Today is the 22-year anniversary of the day "Rudy" was released in theaters. There are several memorable scenes from the film that are relevant in pop culture to this day, and it’s had a great impact on sports teams everywhere.
“You're 5-feet-nothin', 100 and nothin,” Fortune the janitor famously uttered to Rudy early on in the flick. You’re not the only one, Rudy.
Whether it’s a high school basketball team or a college football team, virtually every squad has a ‘Rudy’ on its side. You know, the first one into the gym and the last to leave, but, unfortunately, “barely has a speck of athletic ability.”
Those are Fortune’s words, not mine.
But Rudy isn’t the only college sports film to catch on like wildfire in American society. There are several classics, ranging from slapstick comedies to inspirational triumph stories, that are etched in college sports’ fans minds forever. Let’s break them down.
5) The Waterboy
There’s just something special about football in the south. Especially when prime Adam Sandler is starring as Bobby Boucher, a happy-go-lucky linebacker whose lighthearted persona turns heel when he steps onto the football field. Or, when people start spewing about sports drinks that aren’t water. That’s a huge no-no in Bobby’s world.
Boucher starts out as a water boy for the fictional University of Louisiana Cougars, but once everyone realizes his football talent, coaches can’t keep him off the gridiron. Something worth repeating about Bobby – he loves water.
4) The Freshman
Generation Y catches a lot of flack for not respecting its elders. I get that. So in an effort to remain diverse, this is an actual movie trailer from "The Freshman" which was a silent sports comedy that was released in 1925.
Harold Lloyd stars as a wannabe college football hero, and the film hits its climax in what has to be considered the funniest football game ever filmed. If you only watch one video in this article, I cannot stress this enough: watch at least a minute of the video below.
Harold Lloyd was a comedic genius.
3) Glory Road
The plot of "Glory Road" culminates in one of the greatest upsets in college basketball history, with then Texas Western defeating Adolph Rupp’s Kentucky Wildcats.
Texas Western featured an all-black starting lineup, a first in NCAA history. The school lacked gaudy financial resources that others were fortunate to have, and head coach Don Haskins was a trailblazer in his recruiting approach in many respects. He pursued players with raw talent, sure, but also ones that he also knew had high character and would be willing to listen to coaching.
As amazing of a story as "Glory Road" was, the film also has its moments of divine humor.
And that’s what I call a very solid play.
2) We Are Marshall
"We Are Marshall," which stars Matthew McConaughey as Marshall head football coach Jack Lengyel, depicts the aftermath of the 1970 plane crash that killed 47 players on the Thundering Herd football team.
Lengyel is tasked with taking over as the program’s head coach and, essentially, starting over from scratch.
"We Are Marshall" is a story of perseverance and stubbornness. The good kind of stubbornness, though. University President Donald Dedmon wanted to suspend the football program indefinitely, but Lengyel, assistant coach Red Dawson and several others knew that keeping the program afloat would raise morale in the community during trying times.
It took the Thundering Herd quite a while to establish success on the gridiron, but their participation during such times of despair was, and is, a massive inspiration. Marshall would eventually recruit elite talents such as Byron Leftwich, Chad Pennington and Randy Moss to campus that would elevate the program to new heights.
"Rudy" has it all, as far as sports flicks are concerned. A national brand name like Notre Dame? Check. A true underdog that ultimately sees his dreams come true? Check. A captivating, borderline magnetic protagonist? Check.
I was referring to Rudy’s brainy friend D-Bob. Rudy is too, though, I suppose.
Regardless – seeing a young Vince Vaughn as the spoiled All-American in between a few hours of sports clichés, heart-wrenching moments and A+ quality chants? Nothing quite beats "Rudy."