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Briley interviewed for HBO Sports documentary

Friday, December 05, 2008Political Science professor addresses integration of college football in the South

JOHNSON CITY – East Tennessee State University’s Dr. David Briley was interviewed for an upcoming HBO Sports documentary chronicling the integration of college football in the South during the Civil Rights movement.

“Breaking the Huddle: The Integration of College Football” will debut on HBO at 10 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 16, the eve of this year’s college bowl season. The hour-long documentary will be repeated numerous times through mid-January on both HBO and HBO2 (visit for complete listings), and will be available via HBO On Demand from Dec. 17-Jan. 12.

In his interview, the ETSU associate professor of Political Science addressed the 1969 lawsuit against the University of Alabama football program and legendary head coach Paul “Bear” Bryant that was brought by the university’s Afro-American Student Association for what was viewed as a lack of recruiting of black athletes. Although the suit was eventually dropped in federal district court, it forever changed football at Alabama and throughout the South.

Briley was once a student athletic trainer with the famed football team, serving under Bryant and Crimson Tide head trainer Jim Goostree. Although he went on to attend Middle Tennessee State University and earn his bachelor’s, master of public administration and Ph.D. degrees at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, Briley remains an avid Tide fan and combined his love of Alabama football with his scholarly research in writing Career in Crisis: Paul “Bear” Bryant and the 1971 Season of Change. Published in 2006 by Mercer University Press, Macon, Ga., it has been called “one of the very best . . . books written about Coach Bryant’s era at Alabama.” Briley covered the landmark lawsuit in his book.

“Breaking the Huddle” focuses on football programs in the Southeastern, Southwest and Atlantic Coast Conferences. It “chronicles the heyday of football programs at historically black colleges and universities, and explores the profound effect of the Civil Rights movement of the ’60s on the racial status quo of college athletics. The story culminates with the September 1970 game played in Birmingham between the University of Southern California, featuring star African American running back Sam ‘Bam’ Cunningham, and (Bryant’s) University of Alabama team.”

In addition to Briley, the HBO program includes interviews with college football “trailblazers” Thom Gossom, Darryl Hill, Jerry LeVias, Willie Lanier, John Mitchell, Bubba Smith, Wilber Hackett Jr., Jimmy Jones and Sam Cunningham; journalists and authors Howell Raines, Jeff Prugh, Ed Krzemienski and Keith Dunnavant; and George Wallace Jr., former Alabama state treasurer and public service commissioner.

The executive producers of “Breaking the Huddle” are Ross Greenburg and Rick Bernstein. It is produced by Joe Lavine, written by William C. Rhoden and edited by Bill McCullough, and features music by Joel Goodman and narration by Liev Schreiber.

HBO Sports’ documentary division has produced 56 documentaries since 1991, capturing seven Peabody and 27 Sports Emmy® awards.


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