30 for 30 (2009– )
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SMU puts together the best football team in America during the early 1980s with the help of bribes and payoffs, until the NCAA gives the team the "Death Penalty"--a sanction from which the team has yet to competitively recover.


Thaddeus D. Matula

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Episode credited cast:
Fred Akers Fred Akers ... Himself (archive footage)
Dick Anderson Dick Anderson ... Himself - SMU Defensive Tackle
Ken Andrews Ken Andrews ... Himself - SMU Booster
Harvey Armstrong Harvey Armstrong ... Himself
Marilyn Arps Marilyn Arps ... Herself (archive footage)
Skip Bayless ... Himself
Dan Beebe Dan Beebe ... Himself - NCAA Investigator
David Berst David Berst ... Himself - NCAA Director of Enforcement
Cash Birdwell Cash Birdwell ... Himself - SMU Trainer
Sherwood Blount Sherwood Blount ... Himself - SMU Booster (archive footage)
Michael Bowen Michael Bowen ... Himself - SMU Wide Receiver
Gil Brandt Gil Brandt ... Himself
James E. Brooks James E. Brooks ... Himself - SMU Interim President 1980 (as Dr. James E. Brooks)
Paul 'Bear' Bryant Paul 'Bear' Bryant ... Himself (archive footage)
Robin Buddecke Robin Buddecke ... Himself - SMU Booster


From 1981-1984, a small private school in Dallas owned the best record in college football. The Mustangs of Southern Methodist University (SMU) were riding high on the backs of the vaunted "Pony Express" backfield. But as the middle of the decade approached, the program was coming apart at the seams. Wins became the only thing that mattered as the University increasingly ceded power of the football program to the city's oil barons and real estate tycoons and flagrant and frequent NCAA violations became the norm. On February 25, 1987, the school and the sport were rocked, as the NCAA meted out "the death penalty" on a college football program for the first and only time in its history. SMU would be without football for two years, and the fan base would be without an identity for 20 more until the Mustangs' win in the 2009 Hawaii Bowl. This is the story of Dallas in the 1980's and the greed, power, and corruption that spilled from the oil fields onto the football field and all the way ... Written by Anonymous

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Release Date:

11 December 2010 (USA) See more »

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Technical Specs

Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?


The introducing close-up picture of Sherwood Blount has the reflection of dollar signs in his eyes. See more »


Norm Hitzges: If you're gonna be a dirty program, you better be good at it. You better understand that the group handling the dirtiness has to be small, and it has to be committed, and it doesn't go out and chirp at bars.
See more »


Features 1980 Holiday Bowl (1980) See more »

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User Reviews

Well made but too much....
20 February 2013 | by MartinHaferSee all my reviews

"Pony Excess" is about the notorious rules violations committed by Southern Methodist University in the early 1980s. Many incentives (money, cars and more) were given to create the best team in college football--though they eventually got caught.

ESPN's "30 For 30" series is amazingly well made. I love the show even though I am not particularly a sports fan any more. It might sound odd, but I can appreciate the fine craftsmanship that has gone into making these films and the stories are generally very compelling. The episodes vary from about an hour to an hour and a half (give or take). "Pony Excess" is an example of a show that SHOULD have been a short episode but wasn't--clocking in at an hour and 46 minutes. Because of this, I found my interest waning after a while. Plus, I got really tired of hearing folks from SMU giving the 'everybody's doing it' excuse for the school's serious NCAA rules violations. It came off, to me, like a kid who is caught with his hand in a cookie jar and they tell their mother "I didn't do it"! Gimme a break. A decent but less than satisfying episode.

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