A fictitious screenplay: Jim Harbaugh is lost
SCENE: We see Michigan Head Football Coach Jim Harbaugh bellied up at a bar. It’s late on a weeknight, and the bar is nearly empty, save for a regular huddled in one of the booths in the back and a pool shark practicing his game. There’s the intermittent crack of pool balls as Harbaugh nurses his drink.
JIM: Barkeep, get me the usual. I’ve had a long week.
BARTENDER: Coach, it’s only Monday. And shouldn’t you be gameplanning at this point?
JIM: (scoffs) I’m always gameplanning. Every moment of my life I’m focused on football. Even during sleep, I’m dreaming up ways to land my next star five-star recruit. What do you think inspired me to get Ric Flair at our signing day event? I had a dream that I was wrestling against him, and then when he figure-four leg-locked me, the stadium exploded in a sea of Maize and Blue. I woke up immediately drenched in a cold sweat. Then I did 100 push-ups and went back to sleep for another two hours, and then woke myself up before my alarm just to prove that I’m a winner.
BARTENDER: Whatever you say coach.
As the bartender is preparing his drink, we see Jim in sort of a trance, staring out into space, but in a laser-focused kind of way. Suddenly, he snaps back into even more focus.
JIM: I don’t know what these fans want from me. I’ve made them nationally relevant again. Don’t you remember the Hoke years? Rich Rodriguez??? They left me with nothing, and I’ve brought so much back to the program again.
The bartender is silent and brings him his drink. Jim inhales the drink in one huge gulp, before continuing speaking.
JIM: Ahhhhh, I love a nice glass of milk. Really fills the bones, eases your pain. Only whole milk, though. If you drink anything less, then I can’t have you on my football team. One time while getting coffee, the barista asked me “soy or two percent.” So I said, “You don’t have whole milk?” And she said “no, we don’t sir.” I about lost my mind. I threw down my headset — I always wear a headset, you never know when you’re gonna get some good news from the booth — and then started to go off. It might’ve been a bit of an overreaction, but believe it or not, I’m a tightly wound guy. At least that’s what everyone tells me. I just see myself as a winner. Sorry, what were we talking about?
The bartender says nothing. He seems really annoyed at the coach, as he cleans out an old glass the way bartenders always do in movies and TV shows. Jim glances glumly at his finished glass of whole milk. He pops his head up and notices that he’s alone in the bar. Jim looks even sadder now.
JIM: I wish there was someone here who could understand the type of pressure I’m under, as the head coach of the Michigan Wolverines.
RICH RODRIGUEZ: (magically pops in) Hey Jim, how’s it–
JIM: UGH, NO. SOMEONE WHO WAS ACTUALLY A WINNER AT THIS HALLOWED COLLEGE OF THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN. (Rich Rodriguez poofs out)
Suddenly the ghost of Bo Schembechler appears right beside Jim. Jim is elated, and in his excitement he reaches out to shake his beloved coach’s hand. Because he’s a ghost, Jim can’t shake his hand, but he looks at Bo reverently.
JIM: Coach, I’m so glad to see you. I really need some advice, sir.
BO: (with a booming ghostly voice that fills the room) What is it that you seek, my old quarterback?
JIM: I just don’t know what the fans want. I have the Wolverines back to playing smash-mouth football. We have like three full backs; aren’t you proud? Anyways, I brought the national spotlight back on the team. We have those neat helmet stickers again, something that you made, Da … I mean Coach. We’ve been close to winning the Big Ten East every year since I’ve been back, back-to-back 10-win seasons, and yet it seems like the fans don’t like me. I have so many critics in the media, and yet most media members agreed this year was going to be a down year. Then Wilton Speight was injured, and so I had to trust a guy whose last name is O’Korn. CORN ISN’T EVEN SPELLED RIGHT. Now we have it figured out and everyone thinks we’re going to lose to Wisconsin and Ohi–
BO: DON’T MENTION THAT SCHOOL AROUND ME.
JIM: Sorry sir, I should’ve known better. But what advice do you have?
BO: Well, keep your head up Jim. You know you’re a good coach. I mean you totally changed Stanford, you had the 49ers actually able to function before they kicked you out because you were a little … umm…
BO: Sure, enthusiastic.
JIM: I did say at Stanford that I’m going to attack this job with ENTHUSIASM UNKNOWN TO MANKIND.
BO: Trust me, I know. I’ve heard you say that in your prayers to me every night when you were out there. God, they have such perfect weather, no wonder they didn’t care about the football team for so long.
JIM: Yeah, Stanford Stadium actually got FULL after I was done with it. And not just with USC fans! I love David Shaw, and he’s done a great job continuing my legacy, but I’m doing the same stuff at Michigan and they don’t appreciate it. EVERYONE cried out for me. What should I do?
BO: Just take it one game at a time.
JIM: IT’S SO CLICHE BUT IT’S PERFECT!
BO: What’s your next game again?
JIM: Wisconsin. I really think if we get to Hornibrook we can win.
BO: Well I don’t know, son. Hornibrook can throw five interceptions and Wisconsin will still somehow win like 30-17. You said it yourself, it’s probably a down year. I’m sorry that you’re lost this year, but with the new quarterback Peters figuring stuff out, and all the talented fellas you convinced to get to your program, you’ll probably win the Big Ten East next year. Or at least finish second instead of third.
JIM: You really think so?
BO: I know so. But sir. Sir. SIR. SIR!
Suddenly the scene changes. In front of him is a Walmart greeter questioning him. Jim has a 30-pack of khakis in his hands.
WALMART EMPLOYEE: Sir, you’re going to have to pay for those. And why are you in Tom Brady pajamas?
JIM: Sorry ma’am. I guess after being up for 34 hours of watching tape and texting recruits the NCAA acceptable amount while planning Michigan’s next satellite camp in Mongolia, I must’ve fallen asleep and sleep walked to my favorite store: Walmart. You guys have great khakis. I guess the pressure is getting to me a little bit. But now I’m right where I want to be. I had a great talk with you, and now I know we’ll beat Wisconsin and Ohio State and make Urban Meyer retire again for “health reasons.” Thanks Bo!
WALMART EMPLOYEE: My name is Tasha and you must be really crazy.
JIM: CRAZY ABOUT WINNING.Subscribe to The Daily Cardinal Newsletter