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And The Valley Scripts: ‘LSU v. Texas and The Battle For McConaughey’s Soul’

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As Matthew McConaughey prepares to be the celebrity picker on College Gameday, his choice becomes even more complicated when he meets an old friend.

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EXT. THE SET OF ‘COLLEGE GAMEDAY’ ON THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS CAMPUS

The roar of several thousand intoxicated college students who have been camping out for seven hours rips through the air as ‘Comin’ To Your City’ blasts over the speakers. The song ends and Rece Davis welcomes viewers into the chaotic scene.

RECE DAVIS: Welcome to beautifully weird Austin, Texas on this gorgeous Saturday morning.

He introduces his fellow cast members, but is nearly drowned out by the deafening cheers.

RECE DAVIS: Boy, isn’t a Saturday like this so much better than playing an FCS school?

DESMOND HOWARD: Without question!

KIRK HERBSTREIT: An atmosphere like this is truly what makes college football special. Two legendary programs, not far from each other, meeting in their second game of the season? You don’t get drama like this anywhere else. If I’m a Texas or LSU fan, I’m fired up for today.

RECE DAVIS: And if that wasn’t enough to get you excited, I hear we might have a pretty special guest picker today.

LEE CORSO: Is that so?

RECE DAVIS: Yep, one of the most famous alumni of this university…

A Texas student in the audience yells “Jeb Bush!” prompting laughter from the crowd.

We cut to backstage. Veronica, the director of personnel on Gameday, watches the show holding a clipboard. Her phone buzzes and she puts it to her ear anxiously.

VERONICA: Please tell me we got him…

Veronica smiles and hangs up. She pumps her fists and exclaims quietly.

VERONICA: (silently to herself) Yes!

EXT. A PRIVATE JET FLYING THROUGH THE CLOUDS

We cut to a plane in the sky as John Mellencamp’s ‘Pink Houses’ begins playing.

We cut to the inside of the plane. A pair of legs wearing jeans and cowboy boots rest on a table in the small jet. A stewardess sets down a plate of scrambled eggs, bacon and a biscuit on the table. The legs do not move. She briefly leaves and returns to set down a glass of Wild Turkey Bourbon next to the food.

STEWARDESS: Will there be anything else, Mr. McConaughey?

The camera rotates to show the man with his feet up is none other than Academy Award-winning actor Matthew McConaughey. He is wearing a burnt orange leather jacket over a white TEXAS LONGHORNS T-shirt and aviators. His hair is combed back and his stubble is neatly groomed. He smiles widely at the stewardess.

MCCONAUGHEY: Not at all ma’am. You wouldn’t happen to know what time we land, would ya?

STEWARDESS: Should be landing in about half an hour. Even if we have some delays, you won’t be on for two more hours so you’ll have plenty of time to freshen up in the dressing room.

MCCONAUGHEY: That’s wonderful darlin’. Gives me just enough time to finish up my in-flight entertainment.

McConaughey claps twice and the large monitor in the jet blinks on. It displays the 2006 Rose Bowl with 2:13 left. USC leads Texas 38-33 and is about to go for it on 4th and 2. McConaughey leans back in his chair with a big smile.

MCCONAUGHEY: Better than any movie…

EXT. THE GAMEDAY SET

DAVIS: Don’t go anywhere because you don’t want to miss our in-depth look at how they feed Bevo. College Gameday, back after this.

As the show goes to commercial, several of the cast members stand up, stretch and pull out their phones. The makeup staff rushes on to touch them up. Veronica approaches excitedly.

VERONICA: Guys… he’s in.

The Gameday cast smiles and starts high-fiving.

DAVID POLLOCK: Thank God. This is so much better than our backup plan.

LEE CORSO: Wait a minute, what was our backup plan?

HERBSTREIT: Some other UT grad. Can’t remember.

VERONICA: Oh shit, I guess I better tell him.

Veronica turns around to walk backstage but stops when she sees Jeb Bush in a Longhorns sweater vest standing there.

JEB: (Excitedly) Is it time for me to go on yet?

Veronica winces painfully and Jeb’s cheerful expression turns flat.

JEB: You got someone else. Let me guess, McConaughey? It’s always him.

