Last August, Paul Finebaum seemingly gave away that there was a Netflix documentary on the way on the Florida Gators under Urban Meyer. Finebaum didn’t completely confirm the subject of the documentary he sat for an interview for, but his “It’s more about a school but also a well-known and famous coach” comments and discussion that it would be about a school in a state neighboring Alabama made it seem pretty likely it was on Meyer and the Gators. And further posted-then-deleted social media posts from Florida players since last August added to that discussion, and made it clear a documentary on the Gators was coming at some point.
Now, this weekend, former Florida linebacker Brandon Siler posted an email about the project on Instagram. That email included its title (Untold: Swamp Kings) and release date (August 23). It can be seen below, via Barstool Florida. (The content below is not actually sensitive, despite Twitter’s warning labels.)
Per an email Brandon Siler posted on his instagram ? pic.twitter.com/UxQtY9dFGD
— Barstool Florida (@UFBarstool) June 3, 2023
That era’s Gators are fascinating for their cast of characters, including Meyer, Tim Tebow (seen at top on the sidelines with Meyer during a 2009 game) , Aaron Hernandez, Mike and Maurkice Pouncey, Chris Leak, and many more. They also are notable for both their on-field success (national championships in the 2006 and 2008 seasons) and the off-field issues figures like Hernandez ran into. So there’s certainly plenty of material there for a documentary. And the mix of on-field and off-field issues here fits with much of the Untold series so far, with Maclain Way (one of the series’ executive producers, alongside brother Chapman) telling AA last August that they’re particularly interested in sports stories that go beyond the playing surface. (Past ones there include Operation Flagrant Foul on Tim Donaghy, The Girlfriend Who Didn’t Exist on Manti Te’o, Malice at the Palace on the Pacers-Pistons brawl, and Crime and Penalties on the Danbury Trashers.)
“They are sports stories, but we always say any time they leave the court or the field or the stadium is when it really becomes interesting to us,” Maclain Way said. “That was the case with Crime and Penalties; it is a story on a hockey team and they play their games on ice, but there’s all this fascinating stuff going on off the ice, just really interesting parts of the story that do create these arcs that we love telling as filmmakers.”
And there certainly are arcs of that kind with that era’s Gators. And Finebaum’s comments last fall suggest Meyer sat for an interview here, and given everything that’s happened with him since his departure from Florida in 2011, that will also be interesting. But reactions to this announcement have been mixed, with some eager to see this and some disappointed that a figure like Hernandez in particular (who was convicted of first-degree murder in 2015, and found dead in his prison cell in 2017) is getting more attention. We’ll see how this turns out, and how it’s received.
[AL.com; photo from Don McPeak/USA Today Sports]