Catholics vs. Convicts
Directed byPatrick Creadon
Produced by
CinematographyTurner Jumonville
Edited byNick Andert
Distributed byESPN Films
Running time
102 minutes
CountryUnited States

Catholics vs. Convicts is a 2016 documentary film about the October 15, 1988 Notre Dame-Miami football game between the Miami Hurricanes of the University of Miami and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish of Notre Dame.

The documentary is the 87th in ESPN's 30 for 30 series and aired on ESPN following the December 10, 2016 Heisman Award. It premiered to over two million viewers, making it the highest rated 30 for 30 film since 2015.[1]

Catholics vs. Convicts is directed by Patrick Creadon. At the 69th Primetime Emmy Awards, it was one of that season's 30 for 30 films nominated for Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Series.[2]


Further information: 1988 Notre Dame vs. Miami football game

In 1985, a rivalry started between the University of Notre Dame and University of Miami football teams after the Miami Hurricanes beat the Notre Dame Fighting Irish 58–7. This loss marked head coach Gerry Faust's last game at Notre Dame.[3]

The rivalry culminated in a showdown three years later, which was dubbed "Catholics vs. Convicts." The name originated from a t-shirt slogan created by Notre Dame students Joe Frederick and Michael Caponigro.[4] The slogan played on Notre Dame's Catholic background and the public perception of Miami's players as college football's "bad boys," a reputation that was reinforced by the arrests of a number of Miami players. Both the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the Miami Hurricanes came into the game undefeated.[3] Cleveland Gary's controversial "phantom fumble" is examined closely in the film. While studying the game the filmmakers re-examined a second close call by the referees which had gone largely unnoticed at the time. Both coaches and several players from the game had never seen the replay, leading many of the subjects to reconsider the outcome of the game. Many sportswriters consider it one of the greatest college football games of all time.[5][6][7][8]

The documentary is partially based on director Patrick Creadon's experience as a Notre Dame undergraduate at the time.[9] Creadon was a senior at Notre Dame in 1988 and knew the students behind the "Catholics vs. Convicts" slogan.[9]


Creadon went back to interview several of his classmates for the documentary, including Patrick Walsh, his best friend from high school who was involved in the t-shirt scandal, and Tony Rice, the starting quarterback who lived down the hall from them in Dillon Hall.[10] The film also features interviews with head coaches Lou Holtz and Jimmy Johnson; Notre Dame defensive coordinator Barry Alvarez; Notre Dame players Chris Zorich, Pat Eilers, Pat Terrell, and Todd Lyght, and Miami players Steve Walsh, Cleveland Gary, and Leon Searcy, and others.[10][11]


Writing for The Wall Street Journal, John Anderson called Catholics vs. Convicts a "gripping gridiron drama."[3] Sporting News ranks the film "among the best" of the 30 for 30 franchise.[8]

See also


  1. ^ "Heisman Presentation, Catholics vs Convicts, North Dakota St-South Dakota St top cable sports TV ratings for Saturday December 10, 2016". Sports TV Ratings. 2016-12-13. Retrieved 2020-11-12.
  2. ^ "Outstanding Documentary Or Nonfiction Series Nominees / Winners 2017". Television Academy. Retrieved 2020-11-10.
  3. ^ a b c Anderson, John (2016-12-08). "'30 for 30: Catholics vs. Convicts' Review: Gripping Gridiron Drama". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2020-11-12.
  4. ^ Conway, Tyler. "ESPN 30 for 30 Catholics vs. Convicts: TV Schedule and Documentary Preview". Bleacher Report. Retrieved 2020-11-13.
  5. ^ Stanec, Chuck. "Recapping the Greatest Games in College Football History: Catholics vs Convicts". Bleacher Report. Retrieved 2020-11-24.
  6. ^ Axson, Scooby. "Ranking the best games in college football history". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 2020-11-24.
  7. ^ "Why 'Catholics vs. Convicts' still resonates". 2016-12-10. Retrieved 2020-11-24.
  8. ^ a b "'Catholics vs. Convicts': 11 things to remember about legendary Notre Dame-Miami game". Retrieved 2020-11-24.
  9. ^ a b "Catholics vs. Convicts - ESPN Films: 30 for 30". Retrieved 2020-11-13.
  10. ^ a b "The Story Behind the Story: How ESPN's Latest '30 for 30′ Documentary Came To Be". Notre Dame Fighting Irish - Official Athletics Website. 2016-10-26. Retrieved 2020-11-12.
  11. ^ "Review: Catholics vs. Convicts 30 For 30". OutKick. 2016-12-09. Retrieved 2020-11-12.