ESPN Films’ critically acclaimed “30 for 30” series will conclude its fall slate Saturday, Dec. 12 at 9 p.m. ET, immediately following the Heisman Trophy presentation on ESPN, with The U – a two-hour documentary about the dramatic rise of the University of Miami football program in the 1980s. Directed by Miami native and alum, Billy Corben (Cocaine Cowboys), and produced by rakontur and ESPN Films, the film is an intimate look at the program’s sudden and jolting transformation into a football powerhouse that essentially changed the rules of the game as told by the players, coaches, students and administrators who were there.
With music by long-time Canes supporter and rap artist Luther “Uncle Luke” Campbell and Honor Roll Music, The U peels back the layers of a program that claimed four national titles from the 1983 thru 1991 seasons and produced a steady wave of NFL stars. Bennie Blades, Melvin Bratton, Alonzo Highsmith, Michael Irvin, Bernie Kosar, Santana Moss, Brett Perriman, Jeremy Shockey and former head coaches Dennis Erickson, Jimmy Johnson and Howard Schnellenberger are among the 38 program insiders who were interviewed about what propelled Miami to the top and kept it there as the brash, controversial team its competition loved to hate. For a music sample and video clip: ESPN Films Presents The U.
Johnson: “When I first came to the University of Miami, the TV series Miami Vice was very popular and I wanted to play on that. That’s why we took the swagger that we did.”
Perriman on criticism of the program: “It was a lot of bigotry and it’s because we were young African Americans, for the most part, bringing a bravado, a different style that the University of Miami had never seen.”
Irvin on the team’s reputation: “It wasn’t any conspiracy or the media – they didn’t do anything. We were bad boys and we were enjoying being bad boys…”
Campbell on allegations he was paying players: “If they needed $50 to buy some food that weekend, no, I would never give it to them because that was against the NCAA rules…Giving a kid $100 to buy him some sneakers so he won’t go jump in some other kid’s dorm room, steal his stereo, no, I wouldn’t give a kid any money.”
**A conference call for interested media members will be held Wednesday, Dec. 2 with Corben and ESPN executive producers to discuss the film and series. Call-in information will be issued after the holiday.
30 for 30
The “30 for 30” series will continue March 14, 2009 with Peabody Award-winning director Dan Klores’ Winning Time: Reggie Miller vs. the New York Knicks which tells the story of Reggie Miller and how he earned his title as “The Garden’s Greatest Villain.” The series will then settle into consecutive Tuesday night airings for the spring, beginning April 13.
Other previously announced “30 for 30” projects are: Reggie Rock Bythewood (One Night in Vegas), Academy Award winner Bill Couturié (Guru of Go), Ice Cube (Straight Outta L.A.), Academy Award winner Morgan Freeman and Lori McCreary (The 16th Man), Academy Award winner Alex Gibney (Catching Hell), Jonathan Hock (The Best That Never Was), Academy Award nominee Steve James (No Crossover: The Trial of Allen Iverson), the duo of Lucas Jansen and Adam Kurland (Silly Little Game), Spike Jonze, Johnny Knoxville and Jeff Tremaine (Birth of Big Air), two-time Academy Award winner Barbara Kopple (The Steinbrenner Family Business), Academy Award nominee Frank Marshall (Right to Play), Steve Michaels, Joel Surnow and Jonathan Koch (Charismatic), Academy Award nominee Brett Morgen (June 17, 1994), two-time NBA MVP and first-time filmmaker Steve Nash (Into the Wind), Academy Award nominee Ron Shelton (Jordan Rides the Bus), John Singleton (Marion Jones: Press Pause) and Jeff Zimbalist (The Two Escobars).