For one night, transport yourself back to Boston in the 1970s. The busing crisis was fresh in everyone's memory, and the city stood divided among many different lines. The Combat Zone thrived in Chinatown. The highway drove right through downtown, helping to segregate and separate traffic lines in a notoriously territorial city.
In 1978, Boston College basketball was a nationally-recognized basketball team. Still an independent, it was the final year before the Big East formed. But the Eagles had another story brewing. Over the course of nine games, notorious mobsters paired with Boston College to operate a point-shaving scheme against opponents.
The story that's laid dormant for 35 years premieres tonight on ESPN as part of the critically-acclaimed "30 for 30" series. Playing for the Mob will offer differing viewpoints and opinions from several of the characters involved, including gangsters Henry Hill, Rocco Perla, Tony Perla, and Paul Mazzei. Narrated by Ray Liotta, who played Hill in the 1990 blockbuster film Goodfellas, the story offers the first detailed account of what happened to Boston College basketball during that fateful 1978-1979 season.
Last night, we spoke with Jim Sweeney and his wife Maura. We heard their story, their perspective, and details of what's been going on with them in the era since the story first broke as part of a 1981 expose from Sports Illustrated. CoachJF joined us to discuss details of life in Boston in the 1970s, the atmosphere surrounding Boston College, and BC basketball. There are many details, a lot to take in, and even more to digest to determine what is true and what you believe.
So tune in tonight at 9 PM EST on ESPN and watch the story of BC basketball and the mafia. Formulate your own opinion, create your own thoughts, and weigh in here as the story happens. Believe what you will, and let's use this as a learning opportunity for Boston College and for college basketball. Could something like this happen in the very different sports climate of 2014? Will we ever know the full details or true story of what happened? Does that story already exist based on who you believe? That's up to you, and that's up for us to discuss.
Before you watch the documentary, listen below to the show from yesterday. Interviews are with Jim Sweeney, Maura Sweeney, and CoachJF.