30 for 30 (2009– )
3 user 2 critic
SMU puts together the best football team in America during the early 1980s with the help of bribes and payoffs, until the NCAA gives the team the "Death Penalty"--a sanction from which the team has yet to competitively recover.


Thaddeus D. Matula
1 win. See more awards »




Episode credited cast:
Fred Akers Fred Akers ... Himself (archive footage)
Dick Anderson Dick Anderson ... Himself - SMU Defensive Tackle
Ken Andrews Ken Andrews ... Himself - SMU Booster
Harvey Armstrong Harvey Armstrong ... Himself
Marilyn Arps Marilyn Arps ... Herself (archive footage)
Skip Bayless ... Himself
Dan Beebe Dan Beebe ... Himself - NCAA Investigator
David Berst David Berst ... Himself - NCAA Director of Enforcement
Cash Birdwell Cash Birdwell ... Himself - SMU Trainer
Sherwood Blount Sherwood Blount ... Himself - SMU Booster (archive footage)
Michael Bowen Michael Bowen ... Himself - SMU Wide Receiver
Gil Brandt Gil Brandt ... Himself
James E. Brooks James E. Brooks ... Himself - SMU Interim President 1980 (as Dr. James E. Brooks)
Paul 'Bear' Bryant Paul 'Bear' Bryant ... Himself (archive footage)
Robin Buddecke Robin Buddecke ... Himself - SMU Booster


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" backfield. But as the middle of the decade approached, the program was coming apart at the seams. 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 ... Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

reenactment | See All (1) »



Release Date:

11 December 2010 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


In the opening titles, Brent Musberger mentions the joke that Eric Dickerson got a pay-cut when he went to the NFL, suggesting he was paid even more when he was at SMU. This joke originated with 1950's running back Hugh McElhenny, who, after decades of denial, admitted to receiving improper benefits while attending college. As it turned out, the joke with McElhenny was actually accurate. According to him, his payments in college, both legal and illegal, amounted to $10,000 a season, compared to his first NFL salary of $7,000 a season. See more »


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.
See more »


Features NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt (1970) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Didn't tell the whole story, and didn't consider the bigger picture
7 July 2015 | by jdurand-42175See all my reviews

Surprised to learn that this was the last of the 30-for-30 docs, since it did not feel especially polished.

The documentary was very "noisy" - a lot of short sound bites from various people, Skip Bayless and the like, the doc would cut away to someone else (saying the same basic thing) after every sentence. Jarring. The doc is nearly two hours long; you can do some long- form storytelling! It doesn't have to be ADD-compliant!

Didn't seem like the filmmakers uncovered anything new. They talked to a bunch of people who were involved in the scandals, or covered them at the time, and used a ton of old news footage. The scandal was old enough where I didn't really know much about it, but they didn't seem to be seeking any new information about what was going on that wasn't already in the public domain.

Related; it was implied that ALL the schools were involved in similar shenanigans; why not spend a little time looking into that? Talk to some people at Texas, or wherever. You know there were rumors about other schools; talk to some journalists who were looking into them, or see if you can find some disgruntled former players or boosters who might be willing to fill in some broader context.

The doc never asked or considered the most important question; what was so bad about what the school and the players were doing? You had kids whose families were in very tough financial circumstances; is it really problematic that they took a little money being offered to them? The NCAA is one of the most hypocritical organizations on the planet; they're right up there with FIFA. Now, you obviously should not have players getting paid under the table by boosters, but shouldn't the question at least be asked; is it appropriate for players at these schools to BE compensated in some form?

The filmmakers just seemed to implicitly assume that the NCAA's rules are unassailable, and that's just nonsense.

The documentary was "too small." It did not consider the broader questions - Texas football culture and WHY these boosters have so much power. Whether there are issues with the NCAA's rules. Really looking into how prevalent these types of payments were at other schools, in the conference and across the country. Considering why, decades later, guys like Reggie Bush were still getting paid. Has anything really changed?

0 of 1 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 3 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Free Movies and TV Shows You Can Watch Now

On IMDb TV, you can catch Hollywood hits and popular TV series at no cost. Select any poster below to play the movie, totally free!

Browse free movies and TV series

Recently Viewed