Jeb pouts away in disgust. Veronica turns back to the cast, relieved.

VERONICA: His jet is about to land, then we have a guy who will go and pick him up. This could be an all-timer!

EXT. THE RUNWAY AT AUSTIN-BERGSTROM INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

The McConaghjet slowly comes to a stop. McConaughey’s assistant, Becky, gives him careful instructions as he walks down the steps to the runway.

BECKY: Okay, so they’ve sent a vehicle to pick you up. Since we weren’t sure if we could make it until a few hours ago, they said they couldn’t afford a limo. They’re really sorry and hope you understand.

MCCONAUGHEY: It’s cool, it’s cool. Ridin’ around in an everyday vehicle might just bring me back to my days as a student. Everybody loves a little nostalgia here and there.

McConaughey gets off the stairway and notices the vehicle waiting for him is a Crimson 1997 Ford F-250. There are quite a few dents and scratches. He figures it’s probably a Gameday staffer’s truck. He carries his briefcase filled with whiskey and hops in the backset.

He sits down and is bombarded with the smell of cigarettes and whiskey. The seat cushions are torn up and the inside of the truck is faded and worn-down. McConaughey looks confused. Smoke rises from the driver’s seat. The driver has long, disheveled hair falling down to his shoulders. He begins to speak, but does not turn around to face McConaughey.

DRIVER: So… where are you tryin’ to get to?

The driver’s voice is cracked and broken, but still retains a slight southern accent

MCCONAUGHEY: Um, I’m supposed to be headed to the College Gameday set… on UT’s campus. You know how to get there, right?

DRIVER: (Takes a long drag from cigarette) Gameday… gameday is a state of being, not a physical location.

MCCONAUGHEY: (Laughing) Nah mannn, you got it all wrong. Gameday is a show man, like on ESPN. We talk about all the football games.

DRIVER: Talk… about the football games. People aren’t just content with watchin’ these games… they’ve gotta watch people talk about them too.

MCCONAUGHEY: What’s the problem man, you not a football fan or somethin’?

The driver takes another long drag from his cigarette.

DRIVER: I’m not a fan of anything, my friend. But that doesn’t mean…

The driver turns around to face McConaughey. The driver is, in fact, Rustin Cohle, McConaghey’s character from ‘True Detective.’

DRIVER: ...that I don’t hope for certain outcomes in this world.

McConaughey’s face is puzzled at first, but he eventually starts giggling.

MCCONAUGHEY: Whoa man… it’s like, you’re me! Except you’re like, old and ugly.

DRIVER: What I am, is Louisiana McConaughey. You are Texas McConaughey. We’ve always co-existed, but today is an important day. Today is the day I convert you and make you fully Louisiana McConaughey.

Texas McConaughey stops giggling and looks at Louisiana McConaughey, mystified. He moves his mouth around, indicating he is trying to put the pieces together in his head.

LOUISIANA MCCONAUGHEY: Are you high right now?

TEXAS MCCONAUGHEY: I’m gonna be perfectly honest with ya, I may have indulged just a bit.

LOUISIANA MCCONAUGHEY: Typical simple-minded folk… always using artificial means of actualization, never really engaging in any sort of philosophical discourse or emotional tribulations. Just… getting high and watching football.

TEXAS MCCONAUGHEY: Look man, if you wanna go on and on about our pharmaceutical differences, that’s cool and all, but like, can we at least start driving to the Gameday set? I’m usually not big on getting places on time, but, like I don’t wanna miss this thing.

LOUISIANA MCCONAUGHEY: (Staring off into distance) Time… what is your definition of time? This time you’re trying to make… it’s man-made, is it not? Or did the universe ordain this specific time for you? Will this world chew you up and spit you out if you don’t make it… on time? Or will your failure to meet time just become another discrepancy in the long history of man?

TEXAS MCCONAUGHEY: Um, I mean I just wanna see Corso put on the big head.

Louisiana McConaughey lets out a grunt that is intended to be a mild chuckle. He sticks the key in the ignition and starts the engine. The Handsome Family’s ‘Far From Any Road’ begins playing.

LOUISIANA MCCONAUGHEY: I’ll get you there on time.

