30 for 30 has seen a solid, if not unspectacular fall slate this year with several good documentaries that haven't quite reached the upper echelon of the acclaimed documentary series.  With the fall slate finished, our attention looks ahead to what has become the prime timeslot for the series, directly after the Heisman Trophy ceremony.

ESPN has traditionally placed one of their most anticipated 30 for 30s in the lucrative post-Heisman timeslot.  They've also all been linked to college football.  2009 saw the debut of The U, 2010 featured Pony Excess, and last year it was You Don't Know Bo.  All of them have done well in ratings and reviews.

This year should be no different with what looks to be another excellent 30 for 30 about notable college football figures planned for Saturday night after the Heisman Trophy ceremony.  This time, it's the story of two former Ohio State Buckeyes – Maurice Clarett and Jim Tressel.  (Side note: thanks ESPN for listening to us.)  

The film Youngstown Boys will follow the journeys of both men from the blue-collar northeast Ohio city to the state capital, following their successes and downfalls.  What's perhaps most exciting about the project is the return of directors Jeff and Michael Zimbalist, who produced arguably the best 30 for 30 to date, The Two Escobars.  From ESPN

Following a successful fall slate of documentaries, ESPN Films will debut a new 30 for 30 on Saturday, December 14, at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN after the Heisman Trophy Presentation. Youngstown Boys is directed by Jeff and Michael Zimbalist, known for their 2010 30 for 30 documentary The Two Escobars, which was an official selection of the Tribeca Film Festival, Cannes International Film Festival and Los Angeles Film Festival.

“At its core, the story of Maurice Clarett and Jim Tressel is about fathers and sons, said co-director Jeff Zimbalist. “In addition to their record-breaking exploits on the playing field and involvement in two of college football’s biggest backroom scandals, we were drawn to the layered saga of ‘The Senator’ and ‘The Beast’ because it transcends sport."

Perhaps more than any other documentary in the past year, I'm most excited to see Youngstown Boys.  The subjects of the film couldn't be more different, yet their relationship has remained strong even after they've both left Ohio State.  Clarett and Tressel represent two of the most complex, unique, intriguing personalities over the past decade in college football.  The downfall of their football careers and efforts at redemption will make for quite the compelling narrative.  With the best 30 for 30 minds behind the film, this has everything necessary to be one of the top documentaries in series history.


About Matt Yoder

Award winning sportswriter at The Comeback and Awful Announcing. The biggest cat in the whole wide world.