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THE INTERROGATION OF LARRY CULPEPPER

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DEEP WITHIN THE BOWELS OF RAYMOND JAMES STADIUM

[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]

LARRY: H-hello?

[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?

LARRY: I...

[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.