At the beginning of last month, the Ole Miss Athletics Department announced an initiative to make up for at least some of the glaring financial deficit as a result of the pandemic: invite fans to submit photos that would be displayed as cardboard cutouts at home football games.
For many, this opportunity would serve as an interactive fan experience that offered some semblance of human connection during some truly insane times. With the exception of a Bernie Lomax appearance against Florida, the submissions have been relatively safe, mostly featuring fans in Ole Miss attire. There were even a few dogs too, which is nice.
For myself, what really stood out was a feeling of unprecedented leverage, in the sense that the department was in such poor financial shape that they couldn’t really say no to whatever I proposed be displayed (within reason). For this reason, I wanted to test what I could really get away with, which is why I submitted a photo of a central character from Netflix’s cult sketch comedy show “I Think You Should Leave” with Tim Robinson. And what’s the worst case scenario here? Ole Miss says “no” to me? Ole Miss football hurts me somehow? Impossible.
This isn’t uncharted territory for The Cup, as a handful of us attempted to draw loose connections between the aggressively weird program and Ole Miss football last year. I convinced the same group, plus some additional close friends, to help pitch in and attempt to shove the hero of the below sketch into the college football universe.
While the show can be crude at times, this particular sketch is clean, making this endeavor all-in-all a pretty wholesome one. The man playing the focus group member with all the good car ideas is Cuban actor Ruben Rabasa, whom Robinson has more or less credited with raising the comedic ceiling of this scene with his chaotic energy.
Perhaps I could devote some words to how car ideas man is actually a metaphor for Lane Kiffin, who for the longest time was the subject of ridicule from every corner, but gradually gained respect over time and made a permanent imprint on SEC offenses, all the while making the Paul’s (i.e., Nick Saban) of the football world huff and puff.
Who is the most popular now, Paul (“Bear” Bryant)?— Ryan Perry (@rynprry) October 9, 2020
But to be clear, there was no such depth to this thought process of mine. We could make this something more than what it is, but that would be dishonest. This is exactly what it looks like; this was purely a dumb effort on my part to indulge my dumb sense of humor. So let’s get to the submission itself.
There were a few guidelines I broke with this submission that immediately made me skeptical of it being accepted. Firstly, I had not yet seeked out express permission from Rabasa to display his headshot at Vaught-Hemingway, or any other necessary rights to avoid legal trouble from Netflix. Secondly, the photo guidelines say that the subject must be wearing Ole Miss branded attire. The pink button-up under a suit jacket is a nice look, but it’s not Ole Miss-branded or even an appropriate Ole Miss color. I’m also fairly certain that this was past whatever original deadline the athletics department had set for submissions. There’s no way they would accept this, I was pretty sure.
So I was shocked to find out a mere 12 days later that my cut-out would be displayed at perhaps the biggest home game of this shortened season.
And for what it’s worth, I did get some form of approval from Rabasa himself upon sharing the good news on Instagram.
So how did this happen? Perhaps someone with far greater influence recognized the need to put the ITYSL icon on full display.
We’ll never truly know. The only thing that’s certain is that the presence of car ideas man was felt in the stadium that night, as drive after drive Kiffin flipped the bottle flawlessly and made Saban flinch, at which point Saban either had to marry his mother-in-law or admit that he sucked.
This was funny to me, but I could not help but figure that most people were not at all in on the joke. That is reasonable to expect given that the show is two years old, on Netflix, and only has six episodes. But, as admittedly fun as it is to be part of such a niche fan base as that of ITYSL, a group that 99% of the world roll their eyes at, I do wish more people would give the show a try. With everything going on (*gestures wildly at the world*), I’ve latched onto absurdist comedy as a means of mental self-preservation, but to each his/her own. This means that I will pound the same references into the ground just to make the same five people chuckle, even to the point that those same five people get annoyed at the gimmick after a while. And, yes, those same five people thought this cutout was a good (car) idea [ED: Can confirm, it’s a good car idea, and I stand by].
With an infinite number of causes more worthy of financial support right now, this is probably the last time I’ll do something like this in the near future. But in the long term, it’s hard not to dream of being Ole Miss’ weirder, far less wealthy version of T. Boone Pickens. Rather than make demands about staff changes, I’d request that all my fan experiences be in the lens of ITYSL, whether that means being served a hot dog by someone wearing a hot dog outfit at the Pavilion, or have my club seat at VHS be Garfield-themed. There’s (hopefully) plenty of time to think this through.