Did the Huntsville Times just portend the next great leap forward in reality television programming?
HUNTSVILLE, Alabama –Nick Saban figures there’s one certainty about the new college football playoff scenario. There will be “a two-hour ESPN show on who got left out,” he said.
Far be it for us to fail to heed the auguries of Saban (or to dare to meet his gaze directly): A sister program to our summer hit, the Selection Committee Selection Show, is clearly called for. Run it in that dead stretch of actionless time in the days between the Army-Navy Game and the New Mexico Bowl.
First Segment: Man vs. Self
We open on a tight shot of Tom Rinaldi, clad in an exquisite white tuxedo and oversized silver platform sneakers, seated at a grand piano on a turntable that rotates at a sedate speed. Casually, with effortless grace, he ripples through a sonata of unknown origin. The camera pulls back to reveal Dabo Swinney, unproud head coach of a 12-1 Clemson squad. He stands on a scale model indoor football field. Around his neck is a veterinary Elizabethan collar. “Explain what you saw that the committee didn’t in the ACC Championship Game,” Rinaldi probes. Mechanized animatronic football players rise out of the turf, but Swinney, hampered by the collar, cannot place his whistle in his mouth to activate the simulation. His screaming will haunt you for all your nights to come.
Second Segment: Man vs. Nature
In a soundproof booth, on hidden camera, Gary Pinkel is informed he can bump Mizzou’s strength of schedule up one slot in next year’s rankings for every exotic poisonous insect he selects and eats. He gobbles the entire tray without question. Doesn’t even take a sip of water.
Third Segment: Man vs. Man
Rinaldi’s hands shift on the ivories, and the familiar strains of “Rocket Man” fill the studio. Mack Brown appears, descending from the rafters on a flower-covered swing, and alights on a small circle of parquet dance floor. “Can you describe, in vivid detail, how it felt to once again have the Longhorns be mired in a three-way tie for division champs?” Rinaldi asks. “Tom, I’ve given this some soul-searching,” Brown replies, “and I’d like to express my feelings through the power of dance.” Brown begins a deft tap-dance on the pedestal, whirling with ever-increasing speed, to ever-increasing applause, until a wooden hook from offstage drops a banana peel labeled “IOWA STATE” directly in his path. He tumbles off the pedestal into darkness. Paul Rhoads screams out from the audience, “I AM SO PROUD OF THIS BANANA PEEL RIGHT NOW.”
Fourth Segment: Man vs. Society
Chris Petersen sits on a stark, throne-like chair beneath an intricately detailed black velvet portrait of himself. Rather than rehash any of 11-1 Boise’s miniscule missteps the previous season, a harsh spotlight is trained on Petersen’s face, and a robotic offscreen voice begins the annual ritual: “Have you or would you ever consider taking the head coaching position at the Air Force Academy?” “No.” “Have you or would you ever consider taking the head coaching position at Akron?” “No,” Petersen avows, without even pausing to blink. By the time all I-A teams are named and Petersen has removed his name from consideration for any and all possible job vacancies, Rinaldi has made himself dizzy attempting to spot tears in Petersen’s eyes from the spinning surface of the turntable, and can no longer go on picking out “Danny Boy” on the keyboard. When the show returns from commercial break, Rinaldi has been replaced by Lee Corso cavorting on that giant rubber duck in an above-ground pool hastily erected on set. Ratings skyrocket.