First Aired: Dec. 11, 2010 on ESPN
Rate Episode: 5/5 (1 vote)
Rate Episode: 5/5 (1 vote)
Season 1 » Episode #30 - Pony Excess (Thaddeus D. Matula)
From 1981-1984, a small private school in Dallas owned the best record in college football. The Mustangs of Southern Methodist University (SMU) were riding high on the backs of the vaunted "Pony Express" But wins became the only thing that mattered as the University increasingly ceded power of the football program to the city's oil barons and real estate tycoons and flagrant and frequent NCAA violations became the norm. On February 25, 1987, the school and the sport were rocked, as the NCAA meted out "the death penalty" on a college football program for the first and only time in its history. SMU would be without football for two years, and the fan base would be without an identity for 20 more until the Mustangs' win in the 2009 Hawaii Bowl. This is the story of Dallas in the 1980's and the greed, power, and corruption that spilled from the oil fields onto the football field and all the way to the Governor's Mansion. Director Thaddeus D. Matula, a product of the SMU film school, chronicles the rise, fall, and rebirth of this once mighty team.
Personal Statement from Thaddeus D. Matula
It’s a real thrill to be a part of 30 for 30, and a true honor to be able to tell this story.
As a kid I had no greater loves than Star Wars and SMU football (you know, besides girls); in fact, you could say I was born into them. My father had been at SMU for few years – he’s now been there for the better part of four decades – and my older brother was already a big fan of both. Naturally I came along and had to up the ante.
I was eight when the Mustangs got the death penalty; it felt like my heart had been ripped out. SMU football – something that had been mine, so special to me – had been taken away. Obvious to me now is the fact that grown men at the time felt the exact same way. Many of them also felt shame, others embarrassment, and some felt both. For me personally, it was a loss of innocence and I was forced to grow up. I learned the good guys don’t always win, and had to question whether the good guys are truly good or whether they are good just because they are yours.
I have wanted to tell this story ever since.
It’s a story of Dallas in its golden era, when the Cowboys were America’s team and the TV show was the world’s gateway into one of the great cultures of all time. It was a time of big hair and bigger oil, fast cars and faster women.
The good times couldn’t last forever and in 1986 the Dallas real estate market crashed. By ’87 Dallas had tumbled into what would become a decade-long recession. I like to think that it’s not a coincidence that SMU football crashed at the same time. There were just too many dreams and too many divergent visions; it was unsustainable.
As a fan you ask why did this happen? Why did it have to happen? Why did it have to happen to my team? Who can I blame? That is why the journey of this project is so much fun for me, personally.
Who appeared in this episode?[no credits found]
: If you're gonna be a dirty program, you better be good at it. You better understand that the group handling the dirtiness has to be small, and it has to be committed, and it doesn't go out and chirp at bars.
Ron Meyer: [referring to a Trans-AM allegedly given to Eric Dickerson by Texas A & M] We called it the Trans A and M.
Norm Hitzges: If you're gonna be a dirty program, you better be good at it. You better understand that the group handling the dirtiness has to be small, and it has to be committed, and it doesn't go out and chirp at bars.[More Quotes]
- The introducing close-up picture of Sherwood Blount has the reflection of dollar signs in his eyes.