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A CRIMSON CAROL

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A NEW CHRISTMAS CLASSIC

[SCENE: the candle-lit offices of Alabama football. An assistant coach shivers in the cold as he reviews game film]

LANE KIFFIN: [coughing] Please, Nick, can we turn on the heat? It's ever so cold and I'm shaking.

NICK SABAN: No! It's proven science that people work harder when they're miserable. Now get back to work! We need to review every game film possible for Chris Petersen.

KIFFIN: But sir, we've already reviewed every single game from his head coaching tenure at Washington, and Boise State before that. We've reviewed every game from when he was a wide receivers coach at Oregon. Right now we're just watching him in a high-school performance of "Our Town", which doesn't seem-

SABAN: THERE! RIGHT THERE! HE DROPPED A LINE. Sarkisian! Locksley! Get this in the game plan!

KIFFIN: Sir, please, it's Christmas Eve. I want to go home. USA's running a marathon of Burn Notice.

[the doors swing open]

[a jolly former business associate of Saban's enters]

MARK DANTONIO: Nick, old boy, how are you? Merry Christmas!

SABAN: The hell's gotten into you, Mark?

DANTONIO: Nick, I've got some time on my hands this Christmas, and it reminded me of the good times we had coaching together. I thought we could revisit our old holiday traditions!

SABAN: Going downtown and throwing rocks at ice skaters?

DANTONIO: [smiles, holds up sack of rocks] It's Christmas, Nick!

SABAN: Bah! Humbug! Fine. Kiffin, go home. Everyone, go home. We'll pick up film study at 4am tomorrow morning. I found home movies of Petersen learning to ride a bicycle.

[later, in Nick's dark, cold home]

SABAN: I just can't get anyone to commit to the process the way I do. They're all humbugs, I say.

[a ghost appears in a flash of light]

GHOST: NICK, FACE UP TO YOUR SINS, LEST YE END UP ACCURSED LIKE I HAVE BEEN

SABAN [squinting]: ... Bill?

BILL BELICHICK: Hey.

SABAN: You're not dead, Bill.

BELICHICK: It's way easier to spy on teams if people think you are. Plus, I've got a couple angry husbands gunning for me. Anyways, I had a buddy rig up this smoke machine and strobe light, so-

SABAN: Why are you here, Bill?

BELICHICK: Nick, you've been a cruel, miserly, single-focused man just like I was, and you'll face the same fate I have if you don't change your ways.

SABAN: We've both been wildly successful and don't give a shit what anyone thinks of us personally.

BELICHICK: I know, it's frickin' great. Anyways, some ghosts or something are gonna bug you the next couple days, I didn't really read the script. I'm gonna go terrorize Sean Payton's house while I've got these chains on.

[the next night, Nick is sleeping fitfully in bed, and a ghost appears]

GHOST: I AM HERE TO SHOW YOU THE FOLLY OF YOUR WAYS

SABAN: Knock it the hell off, Bill.

GHOST: I AM THE GHOST OF NICKMAS PAST, I AM DEFINITELY NOT BILL BELICHICK, WHO I HEARD WAS DEAD. HE DID NOT GIVE ME TWENTY BUCKS TO SAY THAT.

SABAN: I'm happily married and revered in my community. What are you going to show me in my past that-

[in a flash of light, they're on the sidelines of Pro Player Stadium in Miami]

GHOST: REMEMBER WHEN YOU SIGNED DAUNTE CULPEPPER INSTEAD OF DREW BREES

SABAN: Listen, at the time-

GHOST: WHAT THE HELL MAN.

SABAN: He had a questionable injury report!

GHOST: YEAH WHATEVER HELPS YOU SLEEP, DUDE. ALRIGHT, THIS IS ALREADY GETTING LONG, I'M GONNA HAND YOU RIGHT OFF TO THE NEXT GHOST

GHOST OF PROCESS PRESENT: 'Sup.

SABAN: You not doing the all-caps shouting?

GHOST: Kinda hard to read. Anyways, here's a happy family.

[the ghost shows Lane Kiffin, now the head coach of the Florida Atlantic Owls, gathered with his family and boosters for a welcome dinner. A small, sickly child with a warm spirit sits at Kiffin's side.]

TIM KIFFIN: [consumptive cough] God bless us, every [hacking] one!

SABAN: Oh man, I didn't know Lane's kid was sick.

GHOST: Oh, that's not his kid. He hired a child actor to garner sympathy with the boosters.

SABAN [misting up]: I taught him so well.

GHOST: anyways, here comes the scary dude

[a wraith-like figure appears, and ushers Saban to a ghastly vision. People are gathered for the press conference as Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam introduces a new head coach]

SABAN: [wakes up screaming] NO. NO, THERE'S STILL TIME. IT DOESN'T HAVE TO END LIKE THIS.

[he runs to the window and throws open the sash]

SABAN: YOU THERE, BOY, WHAT DAY IS IT?

STREET URCHIN: 'tis Popeye's Bahamas Bowl day, sir!

SABAN: Then there's still time! [he throws down money] Run! Run and buy the fattest bucket of dark meat you can! Spicy!

[the boy takes off running]

SABAN: [starts stopwatch]

[the next day, back at Alabama athletic facilities]

STEVE SARKISIAN: So, I don't understand, what was the lesson you were supposed to take from that story? It didn't really track to a clear conclusion.

SABAN: Oh, I think it's pretty obvious.

[they look out at the players, who are all practicing in heavy chains now]

SABAN: Gonna start recruiting ghosts, too. Real upside there.