Saturday, December 4, 2010

Revisiting the Pony Express/Excess


College football bowl season is upon us and aside from the usual controversy (BCS vs college playoffs - yes, I vote for a playoff system!), the Heisman Trophy winner will be announced next week.

Normally I look forward to the announcement - although its been several years since I've really been excited about the choice - but this year there's something else I'm anticipating.

Tod Robberson, editorial writer for the Dallas Morning News, mentioned in his post on yesterday, that ESPN has a new 2 hour documentary on SMU and the 'death penalty' it received as 25 years ago, as punishment for its recruitment transgressions. Entitled 'Pony Excess', the team led by backfield phenoms Eric Dickerson and Craig James, was one of the best collection of gridiron talent in Southern Methodist University history. They were champions of the old Southwest Conference and NCAA championships in 1981 and 1982.

Tod's review of the theater premier as 'eye-popping' and 'fast paced', is enough to make me interested...

"I attended the theater premier last night of ESPN's new documentary, Pony Excess, which will be shown on the sports network next week immediately after it concludes coverage of the Heisman Trophy announcement. Having been out of the country and completely disengaged with the U.S. sports scene in the early to mid-1980s, I only knew snippets about the SMU football scandal that led to imposition of the NCAA's infamous "death penalty.""

"Wow. This roughly two-hour documentary is an eye-popping, fast-paced, multi-sourced look at how SMU boosters, coaches and senior administrators colluded to bribe top high school players into signing with SMU. Even if you think you know all about it, this film will give you new perspectives. Director Thad Matula even finds ways to connect the scandal to the JFK assassination and the demise of the Southwest Conference. Interestingly, the NCAA investigator who brought down the hammer on SMU -- Dan Beebe -- and contributed to the Southwest Conference's collapse emerged recently as the commissioner who saved the Big 12 from collapse. Clearly a man who has learned from history."

"This is a film, ultimately, about people learning their lessons. Or not. Former Gov. Bill Clements, for one, comes off looking like a Nixonian crook."

Read the rest of Tod's post here.

If you're a college football fan, an SMU football fan, or like an interesting sports story, this documentary will be right up you're alley. And it's something to look forward to while I'm waiting for the winner of the Heisman (**yawn**)...

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