The U shows how Schnellenberger, also a storied pro coach, built the team into a contender, culminating in the Hurricanes' victory over the Nebraska Cornhuskers to take the 1983 national title. The win unified the fractured city. "Everyone rallied around the Canes," Spellman says. "It wasn't about black or white. It was about being orange-and-green."
Then comes the Jimmy Johnson (another pro standout later) era, when the Hurricanes solidified their image as the bad boys of college football. The U digs into the fallout from the Canes' loss to the Penn State Nittany Lions in the 1986 national title game. Prior to that contest, the Hurricanes caused a ruckus by landing in Tempe, Arizona, wearing Army fatigues and then storming out of a dinner for both teams.
On tape, Johnson recalls how Foote tried to use the embarrassing episode as leverage against him. According to the coach, Foote threatened to cut off talks about a contract extension unless he apologized for the team's behavior. "I can't say on TV the words I said to Tad Foote," Johnson recalls.
Sports radio commentator and Miami Herald columnist Dan Le Batard likens Foote to "Dean Vernon Wormer" and the football team to an "Animal House frat" he tried to get rid of. To drive home the comparison, the film features a still shot of Wormer sandwiched between clips of a stuffy Foote.
The documentary ends with the tenure of Dennis Erickson, whose lack of control over the team eventually cost the university scholarships and bowl game appearances. As one former player put it: "All of sudden, we had a substitute teacher. We could do whatever we wanted."