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The last film in ESPN's 30 for 30 series. The film follows the rise, fall and rebirth of the SMU football program.
Overview Poney Excess debuted on December 11th 2010 following the 2010 Heisman Trophy Ceremony. The film was directed by former SMU film student Thaddeus D. Matula, who's father is a former professor at SMU . The film follows The Mustangs of Southern Methodist University (SMU) a small private school located in Dallas, Texas. The Mustangs from 1981-1984 had the best record in college football. From 1980-1985 the program posted a record of 55-14-1 and won three South Western Conference titles. In 1982 the team posted the nations only undefeated record, the team was close to obtain a second national championship but lost it's shot when it posted a tie against Arkansas in the season finale. The school had a been found guilty of violating NCAA rules and were subsequently put on probation five separate times from 1974-1985. Overall the school had seven violations total, more than any other school in NCAA Division 1-A history.
Slush Fund & The Death Penalty While the school had violated NCAA rules several times in the past, the real fall of the SMU program didn't begin until November of 1986 when the local ABC affiliate revealed that David Stanley (who had played linebacker for SMU from 1983-1984) claimed that athletic officials paid him $25,000 to play at SMU and continued paying throughout the course of his collegiate career. At the time Stanley played for the Mustangs the school was already facing previous sanctions but continued to pay Stanley. During this time period the NCAA adopted a new set of rules that specifically outlined punishment for repeat offenders of violations - "the death penalty" since SMU had already been found guilty of a previous violation it spelled almost certain doom for the program. Days later it was reported that (then) the current starting tight end Albert Reese was living rent free in an apartment in Dallas who was subsequently suspended for the final two games of the season. It was later revealed that from 1985 to 1986 that 13 players had been paid a total of $61,000 from a "slush fund" provided by a booster who was later revelad to be Dallas real-estate developer Sherwood Blount, Jr. who played for the Mustangs from 1969-1971. The payments to players were all revealed to have been approved by the schools athletic department
Death Penalty On February 25th the NCAA committee voted unanimously to cancel the SMU Mustang's 1987 football season, the NCAA allowed for a possible seven game season 1988. However, SMU declined the offer to field a football team in 1988. The NCAA allowed all SMU football players to transfer schools without losing eligibility, which by and large caused the death of the 1988 season since the school felt that they could not field a 'competitive' team.