The city of Lincoln, NE is abuzz with star-struck awe.
Matt Damon has been in town this week.
Supposedly, he is here with his nephew who will be a freshman at the University of Nebraska this fall. There have also been reports that his nephew will try to walk on to the Nebraska football team. But frankly, I’m not sure I buy any of that.
I mean, it’s not like Damon is the first famous Hollywood movie star to visit Lincoln. Harrison Ford (allegedly) checked out one of our gentlemen’s clubs. Wesley Snipes rented a loft in the Haymarket* while filming a movie. And let’s not forget our movie star next door, the star of Oscar contenders like Witless Protection and Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector, Nebraska’s own Dan Whitney (aka Larry).
*My wedding reception was in the loft Snipes rented. The loft had an attached master suite where we stayed on our wedding night, so technically I’ve shared a bed with Passenger 57. But I’m pretty sure they changed the sheets after Willie Mays Hayes left town.
So why was Matt Damon really here? And why did he spend all of his time on campus?
Clearly, he is researching is next movie role.
What movie, you ask? I’m not sure yet. According to my University sources, the following ideas were shot down by Damon.
The Osborne Ultimatum*
Damon plays Dr. Tom Osborne, a straight-laced, tea totaling football coach by day and a profane, hard-drinking, rogue double agent for the Enforcement Division of the NCAA Compliance Department by night. The year is 1983, and Osborne faces an impossible challenge: guide his Cornhuskers to a National Championship, or allow Miami to win the title, setting in motion a carefully choreographed series of events culminating in the “Death Penalty” being handed out after booster Nevin Shapiro corrupts the school beyond recognition.
Late in the championship game, (which is illogically played on Miami’s home field), Osborne’s Husker trail Miami, but they’re driving down the field. Turner Gill’s pass is inexplicably dropped by a wide open Irving Fryar, but then back-up I-Back Jeff Smith rambles in for a touchdown, putting Nebraska down by 1 with very little time left. What does Osborne do? Kick the PAT and bring glory to himself, or go for two and set the diabolical Operation Hurricane in motion? Miami coach Howard Schnellenberger (played by Ben Affleck) cannot believe what comes next.
*Initially, I was going to do the Osborne Identity, but today I challenged fellow No Coast Bias writer Chris Hatch of Burnpoetry to do a take on that title. I figured he’d do one of his Photoshop movie posters (like this one) and that would be end of it. But no…Chris went above and beyond, creating this masterpiece. Since there is no way I can improve upon that, I’m stuck with one of the other Bourne trilogy titles. I chose Ultimatium mainly because I couldn’t remember the name of the other one.
Good Bo Hunting
Matt Damon co-wrote this script about Bo Pelini, a humble janitor from the south side of Lincoln. Bo is cleaning up in the football offices when he sees a seemingly unsolvable problem on the board – how to stop spread offenses and mobile quarterbacks using lead-footed defenders. Head Coach Frank Solich is stunned by the revelation and decides to bring Bo on to his staff. Bo has a mild anger issue, so he must also meet with a school psychologist (played by Carl Pelini) to get in touch with his true self. Ben Affleck co-stars as Pelini’s buddy, Barney Cotton.
Jimbo Delaney (George Clooney) is just released from prison, but wants to plot the heist of the century – stealing Nebraska out from under the Big XII and transplanting it into the Big 10, while sticking it to the pompously smug Notre Dame. Delaney arranges a team to infiltrate the Big XII, and a complex web of scams, tricks, and bogus media reports is constructed.
A large ensemble cast stars in this movie. Damon plays Wisconsin Athletic Director Barry Alvarez. Ben Affleck appears as Texas blogger Chip Brown. Julia Roberts plays Nancy Osborne. Rave reviews for Woody Allen’s performance as Nebraska Chancellor Harvey Perlman.
In this sequel to Delaney’s Eleven, Jimbo Delaney wants to add to his vast empire, by pulling one more big heist. His team is reassembled, and are ready to go. But instead of pursuing big, worthy targets like North Carolina, Florida State, Georgia Tech, or Notre Dame, Delaney sets his sites on Rutgers and Maryland.
Wisconsin AD Barry Alvarez (once again played by Damon) wonders aloud why the team was gathered, when this caper could have been “pulled off by the same see-no-evil idiots who ran Penn State during the Sandusky years”. The film is a dud because the projected numbers from the D.C. and New York markets never materialize (that and not even Scarlet Knight alumni want to endure 108 minutes about Rutgers). Ben Affleck makes a cameo as the ghostly spirit of Joe Paterno.
Tommy Lee Goes to College – The Movie
Surely you remember 2005’s hit “reality” series Tommy Lee Goes to College, where the Motley Crue drummer “enrolls” at UNL and finds himself in all sorts of zany (yet totally realistic) scenarios – like trying out for the Cornhusker Marching Band and studying with the coed known solely as the “Hot Tutor”.
In this feature-length film, the part of Tommy Lee is being played by Tommy Lee Jones, and Damon stars as his nerdy, yet lovable roommate Matt Ellis. Tommy’s is working in the Center for Brain, Biology and Behavior, and may have found a way to reverse the damage caused by concussions in football games. Unfortunately, Tommy suffered a concussion while practicing as Taylor Martinez’s backup, and the research may be lost forever. Can Ellis and the Hot Tutor help Tommy Lee recover the research (and win the big game) in time? Ben Affleck co-stars as Taylor Martinez.
Legend of Pat Tyrance
Damon plays Micah Kreikemeier, a career backup linebacker, struggling to make a contribution to the team. He forms an unlikely bond with the sage Pat Tyrance, a star linebacker from the 1980s. Through a combination of hard work, perseverance, and luck, Micah learns the keys to being a feared linebacker. In the Big Game, Micah uses the knowledge Tyrance gave him to lead Nebraska to an amazing, come from behind victory. Ben Affleck appears as Linebackers Coach/Special Teams Coordinator/Recruiting Coordinator/Bus Driver/Lunch Lady/Hot Dog Vendor/Assistant to the Regional Manager Ross Els.
Saving Sam Cotton
In this military drama, oldest brother Ben Cotton is brutally attacked by Texas A&M’s Tony Jerod-Eddie. Middle brother Jake suffers a torn ACL. Persistent message board threats have forced their dad Barney Cotton into hiding.
Not wanting to deliver the dreadful news that her whole family is gone, Nebraska Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst instructs a select team of grad assistants and student managers to bring youngest brother Sam Cotton (played by Matt Damon) back home to his mother before it is too late.
Warning: the first 20 minutes of the film – featuring footage of Nebraska’s loss to Barney Cotton’s Iowa State offense, Jake’s mangled knee (played by Ben Affleck), and ultra slow-motion shots of Ben’s cotton balls being tugged – may be too gruesome for some viewers.