The early Gainesville sun peeks through mini-blinds at the Florida Gators’ team meeting room. Players, mostly dressed in shorts and hoodies, lounge nervously amid many empty seats. Soon the rear door swings open, and the ruffled figure of JIM McELWAIN angrily stalks into the room.
Jim McElwain: Gentlemen. One of you has betrayed the Gators.
Jim McElwain: /moving slowly through the assembled players/ One of you reported your teammates to the police. One of you...is a traitor!
Jim McElwain: Teams are built on trust! Teams are built on respect! One of you has betrayed that trust! One of you has forfeited that respect! Who…is the traitor? Who is it?!
Jim McElwain: Was it you, Lamical Perine?
Lamical Perine: What? You trippin.
Jim McElwain: Oh, am I? You’re the second-string running back. You had every incentive to turn in Jordan Scarlett to the police. He goes down, and that means you’re number one. That means you get the glory. Couldn’t beat him for the spot, so you squealed to the cops. Isn’t that right, Mister Perine?
Lamical Perine: Yo, man, that’s some bullshit. I don’t know where you even come up with that.
Jim McElwain: Hmm. Perhaps it was you, Malik Zaire! /points finger
Malik Zaire: Me? Why you think I would do something like that?
Jim McElwain: I don’t know. Maybe because Felipe Franks beat you out for the start, and this is your way of getting back?
Malik Zaire: Yeah, okay. I mean, “fuck no!” But if that’s what you think.
Jim McElwain: Hmm. A defensive player, perhaps? Was it you, David Reese?
David Reese 1: Huh? What? Wasn’t me, coach. /simultaneously
David Reese 2: Huh? What? Wasn’t me, coach. /simultaneously
Jim McElwain: You middle linebackers are always threatening the running backs, talking about all the ways you’re gonna mess them up. Maybe you finally found a way to make good on one of your threats.
David Reese 1: Nope, nope. Uh-uh. Not me, coach. /simultaneously
David Reese 2: Nope, nope. Uh-uh. Not me, coach. /simultaneously
Jim McElwain: I see. Not you, either, huh? /to the whole room: I say again, one of you has done this! Will no man admit your betrayal? I assure you right now: confess, and there will be no repercussions. I will sign your transfer request to Florida Atlantic this afternoon.
/all hands go up
Jim McElwain: Wait, what?
Random Player 1: Oh, hey coach, you know I didn’t do it but if you’re saying I can transfer…
Jim McElwain: Put that hand back down!
/RANDOM PLAYER 1's puts hand down
Jim McElwain: Alll of you!
/remaining hands go back down
Jim McElwain: I’m serious here. Who really did it?
Jim McElwain: No one. Okay. You leave me no choice. Nussmeier!
/DOUG NUSSMEIER, seated in the back of the room, rises and walks out the door. He returns a moment later wheeling in a large metal frame with a five-foot shark dangling from a hook at the top of it.
Jim McElwain: Gonna have to give y’all the ol’ shark test.
Random Player 2: The shark test?
Jim McElwain: Yes. Ain’t nobody ever taught you about the shark test? It’s real simple. You see, everybody here who is loyal to this Florida Gators football team is gonna show it by lovin’ this here shark.
Random Player 2: What?
Jim McElwain: That’s right. You see, if you’re not willing to love a shark for your teammates, then we’ll know we can’t trust you.
Random Player 2: That’s crazy.
Jim McElwain: Is it? Well maybe it is. But to catch a mole, you gotta be crazy like a mole.
Random Player 2: Man, it’s “crazy like a fox.”
Jim McElwain: Whatever. Okay, who’s first? Any volunteers?
Jim McElwain: No one? Nobody wants to stand up and prove his loyalty to his teammates?
Random Player 1: This is fucked up, man.
Jim McElwain: Alright. If there aren’t any volunteers, then I’ll have to start calling on people. Del Rio! You’re first.
Luke Del Rio: What do you want me to do, coach.
Jim McElwain: You heard me. I want you to love this here shark. Give it a good one. Prove your loyalty to the team.
Luke Del Rio: When you say, “love the shark…”
Jim McElwain: I mean love the shark, boy. You remember those recruiting visits we put you on? That kind of lovin. Just with a shark.
Luke Del Rio: Hey, I don’t…I mean…
Jim McElwain: So you won’t do it?
Luke Del Rio: Look, man—
Jim McElwain: We’ve found the mole! Luke Del Rio has betrayed his team!
Jim McElwain: You’re off the team, Del Rio. It’s for your own protection. Shall I sign your paperwork for FAU? Or are you more of an East Carolina guy?
Luke Del Rio: I ain’t even gonna answer that.
Jim McElwain: Okay. Who’s next? Who will be the first to prove his loyalty to the team?
Jim McElwain: Am I gonna have to start calling out names again? Prove your loyalty!
Jim McElwain: Seriously, look—whoever goes first gets a nice clean shark. Trust me—you don’t want to go second and then it’s…ewww.
Random Player 1: Why the rest of us have to go? You already found the mole.
Jim McElwain: Oh, it’s way beyond that now. Prove your loyalty, Gator!
Random Player 1: Sheeeit.
Jim McElwain: CeCe Jefferson! You’re next. Don’t let me down.
CeCe Jefferson: If that’s the way it’s gonna be, well, I’m out, coach.
Jim McElwain: What do you mean, “you’re out?”
CeCe Jefferson: I ain’t going anywhere near that shark. So if that’s how it’s gonna be, you can sign my transfer. Miami Hurricanes okay?
Jim McElwain: So, there’s two moles!
Random Player 2: Man, you ain’t even found one mole.
Jim McElwain: I found two! Two men put to test, both confessed their disloyalty. Do we have any others? Are there any more among you who would sooner abandon your team then simply make sweet love to this pretty little shark?
/remaining players raise hands
Jim McElwain: None of you will prove it. None? An entire room full of quislings! I should have known.
Random Player 1: Look coach, getting’ it on with some shark ain’t got nothing to do with being a loyal teammate. I ain’t the mole, but I still ain’t gonna do nothin’ with that shark.
Jim McElwain: Alright. Well if I can’t trust a single one of you, then you may as well all stay. Del Rio! Jefferson! You’re still on the team. We leave for Dallas this afternoon. But you all just remember: I’m watching you. Dismissed!
/team shuffles out. DOUG NUSSMEIER remains behind
Doug Nussmeier: Very effective speech to the team, sir. They seem very fired up now.
Jim McElwain: /removing hand from his belt/ Oh, you’re still here?
Doug Nussmeier: Was hoping we could go over the game plan for Michigan, if you have a moment.
Jim McElwain: Uh, yeah. I’ll be free in about fifteen minutes. I can stop by your office. Is that okay?
Doug Nussmeier: See you then, sir. Things will turn around, I guarantee it.
Jim McElwain: Uh, yes. Thank you. Thank you. I’ll see you in 15. Seriously, thanks.
/Nussmeier walks toward exit door