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How An Anonymous Fan’s Homemade Documentary Sparked a Big East Basketball Firestorm

  • “Divine Providence,” which popped up on YouTube last week, chronicles coach Ed Cooley’s move from Providence to Georgetown.
  • The film sparked criticism about journalistic ethics, but its creator says he’s not a journalist. So, what is “Divine Providence” then?
FOS Illustration

In the spring of 2023, Providence basketball coach Ed Cooley made the shocking decision to leave his hometown program and take the lead job at Georgetown. It was the first time a Big East basketball head coach had ever made an in-conference move, creating the type of drama that once defined the Big East.

A documentary on Cooley’s long history at Providence, his move to Georgetown, and the ensuing fallout dropped last week on YouTube. The doc derives, however, not from a known production company, nor a news outlet. Divine Providence, a one hour and 17-minute film, was produced single-handedly by an anonymous DePaul basketball fan known on X (formerly Twitter) as “The Blue Demon Degenerate.” 

In the days since, the video has gone viral—it drew about 70,000 views (40,000-plus in just one day)—in large part due to the final few minutes of the film, which detail an inflammatory accusation concerning Cooley’s personal life. In addition to trending on X, the movie compelled an array of national college basketball reporters and online personalities to weigh in. The Big East, despite annually sending multiple men’s teams to the NCAA tournament and boasting the 2023 national champion, UConn, is often ignored by college basketball national media. But for 24 hours, thanks to Divine Providence, it took over the conversation.

Meanwhile, Blue Demon’s identity remains a mystery. (His bio refers to him as the “DePaul University Minister of Counterculture.”) One of the documentary’s subjects says he didn’t even know the filmmaker’s name. 

Blue Demon, who agreed to communicate with FOS under the condition of anonymity, says he created the film purely for entertainment. “The story is incredible, it had to be told,” he says. “I’ve never made a documentary before and wanted to see how that would go. … I thought it was good.” But the fallout: “This is a lot more than I [expected].”

More Than a Home Video

Blue Demon says he began interviewing subjects and sources for his film in September, and he put a script and clips together in December. It took about two weeks, he says, to edit the documentary, which includes Zoom interviews and snippets lifted from game broadcasts, old newscasts, and press conferences—video for which it doesn’t appear Blue Demon purchased the rights. The film includes interviews with college basketball journalists, such as Fox Sports’ John Fanta, as well as Georgetown blogger and freelance writer Bobby Bancroft. 

John Kurkjian, a Georgetown senior and a writer for the Thompson’s Towel blog who was featured in the film, tells FOS that Blue Demon reached out to him last summer. Kurkjian says he conducted a Zoom interview with Blue Demon in which he saw the interviewer’s face and heard his voice. But Blue Demon did not reveal his name.

Blue Demon pushed the documentary to YouTube last week in the leadup to Saturday’s Providence-Georgetown matchup, which marked Cooley’s first trip back to Friartown, and it gained about 21,000 views over eight days. Then it exploded, taking over the Big East online community, largely driven by talk about an unsubstantiated (and therefore not repeated here) claim in the film about Cooley’s personal life, which the film introduces through anonymous X accounts and Providence fans. The claim, for which there is no evidence, was not new to the college basketball discourse, but Divine Providence gives it a much bigger platform. Georgetown did not respond to an emailed request for comment, and Cooley has not addressed the rumors publicly.

As attention on the video grew, Georgetown fans erupted online, particularly about the rumors and an offensive comparison in the video, made by a Providence fan, between Cooley and Adolf Hitler. “I could see how [Georgetown fans] could be really upset by it,” says Kurkjian. But overall, Kurkjian was comfortable with his part in the film.

The documentary reached new heights—and new scrutiny—this week. On Monday, Blue Demon wrote a thread on X about making the video and addressed its criticisms. He included screenshots of what appear to be X direct messages from national college basketball reporter Jeff Goodman, a co-founder of The Field of 68 podcast network, in which Goodman suggests that Blue Demon will get sued for the claims in the documentary and asks Blue Demon how he looks in orange, implying that Blue Demon would be jailed for putting the video out. Goodman, reached by phone, declined to comment on the record for this story.

