Updated: May 24
(The following is based upon a true story rooted in fictional data one can only hope is true...cause we knew it was, right?)
With only a week to go until the national championship game, both LSU and Clemson fans are getting nervy as the intensity ratchets up.
Just this last Saturday night, I witnessed a drunken pair of LSU fans crash their SUV into the fountain at the New Orleans Botanical Gardens, a group of Clemson fans were also arrested for public urination; together, each set of fans bruised and smacked each other around during a fist fight in the middle of a packed theater, one of the crew using a bucket of popcorn as a weapon.
In spite of all this madness swirling around New Orleans in the lead-up to the game, and whilst fighting the flu-like symptoms, I somehow managed to grab an outrageous story...one any sportswriter would dream of.
I was at the bar of the Monte Carlo motel when a Clemson staffer, Elias Craig approached me, feigning a smile while anxiously looking over his shoulder.
"Would you like to have a drink on me?" The man asked as he glanced behind his back repeatedly with the nervous twitch of a meth-head.
"With me, on me...there's some dangerous information I need to tell someone about, you're Carl Kauffman from lsuodyssey.com, right?"
"Yeaahhh how do you know who I am?" I inquired with an annoyed drawl. I wondered what his intentions were, and after how shitty I felt, the last thing I wanted was to be seen with a Clemson fan. "Why don't you just call Ross Dellenger or Glenn Guilbeau, I'm sure they'll be willing to give you a lapdance."
"No! I beseech you! This is serious, Mr. Kauffman!" He bellowed, spilling one of my drinks and a plate of shrimp before hunching forward to whisper:
"Dabo Swinney is gonna throw the game..."
I scoffed, laughed and immediately felt worse from these symptoms and told the man to back away, "if you're not in possession of any high grade bud, painkiller or reasonably-priced narcotic, then I beg of you to please fuck off!"
"Man, you know I can't go to these Clemson writers with this stuff! They'll bury it and then they'll bury me! But please if you want a good game, please report this!"
"Report what exactly? What's your name?"
"Elias Craig, I'm telling you the truth, Dabo's betting $350,000 on LSU to hold Clemson under 20 points. That sounds like a guy who knows the outcome..."
"Where's the proof?" I glared at him...I wanted this story, but it had to be true.
"You won't believe this," Elias pulled out a phone and began playing me a video. Sure enough, there he was: it was footage of Dabo Swinney gambling in Las Vegas, placing a bet big enough for security to be involved in the transaction.
At one point, Dabo even turned to another Clemson staffer (standing next to the clandestine pocket-cinematography of Elias) and yelped, "even if we win 19-17, we still win the bet! DABO WINS THE BET," followed by howling hootenanny-cackle, "alright, shiiiuuht let's go get one of them shitty buffets and a few girls up to the room," Dabo ranted.
I began to laugh and shake my head in amazement.
"How much more did you film? This is unbelievable, unless you have some Dabo body double, this seems authentic," I breathed, sending the clip to my email before he could change his mind and delete it.
"I didn't get anything else on film, but Dabo did give me his bet receipt for safe-keeping..."
"More like so when the NCAA finds out it wouldn't be him in trouble, it'd be found on you...and this video would disappear..."
"I didn't think 'bout that," Elias scratched himself dumbfounded...he knew he was in too deep.
In fact..we both were.
Who knows exactly how much Dabo Swinney has riding on a low-scoring game where winning or losing doesn't matter to him....is he working with Putin and the Russians? The Trumps? The Clintons? The Nugents? The Mexican Romneys?
"Elias, you need to listen to me," I warned him, "you need to leave the team hotel and come to the Monte Carlo where I'm staying and..."
He cut me off feverishly, "there he is, oh my gawwd, he sees me!"
Dabo, wearing a cowboy hat and female Wranglers. erupted in a scene nobody seemed to witness, flying across the crowded bar with a gang of blonde haired pretty boys in folded-arm formation behind him.
"ELIAS!" Dabo cried out, his neck veins bulging, "WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THIS?!" He appeared coke-raged out of his mind.
"I...I...I was actually hitting him with my phone! See watch!" Elias made up on the spot, ripping his phone from my hands before beating me over the face and head, all while Dabo's voice blared out of the phone, "EVEN IF WE WIN 19-17 WE STILL WIN THE BET! DABO WINS THE BET!" Over and over, the video kept playing, no matter how hard Elias kept hitting me.
Dabo quickly understood what was happening and took the phone from Elias, grabbing the staffer by the hair, spanking his ass as hard as he could, and then threw the young Elias Craig violently through a nearby window, all as he stared at the screen for confirmation. Once the thick-headed Dabo knew this was evidence of his NCAA gambling violations, he started hitting me over the face and head with the phone until its contents and shell went flying off my bruising, cracking skull.
"I WILL NOT BE YOUR PETE ROSE YOU CHICKENSHIT!" He began berating me, swatting me horrifically....I felt like Christ on the cross for journalism in the moment, taking my beatings, paying my dues, all unnecessary...destroying the phone wouldn't stop the video from surfacing online, Dabo...I already sent it to my email...getting rid of the gambling evidence would never help Clemson win the 2020 National Championship Game....nothing was going to help them win...
As I lay there in my wasted remnants of agony so swift and merciless, Dabo cracked, "they'll never catch me...cause I just don't care...you can stop Clemson....ya can't stop Dabo," he then booted me hard in the gut, forcing a public, bloody fart.
He waltzed off, trying to look like Chuck Norris's fictional NASCAR driving step-son....but I had the tape...and LSU had this one in the bag.
LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
(This is something I wrote on January 9th in the lead-up to the National Championship win over Clemson. I never published this, didn't think it was the direction for me to go in at that time. We had a game to focus on. Though unfinished, I like it. I hope you did, too. Not a word was changed.)
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