'The U' sequel on UM rebirth
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University of Miami coach Jimmy Johnson is carried off the field by players celebrating their national championship victory over Oklahoma, Thursday, Jan. 1, 1988 at the Orange Bowl in Miami.
University of Miami coach Jimmy Johnson is carried off the field by players celebrating their national championship victory over Oklahoma, Thursday, Jan. 1, 1988 at the Orange Bowl in Miami.
BILL FRAKES / STAFF FILE PHOTO

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By BARRY JACKSON
bjackson@MiamiHerald.com

ESPN's documentary on the University of Miami football program was such a hit that the creators have begun working on a sequel.

Director Billy Corben said the new film, It's All About the U, will focus on Hurricanes football between 1992 and 2002. The first movie, called The U, primarily focused on the 1980s, through 1991.

Interviews with former Canes are being lined up for the first three weeks of April. ``Then we'll edit it the rest of the year'' while juggling nonsports projects, Corben said. He would love for the sequel to air on ESPN but hasn't discussed it with the network. Corben likely will have other options if ESPN passes.

The idea of doing a sequel ``started as a lark,'' Corben said. ``[Former UM cornerback] Mike Rumph twittered after the first movie, `What about the U-2?' A few weeks ago, we said, `Why don't we just do it?'''

Corben said the sequel ``will cover the Pell Grant scandal and the program's downfall and give Butch Davis his due for rebuilding the program. Butch did something extraordinary that deserves to be acknowledged.''

The film will spend considerable time on the 2001 team -- put together by Davis and coached by Larry Coker -- ``which is considered one of the best teams of all time,'' Corben said. ``It all comes down to what Alonzo Highsmith said at the end of the first movie about the program's success: If they had accomplished all of this at a major football university like Alabama, the school would have built monuments.

``This sequel will be the monument to the 2001 team even if the university is not as enthusiastic to memorialize their accomplishments.''

Corben also will reflect on the 2002 team that lost the Fiesta Bowl (and the national championship) to Ohio State after a highly questionable pass-interference call against UM.

``We have Larry Coker talking about that,'' Corben said. ``We didn't use any of Coker's interview in the first movie.''

Corben said UM declined to cooperate with the first film but ``I hope they will be more reasonable this time around.'' He said he wants to interview only two people currently employed by the university -- former athletic director Paul Dee (who teaches at UM) and strength and conditioning coach Andreu Swasey.

The U was ESPN's highest-rated documentary ever, with a 1.8 rating and 2.3 million viewers on its first airing. By comparison, other documentaries in ESPN's ``30 for 30'' series averaged below a 1.0 rating. ESPN said it will release a DVD of The U -- with about 30 minutes of deleted scenes -- on Amazon.com, but it isn't available yet.

ESPN's upcoming documentaries include one on Ricky Williams (April 27, 8 p.m.), Allen Iverson (April 13, 8 p.m.), Rotisserie baseball (April 20, 8 p.m.). An ABC documentary at 4 p.m. April 3 will be on Loyola Marymount under Paul Westhead.
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