Louisiana McConaughey roars the truck down the runway, just barely scraping underneath another plane touching down.

CUT TO THE RED TRUCK SPEEDING DOWN AN EMPTY HIGHWAY.

Louisiana McConaughey drives with laser focus on the road. Texas McConaughey is visibly confused, but still appears to be having a good time and smiles whenever he speaks.

TEXAS MCCONAUGHEY: You said somethin’ about converting me, like, what did you mean by that, man? Like are you gonna, turn me into a wom’n or somethin’? Not that that ain’t cool, I just like, wanna what I’m gettin’ myself into, y’know?

LOUISIANA MCCONAUGHEY: You sir, have a very important decision in front of you. You are going to decide which side of your consciousness you and I will forever lie: Texas or Louisiana.

TEXAS MCCONAUGHEY: Wait… so when I pick the game I’ll actually decide who wins?... Shit yeah, that’s awesome! I need to text my boy Jimmy and tell him to put 500 grand on the Horns tonight…

LOUISIANA MCCONAUGHEY: NO! You don’t understand, you can’t go with Texas. Our world will fall apart if you subject yourself to a blithe reality.

TEXAS MCCONAUGHEY: I thought you said you didn’t like football… are you actually a Tigers fan?

LOUISIANA MCCONAUGHEY: (Looking forward out window) I do hail from Louisiana… and there was once a time where I found joy and significance in Tigers football… but those days have passed.

TEXAS MCCONAUGHEY: Why, bro? Y’all have had a damn good team for years now. You think y’all had it bad? You shoulda seen what we’ve been through!

LOUISIANA MCCONAUGHEY: You don’t understand… you are separate from the rest of the Longhorn fans. They have been wallowing in misery and despair. If you go to the game and get yourself involved in this University and team again, you will be unable to escape the pain and suffering that comes with it.

TEXAS MCCONAUGHEY: So… is it bad that I recently joined the school as a professor?

Louisiana McConaughey slams on the breaks and turns around to face Texas McConaughey.

LOUISIANA MCCONAUGHEY: I don’t know how you haven’t noticed it by now, but ‘fandom’ is poison. Hoisting all your hope, all your joy and expectations onto young men who still use fake IDs is the exact type of imprudent mindset that creates so much despair in the South. Devoting your livelihood to attempting to transform the youth is an even more foolish endeavor than anything relating to sport.

TEXAS MCCONAUGHEY: I just still don’t get why you need this so bad? Like will you die if I pick the Horns?

Louisiana McConaughey turns back toward the front window and lights another cigarette.

LOUISIANA MCCONAUGHEY: I don’t fear death. The idea of being swallowed by nothingness, to surrender consciousness to a dark void of uncertainty, what is there to fear?

Texas McConaughey doesn’t understand a damn thing.

LOUISIANA MCCONAUGHEY: What I’m trying to do is save you from becoming me. You’ve been too rich and famous to really understand how tough things have been for the Horns. If you had, you’d be worse than me.

TEXAS MCCONAUGHEY: But what is there to make me upset anymore? I mean you heard Ehlinger say it, Texas is ba-

Louisiana McConaughey turns around ferociously and interrupts.

LOUISIANA MCCONAUGHEY: DON’T… say… that… phrase…

Texas McConaughey swallows and looks away. Louisiana McConaughey turns back forward and begins driving again.

LOUISIANA MCCONAUGHEY: This world man… we’re just one big stadium out in space, man. While you and I watch these players crash into themselves and destroy their bodies for entertainment, I believe the Gods up there, however many there are… they’re watching us do the same thing.

TEXAS MCCONAUGHEY: We’re… almost there, right?

LOUISIANA MCCONAUGHEY: Oh believe me… you’ll be there soon enough.

CUT TO VERONICA BACKSTAGE AT GAMEDAY

Veronica paces nervously, still holding her clipboard. It is 10:30 and the star guest picker still has not arrived. An intern approaches her rubbing his palms together nervously.

INTERN: Um, so it looks like he’s here, but he’s sitting in his vehicle.

VERONICA: Goddammit he’s probably getting high, isn’t he?

Veronica walks past the intern to the parking lot where several Gameday crew members are looking at a red pickup truck parked haphazardly across several spots. She looks at it, bewildered.

