You are a high school senior who happens to be a decorated football player. You won the Mr. Football award in your smallish Midwestern state, and now, for the first time in your life, you find yourself inexplicably famous to people outside of your rural pig-farming town.
Your goal is to navigate the many trials and tribulations of the recruiting process in an attempt to sign with one of the many, many college football programs that are seeking to procure your immense talent so that alumni will shell out $75 per game to watch you complete 53% of your passes and/or fumble at the goal line in a rivalry game.
The choices are yours, and yours alone! Reader, beware!
One false step can be the difference between a future filled with hot coeds, a trademarked catchphrase, and a short NFL career followed up by a 40% stake in a lucrative car dealership, or a future filled with empty Wendy's wrappers and living in your mother's basement (before following that up with a 40% stake in a lucrative car dealership, of course).
You excitedly tear the offer letters out of your mom's hand. Two whole letters! One from Pleasure Island A&M, home of the biggest, most famous football program in the country, and the other from Puritan State Institute of Technology, a fine upstanding school with a great academic reputation. PIAM's football team is watched by millions on a weekly basis, and has its campus in a city of 1.2 million people. PSIT, on the other hand, is located in a Willa Cather novel and is completely devoid of the temptations that often befall young adults.
If you want to visit Pleasure Island A&M and experience all that a big-time college football campus has to offer, GO TO 7.
If you instead decide to check out the Puritan State Institute of Technology, which will allow you to avoid all the drama associated with football recruiting, GO TO 23.
If your fickle teenage heart decides to give up football to instead concentrate on being an accountant, GO TO 3.
"Now see here, good sir," you loudly proclaim, "I will take no part in these underhanded backdoor shenanigans. I bid you good day!"
You crumple up the $100 bill and throw it in the nearest trash can, and march your way to the compliance office to report this blatant violation of NCAA rules. The subsequent investigation turns up many more instances of rule breaking, and though everyone within 50 miles hates you, you can sleep well at night knowing that you did the right thing. It's a shame about the school cutting all those varsity sports because they lost that bowl game revenue, though.
GO TO 5.
After a long day of hanging with your new teammate bros, it becomes clear to you that there are two paths that you can take in this recruiting game: the high road, with its 5 a.m. workouts and daily multivitamins and marathon tape-watching sessions, or the low road, with its Call of Duties and weed parties and general college student normalcy.
What you do not yet know is that there is also the VERY low road, which involves an unconscious hooker slowly sinking lower in a bathtub as you frantically try to get out of a pair of tiger-striped velvet handcuffs.
Two of your teammates ask you to hang out that night. Bill wants to "get wild" and possibly "ruin someone's entire decade" tonight. Larry, on the other hand, just wants to "chill with some buds" in his basement apartment before maybe getting some pizza at the local pizza eatery.
To go with Bill, GO TO 10.
To hang with Larry, GO TO 12.
You spend your formative years deep in study, learning how to be the best accountant you possibly can be. Instead of spending every waking hour obsessing over gap technique and safety blitzes or whatever, you discover the secrets of linear dividend aggregations and bi-fractal changing components. After college you are hired by a large firm and make a respectable wage. Eventually you marry, and have three kids and a jet ski.
You never regret or even think about your aborted college football career until you are on your deathbed some 60 years later, when a stray thought about how you could've exploited Michigan State's overaggressive defense with trips right flashes into your consciousness seconds before you pass away, ensuring your final moments are that of slight irritation.
You palm the cash and slip it discreetly into your back pocket, grateful for the down payment on your Vespa purchase. You give the booster a knowing wink and a nod, hoping that your cool, cool style and panache will lead to many more $100 handshakes to come.
But now it's time for the big moment. The head coach. Immaculate teeth. Good, earthy smell, like freshly cut grass. A haircut you could set your watch to. And above all else, a demeanor that suggests that he would shoot his own grandmother and tweet the pictures if it meant even a slightly higher chance of you signing with his team. He extends an oversized hand, glittering with a national championship ring. Do you:
Make a total ass of yourself? If yes, GO TO 8.
Stick the landing and launch yourself into the next phase of your life? If yes, GO TO 11.
You spend your entire career at the end of the bench, except during your senior season when you come in at the end of a blowout victory against an FCS school. Surprised at the playing time, you promptly throw an interception, are booed, and never play another down. After graduating, you spend a few months wondering what in the hell you're going to do with a Forestry degree before landing a plum job in Glacier National Park that you genuinely enjoy.
Still, you always wonder about why you never really got an honest shot at stardom during your playing days. You never realize it was because of your unwillingness to bro out in possible violation of NCAA and/or state laws.
