It’s been three months since ESPN’s last 30 for 30 documentary, “Doc & Darryl,” which showed in July. But three new 30 for 30 docs will be coming from ESPN Films in the fall, the first of them debuting in two weeks.

“Phi Slama Jama,” focusing on the legendary University of Houston college basketball team that featured Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler, and made three straight Final Fours from 1982 to 1984, will premiere on Tuesday, Oct. 18. Directed by Chip Rives (The Eighth Wonder of the World), the documentary isn’t just a chronicle and celebration of one of college basketball’s great teams (who suffered one of the sport’s most heartbreaking losses in 1983). It’s also something of a mystery, attempting to find the whereabouts of role player Benny Anders, who disappeared after being kicked off the team in 1985.

Two weeks later, on Nov. 1, “Hit it Hard” covers the career of golfer John Daly. Following his 1991 PGA Championship victory, Daly suffered some professional and personal tumult before winning The Open Championship in 1995. Since then, Daly has had several comebacks while battling alcohol and gambling addiction, and various health issues. He’s still one of the most intriguing personalities in sports, largely because of a normal guy persona and personal flaws that make him far more relatable than many professional athletes. The documentary is directed by David Terry Fine (Salaam Dunk) and Gabe Spitzer (Every Day).

Then following the Heisman Trophy presentation on Saturday, Dec. 10, the third of ESPN’s new 30 for 30 films, “Catholics vs. Convicts,” will premiere. Directed by Patrick Creadon (All Work All Play), this documentary covers the Oct. 15, 1988 college football game between the No. 4 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (coached by Lou Holtz) and No. 1 Miami Hurricanes (led by Jimmy Johnson). Miami came into South Bend with a 36-game regular season winning streak. The nickname for the match-up came from t-shirts created by two Notre Dame students. Amped up from all the hype going into the game, both teams got into a fight before the game, which was named by USA Today as one of college football’s greatest games played from 1982 to 2007.

Originally, Catholics vs. Convicts was intended to be a look at the 1988 national championship Notre Dame team. But it appears that a decision was made to focus on the match-up with Miami, which was arguably the pivotal and most difficult game the Fighting Irish played that season.

“With each of our 30 for 30 films this fall, there’s a level of rebelliousness, controversy and intrigue in the main characters,” ESPN Films Vice President and Executive Producer John Dahl said in a statement. “That desire to do it their own way brought along a fair share of criticism, but also helped fuel the pursuit of their goals.”

About Ian Casselberry

Ian is a writer, editor, and podcaster. You can find his work at Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He's written for Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, MLive, Bleacher Report, and SB Nation.

Comments are closed.