CUT TO THE INSIDE OF THE PARKED TRUCK

LOUISIANA MCCONAUGHEY: Okay, so they’re gonna ask you who’s gonna win, what do you say?

Texas McConaughey takes a huge hit from a bong., then grins widely.

TEXAS MCCONAUGHEY: The Horns babeeeeeeeeeey!

Louisiana McConaughey grabs Texas McConaughey by the cheeks and brings him so close their noses are almost touching.

LOUISIANA MCCONAUGHEY: You see this face? This is your destiny if you continue on the Longhorn path. You want to keep living your happy-go-lucky life? You need to become a Tiger. They’ve evolved… they’ve grown… they won’t lead you down a dark path of despair. This… this your chance.

He lets go of Texas McConaughey, but continues to stare into his eyes with steadfast intensity.

LOUISIANA MCCONAUGHEY: Time… is an oblong spheroid. It flies through the air in a tight spiral, giving us the illusion of traveling in a singular direction, but really we are simply spinning around and around, getting nowhere whatsoever. You will get your hopes up for a Longhorn championship each year, then be disappointed. Get hopes up, be disappointed, get hopes up, be disappointed, get hopes up, be disappointed, until WHAM!... you crash into the dirt where your body will lie forever. No pass is ever complete… because another one is always needed. No first down is ever converted… because the sticks are reset and you have to go again. Nobody ever wins… because there are always more games. Think about that when you pick.

Texas McConaughey has a haunted look on his face. Louisiana McConaughey calmly exits the vehicle and opens the door for Texas McConaughey, who gets out slowly. He walks toward Veronica, who escorts him through the set and onto the stage, just in time for his picks. His face is stone cold and emotionless, even as the crowd goes wild. A crew member hands him a sheet listing all the games he has to pick. The three-minute commercial break is a blur, and before he knows, the picks are underway.

RECE DAVIS: We start things off with the Army Black Knights heading to the Big House to take on Michigan. Desmond, who ya got?

Desmond Howard says something about the game, but we don’t hear it. We just hear a loud buzzing sound as we see a petrified look on Texas McConaughey’s face. He is staring blankly into the distance, unable to see what is right in front of him.

RECE DAVIS: Now the man of the hour, McConaughey… what’s your pick?

Texas McConaughey purses his lips and looks at the hosts quizzically. He begins to speak, but sounds more like his Louisiana counterpart.

TEXAS MCCONAUGHEY: Army…. versus Michigan…. Army… these men, fight wars, Rece. They fight in wars. They have enlisted to defend our country from those who dare try to infringe upon our glorious land… We honor them for it. What are these honorable acts, Rece?

Rece Davis looks at Texas McConaughey with complete confusion. He has no idea what is going on.

TEXAS MCCONAUGHEY: This is a violent game, Rece. These men, these… Black Knights… they know what it’s like to take a man’s life. They’ve been out there on the real gridiron… putting shrapnel in another man’s chest, and watching the life drain from his eyes with each drop of blood.

RECE DAVIS: Um, actually this is just the Academy, they haven’t been in active combat yet-

TEXAS MCCONAUGHEY: (Interrupting) Army will win!

The crowd murmurs nervously, as everyone is a bit uneasy about Texas McConaughey’s weird behavior, except for one man.

LEE CORSO: Great pick, Mahogany! Army will beat the Wolverines in a massive upset!

KIRK HERBSTREIT: Are you guys serious? What’s going on here? Is this a prank?

RECE DAVIS: Okay, next we have, uhh Cincinnati at Ohio State. Des?

DESMOND HOWARD: Even though I like what Luke Fickell has done, I’ve gotta ta-

TEXAS MCCONAUGHEY: Fickle… exactly how it feels to support these teams. Either they bring you artificial joy of which you have no merit, or they frustrate you and make your yearn for an outcome over which you have no control. In the end… nobody wins.

LEE CORSO: I’m glad you’re not the coach... because you would show everyone ‘how to lose a game in ten plays!’ Ohio State by a touchdown and an extra point! Closer than the experts think…

KIRK HERBSTREIT: Can I just go back to my trailer already? This is way off the rails.

