Following a successful fall slate of documentaries, ESPN Films will debut a new 30 for 30 on Saturday, December 14, at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN after the Heisman Trophy Presentation. Youngstown Boys is directed by Jeff and Michael Zimbalist, known for their 2010 30 for 30 documentary The Two Escobars, which was an official selection of the Tribeca Film Festival, Cannes International Film Festival and Los Angeles Film Festival.
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.
“Consistently referenced as one of the best documentaries of the last several years in or out of sports, The Two Escobars is the gold standard of what we do,” said Connor Schell, vice president of ESPN Films. “Jeff and Michael Zimbalist have delivered that level of excellence again with Youngstown Boys. In this film, their distinct style and storytelling are matched with two of college football’s most complicated figures of the last decade. We are honored to be showcasing this film in college football’s premiere timeslot.”
Youngstown Boys features interviews from Clarett and Tressel, as well as Pro Football Hall of Famer Jim Brown and former Ohio State QB Craig Krenzel.
“At its core, the story of Maurice Clarett and Jim Tressel is about fathers and sons, said co-director Jeff Zimbalist. “In addition to their record-breaking exploits on the playing field and involvement in two of college football’s biggest backroom scandals, we were drawn to the layered saga of ‘The Senator’ and ‘The Beast’ because it transcends sport. In examining the interconnected rise and downfall of these two men from opposite sides of the Youngstown tracks, we discovered the deep role that family plays in any quest for greatness.”
*Advance screener available upon request*
About ESPN Films
Created in March 2008, ESPN Films produces high-quality films showcasing some of the most compelling stories in sports. In October 2009, ESPN Films launched the Peabody Award-winning, Producer’s Guild Award-winning and Emmy-nominated 30 for 30 film series. Inspired by ESPN’s 30th Anniversary, the films that made up the series were a thoughtful and innovative reflection on the past three decades told through the lens of diverse and interesting sports fans and social commentators. The strong reaction from both critics and fans led to the launch of 30 for 30 Volume II, which is currently underway. Additional projects from ESPN Films include the critically acclaimed Nine for IX series, SEC Storied and the webby award winning 30 for 30 Shorts.