The NFL’s Super Bowl has long become something much, much more than a game. It lives in its own meta-cloud-cuckooland of commercials, Puppies, and fluffy media speculation. This year there is even more haze than usual with the participation of Washington’s Seahawks and Colorado’s Broncos inspiring a whole new stoner element to the snack feast surrounding the game. (To pot insiders this is not Super Bowl XLVIII, it’s Super Bowl CDXX – heh heh).
Yet among of the duties of a responsible entertainment site is to provide background and/or alternatives by which one can occupy one’s time, and with that in mind I give you Mississippi Juco: The Toughest League In America (2012).
This is football distilled down to its purest Southern elements, appropriate for the Magnolia State: violence, desperation, and patriotic fervor so strong it borders on Zen. “Juco” is localized slang for Junior College, and the slickly produced film centers on ‘The League,” not the series about fantasy football with Nick Kroll and Mark Duplass, but rather the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges (MACJC).
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The League has been in existence since 1927, and in that time has acquired a reputation for innovation and hard-hitting violence, attributes that are now pretty much becoming the norm for Division I colleges and the pros. Much of the violence is explained as the result of players and coaches returning to school after WWII, the Korean War and Vietnam, and supercharging an already rowdy football culture.
This trend has amped-up even further in recent years, as the league has also become known as the “Last Chance League,” a final place for players with failing grades or worse failings to show that they can play well enough to be given a chance at a higher level.
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For those in an ironic and/or otherwise mood this film makes a great post-party rideout, as it tours through the “Mayberry” towns and campus cultures that make up the MACJC. How you view this may depend on if and how recently you have watched Easy Rider (1969).
Some stops on this tour of America’s Heart of Sporting Darkness:
Pearl River Community College: The Wildcats are renown for innovation and success through the careers of coaches such as ‘Dobie’ Holden.
Hinds Community College: Hinds’ football alumni includes Leon Lett, Pro-Bowl Defensive End and multiple Super Bowl winner with the Dallas Cowboys. (Also notorious for two of the three worst gaffes in NFL history,–including the famous Thanksgiving Blizzard Blunder–according to multiple polls.
East Mississippi Community College: The EMCC Lions won the 2011 NJCAA National Championship and alumni include present San Francisco 49er Quinton Dial and its coaching legacy centers on Robert “Bull” “Cyclone” Sullivan, featured in a 1984 Sports Illustrated article “The Toughest Coach There Ever Was.”
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The film includes a reading of an excerpt from Sullivan’s WWII exploits on Okinawa, underlining the notion that Juco’s violent streak has its origins among veterans who had been hardened by the true horror of war.
Mississippi Juco: The Toughest League In America is available to watch now via FilmOn:
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