It’s been 25 years this fall since we were blessed with “The Program.” I remember going to the movie theater with my parents. At the time it was one of the most anticipated moments of my life. A real life college football movie! Tackles, YEAH! Touchdowns, YEAAHHH! Trash Talking, YEEEEAAHHHHHHHH! Face paint, FACE PAINT, YEAAHHHHHHHH.
The movie brought in 23 million dollars at the box office and nearly every person I played football with had a VHS tape of it. (Remember those?)
But let’s be honest, from a football perspective this movie is a steaming pile of garbage. I fully realize if 13 year old Jason was here right now he’d put a beat down on me. Partially due to the fact he’d be in much better shape and because I was obsessed with this movie so much I probably watched parts of it every week during my high school football career.
If I owned a small town gro
cery store or hardware store in 1993 to 1996 I would have made a major investment in face paint and retired off of the proceeds.
Every football player in the mid 90’s knew this movie. If you hadn’t seen it you were forced to watch it. If you didn’t watch it, you were the weird kid who didn’t like football but got forced to play because your parents didn’t want you home alone from 3:30 until 6:00 in the fall.
But sadly I have to admit. . .this movie plays more like a comedy now than a source of inspiration and overwhelmingly stinks worse than a waste lagoon sitting next to a hog unit. (If you didn’t grow up on a farm I’d suggest farting in a jar, smelling it and multiplying by 26.)
The Facts: Here’s a random collection of thought I had while watching this movie recently.
- The head coach at a major college football program is running the offense, defense and special teams. Even in 1993, this didn’t happen. If it did it probably explains why ESU kept missing bowl games. If I was the President of the college I would have been saying, “Hey Coach Winters, maybe give up two out of the three facets of the game and hire another coach so you can spend some time with your daughter so she isn’t taking tests for the backup QB? Mmmm kay?”
- What the hell conference is ESU in? Oh yeah, “The Eastern Athletic Conference” a fact you would only know if you googled information about the movie. I don’t think this was mentioned once in the movie and several scenes show “SEC” in the stadiums. They play Mississippi State, Michigan, Texas, Iowa, Georgia Tech, Boston College and North Carolina. Obviously I understand they filmed the games at a lot of these schools but come on. . .throw a banner over the SEC and humor us a little.
- There are a lot of conversations happening while playing the game. I’m not talking about Mack yelling at offensive players, that part is still one of the redeeming qualities of this movie. Example: When “Bud Lite Kaminsky” is blocking he’s singing the entire hook to country songs. Outside of the first play of the game I don’t know anyone with the time or energy to make this happen. Realistically it be more like, “Get along little. . .oh crap Joe sorry you got sacked. I was busy belting out some wicked bars over here. Next series I’m planning on reciting the works of Charlie Pride.”
- The starting QB sets up the star recruit with the hot campus hostess (Halle Berry BTW) to show him around campus. I don’t dispute that this happens. But. . .I’m pretty sure the starting QB would know his incumbent RB was dating said hostess and would keep her “off limits” so not to create a spat on next year’s squad. Nice work Joe Kane. You killed your team’s chemistry before the season even began.
- Speaking of Joe Kane. . .
- Who goes to rehab for four weeks, doesn’t attend class and then reappears the next week able to play football? I’m pretty sure the microscope would’ve been on that one.
- How old was Craig Sheffer when he was cast as Joe Kane? I think Scott Bakula was younger in “Necessary Roughness” when he was cast as the aging QB. (BTW I checked, HE WAS 33!”
- Joe came out of rehab. Went to one practice and fired 50 balls into the turf AND EVIDENTLY HAD TIME TO CATCH A PLANE TO SEE HIS DAD AND GIVE HIM TICKETS?!? How does Coach Winters even allow this? Oh right, he didn’t know. . .was probably also doing the team’s laundry while putting together that week’s offensive game plan.
- Coach asks for the keys to your motorcycle. . .WHICH YOU OWN. . .and you just hand them to him with no argument? How about “Sorry Coach, unless one of these boosters is giving me a car I’m gonna keep riding this bike.”
- The PA announcer is also the same voice of ESU’s broadcaster. That guy has talent. Not only is he calling the game live on radio or TV with numerous celebs (Bo Schembechler?!?) he’s also doing the PA live in the stadium.
- After Mack has a career ending injury (I know, spoiler alert) Lattimer is seen against Iowa calling plays in the huddle. The guy who has barely started for you after three years on punt team is now the guy taking plays from the sideline. Nice work Coach Winters, no wonder you keep missing bowl games.
- Why did Coach Winters drug test Lattimer? Evidently all he needed to do was look into his eyes after the last game to determine that. Oh I know why, he was too busy not parenting his daughter and laying out the jerseys the night before the game.
- Bobby Collins is the name of the backup QB. That’s also the real life name of the head coach at SMU at the time they got the death penalty for all of their issues. I see what you did there Mr. David S. Ward.
- Why is every football scene shown in super slow motion with overdubs of cheesy music and talking?
- Why do you take three of the better looking actresses of the 90’s (Halle Berry, Kristy Swanson and Joey Lauren Adams) and make them as homely looking as possible? Kristy Swanson looks like she stole your 45 year old math teacher’s wardrobe. . .male or female. Seriously, there are several scenes where she is a wearing a sport coat with shoulder pads?
- Oh and Kristy Swanson’s character is an athlete too, a tennis player. She must be really good considering she works out in jean shorts.
- “STIRROWDS? Why you always think my guys are juicing?”
Thanks, But No Thanks: Now we have to live through this.
This movie spawned a whole bunch of trends that some coaches or players watched and said, “Yeah. . .we’re gonna do that now.” To which I have to say “Thanks, but no thanks.” Here’s a few:
- Carrying a football around wherever you go. Because loosely carrying a football around campus cures fumblitious.
- Finding a bell to ring. Ding mother f. . . .you know the rest. How many small colleges and high schools suddenly started caring about that old bell on campus? Too many.
- Angle tackling to a cone for hours on end. Athletic trainers love this drill. Just start bagging up ice and reviewing concussion protocol.
- Slamming shoulder pads and spitting in each other’s mouth. Really? If you did this. . .never mind. Just never admit you did this.
- Face paint. . .which was sweated off by the end of warmups. Or better yet got into players eyes and they spent their first series off washing it off and ruining one of the three towels on the sideline.
This movie was a part of my upbringing as a “football guy” and I can still quote most of the movie. But let’s just say it hasn’t exactly aged well. The true ground breaking part of this movie was the use of actual NCAA football teams at the time. Do you think the NCAA would allow a movie like this to be made now? That wasn’t based on some sort of history ala “We are Marshall”? Pretty doubtful.
So next time this movie comes on I hope you remember this little blog and are forced to randomly think to yourself “Damn it Jason.”
You’re welcome. BLLUUUUUEEE 80, BLUUUUUUUUUEEEE 80. . . HUT.