By Carlton Cabey, Steve Farace and Scott Peterson
We recently caught up with an absolute icon in Miami, Billy Corben. Billy was born in Florida and graduated from the University of Miami where he majored in political science, screenwriting and theater. He was nice enough to answer a few questions for us and here is how it went:
Carlton: Are you impressed with the work Al Golden has done so far?
Billy Corben: I think Al Golden has been doing an excellent job of capturing the hearts and minds of the fans, the media, and, as evidenced from this year’s signing class, the players as well. Recruiting is tough enough with all the competition out there from other schools, but it’s even more of a challenge with the specter of this absurd NCAA investigation hanging over the team’s head. Clearly he’s developed an effective pitch to overcome those concerns in recruits’ minds.
Carlton: If you had to guess what will the final penalties be from the Nevin Shapiro incident?
Billy Corben: I’m not going to guess, but I believe it’ll be far less serious than most people anticipated when the story first broke. This is far from the “biggest scandal in the history of college sports,” as it was initially reported and hyped. As far as lack of institutional control, I think Penn State are the all-time national champs. This Nevin Shapiro nonsense doesn’t even come close to the Hurricanes’ own Pell Grant issue back in the 1990s. That was a real scandal where a federal crime was committed by an athletic department staff member and student athletes were implicated in defrauding a federal grant money program. The program was appropriately sanctioned for that — personally, I’d say a bit too severely — but it can’t come close to that now.
Carlton: Billy many Cane fans felt the whole Nevin Shapiro yahoo article and ESPN analysis were unfair and spoke before anything was proven do you agree with that?
Billy Corben: Absolutely, as I mentioned above. I was one of the first people being interviewed on national television and radio after the story broke last August and I said from the very beginning that it looked like a lot of smoke and very little fire. The source of the allegations cannot be trusted. He is an admitted liar and conman. He stole tens of millions of dollars in a Ponzi scheme. And most of his allegations could not be proven by Yahoo Sports beyond Shapiro’s own word. He had credit card receipts from dinners and nightclubs. There’s no disputing he spent that money, but who was there? Who knows? Should it shock anyone that University of Miami students were ever at a South Beach nightclub or a strip club or hanging out on a friend’s boat? Absolutely not. That is the social culture, not only in Miami, but the common lifestyle of many, if not most, college-aged men. And in many of the pictures with Shapiro and football players, Shapiro is drinking, but not the players don’t even have drinks in their hands! So what, so Shapiro waved them over to his VIP table at a club and snapped a picture with them. This is not worth making a federal case (or NCAA investigation) out of. And that outrageous abortion accusation? That was just plain awful and, with absolutely zero evidence to corroborate it, quite possibly a despicable lie.
Carlton: Are you a fan of the big national signing day TV coverage and all the hype around it?
Billy Corben: College football is a big business — I don’t care what the NCAA or college presidents say to the contrary. They treat it like a big business in every conceivable way, including with the big “draft” coverage. So now let’s go all the way with it and start paying these student athletes something.
Carlton: What’s your take on so many Cane players that have left early to go to the NFL?
Billy Corben: Quit while you’re behind? I’m just playin’. Personally, I think they’ve played for free long enough. The president of the NCAA gets paid, Donna Shalala gets paid, everybody at the sports networks and divisions are getting paid, their coaches get paid. They see everybody around them making money off their hard work, blood, sweat and broken bones. They got their education, now it’s time for them to start getting paid. I wish them all the success in the world. They will always be Miami Hurricanes and their glory in the pros and in their future lives reflects back on the program forever.
Steve: Second favorite sport and sports team?
Billy Corben: College football and the ‘Canes are far and above #1. A distant second and third are the Miami Heat and Florida Panthers.
Carlton: Your ESPN 30 for 30 documentary was very good; what was your favorite part when making it? Did you find anything that came as a surprise to you?
Billy Corben: One of the best parts was getting to go to Jimmy Johnson’s house in the Florida Keys. We shot his interview in his backyard right on the ocean. It was beautiful and Jimmy could not have been friendlier, more accommodating or a more enthusiastic interview subject.
Scott: You have made two cult favorite documentaries in The U and Cocaine Cowboys. Any plans to direct a feature film?
Billy Corben: We’ve just branched out into the scripted film world at our company Rakontur in the last couple of years. We’ve been developing a dramatic TV series based on ‘Cocaine Cowboys’ for HBO with Jerry Bruckheimer and Michael Bay and we’ve got some more cool announcements coming later this year.
Scott: Can you give your fans a glimpse of what’s to come in Dawg Fight?
Billy Corben: They can see for themselves: http://rakontur.com/dawg-fight
We put this reel together after only our first week of shooting. So that consists of footage we pulled from less than 20% of the entire shoot. There’s a whole lot more and we’ll be posting an all-new trailer ahead of the movie’s release later this year.
Steve: What is your favorite spot in Miami?
Billy Corben: Mike’s at Venetia.
Steve: Favorite Super Bowl halftime show?
Billy Corben: I’m gonna say the 3D halftime show for Super Bowl XXIII — but only because I was there live at Joe Robbie Stadium for that incredible game.
Steve: Best rapper to come out of Miami?
Billy Corben: Mayor Luther Campbell.
Scott: Now the question everybody deserves an answer too. As I type this, there are a lot of incomplete Blu-Ray collections out there. When the hell is Cocaine Cowboys coming out on Blu-ray?
Billy Corben: I wish I knew — I want it, too! We hope to have big news before the end of the year.
Steve: Billy, thank you so much for taking the time out to answer a few questions from us. We are big fans and it is very much appreciated!
Billy Corben: No problem, Steve anytime.
You can follow Billy on Twitter @BillyCorben
You can follow Billy’s company Rakontur on Twitter @rakonturmiami