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November 24, 1998|LARRY STEWART

What: "Between the Madness"

Where: Fox Sports Net

When: Thursday, 8 p.m.

They could have called this two-hour documentary that follows Fresno State through the 1997-98 season "A Look Behind the Police Blotter." Gary Cohen and Paul Doyle Jr., who produced and directed the documentary, had no idea what they'd end up with when they were granted total access to Coach Jerry Tarkanian and his band of renegades.

It was quite a season for Fresno State. There were nine suspensions, mostly for drugs. One player, Avondre Jones, was suspended twice for drugs, then finally, at the end of the season, kicked off the team for good after being arrested along with a transfer, Kenny Brunner, for threatening a man with a Samurai sword and stealing his camera. Another player, Chris Herren, went into drug rehab in the middle of the season. Another, Willie Farley, a starter, walked out on the team after complaining he wasn't getting the ball enough. Daymond Forney rationalizes that he's no addict, that he smokes marijuana because "everybody does."

It's not a pretty picture, but if you watch this show, you'll see that there are human beings with emotions behind all the cold, hard facts, and that Tarkanian really does mean well.

Maybe the best thing about the documentary is that it presents all facets, good and bad, without making any judgments. The editing could have been a little tighter, some of the camera work is unavoidably sloppy, but the good thing is viewers will get the full picture. It's a fascinating look at college athletics, presenting the best and worst.

You'll see an assistant coach finding four girls hiding in two players' hotel room closet, candid conversations at practice and during games. One segment shows Tarkanian kidding with Arkansas Coach Nolan Richardson that his team "leads the nation in suspensions." Richardson says, "Don't worry about Tark; if you see Tark in a fight with a bear, help the bear."

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