JIM HARBAUGH: I don’t understand why we’re doing this. I have game preparations I need to be working on.
WARDE MANUEL: Jim, you know as well as anyone that the job isn’t just game prep. There’s off-the-field politics you have to deal with now and then. Besides, this won’t take long.
RECEPTIONIST, through intercom: He’s here.
MANUEL: Great, thank you. Send him in.
HARBAUGH: [staring intensely at painting on wall]
MANUEL: Calm down, Jim. This won’t take long.
HARBAUGH: I’m trying to see the hidden picture.
MANUEL: That’s not a Magic Eye poster, Jim. It’s a Thomas Kinkade reproduction. There’s no hidden picture.
HARBAUGH: There’s hidden pictures in everything if you stare hard enough.
MANUEL: why do I take you anywhere
HARBAUGH: Why does your face have a spaceship in it
[the office door opens]
DAVE BRANDON: Gosh, thank you both for seeing me. It’s been hard to get anyone to meet with me, what with, well, you know...
HARBAUGH: Your long string of notable failures at every step of your professional life?
BRANDON: Right. But hey, as they say, a Michigan Man can always come home, right?
MANUEL: I’m not familiar with that saying.
HARBAUGH: I burned down my childhood house so that I wouldn’t be tempted by the weakness of nostalgia. We can only move forward in life.
BRANDON: That seems excessive.
HARBAUGH: You sound like the current owners.
MANUEL: So, as I understand it, Dave, since you last left the University of Michigan, you’ve been working as the CEO of Toys ‘R’ Us, which is preparing to declare bankruptcy.
BRANDON: Yes, well, it’s been a tough time for the bricks-and-mortar retail sector in general, what with the rise of e-commerce - I’m sad that it had to come to this, but I think it’ll give the business a great opportunity. Did you know that the Chinese character for “crisis” is the same one as for “opportunity”?
BRANDON: I’m sorry, what?
MANUEL: He said that that's a common fallacy often promulgated by men of weak minds in feeble denial of their own consuming fear.
BRANDON: I didn’t know you two spoke Chinese.
HARBAUGH: We don’t.
MANUEL: Anyways, let’s review your tenure as a toy-seller. [reading brief] Hoo, boy. Lot of missteps, Dave.
BRANDON: We took some risks.
MANUEL: First, let’s start with your “financial edutainment” division.
BRANDON: Ah, yes, I’m quite proud of that one. We figured, what do kids love? They love superheroes, and they love learning about complex investment strategies at an early age. We figured - why not combine the two? A swaggering superhero who also manages a private equity firm.
MANUEL: And you called this-
MANUEL: Right. And were you aware that that is also the name of a government program for cleanup of toxic waste sites?
BRANDON: I was.
MANUEL: I see. Moving on. Your transportation initiative.
BRANDON: Of course. You see, in the past few years, those hoverboards became the hottest holiday gift for kids across the country. But they were plagued by problems. Kids were falling off and getting injured, the batteries were catching fire - it was a great product, but it demanded a wholesale reimagining nonetheless.
MANUEL: And how did you solve this?
BRANDON: Well, first, we eliminated the battery. Too dangerous, too high a material cost, and honestly? Not needed. It’s like a comprehensive concussion protocol. People think you need it, but you don't. Then, for stabilization, we rearranged the wheels. Instead of two parallel wheels of equal size, we placed them in line, and made one considerably larger. Now, you might think, as our R&D team did, that that’s going to be hard to balance on. So we added a seat and a proprietary “holding bar”.
MANUEL: [producing glossy photo from folder] and the end result was this.
BRANDON: We later found that similar designs already in existence might prevent us from obtaining a patent.
MANUEL: And how much did you spend on the development?
BRANDON: Thirty-eight billion dollars.
MANUEL: I see.
BRANDON: Our accountants said we literally could’ve just sent the children to space for that money. But we’re proud of the effort nonetheless.
MANUEL: [reading more documents] lots of expensive misfires in the board games division
BRANDON: Sorry! (That This Happened To You But The Organization Admits No Fault); Brand-y-Land, The Game Of Synergy; Kakistocracy
HARBAUGH: What’s that last one?
BRANDON: Oh, it’s like Monopoly, but in the end I face no consequences.
MANUEL [sighing deeply]: And after all these misfires, you attempted to make a foray into young adult publishing.
BRANDON: It’s a very hot market sector right now. I just repurposed my own unpublished autobiography, livened it up to a youthful protagonist in his brief period at the athletic director at a prestigious Midwestern university.
MANUEL: And you printed one million copies before finding out that the title was already in use by a wildly popular series of books.
BRANDON: I’ve never heard of this Lemony Snicket, but he stole my title.
MANUEL: Alright, well, I think we’ve heard enough. Dave, you’re wildly unqualified to hold a position of power anywhere, but you are a Michigan Man, so we’re going to give you a job. Stow you away in an administrative position where you can collect a large salary but not damage anything of note. In fact, this is your new office. You start right now.
BRANDON: Gosh, guys, I can’t thank you enough. I won’t let you down.
MANUEL: I don’t care.
[Manuel and Harbaugh exit]
BRANDON: I finally reap the rewards of all my hard work. And look at this view! Michigan Stadium, right out my office window! Wait a second, this appears to be some sort of decal over the window. That’s odd. Let me just peel it off, and-
BRANDON: - oh no.
[sound of door locking from the outside]
MANUEL: I knew we’d finally find a use for this place.
HARBAUGH: So we were at Rutgers all along?
MANUEL: Jim, we discussed this plan in full before we came here. We spent two hours on a plane. What were you thinking about the whole time?
HARBAUGH: Fire trucks.