look forward to in 2015. They return 18 starters including QB Travis Wilson, RB Devontae Booker, LB Jared Norris, and 2014 Ray Guy award-winning punter Tom Hackett. Whittingham and the Utes will have the opportunity to make a big impression on the college football landscape with their season opening game at Rice-Eccles Stadium against Jim Harbaugh and the Michigan Wolverines.
In addition to both Utah and Oregon State facing Michigan, the teams also share a bond between their head coaches, who have a friendship that dates back to their time together as assistant coaches at Idaho State. Their relationship will serve as compelling backstory when Andersen’s Beavers and Whittingham’s Utes faceoff against each other in Salt Lake City on Halloween Day.
Heading into its third season, The Drive has featured three Pac-12 teams – Arizona State, California, and UCLA – through the highs and lows that come in the quest for a Pac-12 Championship. From moments at home with family and friends to the time spent in the classroom and on campus, fans receive a complete picture of life during the college football season for individuals in and around the program.
Pac-12 Networks’ Senior Coordinating Producer Michael Tolajian will again lead the production team that features Emmy Award-winning producer Jim Jorden and Pac-12 Networks analyst Yogi Roth.
With over 25 years of production experience, Tolajian joined Pac-12 Networks in April 2013. He previously spent 13 years at the helm of his own production company, BonaFide Films, where he served a variety of roles on productions for ESPN ‘30 for 30,’ HBO, FOX, TNT, NBA, MLB, NHL and Showtime. Tolajian earned two Emmys as a producer on projects for NBA Entertainment/Turner and HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.
Jorden adds an additional 25 years of production experience and 16 Emmy nods, working on productions for a bevy of networks including ESPN, NBC, Fox, TNT, HBO, and SPEED. He spent 11 years as producer/cinematographer and four years as Vice President at NFL Films, launching franchises like HBO’s Hard Knocks and NFL Network’s Sound FX.
Prior to his work with Pac-12 Networks, Jorden spent seven years as Managing Director/Executive Producer of Production for NASCAR Media Group. During that time he spearheaded the production of 69 series and seven feature length documentaries.
In addition to his role as an analyst with Pac-12 Networks and previous stint as an assistant football coach at USC, Roth holds several production credits on projects for NFL Films and ESPN. He also co-authored the book Win Forever alongside current Seattle Seahawks head coach and former USC head coach Pete Carroll, which ranked as high as No. 7 on The New York Times bestsellers’ list. He recently debuted his latest independent film project Life in a Walk at the Newport Beach Film Festival where it earned ‘Outstanding Achievement in Filmmaking’ honors.