While the NFL’s regular season ends this coming weekend, college football is nearly two weeks into its parade of postseason bowls that now stretches well past New Year’s Day. For football-crazy schools, the bowl appearance is the must-have at the end of every season to prove that the program is successful.

One such school is ESU, the fictional university featured in our Sports Movie of the Week: ‘The Program.’ This 1993 drama stars James Caan, Omar Epps and Halle Berry.

Caan plays veteran ESU head coach Sam Winters, who is under pressure to get the school back to a major bowl after two disappointing years. Winters has Heisman Trophy candidate Joe Kane (Craig Sheffer) at quarterback, talented freshman running back Darnell Jefferson (Omar Epps) and potential future NFL linebacker Alvin Mack (Duane Davis) to help him win.

The movie follows the players and their coach as they all struggle to manage the expectations put upon them with the obstacles and challenges that reality deals them both on and off the field. From drug use to grade-fixing to booster involvement, every relevant issue facing college football is addressed, though not totally resolved.

Five Reasons to Watch ‘The Program’

1. The trash talking during games by Alvin Mack (Duane Davis) seems as authentic — and salty — as anything ever said by Lawrence Taylor, Ray Lewis or any other high motor NFL linebacker.

2. The reaction of Steve Lattimer (Andrew Bryniarski) to being named a starter on defense.

3.The punishment that Darnell Jefferson (Omar Epps) is given to address his fumbling problem.

4. The movie was shot on location at Boston College, Duke University, the University of Michigan, the University of Iowa and the University of South Carolina.

5. A cameo appearance from the late University of Michigan coaching legend Bo Schembechler.

Click the play button to watch the original trailer of the film below:

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