You immediately head to the nearest bank and break the money into singles, head for the nearest strip club, and do what you've always wanted to do: make it rain on strippers in their mid-40s working the lunch shift on a Wednesday afternoon. Your Instagrammed pictures hashtagged with #indaclub, #getdowngrandma, #praisejesus4boosters, and #pprrrrrr are an instant Internet sensation, which leaves you curious as to why Pleasure Island A&M's coaches aren't returning your calls anymore. In fact, no other colleges reach out to you, leaving you quite depressed.
That is, until a fateful evening when your phone rings. "Hey, brah. It's Coach Kiffin. We think you might be interested in our program. Veerryyyy interested..."
"Mom," you say, "I want to check out Pleasure Island A&M!" Mom relents, and off you go to the biggest school in your state, and one of the largest in the entire country. You are awed by its sheer size: dozens of shiny new classroom buildings, a 600,000 square foot rec center, a five-star hotel on campus, a world-class research hospital, and horribly cramped and filthy student dormitories. It has everything that a major state college should have, and you are impressed.
Some of the football players walk up and introduce themselves. "Hey man," they say, "we know it's getting late, but do you want to hang with us tonight?"
"Sure guys, sounds like fun!" GO TO 2.
"Aw gee, sorry fellas, but I told my mom I'd be back for dinner by 7:30." GO TO 13.
As the coach extends his hand to you, you nervously projectile vomit all over him, the hot greeter who had been showing you around campus, your mother, and the crystal national championship trophy that had been placed gently on a pedestal in the center of the lobby of the football practice facility. The force of your barf knocks the trophy over, shattering it into a thousand pieces.
In a panic, you run for the nearest maintenance closet and hide there for the next week, hoping that it will all blow over. It doesn't.
Even though you shunned your teammates, coaches, booster alumni, and the debauched culture of football in general, it turns out that you are so good at playing the sport that they eventually stop being huge douches about it and just let you do whatever without kowtowing to their insane preconceived code.
Also because the level of talent to accomplish this means that you must be an entirely fictional construct, you fly to the moon after your playing days to live with your hot alien wife in a house constructed out of the many, many Heismans that you won.
Bill, the team's punter, has a weird idea of what getting wild entails, and you end up playing six hours of Halo while his mom folds laundry in the other room. You fall asleep while watching Soul Plane and wake up just in time for a meeting with the alumni. "Watch yourself," Bill tells you. "These guys pretty much run the place."
You shake the hand of the nearest booster, a fat jowly man with an obvious toupee and a pink golf shirt. You spend about 15 minutes trying to avoid looking at his hideous hairpiece while also steering the conversation away from the topic of "inner city youth." Finally you shake his hand to leave, and he promptly deposits a $100 bill in it. You look at him, surprised, and he responds with a wink and a flick of his nose.
To turn down his generous offer to assist in your college education, GO TO 1.
If you just got paid and want the whole world to know, GO TO 6.
If you want to play it cool, Joe Camel style, GO TO 4.
You reach out and shake the hand of the head coach with the practiced cool of a men twice your age. The head coach is impressed, and immediately begins internally diagramming ways to ensure that you are given every single advantage in life, should you decide to sign with his school. He also begins internally diagramming an elaborate revenge fantasy involving public humiliation and snide comments should you betray him and sign with a rival school.
Either way, your gaze meets his, and for a brief second you finally know what it means to feel complete and utter terror.
GO TO 14.
Unfortunately the reason that Larry lives in a basement apartment is because his indulgence of bath salts is slightly less suspicious that way. After telling you that it's a sweet new supplement that totally helps your 40 time, you partake. Thirty minutes later, you have committed four felonies and are dead.
Your story becomes a cautionary tale that is quickly forgotten because the news of your untimely death broke on the same day that a squirrel ran out on the field of a Bengals-Patriots game and stayed there for ten. Whole. Minutes.
You arrive at Applebee's with time to spare, and eat a moderately priced dinner that gives you gas. After talking it over with your family, you decide that you are so smitten with Pleasure Island A&M that you officially commit the next day and report on campus for spring semester that year.
If it turns out that you are actually really good at football, GO TO 9.
If it turns out that you are good, but not THAT good, GO TO 5.
Congratulations! You have finally reached the end of your exciting college visit. You managed to make new friends, woo the alumni, and not completely screw it up when meeting the man in charge.
Of course, that was the easy part; now that you're on the grid (so to speak), you need to navigate the minefield that is the rest of the recruiting process, and somehow make it to signing day unscathed. Should you accomplish your goal of ultimately signing with the college of your choice, it's all smooth sailing from there on out with no problems or potential pitfalls whatsoever.
See you in a week, when we wrap up this increasingly complicated saga. Next time, we play for points.