You can view Untold: Swamp Kings as a rehabilitation (or justification) of Meyer. However, the sports docuseries is a gritty, intense, and enthralling look at the cost of winning in big-time college football.
Here is our review of the Netflix documentary movie Untold: Swamp Kings, released on August 22nd, 2023.
Untold: Swamp Kings leaves much to be desired when uncovering the untold stories of Urban Meyer’s Florida Gators’ torrid four-year run through the college football landscape.
The documentary touches on various aspects, such as reports of preferential treatment, recruiting tactics, a staggering arrest rate, and an infamous player later convicted of murder.
However, credit should be given where it’s due — the filmmakers effectively capture big-time college football’s rugged intensity and high-stakes atmosphere.
The docuseries follows the rise of Urban Meyer, who led the University of Florida’s football team on a remarkable five-year run. Under Meyer’s guidance, the Florida Gators program achieved its second national championship in its 100th year.
Meyer accumulated a record of 57-6 throughout his tenure, with three BCS bowl appearances, two SEC championships, and two national titles.
Untold: Swamp Kings Review
Meyer’s ascent was meteoric, considering he had only four years of head coaching experience in Division I college football, all at non-power conference schools like Bowling Green and Utah.
His father’s military background influenced his coaching style, and it proved effective at the college level, where players faced the risk of losing their scholarships at any time.
Harsh and sometimes even ridiculing players through the media, Meyer’s approach shaped the narrative. That’s confirmed when focusing on key figures like LB Brandon Siler, transitioning to the future quarterback Tim Tebow, linebacker Brandon Spikes, and safety Major Wright.
Understandably, the series naturally centers on Tebow, as he becomes the biggest draw in the story.
That’s a double-edged sword because the documentary excessively emphasizes a specific player during the first championship run. One of its drawbacks is the limited focus on the starting quarterback, Chris Leak. He is noticeably absent from the interviews. (He may have declined).
It would have been fascinating to hear how Leak handled Meyer substituting Tebow at critical moments.
Moreover, the archival footage seems to downplay the role of the team’s leader. All for highlighting a future superstar who specialized in goal-line runs. This is amusing because the docuseries hypocritically (and expertly) points out the team’s frustrations with Tebow’s stardom.
For instance, it overshadows the team’s accomplishments at the White House press conference.
Much of this can be considered rehabilitation of Meyer’s image. Most notably with his direct interviews addressing issues of his team’s arrest record. Also, he explained how he removed a player from the team, and that’s why he refused to discipline players later.
Tebow also has a habit of saying how his team matter-of-factly dominated someone but then lost, which is puzzling.
Is Untold: Swamp Kings good or bad?
Yes, Untold: Swamp Kings is good, despite the impression my previous three paragraphs may have given. I point out the obvious flaws because this documentary had the potential to be great. For instance, it naturally captures the element of wearing your emotions on your sleeve. The docuseries includes frank discussions about Meyer’s abrasive style with player interviews.
That’s captured with stunning, jaw-dropping archival footage of bone-crunching training sessions. It even captures the life-or-death moment of losing a single regular season, which can change lives forever. As you watch, you can feel the emotions and the intensity and experience the emotional rollercoaster of the five-year run, making it engaging and suspenseful.
Is Untold: Swamp Kings worth watching?
Untold: Swamp Kings is worth watching. While this could be seen as a Meyer rehab project so he can get back into coaching college football, it’s a story worth telling. The filmmakers have found the sweet spot for compelling and emotional sports narratives that are enthralling.
The juxtaposition of the two main subjects is the equivalent of a devil and an angel on each side of your shoulders.
What did you think of the Netflix documentary movie Untold: Swamp Kings? Comment below.