ACC Network Documentaries We Need to See

With the ACC Network set to launch, what should we be looking to see? We look at a few documentaries that should be strongly considered.

The ACC Network is coming. It’s coming digitally very soon, and, apparently, as a traditional linear channel in 2019. It’s going to feature a ton of ACC sports, namely 150 men’s and women’s basketball games and 40 football games per year. It’ll feature Olympic sports as well. Aside from Saturday and Sunday, these games are played at night.

On days where there are no games to show (i.e. the entire summer), the channel needs content. One such content will be the ACC Network of 30 for 30, likely called ACC: Storied. I’m calling it that because that’s what the SEC Network calls their documentary series, so I don’t see any reason to change it.

This is terrific news. ESPN does a stellar job with documentaries and their work on the SEC Network is no different. Without further ado, let’s examine some ACC: Storied documentaries we want to see. These will be very, very heavily football and men’s basketball slanted, but for the record, I know there are some terrific stories from other sports that need to be told.

  1. 2003 Expansion

This is obviously the first one that needs to happen. It’s been 13 years and pretty much all the parties that were left out originally (see: Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Louisville) are now in the league. Everyone’s happy. Let’s go behind-the-scenes and learn what went down. I want to get UNC and Duke people on camera talking about them voting against expansion. I want UVA, VT and Virginia politicians on camera explaining how the Hokies snuck past the ‘Cuse and earned the invite. And then let’s get the Syracuse people on to explain what the reaction in Syracuse athletic department was as all this was going down.

Link to ESPN 2003 article announcing the expansion, with a fun sidebar with more stories -

2. 2001 Miami

ESPN has already produced two documentaries on “The U”, but that doesn’t do this team justice. This team was so loaded, it’s hard to even put it into words. They had 17 players from that team selected in the first round of the NFL Draft. Their running back rotation was Clinton Portis, Willis McGahee and Frank Gore. They had backups like Antrel Rolle, Kellen Winslow, Vince Wilfork and Sean Taylor. Ken Dorsey was one of the greatest college quarterbacks ever because he had Jeremy Shockey and Andre Johnson to throw to and Bryant McKinnie, who never gave up a sack in college, protecting his blind side. Ed Reed was on this team and he was just unfair. This team needs its own documentary.

3. Weinke to Warrick

Weinke was recruited by Bobby Bowden before opting to play minor league baseball. The documentary can start with him in high school and then transition to Weinke playing minor league ball. Everyone needs some Chris Weinke minor league baseball highlights. Then he arrives at Florida State, wins the National Championship in year one, wins the Heisman Trophy in year two, and is promptly leaving Tallahassee at the ripe age of 29. Meanwhile, Warrick was one of the best wide receivers in college football history. The guy was dynamite at receiver and returner. He also was arrested with Jets legend Laveranues Coles at Dillard’s for grand theft and suspended two games, which probably cost him the Heisman in 1999. Together, though, Weinke and Warrick were pretty much unbeatable as they won the National Championship over Virginia Tech. Success, crime, an old quarterback torching 18-22-year-olds, this is ripe for a documentary.

4. Beamer to Carolina

North Carolina came hot-and-heavy after Frank Beamer as the Michael Vick era was winding down. Beamer wrote in his book, and it was widely reported, that he had accepted the job, but changed his mind when he returned to Blacksburg. Four years before the ACC invited Virginia Tech into the league and fresh off the two biggest seasons in Virginia Tech history, when Michael Vick took them mainstream, this would have been a crushing blow to the Hokies program. Bud Foster might have gotten his head coaching job, the Hokies might still be in the Big East and UNC might not have spent much of the 2000s moving between relevancy and irrelevancy. This decision could have changed everything.

5. The Bowden Bowls

Before Bobby Bowden’s Florida State career petered out, his son Tommy Bowden was the coach at rival Clemson. From 1998-2008, they played each other every year in The Bowden Bowls. Even another son of Bobby, Jeff, was involved as FSU’s offensive coordinator for a time. Bobby won the series 5-4, although Tommy’s first win in the series came on his dad’s birthday! This is movie material! It also needs to include the 99-yard Weinke to Snoop Minnis touchdown in 2000.

6. Duke-Carolina Basketball Rivalry

For obvious reasons.

7. Wake Forest 2006

Before Duke rose from the depths of the ACC, which is another idea for another documentary, Wake Forest came out of nowhere to win the ACC in 2006. They went 4-7 the year prior and had some quarterback named Riley Skinner. They started the year 6-1 before reeling off three straight wins over ranked opponents that culminated in a 30-0 beatdown of the Seminoles in Tallahassee. They later won the ACC Championship in one of the worst college football games ever, a 9-6 win over Georgia Tech. Seriously, I hope the ACC burned that tape forever. Wake was pretty good for the next three years and head coach Jim Grobe spurned overtures from schools like Alabama, Arkansas and Nebraska to stick it out in Winston-Salem.

8. Coach K

Mike Krzyzewski is probably the best college basketball coach of all-time. He’s been a mainstay at Duke for decades and wins and wins and wins. He deserves his own documentary because there is so much more than just the wins at Cameron Indoor Stadium. This documentary can go inside the story of how he listened intently to Kobe Bryant and the Lakers in 2004 and probably some pretty awesome Olympic stuff as well.

9. The Dean Smith Era

Pretty similar to Coach K here, as Dean Smith is maybe even more legendary at UNC than he is at Duke. The stories about Smith’s coaching style range from crazy to innovative to inspiring, but his players loved him and he had an insane amount of success. He also coached the G.O.A.T. in Michael Jordan.

10. Scandal at North Carolina

ESPN and the ACC are in a partnership now, so this likely will never happen. But Butch Davis and John Blake, Marvin Austin, whatever state the current investigation is in, this scandal as so many layers and stories that could make for an awesome documentary. If SMU’s Pony Express got a documentary, this should get a documentary. But again, I doubt it would happen given how recent it is and the partnership.

11. The Miracle Minute

In case you haven’t seen it, watch the video below. Former Duke point guard Jay Williams scores 10 points in a minute to stun Maryland. It’s an incredible minute of basketball and came at a time when the two programs were at the top of the college basketball world (Duke won the title in 2001, Maryland won in 2002). Williams is one of ESPN’s top college basketball analysts, so he could definitely narrate this or something.

12. Rise from the Ashes: UVA Baseball

This is the one non-scandal, non-football, non-basketball story I could think of. In 2001, UVA recommended tiering its sports in a way that would have rendered their baseball program essentially a D-III program. It was a death sentence for the program basically because they were terrible. Instead, an anonymous donation - rumored to be from author John Grisham - came to the rescue and saved the program. Let's get Grisham on the record for this documentary and tell the story of UVA baseball's rise to prominence. After the donation, Davenport Field was built to what it was today and Brian O’Connor stewarded the program into the top shelf of college baseball programs in the entire country. The program went from possibly playing in the ODAC (Old Dominion Athletic Conference, home of teams like Hampden-Sydney College and Randolph-Macon College) to playing in Omaha.

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