While Buckeye Nation may still be reeling from Michigan State’s victory over its beloved Ohio State football team in the Big Ten championship game, it has a chance to relive some old memories during ESPN’s latest edition of its 30 for 30 series.
Ohio State took home the national championship following the 2002 season, and running back Maurice Clarett was its superstar player. Clarett, along with then head coach Jim Tressel, will be the subject of the upcoming ESPN documentary.
What: Youngstown Boys
When: 9 pm ET, Dec. 14 (following the Heisman Trophy presentation)
The film will also be replayed at 11 pm ET on Dec. 14 on ESPN2.
ESPN Film’s 30 for 30 also points out that fans of the series will be familiar with Youngstown Boys’ directors:
Ohio State’s improbable run to the national championship behind the freshman Clarett will undoubtedly be explored during the film. However, that alone wouldn’t be worthy of the full 30 for 30 treatment. It is the off-field issues that plagued Clarett during his brief career and after he left the confines of Ohio State that will be the main draw.
Among the hits on Clarett’s reputation was an NCAA investigation into improper benefits, his dismissal from the university and an unsuccessful challenge of the NFL’s rule that a player must be three years removed from high school to play in its league. However, that was just scratching the surface.
Clarett went down a dark path with drugs and alcohol, was cited with a concealed weapons charge and eventually found himself in prison.
Since then, Clarett has tried to turn his life around. He has taken courses at Ohio State after being released from prison and has been willing to share his story to those that will listen. Clarett’s roller-coaster ride through life will be explored in depth in Youngstown Boys, per the man himself.
As for Tressel, his accomplishments and downfall were well-documented during his time at Ohio State. He won a national title, appeared in two other title games, won five straight Big Ten championships and was considered one of the best coaches in the game. However, when he didn’t report NCAA violations to the proper authorities, his coaching career ended with a show-cause penalty.
Look for Youngstown Boys to explore the unique relationship between these two embattled figures from Youngstown, Ohio and delve into larger themes than the main plotline itself. Redemption, issues involving NCAA athletes and coaches and potential hypocrisy with the rules and much more will come into play.
The films in ESPN’s 30 for 30 series almost always make the audience think critically about what they are watching, and this edition should be no different.
Follow and interact with Bleacher Report writer Scott Polacek on Twitter @ScottPolacek.