Photo: Warner Brothers
The real NCAA investigator depicted in the Oscar-winning movie “The Blind Side” says Hollywood took quite a few liberties with the details of her work.The movie (based on a book by Michael Lewis) tells the story of Michael Oher, a black NFL lineman who was adopted by a white Southern family when he was a homeless teenager. Sandra Bullock played Leigh Anne Tuohy, the headstrong mother who took Oher in.
The film version opens with a heated interview between Oher and “Jocelyn Granger,” an NCAA investigator who wants to know why Oher chose to play for Mississippi State, the school where both Tuohy parents attended and are now boosters.
Joyce Thompson, the actual person who interviewed Oher in real life says that’s not at all how it went down. She interviewed Oher as part of a program that identified top prospects and monitored their recruitment. She says she doesn’t try to grill or intimidate kids when she interviews them.
In the film, “Granger” makes Leigh Anne Tuohy wait outside her office so she can interview Michael alone. In real life, Thompson interviewed him at his house, with Sean Tuohy (the father) right beside him. Leigh Anne wasn’t even there, but parents are always allowed.
But details like that don’t win actresses Academy Awards.
Thompson told her side of The Blind Side at a seminar this week to teach journalists about the NCAA’s enforcement procedures. You can see video of her story here.
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