Saturday, December 12, 2009

Reminder: 30 for 30 is back tonight with 'The U'

Because it's been a few weeks since the last "30 for 30" documentary aired, because the latest one is airing on a different night and time (tonight at 9 on ESPN) and because it runs two hours instead of one, and because this one airs on a weekend when my time is limited, I figured I would do a quick post before it airs, rather than after. A few quick thoughts after the jump, and feel free to discuss the movie here after it airs...

Billy Corben's "The U" covers the longest period of any "30 for 30" film to date - from Howard Schnellenberger's arrival as coach of the Miami Hurricanes in 1979 to Butch Davis's hire in 1995 - and features one of the larger casts of talking heads (Schnellengerber, Jimmy Johnson, Dennis Erickson, most of the famous surviving Miami alums like Alonzo Highsmith and Michael Irvin, plus local columnists like Dan LeBatard, etc., etc.). And the story of the program's rise from afterthought to outlaw national powerhouse certainly merits the extra time(*), as the amount and degree of shenanigans the Hurricanes got into over this period means there's rarely a dull moment. As a piece of filmmaking, it's not as good as some of the earlier films, but the story itself is pretty irresistible.

(*) I'm told that, while most of the future films will stick to the one-hour format we've seen previously, some will be allowed to run two hours like this. The screening I saw a few weeks back of the next film, Dan Klores' delightful "Winning Time: Reggie Miller vs. the New York Knicks" (not airing till March) was long enough, and good enough, that I suspect it'll get the two-hour treatment as well.

Anyway, don't forget to tune in, and I'll be curious what you think.

28 comments:

Omagus said...

Billy Corben's "The U" covers the longest period of any "30 for 30" film to date - from Howard Schnellenberger's arrival as coach of the Miami Hurricanes in 1979 to Butch Davis's hire in 1995

The one about the Baltimore Colts band covered a longer period of time, I believe.

Alan Sepinwall said...

No, Colts left Baltimore in 1983 and the Ravens arrived in 1996.

alynch said...

I'm wondering how they go about determining which films should be allowed to run two hours. The Len Bias installment was a 90 minute film that got cut in half to fit the hour timeslot, and while I haven't seen the longer cut, the editing seemed to be to its detriment.

Anonymous said...

Why does ESPN even edit any of the 30 For 30s? Are they afraid that an extra 30 minutes might cut into rodeo's ratings?

Anonymous said...

I was surprised that this doc didn't even attempt to provide a balanced account of the U. I know a lot of these are passion projects for the film makers, but so much of the controversy surrounding the Miami football program (drugs, guns, violence) was real, that it seemed pretty cheap to only go to the football players and coaches for explaining everything as "media conspiracies" and "racism". I know it's hard to believe for the guys interviewed in the documentary, but some of the players and coaches actually did bad things that they can't justify doing.

ShayDetta said...

We heard enough of the media's point of view about the U, it was nice to hear the players and coaches tell us their perspective.

Anonymous said...

If you're a college football fan I think you had to be pretty entertained by "The U".

It brought back a ton of memories for me and it also brought up a lot of the cultural elements that probably went over my head at the time as a kid.

My favorite 30 for 30 so far.

James said...

Michael Irvin admitted that there wasn't any media conspiracies, and that some of the players were just "bad boys."

bsangs said...

They heyday of college football for me. It was an odd mix because two of my favorite teams were - ND and Miami! (Syracuse being the other.) Looking back now, seems pretty obvious. My Roman Catholic upbringing(ND)caused my other side to lash out (The U).

That was a fun era. I remember how much I loved watching Miami stick it to those hicks in Nebraska, Texas, Oklahoma. And those ND-Miami clashes were epic. They could have done a 30-30 on that rivarly alone.

Enjoyed Corben's film very much. I too thought it was quite one-sided, but as an earlier poster mentioned, we heard the media's position about The U for years so why just rehash that.

Thought they shafted Butch Davis a bit though. He eventually rebuilt the program into a national power before leaving it to Coker. And I'd have like to heard from Vinny about that nightmare 5-INT game against Penn State. I remember feeling as devestated as the players appeared to be. Fun two hours.

Anonymous said...

diehard um fan. Whats going on with the background music for this 30 for 30. Anyone else find it hard to watch and just overall cheezy.

Q Ball said...

This doc had the perfect amount of game footage, I miss watching "Thrill" Hill do his thing. Those Miami teams were so fun to watch.

Anonymous said...

Was it just me or did Bernie Kossar sound drunk during his interviews?

Jonathon said...