“Every single view expressed in the doc was not my own,” Blue Demon wrote in his thread. “The documentary didn’t endorse any opinion over another, it attempted to show how people around the departure felt … in Providence.” Blue Demon reiterated that position in comments to FOS. Essentially: It’s not my fault; I just provided the medium. 

Criticisms of the documentary boil down to attacks on its journalistic integrity and ethics in spreading an unsubstantiated rumor, but Blue Demon says he’s not a journalist and that he has no intention of becoming one. He is, he says, an anonymous fan, not following the same standards as a national reporter, and operating in a media landscape where some can’t tell the difference—and others don’t seem to care.

Of his relationship to the media, Blue Demon says: “My involvement is posting memes and yapping about how bad DePaul is at basketball.” 

Anti-Big East Bias

If there’s one thing Big East fans agree upon, it’s that their conference deserves more coverage. Perhaps that feeling fueled the large number of Big East fans on X  who have rallied behind the documentary and Blue Demon, setting their criticisms of the film aside.

By lunchtime on Monday, the conversation surrounding the film, and Blue Demon’s subsequent thread, was trending on X. In the afternoon, the Barstool Sports contingent—including president Dave Portnoy—started posting about it as well, not just to praise the documentary but also to attack Goodman. (One person even created a T-shirt line in support of the film, with an orange version, nodding to Goodman.) The rumors and the movie were addressed on one of The Field of 68 podcasts, and the pod company’s co-founder, Rob Dauster, posted on X in defense of Goodman.

In the evening, more than 400 people joined a late-night discussion about the subject on X Spaces. “The thing we talked about the most was that, at the end of the day, college basketball coverage in general has gotten too national in the sense that it’s impossible to keep up and be an expert on a program,” says Kurkjian, who joined that online conversation. As a result, he says, the Big East (among other perceived mid-tier conferences) gets ignored. As an example, he cites the fact that ESPN sent its College GameDay crew to Kentucky-Arkansas rather than to Providence for Cooley’s return on Jan. 27. 

It’s true: Since ending its media deal with the Big East, ESPN rarely covers the conference—and when it does, Big East bloggers tend to feel disrespected. And that appears to have, in part, fueled the response to Goodman, a national journalist. “Big East Twitter has had to deal with a lot of noise dating back to when some of our former conference rivals bolted for the ACC,” Andrew Geiger, the founder of the blog Casual Hoya, tells FOS. “There has been an unwritten ‘If you come at one of us, you come at all of us’ sentiment that is always smoldering among the conference member’s more prolific Twitter accounts.”

The Divine Providence Legacy

Overnight on Monday, YouTube took down Divine Providence for alleged trademark violations. (Days earlier, the X account where Blue Demon was planning to post his documentaries, Big East Films, was taken down as well.) Blue Demon says he’s unsure who removed his video or why, but it lives on: multiple accounts on various platforms have reposted Divine Providence, including on a private Google Drive and a separate YouTube account. 

The discussion on X intensified Tuesday with more memes, posts, and general support of Blue Demon. In response to the onslaught, Goodman posted a video late Tuesday night. “The DMs are a bad look, and I own it,” he said. But Goodman doubled down: “[Blue Demon] misled those he interviewed by naming his company Big East Films, implying credibility and an affiliation with the league. The film then went on to highlight baseless rumors.” (Of the accusation that he “misled” his interview subjects, Blue Demon tells FOS: “Simply not accurate.”)

What’s next for Blue Demon? Before filming Divine Providence, he says, he intended to make 10 other films, each about a different Big East team. The next one was supposed to focus on Xavier. But Blue Demon says he is “unsure at this point” what the future of that project will look like, or whether there will be another video at all.

“I started [Big East Films] simply because nobody else was making films about this league and [ESPN’s 30 for 30 installment on the subject, Requiem for the Big East] felt like a slight against the current iteration of the conference,” Blue Demon wrote on X. If there was more consistent, in-depth coverage of the conference, there likely wouldn’t have been a vacuum that an anonymous superfan needed to fill.

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