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THE BIG TEN’S GYM IS CROWDED TODAY

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IT’S JANUARY AND THAT MEANS RESOLUTION TIME

[in an elevator, heading deep below the ground]

PJ FLECK: Wow, this is great. I didn’t know the Big Ten had its own private gym facility. I can’t wait to get in a workout.

BARRY ALVAREZ: We don’t reveal all the conference’s secrets right away. We’re proud of our organization and its traditions, and we like to make sure our members are Big Ten caliber before we bring them fully into our confidence.

DJ DURKIN: So what convinced you we were Big Ten caliber?

ALVAREZ: Well, you beat Texas in Austin and then lost to a mid-major team. That’s classic.

CHRIS ASH: What about me?

ALVAREZ: Your TV checks cleared.

TOM ALLEN: I’m confused, I thought the conference headquarters were in Rosemont, Illinois?

ALVAREZ: Yes, well, that’s all part of the secrecy. You see, we have enemies. Many enemies. For now, there is peace between the conferences. But, should that peace fail, we maintain the Rosemont facility as a decoy.

LOVIE SMITH: What are you conc-

ALVAREZ: We have reason to believe that Texas A&M is close to acquiring nuclear weapons. That’s why we’re here, in this decommissioned mine shaft, a quarter-mile beneath an Indianapolis Steak & Shake.

[elevator dings]

ALVAREZ: Enough of that unpleasantness, though, let’s enjoy the gym facilities!

[doors open to a crowded, buzzing gym]

ALVAREZ: [sighing] Ah, that’s right. First week of January. It’s always a madhouse around here this time of year.

SMITH: People working on their New Year’s resolutions?

ALVAREZ: Nah, it’s just that the successful teams are all back from their bowl games. This year they’re especially fired up, since almost all of them won.

[Jim Harbaugh is in the middle of the floor, wearing a leopard unitard and lifting old-timey round weights, screamsobbing]

ALVAREZ: [shaking head sadly] He just keeps mumbling something about “The Onion Man’s Curse”. No idea. Fleck, there’s some rowing machines. You’ll love those. You can row all day long and not get anywhere.

FLECK: Neat!

ALVAREZ: Anyway, we’ve got everything you could want here. There’s racquetball courts-

[Mark Dantonio sits alone in a racquetball court, on a folding chair, emotionlessly reading a newspaper from 2015]

ALVAREZ: ... an indoor running track...

[Kirk Ferentz sits alone in the middle of the running track, on a folding chair, emotionlessly reading a newspaper from 2015, occasionally pausing to trip a passing runner]

FERENTZ: [chuckling] Oh, Mary Worth.

ALVAREZ: - we’ve even got some of the most cutting-edge wellness technology. Have you ever been in a cryotherapy chamber? They say just two to four minutes in one of these tanks can reduce pain, increase blood flow and reduce the affects of aging.

TECHNICIAN [pleading]: Please, Mr. Meyer, it’s been six hours. You should be long dead by now.

URBAN MEYER: [emotionlessly reading newspaper, the frozen pages breaking off in his hands] Nebraska thinks I’m going to be afraid of a little Frost, do they?

ALLEN: Is he being clever, or-

ALVAREZ: He’s incredibly literal. I mentioned to him that Iowa could be a potential trap game, and then wouldn’t you know it - he got caught in an actual bear trap. Spent the whole first half trying to chew his own leg off.

SMITH: Well, that would explain how he gave up 55 points to Iowa.

ALVAREZ: No it doesn't.

DURKIN: Well, I’ll tell you what, this place just seems great. I know it’s crowded now, but-

[PJ Fleck rows by them, on a rowing machine that’s inexplicably become mobile]

FLECK: THINK I FINALLY FIGURED THIS THING OUT

DURKIN: I’m sure that’ll all settle down soon, though.

[they wander past the free weights section, where James Franklin and Pat Fitzgerald are quietly lifting a reasonable amount of weight with proper form, and Jim Harbaugh is trying to fight his own reflection in the mirror]

SMITH: Yep, I’m looking forward to using this as a Big Ten head coach for many years to come.

[they all share a laugh, including Smith]

ALVAREZ: [wiping a tear] No, it’s true, though. We do deactivate your key card once you’re no longer a head coach.

MIKE RILEY: [waiting by the elevator] I do need someone’s card to get back out, though, can’t work the elevator without it, and we are hundreds of feet underground [amiable chuckle] you don’t expect me to have to dig my way back to the surface, do you?

ALVAREZ: [halfheartedly feigns receiving a phone call, turns away] Anyways, it seems harsh, but we had to put in that rule a couple years ago. Had, some, ah... issues... with an ex-coach we couldn’t get rid of.

[he glances awkwardly at a door that’s been barricaded shut]

[the sign “Steam Room” has been altered to say “Scream Room”]

MUFFLED SCREAMS FROM BEHIND DOOR: NINE WINS EVERY YEAR AND YOU FIRE ME TO HIRE THAT FRIENDLY LOCAL WEATHERMAN LOOKIN’ GUY, HOW’D THAT WORK OUT FOR YOU

ASH: I thought he was coaching in Youngstown now.

ALVAREZ: Our scientists fear there may be as many as six different Bos loose in the wild. We’re reinforcing the perimeter.