I thought the people who were the subject of this documentary were arrogant and disgusting. Worst of all, twenty years later they seemed to be proud of their actions.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Jonathan. Everyone is this documentary came off looking petty and awful. People will say it was all in fun and to not like those teams means your a racist or something. Look, one of the players even says in the doc, "You don't come into our stadium and disrespect us" yet they of course feel completely justified disrespecting everybody else. Complete hypocrites.

This whole "documentary" was a case study in moral relativism.

Omagus said...

Everyone is this documentary came off looking petty and awful. People will say it was all in fun and to not like those teams means your a racist or something.

I don't think everyone came across that way. I thought that it was pretty interesting to see the genuine affection that the players had for their coaches particularly Howard Schnellenberger and Jimmy Johnson) and vice versa.

During the broadcast, someone on my Twitter feed said that he thought that Miami was the most important thing to happen to college football and I think I might agree with that statement. Before Schnellenberger, college teams were not recruiting the inner city. Pioneering that created entirely new opportunities for an entire class of people.

What happened with Miami in the 80s was the inevitable clash that happens when two different social classes meet without having any idea how the other operates. I think it is more of a sociological issue than a racial one.

Anonymous said...

"Was it just me or did Bernie Kossar sound drunk during his interviews?"

Believe it or not, Kosar always sounds like that. He does commentary on Browns' pre-season games, as well as a lot of interview on Cleveland radio and TV, and his speech is always slightly slurred and gravely. But his points are always well articulated and insightful.

Kosar was a pocket passer and, unfortunately, took a lot of hits to the head. The post-concussive symptoms exhibited by Kosar are an unfortunate result of that.

BD

Hyde said...

There was a little bit of revisionist history in the documentary in that it implied that Miami was a total nonentity in football before 1983. Let's not forget that the guy who preceded Bernie Kosar as the quarterback there was Jim Kelly, who went on to have just a little success in the NFL.

I'm not really a fan of Miami or the Miami approach, so even if one acknowledges that there's an interesting story here, 2 hours of this seemed a bit excessive. I think that there's a similar but in some ways even better story to be told about the rise of Georgetown basketball beginning in the mid-70s, although that falls outside the ESPN timeframe.

Anonymous said...

Excellent. Lots of great game footage, especially angles of the Nebraska TPC attempt that I had never seen. Although it was already long enough, would have liked to see more on the Butch Davis and Larry Coker eras. Lots of great stories to tell there as well (the Najeh Davenport "incident", 7th Floor Crew, etc.)Also, I think the way Miami collapsed between 2002 and 2006 is a fascinating story that should be examined.

So it goes said...

There was a little bit of revisionist history in the documentary in that it implied that Miami was a total nonentity in football before 1983.

They didn't imply that Miami football was a non-entity before 83 but rather before the Scnhellenberger era the program was struggling, underdeveloped and not popular locally. The focus was on Miami's entrance to and swagger displayed on the national stage.

Ryan said...

I could have sworn there was a shot of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson near the end during a sideline celebration. Interesting that Corben didn't mention that/interview him for the piece.

j gillespie said...

Yeah- Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson played at Miami in the early 90's- believe he did a short stint with the Calgary Stampeders in the CFL after- Here's a clip of him sacking Florida State's Charlie Ward

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oINkMsJ068o

HautieTx said...

Does anyone know when this episode will be repeated?

Weck said...

I loved the anecdote of some of the players waking up the Boz in the middle of the night before the OU game and talking smack to him. So awesome.

And yeah they made Testaverde look like a total doofus by only showing footage of his 5-pick game. Didn't even mention his Heisman, I don't think.

j gillespie said...

Its on ESPNU as I type now- and Tuesday (15th) at 10pm- also on ESPN2 Saturday night at midnight

Anonymous said...

One thing really bugged me - I can't believe they completely left out the Flutie Hail Mary. It's considered one of the greatest plays ever - and it happened right in 1984 in the Orange Bowl. But unless I missed it, it wasn't mentioned...

Isaac, your bartender said...

Great point about omitting the Flutie play, which was at the Orange Bowl. Was that the final loss at the OB before they went on that 9(?) year home winning streak or was there another one?

Tyler said...

The "background" music was so loud in this documentary I could hardly hear anything they were saying.

TMC said...

An interesting story, and an obviously important one, as far as the team's impact on sports. But I agree with some of the other commenters re: the one-sidedness. I don't say this as a Miami hater or even a college football fan at all, but basically, it seemed like 2 hours of unrepentant assholes bragging about what assholes they were, side-stepping any responsibility for anything besides catching footballs, and deifying themselves. It's a potential problem with all of these documentaries, but I think this is the first one I saw where the director was clearly too in love with the team to do a great job. Rather than telling the story of the U, it was a 2-hour celebration of Michael Irvin's glory days.