Recruiting scandals in college football are akin to payola in the radio world. Yet, one particular case always separated itself from others, involuntarily tagging itself as “the one that changed everything.”*
Meet Marcus Dupree.
In the interest of saving time, Dupree in 1981 was the most sought after running back in America with over 100 schools vying for his services. Hailing from the small town of Philadelphia, Mississippi, Dupree helped unite a community that, until his gridiron exploits became the stuff of legend, had only been known for one of the most horrific racially-motivated crimes in history. The same crime David’s dad narrowly avoided.
Dupree, who ended up at Oklahoma under Barry Switzer’s tutelage, was never a shady individual. The same couldn’t be reflected about the powers around him, from family, a particular church figure, to the universities willing to fork over cash, houses, cars and jobs in return for Marcus’ commitment.** By countless testimonials, evidenced through several radiating accounts people still had to say about him in ESPN 30 For 30’s aptly-titled The Best That Never Was, he remains the universally legend he was over 30 years ago. Always will be, too. How Marcus’ collegiate and post-collegiate career ended is better left for the man himself to explain.
Where TBTNW ranks in the series is a worthwhile debate, though putting it outside the top five probably warrants an eye-jammy. What’s not up for discussion, however, is any misguided soul denying The Best isn’t a must-watch for anyone attempting to familiarize themselves with the series.
* – The “paying players” debate has roots here, too.
** – His biggest flaw, nevertheless, was probably investing too much stock into voices that weren’t his own or his mother’s.