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Sherwood Blount

December 12, 2010 by staff 

Sherwood Blount, Thad Matula said that his film career went nowhere. He is not sure he would never be that one break in life – that moment when everything changes.

But that moment came when ESPN picked up his documentary project on the SMU football and 1987, the “death penalty.”

“It’s hard for me to imagine that in a year and a half I have been editing videos of deer hunting and I was wondering what had happened,” said Matula, 32, an alumnus of Jesuit Preparatory School of Dallas and SMU.

Pony excess will be broadcast tonight that the last movie of ESPN “30 to 30″ documentary series, which was created to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the network.

It is the culmination of over a year of work by Matula. He had previously been students and shorts, but nothing close to the platform and exposure that ESPN provides.

Matula had long wanted to make a film on the NCAA-mandated penalty that closed the SMU football program for repeated violations of rules, including paying its players on a booster slush fund.

The school chose not to play a partial schedule in 1988 and resumed play in 1989.

A film about SMU and its death penalty was on the radar ESPN in spring 2009, according to John Dahl, executive producer of ESPN Films. The network attempts to find a production company to approach the subject came to nothing, though.

But a series of chance meetings between the producers of the documentary and an executive project Matula ESPN got in front of network executives this summer.

Mike Hughes, a classmate Jesuit Matula and executive producer of the documentary ran two producers at a party and let them know about the draft Matula.

Both of them said they were interested in jumping on board.

Shortly after, one of them met an officer who said ESPN there was an unexpected opening in the “30 for 30″ series.

“It was kind of serendipitous,” said Dahl.

Preview last week in Dallas. The Lakewood Theater overflowed with supporters who cheered when EMS Eric Dickerson said how he hated Texas Longhorns and laughed at a clip of a Texas AM & Cadet Corps lunging at a member SMU cheerleader with a sword.

But the crowd fell silent as he saw excerpts from WFAA-TV in November 1986 exposed what many consider to be the last nail in the coffin for SMU football.

“If I did something that attempted to exonerate the university, it would be a piece crybaby and nobody is concerned,” said Matula. “I watched it with honesty, and left to others to decide if [the death penalty] was too severe.”

Hughes stood in the back of the theater during the screening and watched the crowd.

“He was one of the coolest things you would expect to see the audience respond,” he said.

Matula hopes that the film gets people to think about the SMU football again.

“What I always wanted for this movie is a guy randomly in the middle of nowhere in Ohio, on Saturday afternoon to say” Ohio State is not playing until the bonus time. Oh, SMU is running. I want to see this match. “”

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