What Will the Next Major College Football Documentary Cover?

What Will the Next Major College Football Documentary Cover?
Fact Checked by Nate Hamilton

It’s no surprise that sports have proven to be fertile ground for storytelling beyond the scoreboard. Whether it’s the cinema verité of “Hard Knocks” tracking an NFL team with an unblinking eye, or the more traditional scripted style of “The Last Dance” chronicling the denouement season of the Michael Jordan Chicago Bulls in 1997-98, sport consistently provides documentary-makers with a trove of drama.

Recently, the Netflix “Untold” sports documentary series has reached audiences beyond the typical sports fan with deep dives of controversial personalities and teams. Two of the latest were on Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel, whose promising career crumbled under the weight of sudden fortune and fast living, and on the 2005-2009 University of Florida football program (titled “Swamp Kings”), which won two National Championships, although some critics contend the story omitted some harsh off-field controversies.

Given the appetite for sports-themed documentaries, BetAlabama.com — thinking with our Alabama sports betting state of mind — constructed hypothetical odds on what the next major sports documentary to come out will cover. Two happen to focus on Alabama gridiron storylines.

Next College Football Documentary Odds

TopicOdds% Chance
Cam Newton Heisman/National Title Season+40020%
2017 UCF: 0-12 to 12-0+45018.2%
Baylor Football Scandal and Resurgence+60014.3%
SEC’s Reign of Dominance+75011.8%
Texas is Back: The Rise and Fall of the Longhorns+85010.5%
The Road to Alabama’s Dynasty+90010%

Two Possible Alabama Documentaries Make the List

The most likely topic, according to BetAlabama.com, is the journey of Cam Newton’s Heisman campaign in 2010 which included a national title for his undefeated Auburn Tigers. As the No. 1 prospective documentary, the Newton-Auburn story is given hypothetical odds of plus-400, or a 20% chance. In that championship season, Auburn rose from an early-season ranking of No. 23 to climb rung-by-rung beating several ranked teams along the way, including arch-rival Alabama, to the championship game where the Tigers defeated Oregon, 22-19.

Of the six narratives receiving hypothetical odds, the No. 6 candidate is the epic rise of Crimson Tide football or the “Road to Alabama’s Dynasty.” That plot line got odds of plus-900, or a 10% chance, and would tell of the emergence of ‘Bama football in the Nick Saban era when, with Saban as head coach, Alabama has won six National Championships. And even in seasons in which Alabama doesn’t win it all, it’s still in the discussion. Nick Saban is among the top SEC coaches against the spread.

The No. 2 imagined documentary behind the 2010 season of Cam Newton and Auburn is the turnaround of the UCF Knights. The 2017 UCF Knights football team (University of Central Florida) went 13-0 in the American Athletic Conference that year, a feat made all the more remarkable by the fact that just two years earlier, UCF had finished 0-12. A documentary on that turnaround is given plus-450 hypothetical odds or an 18.2% chance.

The third-ranked possibility is Baylor University’s football scandal and resurgence. The scandal involved a grim period of ongoing sexual assault allegations from 2012-2016, many associated with the football program, whose occurrences were suppressed by university officials. By 2017, Baylor’s football program had fallen to 1-11.  In 2019 it rebounded to 11-3 and in 2021, it was 12-2.  That story is listed at plus-600 (14.3%) to be a documentary.

Fourth on the list is the SEC’s overall reign of dominance in college football. The conference seems to have a perennial grip on the national championship trophy. That story is listed at plus-750, or an 11.8% chance.

The plot of the University of Texas, “Texas is Back: The Rise and Fall of the Longhorns,” is listed at No. 5 with odds of plus-850, or a 10.5% chance. Texas had a nine-year run of double-digit win seasons (2001-09), slumped to three straight losing years (2014-16), then in the last half-dozen years has clawed back to respectability.

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Bill Ordine, senior journalist and columnist for BetAlabama.com, was a reporter and editor in news and sports for the Philadelphia Inquirer and Baltimore Sun for 25 years and was a lead reporter on a team that was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Breaking News. Bill started reporting on casinos and gaming shortly after Atlantic City’s first gambling halls opened and wrote a syndicated column on travel to casino destinations for 10 years. He covered the World Series of Poker for a decade and his articles on gaming have appeared in many major U.S. newspapers, such as the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Miami Herald and others.

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