The smell of breakfast blend and creamer fills the air. Scrambled egg blotched and syrup glossed plates clink out a set of double-doors. The wait staff gently shuts them tight. It's time to get down to the business at hand.
John Swofford: I'd like to welcome everyone and thank y'all for joining me here in what is, in my humble opinion, the finest Homewood Suites in the Greater Charlotte area. We are, I think I can safely say, in the midst of an unprecedented situation.
NCAA President Mark Emmert: Excuse me, John, but I'm right here, I'd never leave everyone to find a way to monetize this without my help.
Swofford: Uh, yes, thanks, Mark. I'm not sure how you even found out about this meeting, but thanks for sneaking in. As I was saying, we are in an unprece...a situation we've never had to deal with before. And to that end, welcome to the best and brightest leaders that ACC football has ever had. And Tommy Bowden. Thanks for telling him about this, Bobby.
Bobby Bowden: Ya dadgum welcome.
Swofford: So, straight to the problem at hand. We have a dire threat, to not only our ticket revenue, but also our television contracts. The ACC Network isn't a cash cow without live football. People are only going to watch "The Class That Saved Coach K" and Miami-FSU replays so many times.
The Big Ten and Pac 12 have already cancelled their season. Medical experts have released scientifically researched documentation that indicates some harsh medical ramifications for playing a contact sport in the middle of a pandemic. What's gonna let us make money without a looming threat of lawsuits? And by that I mean, play football without consequences. So, let's get to some brainstorming, folks, no bad ideas. Throw things out there, let's see what sticks.
Bronco Mendenhall: We could smash the virus with a big hammer?
Swofford: Okay, I take that back, there are bad ideas. Shit, Bronco, I thought y'all were supposed to be a smart school. Anyone else? Paul? And put a mask on please.
Paul Johnson: F$&k you. And it's bullshit that you even pulled me away from my cigar-smoke filled retirement to deal with this. It's just like the flu!
Swofford: Well that's constructive. Uh, Pat?
Johnson: F$&k him too.
Pat Narduzzi: Hey, why are you targeting me? You know, I had a great game plan for this season, but, and I'm not pointing any fingers here, but the virus is obviously affecting some schools more than others. Urban areas are more impacted than rural, and what ACC school is in a more urban environment than Pitt?
Manny Diaz, Mike Norvell, Jeff Hafley, Scott Satterfield, Dave Doeren: Uh...
Pat Narduzzi: So I'm not saying anything against anyone in this room, I'm just saying this virus is interfering with my team way more than everyone else and no one's calling it. But I'm sure I'll be the bad guy for saying it out loud. The virus is the 12th man against us every damn week. I know it's part of the game, but some impartialness and fairness would be nice.
Swofford: Pat, none of that was a plan about how to move forward, although I applaud your conspiracy theory mindset.
Mike London: This may seem a bit unorthodox, but I've got an outside the box idea. I don't know if you're familiar with my background, but before I started coaching, I —
Swofford: Mike, we can't arrest the virus.
London: ...uh, that's not what I was gonna say.
Swofford: Oh, okay, what've you got?
Swofford: Right, moving on. Mack, whatcha got?
Swofford: ... Mack?
/Bobby Bowden kicks Mack Brown's chair.
Mack Brown: Must've dozed off a spell after my triple-stack. That butter was warm and pulled the drapes over my eyes. What were we talking 'bout?
Swofford: The pandemic's effect on football revenue, Mack. Money, the thing that buys four-star recruits.
Brown: Oh! Well you know, this isn't the first time we've had a pandemic impact the football season. If you'll recall, the 1918 pandemic devastated much of the season. But those that persevere claimed national titles! Why, I recall that fantastic game in the Rose Bowl between the Mare Island Marines against the Great Lakes Navy, boy howdy. I recall it was a chilly, overcast day, but boy, the fans showed out in droves, and I...well...
/Falls back asleep.
Swofford: Can someone put a blanket on Mack before he catches a chill? Frank, I'm glad you and Bud were able to join us. I don't understand how you managed to get into the conference room like that...
Frank Beamer, from the deck of Bud Foster's boat: Well, Bud's an innovator, that's for sure. Nobody better in the business. As for this virus, it'll get after ya. Bud and I were talking...
/Bud Foster stares menacingly at everyone, particularly London and Mendenhall, while chewing on gum like he's trying to kill it.
Beamer: ...and it seems like the best approach is a good defense. You got to separate out the football players and staff from everybody else for the season and test'em a whole bunch. Seems to be working for the NBA and the NHL. Kinda put everybody in a bubbl-
London: I GOT IT! What do you do when your kids are bad? You put 'em in time out! So we put all these players in a big time out away from everyone else!
Swofford: So I like where your head's at, Frank, but uh....
/Stares nervously at Emmert.
These boys are STUDENT athletes. Most of them are going pro in something other than football.
/Emmert winks approvingly.
So we can't treat them any differently than we do the rest of the student body, which they are exactly alike.
Bobby Petrino: Hypothetically, if we were in a bubble ... could ... girls still come into the bubble? I could call 'em student managers or something...
Swofford: THERE'S NO BUBBLE. And what the hell are you doing here, Bobby? We have a restraining order.
/Dabo Swinney puts down his Game Boy and stands up.
Dabo Swinney: I appreciate everyone's enthusiasm, but I've prayed on this. And I've spoken with my spiritual advisor, and we feel that the higher power wants us to give these young men the opportunity to compete, and puttin' them in a bubble or cancelling the season just ain't gonna allow that to happen.
Swofford: You're saying Jesus wants us to play football?
Swinney: Huh? No. I'm talking about money. My accountant pointed out that I am in danger of losing some of my contractual incentives if we don't have a season, so if y'all put your Big Ten skirts on and cancel the season, my bag men are gonna make cruitin hell for y'all the next coupla years.
Swofford: Uh...Butch? Any ideas?
Butch Davis: Can we pay it to go away? Perhaps, under the table. No one will ever know.
Swofford: Helpful as always. Another thing that's been brought up that's gonna be tough to hear — I don't think we're gonna be able to have many, if any fans at games. So we're all gonna take a hit on ticket sales this week. And no doubt a different experience playing in front of empty stands.
Mendenhall: Finally, it's a level playing field.
Swofford: Right, well I haven't heard any good ideas and I have a tee time to make. All in favor of making no decision, everyone just wing it for the next few weeks following whatever the hell guidance you want until the SEC or Big 12 cancel? That way we completely avoid the decision altogether.
Petrino: Hey, before we adjourn, I gotta question. A positive Corona test is a good thing, right? Like, you DON'T have it, that's a positive.
Swofford: Are you f$&king kidding me, Bobby?
Petrino: Dammit. That didn't work on the pregnancy test either.
Mendenhall: 1-2-3, BEAT COVID.