SEC Storied: “Saturday Night Lights” Illuminates the Legacy of SEC Football Under the Lights on ESPN and ABC – Debuts July 18 on SEC Network

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SEC Storied: “Saturday Night Lights” Illuminates the Legacy of SEC Football Under the Lights on ESPN and ABC – Debuts July 18 on SEC Network

The passion and pageantry of primetime Southeastern Conference football will be on full display this summer with the debut of SEC Storied: “Saturday Night Lights” on Thursday, July 18 at 7 p.m. ET. Directed by NFL Films’ James Weiner and produced by ESPN Films, “Saturday Night Lights” was created in recognition of ESPN and ABC’s landmark football deal with the SEC that kicks off in August 2024.

“Growing up in New York during the 1980s, I was a huge sports fan, but college football was largely non-existent in the area,” said Weiner. “I remember going to a friend’s house one Saturday night, being introduced to ESPN and watching an LSU night game. I was mesmerized. Tiger Stadium seemed mystical. The energy under the lights jumped off the screen. I’ve been transfixed by SEC football ever since.  And when the game is in primetime, it still heightens my senses.”

SEC Storied: “Saturday Night Lights” will relive the greatest games and moments that have played out in primetime on ESPN and ABC over the years. It will also examine how the networks and SEC football grew together by bringing the top-level play and passionate fan experience of the SEC to a national audience through television.

The very first night game at an SEC school predates even the formation of the conference, as Kentucky used temporary flood lights in 1929 and LSU played its first game under permanent lights in 1931. The scheduling in Baton Rouge brought in more fans who worked Saturdays, eased some effects of the Louisiana heat and humidity, and generated legends like Billy Cannon’s Halloween Run in 1959.

Television drove the scheduling of more and more games into primetime, many of them carried by ABC and ESPN. A sampling of the games and moments to be showcased with highlights and interviews with the players, coaches and broadcasters who lived them are:

  • The Night College Football Waited for Lawrence Welk – Ole Miss at Alabama on ABC (Oct. 4, 1969)
  • Last Two Champs on Labor Day Night – Clemson at Georgia on ABC (Sept. 6, 1982)
  • The Earthquake Game – Auburn at LSU on ESPN (Oct. 8, 1988)
  • The Night ‘The Barn’ Burned – LSU at Auburn on ESPN (Sept. 21, 1996)

Filmmaker Bio
Director James Weiner is a seven-time Emmy Award-winning documentarian who began his career at ESPN in 1993, honing his skills and passion for compelling storytelling. In 2001, he joined NFL Films and has written, edited, and directed dozens of documentaries about the NFL over the past two decades. Among his most notable works is ESPN’s “The Brady 6,” the story of Tom Brady’s draft journey and the six quarterbacks selected before him. Released in 2011 as part of The Year of the Quarterback, “The Brady 6” became one of the most-watched sports documentaries ever. “Saturday Night Lights” is Weiner’s second SEC Storied film. His first, “King George,” was released in 2017 and brought the inspiring story of George Rogers, the Gamecocks’ first and only Heisman Trophy winner, to life.

About SEC Network
The Southeastern Conference and ESPN launched SEC Network on August 14, 2014. The network televises hundreds of games across the SEC’s 21 sports annually. Programming includes in-depth analysis and storytelling in studio shows such as SEC NationMarty & McGee, Out Of Pocket, Read & React and Rally Cap, daily news and information with The Paul Finebaum Show and SEC Now, original content such as the Emmy Award-winning TrueSouthSEC Storied and SEC Inside, and more. Hundreds of additional live events are available for streaming exclusively on SEC Network’s digital companion, SEC Network+, via the ESPN App and Follow SEC Network on Instagram, TikTok, Facebook and Twitter/X.

Amanda Brooks

Amanda is the Senior Director of Communications overseeing publicity strategy for ESPN’s entire college sports portfolio, including college football and the College Football Playoff, 40 NCAA Championships and ESPN's college networks. Amanda is a proud alum of Hendrix College in Conway, Ark., and earned her master's in ethics from Vanderbilt University. A native of Kent, Ohio, she is a die-hard Cleveland Guardians fan.
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