Pony Excess, Doc About SMU's Life After Death Penalty, Set to Debut on ESPN Next Month

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Way back in May, before the filmmakers yanked the trailer from YouTube, we sneaked a peek at something called Article 19, a doc-in-progress by two Jesuit College Preparatory School of Dallas grads about the events leading up to and immediately following SMU's football program receiving the NCAA's death penalty in February 1987. At the time, producer Mike Hughes told us, off the record, that he and director Thaddeus Matula were hoping to sell the film to ESPN as part of its 30 Films for 30 Years series, which has resulted in more than a few must-sees (including, most recently, Jonathan Hock's doc about Oklahoma's Marcus Dupree, The Best That Never Was).

They did just that: Following an invite-only screening at the Lakewood Theater next week, Pony Excess makes its bow on ESPN at 8 p.m. Dallas time, immediately after the Heisman Trophy presentation. A video preview's forthcoming to the film's Official Website, so till then we'll make due with an excerpt from Matula's personal statement:

It's a story of Dallas in its golden era, when the Cowboys were America's team and the TV show was the world's gateway into one of the great cultures of all time. It was a time of big hair and bigger oil, fast cars and faster women; it was an idea, a dream, and a place to dream big. Everything in Dallas was shiny and new; if you wanted it bad enough you could get it in Dallas, and every purchase financed with the currency of excess.

The good times couldn't last forever and in 1986 the Dallas real estate market crashed. By '87 Dallas had tumbled into what would become a decade-long recession. I like to think that it's not a coincidence that SMU football crashed at the same time. There were just too many dreams and too many divergent visions; it was unsustainable. Eventually and inexorably those dreams slammed together, swirled and churned into a perfect storm for both the city's economy and the Mustangs. The brand new gleaming skyscrapers sat empty downtown... and just down Central Expressway, so did the Mustang locker room.

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