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ESPN Unveils New Marketing Technique for Football Telecasts

Although I previously criticized ESPN for constantly shilling for its corporate interests, I may, in retrospect, have been completely wrong. Rather than toning down its shameless self-promotion, the Worldwide Leader should dial it up by making its emphasis on advancing the brand even more explicit.

As you are aware, both ESPN and Pixar are owned by Disney. Am I the only one seeing a golden opportunity here? Hey, if Al Michaels can be traded to NBC in exchange for Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, Disney can give us this on Labor Day night:

Brent Musburger: You are looking live at an aerial shot of Clemson Memorial Stadium by the shores of Lake Hartwell in Clemson, South Care-oh-line-uh. Welcome to Death Valley, folks, for the kickoff of the 2007 college football season here on the Worldwide Leader in Sports, brought to you by our good friends at Dr. Pepper, and it promises to be a dandy. In the college game, there is no preseason. They just line up and get right to it. And, speaking of getting right to it, let's go around the booth for some introductions. I am pleased as punch to be joined this evening by James P. Sullivan, the beloved top scarer from "Monsters, Inc." Sulley, my man, how are you?

James P. Sullivan: Doing great, Brent. Glad to be here. You know, at Monsters, Inc., we always said we scared because we cared, but what frightens me is Clemson's C.J. Spiller, who averaged 7.3 yards per carry last season. When I watch him run, I think about that cute little Remy from "Ratatouille" juking and jiving his way through the kitchen of a Paris restaurant with a piece of cheese!

Brent: Right you are, my friend. Now we're sending it down to the field to our ol' buddy, Jack Arute, who's been joined by Clemson coach Tommy Bowden and a very special guest. Take it away, Jack Arute!

Jack Arute: Thanks, Brent. I'm here with Clemson coach Tommy Bowden and a new friend who'll be joining us in just a minute. Coach, we've come a long way since the first "Bowden Bowl" between these two teams and a little bit of the luster has been lost from this rivalry. What once was a game for holiday bragging rights around the homestead has now become a pitched battle for mere survival, not unlike Sulley's competition with Randall Boggs in "Monsters, Inc.," which started out as a fight for the scoring record and wound up being a battle for the future of the company. Are you concerned at all that the loser of this game will wind up losing his job, as well?

Tommy Bowden: Jack, I can't be worried about things that are beyond my control. I know that subject is out there being tossed around, but I don't listen to it because---

Jack: Excuse me, Tommy, I hate to interrupt you, but there's someone here I've just got to bring on for the folks at home. Excuse me just a second. You're going to love this little guy, Tommy. He's orange and everything. Nemo? Where are you, Nemo? Uh-oh.

Brent: What is it, Jack?

Jack: Brent, I had Nemo right here with me. I'm not sure where he got off to, but, don't worry, kids, I'm sure he's around here somewhere. I'll try and track him down, but, you know, there's a lot of activity down here on the sideline, so I suspect I'll spend most of the first half finding Nemo! Back to you in the booth, Brent!

Brent: Thank you, Jack. It looks like it's a footrace to find that lovable little Nemo, whose delightful exploits, like all the Disney Pixar films, are available on D.V.D. Sulley, ol' buddy, what are you looking for at the start of this game?

Sulley: Well, Brent, my good friend Mike Wazowski has been watching some tape on this revamped Florida State offense, and he told me to keep an eye out for Jimbo Fisher to try to show early that the Seminoles have their traditional big play ability once again . . . and, believe me, when Mikey tells you to keep an eye out, he means it!

Brent: Ha, ha. That's right, 'cause he's only got the one eye, doesn't he? All right, Erin Andrews has Bobby Bowden down on the Seminole sideline, so let's send it down to Erin. Erin?

Erin Andrews: Thanks, Brent. I'm here, alongside Sally Carrera from "Cars" and Helen Parr of "The Incredibles," otherwise known as Elastigirl, and we're catching up with Florida State coach Bobby Bowden. Coach, you're coming off of a disappointing season that saw significant staff shakeups in Tallahassee. Can you tell me how important it is to open the season with a win here against Clemson tonight?

Bobby Bowden: Lookahere at you three. My goodness, I remember when there wasn't any girl reporters in the locker room, and here you three are. Sakes alive, y'all are pretty little things, the three of you. Y'all are like a regular "Charlie's Angels" or something. Man, I remember that Farrah Fawcett, used to be married to that Lee Majors? Boy, that was back in '76, my first year here. That was the last time we lost six dadgum games before last year, I'll tell you that. Hey, is one of them girls with you a car? Do I spot a little pinstriping tattoo back there?

