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An Interview with Mitch Mustain

Stephen Dunn

This is from SBN's Arkansas site ArkansasExpats.

This interview is a follow up to the documentary The Identity Theft of Mitch Mustain chronicling some of Mustain's time at Arkansas.

Mitch Mustain recorded approximately 20 hours of interviews for the 90-minute documentary The Identity Theft of Mitch Mustain, which premiered at the Little Rock Film Festival in May. As with any good movie, there is plenty of material that had to be left out, but it still created discussion and questions among those who saw it.

I've followed this story through the years and still found the film to be interesting and thought-provoking. (Read my review of the film here) I caught up with Mustain in the days following the premiere and he was generous enough to answer some follow-up questions about the entire experience.


DH: After all these years, why did you decide to participate in the movie? Some might say it's impossible to get a true depiction of this story without participation from Nutt and Malzahn. Is that a fair question? Do you wish they had participated, and how different would the film be if they had, if at all? Matthew Wolfe said in the post-screening Q&A he tried to get them but couldn't.

MM: My decision to participate in this film was not a foregone conclusion. For one, I am uncomfortable with the idea of being the focus of the camera and certainly of a major production. It’s one thing to be on film or on television as part of a team, but quite another to subject yourself to the scrutiny I believed this work would undoubtedly bring forth. Second, what bit of humility I have been allowed finds it hard to believe myself worth the time and interest beyond discussing the 2006 season.

I agreed to participate for several reasons. First, plenty has been said on the topic, seemingly by everyone with a pen except me. Most of it was flat out false, and it was apparent from where it had come. I had initially remained quiet regarding my time and experience at the university and had maintained that silence throughout college. And I think that was a good decision, given that I had moved on to other things that required my time and attention and that I didn’t feel the need to rehash a sore topic.

Second, when I decided to participate in the film, I was no longer a part of a college football team. While at USC, I felt speaking about past negative experiences would only draw unwanted attention, both for myself and my team. When I left the university in 2007, I had lost any residual desire to discuss what had happened and why it happened.

However, ultimately I found myself needing and wanting to tell the story, both for myself and as a warning for those who may face a similar path. What happened in 2006 at the University of Arkansas was hard to grasp by nearly everyone, and as much so for those of us in the middle of it. Something like that can leave emotional scars that may be initially unrecognizable but which can and generally will manifest in some form down the road. This film was as much about telling the complete story as it was catharsis. It needed to be told, and I needed to tell it.

As for the lack of participation from Nutt and Malzahn, I certainly think it is a fair question. That said, I do not find the film incomplete without them. For one, each has had his say in the matter; Nutt in 2006 and his perpetual furtive commentary thence; and Malzahn, also in the past, a man of few words who has remained mum on the matter and would continue to do so. For the record, each was allowed opportunity for comment and rebuttal. Despite that, I don’t believe their commentary would have altered the film either way. Nutt would be who he is, and Malzahn would give nothing pertinent to the cause - and that’s understandable.

Many of us have heard the stories of Mustain's departure from Arkansas. I always thought that Mustain was more the adult than Houston Nutt in all of that.

While Mustain's time at USC was unremarkable in terms of his on field production many USC fans welcomed Mustain with open arms.

Yes, his performance against ND was disappointing and his arrest for selling prescription drugs are a bit of a black mark on his time at USC, but it appears in reading this that Mustain is on the right track and has a great attitude going forward in life.

I thought this was a well done and informative interview.

We wish Mustain all the best.