Scott Lewis

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Maurice Clarett carries the ball

The latest entry in ESPN’s 30-for-30 series, Youngstown Boys, directed by Jeff and Michael Zimbalist, will premiere on Saturday, December 14, at 9 p.m. ET after the Heisman Trophy Presentation on ESPN. Youngstown Boys is the second effort in the documentary series from the Zimbalist brothers, with their previous entry, The Two Escobars, standing as one of the most celebrated films of the collection.

Via ESPN official release:

Youngstown Boys explores class and power dynamics in college sports through the parallel, interconnected journeys of one-time dynamic running back Maurice Clarett and former elite head coach Jim Tressel. Both emerged from the working-class city of Youngstown, Ohio—Tressel as the head coach who turned around the football program at Youngstown State—before they joined for a magical season at Ohio State University in 2002 that produced the first national football championship for the school in over 30 years.

Shortly thereafter though, Clarett was suspended from college football and began a downward spiral that ended with a prison term. Tressel continued at Ohio State for another eight years before his career there also ended in scandal.

Youngstown Boys instantly sets itself among the top tier of the 30-for-30 series’ films. Fans of films like The Two Escobars, The Best That Never Was, and Once Brothers will be satiated by the story’s powerful portrayal of relationship dynamics, success, struggle, and redemption.

We spoke with co-director Michael Zimbalist about making the film, its themes, Clarett and Tressel, and the NCAA.

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Tostitos BCS National Championship Game - Oregon v Auburn

Former Auburn running back Michael Dyer earned the offensive MVP honor in the 2011 BCS National Championship game, and now he’s simply hoping to land a spot with a mid-major. Having earned a two-year degree at Arkansas Baptist, while putting past transgressions behind him, Dyer is seeking a home to play out his final two years of eligibility. Although he was reported to have received interest from TCU and Louisville, it appears as though Dyer will have to settle for a non-BCS option.

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Discover Orange Bowl - Northern Illinois v Florida State

College football is just a couple of months away, which means it’s the season for Heisman campaigns. There’s the obvious parties in the running, like incumbent Texas A&M quarterback, Johnny Manziel. There’s also the self-aggrandizing types like Baylor’s Lache Seastrunk, who told the Sporting News back in December, “I’m going to win the Heisman. I’m going to win it in 2013″. We also have the anti-Heisman campaign campaign, like we’ve seen from Teddy Bridgewater out of Louisville.

Now we have the improbable Mid-American Conference Heisman candidate campaign, which is what Northern Illinois has launched in support of senior quarterback Jordan Lynch.

Lynch led the Northern Illinois Huskies to 12-2 record last year, punctuated by a MAC title. Lynch and the Huskies would later fall to Florida State in the Orange Bowl, but his play over the season helped vault the Huskies into a top-25 finish. Lynch would finish sixth in Heisman voting in 2012, behind Manziel, Manti Te’o, Collin Klein, Marqise Lee and Braxton Miller. It was the highest finish for a MAC talent since Byron Leftwich landed at sixth with Marshall in 2002. Fellow Marshall alums, Randy Moss (fourth) and Chad Pennington (fifth), represent the only MAC players to ever receive an invite to New York for the award presentation.

The odds can be much more difficult to overcome when you’re running out against the likes of Akron, UMASS, Buffalo, and every directional designation Michigan has to offer, as opposed to the heavyweights of the south.

While Lynch’s numbers from last season speak for themselves (3,138 yards passing with a 60.2% completion rate, 25 touchdowns and 6 interceptions, plus another 1,815 yards on the ground and 19 rushing touchdowns), he’s not likely to win the award. It’s not so much that Lynch can’t equal, or even improve upon, his gaudy 2012 totals, but the schedule advantage that the MAC affords him will make it difficult for voters to hold him in the same regard as the talents coming out of the SEC, Big 12, and B1G.

Lynch’s limbs should enable him to put up some impressive numbers, and help Northern Illinois challenge for another MAC title, that much is a given. However, his Heisman candidacy will ultimately come down to how his fellow competitors perform or potentially stumble. Even with the rise of Northern Illinois, Kent State, and Bowling Green, the MAC lacks the firepower to propel Lynch into the national spotlight that he deserves. If anything, we’ve got ourselves a nice little feel-good narrative to which we can tie our horses.

Here’s one way to put the “you never played the game” argument to bed. Bowling Green’s sports information director allows himself to be sacked by 6’3″, 282 pound defensive tackle, Ted Oullet.

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In the future we won’t watch live sports on television, we’ll watch real-time GIFs paired with a live audio feed. In the future we won’t watch shows on television or Netflix, we’ll watch episode length GIFs synced with a soundtrack. In the future kids won’t trade sports or magic cards, they will trade GIF cards. In the future SBNation will publish a “longform” piece on the history of action cards from the 1980s and how they influenced GIF creation. It will be fantastic and exhausting.

In the future we won’t debate the pronunciation of the ‘g’ in gif, but we’ll debate whether the ‘I’ is pronounced /ai/ or /I/.

GIFs, man. They’ve taken over and these are the people making them…

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