Erin: Let's try to focus, coach. How . . . important . . . is . . . it . . . for . . . you . . . to . . . win?

Bobby: Erin, you know, I don't know. I had to fire my one son, Jeff, to save my job last year. It's looking like I'm going to have to get my other son, Tommy, fired to save my job this year. And danged if my other son, Terry, ain't bugging me to help him get back into coaching, too. Sometimes, I feel like Danny Glover in them "Lethal Weapon" movies, you know? I'm getting too old for this sh---

Erin: Bobby, you've referenced "Charlie's Angels," which was a Columbia Pictures release. Now you've mentioned "Lethal Weapon," which was a Warner Brothers production. They did the "Free Willy" movies. I need you to stay with me here and stick with references to one of the following: Walt Disney Pictures, Touchstone, Hollywood Pictures, Miramax, or---our preference for this evening---Pixar. Are you with me, Bobby? "Angels in the Outfield," si; "Charlie's Angels," no. You got it?

Bobby: How 'bout that there "The Crow: City of Angels"?

Erin: Yes. Miramax was the distributor and the production company for that movie. That is acceptable.

Bobby: Hey, is that gal in the costume doing stretching exercises with the team? Man, she's limber!

Erin: All right, Brent, I can't take this any more. I'm sending it back to you in the booth.

Brent: But, Erin, don't you see that little guy swimming by?

Erin: That what? Oh, yeah, right. I forgot. Sorry.

Sulley: Erin, it's like Mikey told me during the bloopers at the end of "Monsters, Inc.": you'd better eadray your iptscray! Ha, ha!

Brent: Ha, ha!

Erin: (Sigh.) Yes, Brent, I just saw a little fellow swimming by. I didn't get a good look at him, but it could have been a little lost clown fish trying to get home.

Brent: All right, we'll keep an eye out, as our ol' buddy Mike Wazowski likes to say, for Nemo. Meanwhile, we're going to kick it over to our good friend John Saun-ders in New . . . York . . . Ci-ty. John, it's a warm Southern night here in Clemson, South Carolina with just a gentle breeze blowing off of Lake Hartwell. What's the weather like there in Times Square?

John Saunders: Ha, ha. It's been a pleasant night here in New York, thanks for asking, Brent. Joining me now are Craig James, the Big Pony of S.M.U.'s famed Pony Express, and, of course, Buzz Lightyear of the elite Space Ranger Corps, who's come all the way from fighting Zurg, sworn enemy of the Galactic Alliance, in the Gamma Quadrant to be with us here tonight. Craig, Buzz, good to have you. Craig, what do we need to look for in tonight's game?

Craig James: I don't know 'bout you, John, but I'll be watching me some An-tone Smith at tailback for F.S.U. Forget about all that stuff about Jimbo Fisher restoring offensive balance. Greg Carr and De'Cody Fagg are too inconsistent. That offensive line hasn't come together. Florida State's quarterback situation is too herky-jerky. I'm looking for Antone Smith to have a big outing against that Clemson defense tonight.

John: All right. Buzz, what about you?

Buzz Lightyear: Craig, you are a sad, strange little man and you have my pity. John, I'm concerned about three things. First, can a young Clemson offensive line and quarterback getting their first starts really hold up to the punishment Mickey Andrews's defense is going to dish out? Second, is this supposed early battle for the top spot in the Atlantic Division a moot point, considering that the winner most likely will be annihilated by Virginia Tech, Miami, or Georgia Tech out of the Coastal Division? Finally, where the devil do you suppose that poor little Nemo has gotten off to?

John: Excellent questions, Buzz. We'll send it back to Brent and Sulley for the answers. Brent?

Brent: Thank you, John, and try to stay cool there in balmy New York City.

John: Ha, ha.

Brent: Ha, ha. Now I'll send it straight to our ol' buddy Jack Arute, who has an update. Jack?

Jack: Brent, we have a sighting. We have positively identified a young clown fish with a weak fin and we have dispatched Marlin and Dory to track him down. We expect to have an update for you by kickoff.

Brent: There's that fish again! Thank you, Jack. All right, we'll return in a moment with the kickoff, but, first, we interrupt this presentation of ESPN's Monday night college football to bring you the following commercial announcements.

It's an idea whose time has come.

Go 'Dawgs!