Sunday, August 19, 2012

Error by filmmaker in ESPN 30 for 30 Pony Exce$$ documentary

One of the best episodes from the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary series was Pony Exce$$ which chronicled the 1980s SMU football program. An NCAA investigation into illegal payments to players led to the school receiving the so-called "death penalty".

Starting around the 28:55 mark, the film devotes a few minutes to the 10/25/1980 SMU game at Texas. This segment contains ABC TV footage featuring announcers Al Michaels and Lee Grosscup allegedly previewing this matchup between the Mustangs and Longhorns. The documentary inserts the 10/25/1980 date on the screen right after the first ABC clip and later describes this game as being on "national TV".

However, there are several problems here. ABC did not televise this 1980 game at all. ABC covered nine regional games in two timeslots that afternoon (noon and 3:30 pm ET), but not the game from Austin which started at 2 pm. The ABC video clip contains a CFA logo, but the CFA TV package didn't exist in 1980. Also, Michaels and Grosscup didn't work together in 1980.

It turns out that this ABC footage is actually from an SMU-Texas game in 1984. The insertion of this clip into the otherwise excellent documentary was a definite error by the filmmaker.

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