RECE DAVIS: Let’s just skip to the main event and get this over with. The Tigers and Longhorns came into this season with huge expectations…

The crowd roars upon seeing the focus shift back to the massive matchup tonight. Texas McConaughey surveys the crowd and notices a hooded figure with sunglasses and a lit cigarette. It’s Louisiana McConaughey, who nods in approval.

RECE DAVIS: Des, how do you see this playing out?

DESMOND HOWARD: Texas by three, let’s get through this.

RECE DAVIS: Okay, Matthew, what have you got for us now?

TEXAS MCCONAUGHEY: Rece, I’ve gotta be honest with you… my answer will disappoint a lot of people here today.

The crowd murmurs in confusion. Louisiana McConaughey looks around at the drunken UT students surrounding him.

TEXAS MCCONAUGHEY: For years we have been disappointed by Texas football, been crushed by what we perceive as failure thanks to our own misguided expectations… it’s not a question of whether or not Texas is back, but a question of if we were even really here at all.

A smattering of boos and angry yells start to come from the crowd. Frat boys yell out that Texas McConaughey is a fake fan and a Hollywood sellout. Louisiana McConaughey becomes distraught when he realizes he has led his Texan counterpart astray. These people loved him, and now he’s a traitor. There’s no self-actualization in that. After all, it’s just a goddamn football game. He looks to the stage to try and catch Texas McConaughey’s eyes and urge him to change his mind. They lock eyes for several seconds, but Texas McConaughey maintains his expression and continues speaking.

TEXAS MCCONAUGHEY: Being a Longhorn fan, it comes with a great deal of pain. But at the end of the day, isn’t that why we’re fans?

The booing stops and the crowd looks at Texas McConaughey curiously, wondering where he’s going with this.

TEXAS MCCONAUGHEY: Building a championship team is like building a railroad… there are a lot of pieces you have to lay down. And it’s not enough to have all the pieces, you’ve gotta put them together too. And these Horns, we haven’t always had all the pieces, and we have yet to put it all together. But trust me, we’ve been workin’ on this railroad all… the live long day. And believe me when I say that at the end of this day… the Longhorns will be victorious over LSU.

The crowd erupts ferociously. Even though he sought to prevent this outcome, Louisiana McConaughey smiles at the scene. He recognizes that the joy of fandom is worth the pain, and that without hope, without the desire to be victorious, there can be no true glory. He and Louisiana McConaughey lock eyes and share a nod. Louisiana McConaughey walks off through the mayhem.

LEE CORSO: Trust me, I love Texas. But you wanna know the one thing I love more? Tigers!

Corso puts on a Mike the Tiger head in front of a chorus of boos. Texas McConaughey just laughs and claps, having a good time. The show ends and the crowd disperses. Texas McConaughey joins the crew backstage.

TEXAS MCCONAUGHEY: That was a great time. Thank y’all for having me. I hope it wasn’t too obvious that I’m a little high right now.

LEE CORSO: Ha! You kiddin’?

Corso whips out a blunt and lights it.

LEE CORSO: Whaddaya think I’m always doing when they bring Pollock out?

Texas McConaughey laughs and enjoys a few minutes with the cast. He then leaves backstage where a private limo is set to take him to a hotel to freshen up before the game. As he approaches the limo, he notices a beat-up red pickup truck running in the background.

TEXAS MCCONAUGHEY: Y’all go ahead… I’ve got my own ride.

Texas McConaughey walks toward the driver’s window on the truck. It rolls down to show Louisiana McConaughey, still with a lit cigarette in his mouth.

TEXAS MCCONAUGHEY: Sorry about pickin’ the Horns. I know pickin’ LSU meant a lot to you, but this place means a lot to me. To make it up to you, how’sbout I buy you a couple beers at my favorite tavern down there, then you join me in my booth for the game tonight?

Louisiana McConaughey is silent for several seconds, then responds.

LOUISIANA MCCONAUGHEY: That sounds… alright, alright, alright.

The two McConaugheys share a laugh. Texas McConaughey hops into the passenger seat as Mellencamp’s ‘Between A Laugh and A Tear’ begins playing. The two drive off together.

THE END