Scene – 2014, A bright, sunlit room full of windows in a convalescent home. There are people with various casts and prosthetics milling around. The Nittany Lion sits in a chair, wrapped in bandages.
Jim Delany enters the room trailed by a doctor and a physical therapist and walks over to talk.
Delany: Well son, how do you feel? The doctors tell me you’ll be fine…eventually. I have some great news for you. We’ve brought in two more teams as your new conference "rivals".
The Lion: Mumbles through his bandage.
Delany leans over and listens, then speaks again: No, no we all thought that Michigan State rivalry was contrived. We only did that so you wouldn’t feel so, so, eastern. Well that’s all fixed now! We brought in Rutgers and Maryland!
Isn’t that great? Two of the teams you played for decades. Hell you and Rutgers go back 96 years! We are so happy that you’ll bring in great bags of money…I mean that you’ll have some "eastern" teams to play against.
The Lion: Mumbles louder and points a finger.
Delany: Well, now I know Rutgers only won two out of those 25 games. And yes, I agree a team that’s been around that long should’ve been good at football at some point. And yes, I know how dangerous it is to go to New Jersey these days. But there hasn’t been another outbreak of food poisoning at that stadium in…weeks.
The Lion: Shakes his fist and growls.
Delany [looks shaken]: No, it’s not the same as if we brought in Kent State and declared them Ohio State’s rival. Yes, I know that they’ve played against each other for longer. But it’s not like that…the Buckeye’s schedule Kent State as, you know [looks around and then whispers] a cupcake…
The Lion: makes the okay sign.
Delany: Oh, you mean you used to schedule Rutgers as a patsy? A warmup? A cupcake?
Hmm. So that’s why they hate you so much. Well, they want this to be a rivalry. Yes, I agree 23-2 is a lopsided series margin.
But that’s okay, we brought in Maryland. These guys are definitely your "rival". They came from a real conference, the ACC. The one that you should’ve joined…oops did I say that out loud? Sorry.
You played them 38 times over the years, and they won two of them. Clearly that’s a team you should consider your "rival". Isn’t that great?
The Lion: Growls menacingly, then shakes his fist again.
Delany: What? Even more lopsided than Rutgers? And with worse fans? No wonder I had the A.D.’s from Duke, North Carolina, and Virginia sending me Christmas cards this year.
Well, look son, I don’t think you see the big picture, here. You just aren’t going to be up to playing the…ahem…cream of the Big Ten in a competitive way for a while. You should just get used to the fact that you’re now second class.
You should embrace your new "rivals". They certainly hate you plenty. We’ll get you a new trophy, say…Delaware? Yeah, you can play for Delaware. We'll make you a big, giant trophy. Hell with all that extra money we'll get, we'll find you a celebrity to award it.. How about Joe Biden?
How does that sound, kid?
It’s okay. Your doctors say that the damage will heal, eventually. However, you’ll carry the scars for the rest of your life, son. And few of us think that you should ever set your sights much higher than your old pals, Rutgers and Maryland.
The Lion: Growls and tries to stand, slumps back in his chair.
Delany: You know we can’t talk about those good things son. You should just accept this new role we have for you. East coast milk cow…I mean Eastern division also ran. And you and your reunited "friends" can play all the way over here…for Delaware. Isn’t that great?
The Lion: Tries to roar, tries to get to Delany. Half falls out of his chair.
Doctor: Sir, I think it’s time for you to go now. The patient is upset and could re-injure himself.
Delany: Well, gosh, I thought you’d be happier. But that’s okay, I’m off to a hot dish supper. We’ll see you on TV kid! Try to make it a good game, will you?
Doctor: Hey man, I’m sorry [pats the lion on the back]. I’m a Georgia Tech alum and I fucking hate the Terps too. Those fans are the worst. Let’s go to PT and see if we can’t get you back into fighting shape.
The Lion: Fist bumps doctor and limps out of room.