Looking Back at Rudy

College football returned last weekend just in time to whet our collective sports appetite for the coming Fall. It’s this time of year where fans of teams hope to see their squad reach the College Football Playoffs and win a coveted National Championship. Last year, the world watched as a little known third string quarterback by the name of Cardale Jones beat Alabama and took care of Oregon to give the Ohio State Buckeyes their first National Championship since 2002. Coming into this season, I couldn’t help but think of another unknown character who would never win a National Championship, but nevertheless became a part of all time college sports lore.

The name Rudy is synonymous with underdog stories. Here you have a barely 5 foot guy weighing 100 pounds soaking wet, who aspired to play college football at one of the most prestigious institutions in the land — Notre Dame. After not playing for two years, Rudy is on the verge of giving up his dream all together. That is until he hears a speech from Roc, played by brilliantly Charles S. Dutton.

The Program 20 Years Later

This is probably one of the most underrated sports films of the last 20-25 years. I loved it when I first saw it 10 years ago and it continues to be one of my favorites.

“The Program” is a film about a fictional college football team and the challenges and obstacles they must overcome during the course of a season. That’s really just the icing on the cake however. Over the course of the film we get a view to varying degrees of the men who makeup the squad. There’s the alcoholic quarterback. The freshman running-back trying to supplant the senior in the starting lineup. The fierce linebacker who trash talks the opponent to psych himself up during the game before it eventually costs him. And finally, there’s the coach played by James Caan who is fighting to keep it all together.

The film does a good job delving into issues that affect not just college football programs, but college sports in general. Whether it’s boosters putting pressure on an administration, who in turn shifts that pressure towards the head coach, or players going through personal problems that they rather not have highlighted by the media, “The Program” touches on many of these things. It features a young Omar Epps who plays freshman running-back Darnell Jefferson and Halle Berry who plays Autumn Haley, who is Jefferson’s academic tutor.