Glory days return to the U in film by ESPN

Howard Schnellenberger wears championship rings while on the set of The U set to air December 12th with an advance screening in Cosford Cinema on December 10th exclusively for UM students.

Howard Schnellenberger wears championship rings while on the set of The U set to air December 12th with an advance screening in Cosford Cinema on December 10th exclusively for UM students.


In just two weeks, Hurricane Nation will have a chance to reminisce and reflect on the glory days of the University of Miami football program that began three decades ago.

On December 12 at 9:30 p.m., ESPN’s 30-for-30 film series will air a special documentary on UM titled “The U.” The two hour documentary is directed by Miami alum Billy Corben. The documentary chronicles the rise of Miami’s football dominance in the 1980s with in-depth interviews with all of the notable stars that were part of Miami’s four national championships from 1983 to 1991.

Corben is showing an advanced screening exclusively for the UM community on Thursday, Dec. 10 at 7 p.m. The event takes place at Cosford Cinema.

“I am really excited and anxious,” Corben said. “The staff has been working nonstop for the past two years trying to get all 40 interviews and depict the right atmosphere.”

ESPN is celebrating their 30th anniversary by airing 30 documentaries about stories that occurred over the last 30 years.

The documentaries are investigative stories that transcend sports. Some of the other documentaries include the trade of hockey hall of famer Wayne Gretzky from the Edmonton Oilers to the Los Angeles Kings, the death of Boston Celtics first round draft pick Len Bias, Michael Jordan’s decision to give up basketball for baseball and the O.J. Simpson infamous white Ford Bronco chase 15 years ago.

“We first pitched the idea to ESPN two years ago without even knowing about the 30-for-30 series,” Corben said. “ESPN Films does great non-fiction work and we thought it was important for everyone to know how UM became a perennial powerhouse. It was perfect because ESPN started in 1979 and that was the first year Howard Schnellenberger took over as UM’s coach.”

The documentary contains limited commercial interruptions and is airing immediately after the Heisman Trophy ceremony, the most prestigious award in college football. Among those interviewed are all of UM’s national championship winning coaches, Michael Irvin, Santana Moss and Alonzo Highsmith.

“I hope they portray all of the positives of the University of Miami,” said Kenny Lopez, a defensive tackle for UM from 1990-1993. “There was just great competition amongst us that is what really made Miami special. We had this saying that practices were harder than the games. The games were just fun.”

Scott Martineau was a student during the same years as Lopez. As an alumnus, he is looking forward to the movie premiere.

“When I saw some of the clips, I was so psyched knowing I was a student that interacted with these student-athletes at the time,” Martineau said.

Martineau broadcasted the Hurricanes football games for WVUM at the time.

Corben, who grew up going to Canes games with his father who was a season ticket holder, believes it’s important that everyone know how UM became synonymous with football.

“This is a story about the history of the University of Miami. It reminds us why we love the Canes and it reminds us why those who hate the Canes hate the Canes,” he said. “It’s important fans appreciate what happened in the 1980s and it’s important for current players to see this movie to realize what hard work, effort and determination can bring.”

Justin Antweil may be contacted at


November 22, 2009


Justin Antweil

Senior Sports Writer

3 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Glory days return to the U in film by ESPN”

  1. hey says:

    Hey where can I find the commercial for this?

  2. Justin Antweil says:


    Thank you for reading. I emailed Billy Corben the director who I interviewed asking him for information and details about a possible DVD release. In the mean time you can always Tivo the program or DVR it. There will be a lot of re-runs but I will try and get you any information I can on the DVD. Thanks for being an avid reader. Go Canes!

  3. Andrew Ouart says:

    I am wondering how I can buy this film, The U on dvd? Please shoot me an email. Thank you, Andrew Ouart Oxford, Mississippi

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The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published in print every Tuesday.