About 'The U Part 2'
Produced in 2009 by ESPN for its "30 for 30" series, "The U" was a look at all that was good and bad about the rise of the University of Miami's football program in the 1980s. But that wasn't the end of the story. "The U Part 2" picks up where the original film left off, with the program trying to recover from the devastation left by NCAA sanctions and scandals that had some calling for the school to drop football. The Hurricanes rose from those ashes to win another national championship, only to face new controversies when a booster used a Ponzi scheme to win favor with the program.
A rarely discussed fact that I regret didn't make the final cut of The U (Part 1): A year after Howard Schnellenberger took over the Miami Hurricanes football team in 1980, he received some lousy news. The NCAA was launching an investigation into the program due to alleged violations committed under previous head coach Lou Saban. To add insult to injury, the transgressions were reported by the former coach of the in-state rival Florida Gators. The result was the only time in his 50-plus year coaching career that Schnellenberger ever had a team sanctioned by the NCAA. Despite that, Howard led the Canes to their first national championship in 1983 and begin a dynastic winning tradition -- with four national championships under three head coaches in less than a decade -- that would see the Canes christened "The Team of the '80s."
Nearly 12 years later, Butch Davis was hired at The U under similar circumstances. In Davis's first year, a Sports Illustrated cover story called for the abolition of the Hurricanes football program for misdeeds that predated his arrival. Debilitating sanctions cost him 31 scholarships and a bowl game. Undeterred, Davis built not only the greatest college football team of all time but also arguably one of the best NFL teams ever assembled. The season after Davis left for a gig in the NFL, first-time head coach Larry Coker ushered the Canes to their fifth national championship.
Nine years after that, Al Golden arrived and found himself under yet another cloud when the Nevin Shapiro "rogue booster" story broke a mere eight months into his tenure. An NCAA investigation and sanctions followed and round and round and round we go. They said Schnellenberger couldn't do it. They said Jimmy Johnson and Dennis Erickson and Butch Davis and Larry Coker couldn't do it. Leads you to wonder if, in another five to 10 years, we'll have produced the first-ever 30 for 30 trilogy.
What's Everyone Saying?
Florida native Billy Corben's feature documentary directorial debut, "Raw Deal: A Question of Consent," premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2001, making him one of the youngest directors in Sundance history. Examining the alleged rape of an exotic dancer at a fraternity house at the University of Florida, the film utilized extensive clips from videotape footage of the alleged assault. Considered by critics to be "one of the most controversial films of the modern day" and "one of the most compelling pieces of nonfiction ever produced," (Film Threat Magazine), "Raw Deal" has been seen all over the world.
Following that success, Corben and producing partner Alfred Spellman founded rakontur, a Miami Beach-based content creation company, and took on another Florida true crime story, this one closer to home. The New York Times called 2006's "Cocaine Cowboys" "a hyperventilating account of the blood-drenched Miami drug culture in the 1970s and '80s." The film tells the story of how the drug trade built Corben's native city of Miami, through firsthand accounts of some of the most successful smugglers of the era and the deadliest hitman of the Cocaine Wars. The sequel, "Cocaine Cowboys II: Hustling with the Godmother," was released in 2008.
2011 saw the release of two Corben directed movies, "Square Grouper: The Godfathers of Ganja" and "Limelight" and in 2012, he returned to "30 for 30" with the controversial "Broke," whose ratings success topped "The U." In 2014, Corben premiered the 4-hour miniseries "The Tanning of America: One Nation Under Hip Hop" and his 2015 slate includes a dramatic series with executive producers Jerry Bruckheimer and Michael Bay, the feature documentary "Dawg Fight," a violent expose on illegal underground backyard fights in South Florida, and two "Cocaine Cowboys" sequels.
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