Swamp Kings: A Terrible Urban Meyer Commercial

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SEC Football Championship - Florida v Alabama

Netflix released a four-part Urban Meyer commercial as a part of their Untold series. It’s bad.

For those who don’t remember, this Florida Gators team had more personality and arrests than any team in college history. Their roster included Tim Tebow, Brandon Spikes, Aaron Hernandez, the Pouncey twins, Percy Harvin, Riley Cooper and many more personalities. They also destroyed the record for most arrests among a college football team. You wouldn’t know any of this from this documentary though. 

The biggest issue with this documentary is that they frame this era of Florida football as any other sports dynasty. Over four hours of run-time, the show looks at the rise and fall of Florida’s football program. It shows the ways Urban Meyer turned the program around, without ever showing the utter chaos that came with all of those personalities mixed in a locker room. They actually spend more time explaining a spread offense than they do mentioning the crimes committed by most of the roster. 

It was reported a few years ago that 41 of the 121 players on the 2008 roster had been arrested. Meanwhile, Tim Tebow was praying for touchdowns and denying every woman in the state of Florida. The juxtaposition of having a guy too religious for BYU playing around a bunch of guys who were routinely spending the night behind bars is fascinating. Unfortunately, to Netflix it was less interesting than the Tim Tebow speech that has already been seen by the whole world. 

This could’ve been a boring sports documentary for people who didn’t see the Gators run as it happened. For some reason, my mom watched it and enjoyed it. This surface level portrayal of Florida’s whole locker room is the big problem here. Urban was given a chance to explain all of his faults, without any of them actually being addressed in detail. 

Also, how many times is Netflix planning on using a game against Alabama as an emotional climax. It worked great in the Manti Te’o doc, was a little worse for Johnny Manziel, and officially jumped the shark with this Gators doc. Netflix clearly does not know how to tell a college football story with a villain other than Nick Saban. 

Despite my hatred of this series, it was quite the directorial debut for Urban Meyer. Netflix claims someone named Katharine English directed this, but Meyer is the only person in the world who views the story the way that series presented him. There is no doubt in my mind that he was the creative lead on this terrible project.    

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