The night of December 11th I will be watching Pony Exce$$ – ESPN’s 30 for 30 finale about the SMU “Death Penalty” case, and you should be too. It will be a grand affair, I assure you.
The U and the Marcus Dupree story were all well and good, but this nearly two hour documentary (that ironically airs right after Cam Newton wins the Heisman Trophy) will surely be a spectacle of cheating mastery to behold.
Middlemen? Runners? Hell no – SMU went straight cash from booster directly to player. Get caught? No problem. You are a honorable, JR Ewing Oil Tycoon-type and you somehow feel “obligated” to hold up your end of the bargain to pay these great players, so you continue to pay them and get caught AGAIN. But wait – you still might just get away with it because the governor-elect is on your board or something. Or not…
The more I read about CFB in the early 80’s, the more the deal at SMU appears to just be the worst example of what was (or what was rumored to have been) taking place around the NCAA at many of the top programs of that era.
You had all the scandal at SMU, there was Charley Pell working his magic at both Florida and Clemson, the Marcus Dupree affair at OU, and Herschel Walker driving around in a black Trans Am right before he signed on the line with Georgia on Easter Sunday (well past national “letter day”).
Speaking of the Pontiac Trans Am, I would guess that we will see several of these vehicles featured prominently in Pony Exce$$. Their reputation as an early 80’s recruiting tool is unmatched. As a child of the 1980’s, I can attest that if you give someone a car with a 454 cubic inch engine and a fire-breathing bird painted on the hood they will do whatever you say. Those things are legend.
I would also guess that this documentary will do a lot of finger pointing at other teams of the time that were spared the degree of NCAA wrath that which was brought down upon SMU. I’m sure it’s going to be a lot of “But they were doing it too – we just got caught” sort of talk. I look for Barry Switzer and OU to be the likely targets.
Remember to behold the lurid tales of cheating in some sort of context – this is the old Southwest Conference we are talking about – the conference that at one time had 6 out of 9 teams on NCAA probation.
This one is going to be juicy. I’m hoping for it to play out like The Roxanne Pulitzer Divorce Trail. Pure 80’s debauchery. The only thing working against this flick is that it will surely feature the bastard Craig James. Good times. I miss the 1980’s…