[SCENE: Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium, on a clear and cool morning the day of the College Football Playoff National Championship Game]
[a lone figure quietly climbs the steps of an otherwise peacefully empty stadium]
LARRY CULPEPPER: Aw, heck. What a morning. The College Football Playoff! My life’s work, my beautiful brainchild come to fruition yet again! It’s hard to believe it’s here already. And what a matchup! A rematch of last year’s thrilling shootout between the Clemson Tigers and the Alabama Crimson Ti-
[he feels a sharp pain on the back of his skull, and quickly everything goes black]
[SCENE: a cold, damp tiled room, lit only by a single dim bulb swinging from above]
[in the darkened corner, Larry can make out a human figure on the floor, clothed in an excited-looking tiger costume. The tiger is not moving. It is not clear if it is alive or dead]
[there is movement in the shadows]
LARRY: Who... who’s there? Who are you? What do you want?
VOICE FROM DARKNESS: I think you know what I want, Larry.
LARRY: I- I don’t even know where I am. Please, I didn’t do anything wrong - I just want to go home. Just let me go.
VOICE FROM DARKNESS: You are Larry Culpepper, the architect of the College Football Playoff, are you not?
[the figure emerges from the shadows]
NICK SABAN: You’re going to tell me everything you know, Larry, and you’re going to tell me right now.
LARRY: I don’t know what I’d tell you, I’m just a-
[Saban strikes him across the mouth]
SABAN: TELL ME THE SECRETS OF THE PLAYOFF IF YOU WANT TO LEAVE THIS ROOM ALIVE
LARRY: [sobbing] it’s just a game, there’s not any secrets, I don’t have anything to hide!
SABAN: Maybe I’ll have to introduce you to my... “special” assistants.
[from the darkness, more figures emerge]
MARIO CRISTOBAL [holding length of pipe]: Hello, Larry.
STEVE SARKISIAN [brandishing rubber hose]: Hello, Larry.
BOBBY WILLIAMS [carrying red-hot branding iron]: Hello, Larry.
MACK BROWN [unarmed]: Howdy!
SABAN, slightly embarrassed: Mack, you’re not one of my special assistants.
BROWN: Aw, heck, I know, I just heard the soda fella was down here an’ thought I’d drop in and say hello, big fan of the product, 23 flavors and all, it’s just terrific, [continuing to praise Dr. Pepper as he’s gently ushered out of the room] tastes great on a hot day and [door is closed behind him]
SABAN: Larry, I want to show you how serious I am about this, so I have one more assistant for you to meet.
[the door opens again]
LANE KIFFIN: ... great to see you too, Mack, I just have to do a thing in here and - hey, hi, Larry, yeah, Nick asked me to come in and speak with you, I know he and I have had our differences of late, but he thought it was really important that I be here for this, because-
[Nick shoots Lane in the thigh]
KIFFIN: AHHHH DAMMIT NICK
SABAN: CAN YOU SEE THAT I AM SERIOUS, LARRY?
KIFFIN: WE SPECIFICALLY DISCUSSED THIS, I SAID NICK, IF I COME BACK, YOU’RE NOT GOING TO SHOOT ME IN THE LEG AS A SHOW OF POWER. YOU SPECIFICALLY AGREED NOT TO DO THIS. OW.
[Cristobal and Williams pick up Kiffin and carry him out into the hallway]
SABAN: Larry, I don’t want to be here right now any more than you do. I could be out calling recruits, planning strategy for tonight’s game, or spending a nice relaxing hour in my cryotherapy booth.
LARRY: You’re really not supposed to spend more than a couple minutes in those
SABAN: But I am here right now, Larry. I am here, and so are you, because we both know there’s a competitive advantage that you haven’t told me about yet. I’m not even sure what it is, but I know it’s there. You designed the playoff. You said so yourself. You must’ve designed a flaw, a loophole, a point of weakness that could be exploited.
LARRY: You mean like the exhaust port in the Death Star?
SABAN: Yes, exactly, god, that ending makes me so sad. They came so close to achieving their goals.
LARRY: I... I understand what you’re trying to do, Nick, and I want to help you. But it’s really just an extra football game after the rest of the bowls. I can’t think of any special secret to it.
SABAN, face darkening: Well, you’d better think of one soon.
[Sarkisian emerges again from shadows, with paddles attached to a car battery]
[SCENE: A few hours later, back at field level]
CRISTOBAL: I’ve got to hand it to him, he came up with a pretty good solution.
SABAN: Frankly, I’m surprised how well it worked.
[they look out onto the field, where Dabo Swinney is joyfully running with a large bouquet of Dr. Pepper balloons]
MACK BROWN: Heck, those are great lookin’ balloons, fellas, I tell you what, reminds me of when we were throwing a birthday party for Colt McCoy, and-
SABAN: [nods at Cristobal]
CRISTOBAL: I’ll go get Kiffin.