Top College Football Figures as Breaking Bad Characters
When the final whistle blew in Miami last year, and Alabama was again crowned BCS National Champion, it began a seven-month drought without the two best programs on television: college football and Breaking Bad.
Fortunately, the latter returns to AMC this Sunday for the second half of its final season, drawing to a close the epic saga of Walt, Jesse, Saul and everyone unfortunate enough to know them.
And then, starting on the last weekend of August, for a euphoric five weeks, weekends will air both Breaking Bad and college football in the same 24 hours. That magical run will be the last time new episodes of TV's best series will ever run in conjunction with TV's best sport, which is traumatically sad.
But peering at the future makes makes you miss the present. All we can do at this point is savor the coming month.
Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M): Walter White
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Manziel is the one who knocks; and right now, he's rapping on the door of a mental breakdown.
He and Walter White are both defined by the nature—and velocity—of their rises and falls. Johnny's arc from anonymous quarterback to Heisman superstar to reality-show train-wreck has been painful to watch. As has Walt's arc from Mr. Chips to Scarface to whatever dark hole he ends up buried in by the end of Season 5.
Both are in the process of a long, drawn-out seminar on consequences. They have each made questionable, selfish, megalomaniacal decisions to get where they are today, and now they must each deal with their just deserts.
Perhaps most chilling, if these Manziel autograph claims come to fruition, is the likeness in how they got caught. Manziel might face NCAA sanctions for signing his name on things he shouldn't have signed. Walt is found out by Hank because he leaves a copy of Leaves of Grass by his toilet—the copy signed and inscribed to him by his former partner, Gale, whom Hank knows to be a meth cook.
Signatures leave indelible marks on merchandise; they make it impossible to erase something from the annals of evidence. Both Johnny and Walter—TV's two leading men for the next eight weeks—probably wish they had been more careful with those decisions.
Nick Saban (Alabama): Gustavo Fring
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Both Saban and Fring have built themselves an empire: one with back-to-back national championships, the other with a chain of fast-food chicken restaurants and a multi-million dollar drug cartel.
They're also both, at times, revered by the public. Gus was a friend to the DEA and an influential figure in the Albuquerque community, while Saban is regarded as a demigod in Tuscaloosa.
But both men have morally questionable pasts. Fring for obvious reasons and Saban for his icy willingness to stand at a podium and lie to America (twice!). Despite the hagiographic way he's written about in Alabama, most of the country has yet to shake that stink.
Fring and Saban are both cold, neither man ever smiles, but they're both incredibly good at what they do. Fring's actions caught up with him in the end but he never chose to stop. Saban, on the other hand, appears to have put his stone-faced lying days in the past.
So there's a chance he won't end up with his face blown off.
Lane Kiffin (USC): Marie Schrader
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If the two shows in question here are "Breaking Bad" and "College Football," Marie and Kiffin are each one's most annoying character.
Pouty, brash and outspoken, they both infect almost every scene they're in. Neither one gets that much screen time but what they get is more than they deserve. After all, in a grander sense, what has either of them really done to enhance their show's narrative?
Marie steals a tiara for Holly's baby shower in Season 1, revealing herself as a chronic "sufferer" of kleptomania. Kiffin, meanwhile, is well-noted for his "ability" to poach players and coaches that belong to other teams.
Only by coaching at a school that wears purple could Lane have made this likeness better. But USC's Cardinal shade of red is close enough.
Bill O'Brien: Skyler White
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Skyler and O'Brien spent the last year doing the exact same thing: cleaning up someone else's mess.
Walt involves Skyler in his criminal proceedings (by necessity) after she finds out about them, and she actually proves a valuable cog in his organization. Her accounting skills help Walt properly launder his money, stopping him from getting caught much sooner than he actually does.
O'Brien, meanwhile, got called in to fix a Penn State program in disrepair. After the Sandusky scandal, Freeh Report and draconian NCAA sanctions, the Lions' once-proud program looked left for dead. But O'Brien came into Happy Valley with a uniquely positive mind-set and helped his squad rebound with an 8-4 record in 2012.
Neither Skyler nor Bill is responsible for the mess of their family/program. They inherited those problems from a sicker soul. But both are trying their best to help their loved ones move on.
Charlie Weis (Kansas): Huell
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"Hey, Huell. You were just compared to the biggest, fattest, oddest-shaped coach in college football. You happy?"
Lightfoot, Franklin & White: Saul Goodman
When your Heisman-winning quarterback gets into serious off-field trouble, you don't want a criminal lawyer. You want a criminal...lawyer.
Yeah, sure, Lightfoot, Franklin & White isn't nearly as crooked as Goodman. That's another level of corruption, and no one knows for sure if LF&W is even crooked at all. But the Birmingham law-firm is becoming college's go-to "fixer" in high-profile eligibility cases.
They represented Auburn in its attempt to keep Cam Newton on the field in 2012, and succeeded in doing just that. Newton would go on to win the Heisman that season. And now, with Johnny Manziel facing his own eligibility kerfuffle, Texas A&M has lawyered up with the exact same firm.
Quarterback caught on camera signing autographs for money? Better call Lightfoot.
Client's father tried to sell him to the highest bidder? Better call Lightfoot.
High school chemistry teacher needs to get one his meth distributors out of police custody? Better call...well, maybe you should leave that one to Goodman.
Casey Pachall (TCU): Jesse Pinkman
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The word that comes to mind, in describing both Pinkman and Pachall, is potential.
Pachall has the potential to be one of the best quarterbacks in college football. In fact, back in 2011, that's exactly what he was, throwing for 2,921 yards and 25 touchdowns as a sophomore.
Jesse, meanwhile, has the charm and subtle intellect to be a highly functioning member of society. But when first introduced to the Breaking Bad audience, he's absconding from a crime scene, pant-less, by jumping out of a window.
The thing holding both men back has been substance abuse. Jesse was a meth-addicted meth cook, which is more or less the dumbest thing anybody could ever be. Pachall, on the other hand, had to leave the team last season and check himself into rehab after a DUI.
Pinkman's cleaned up his act over the years, to the point where he's no longer just a fan favorite: he's the fan favorite. He's gotten his act together in a big way, started living up to his potential, and could be regarded as a genuine hero by the end of this coming season.
According to reports from TCU's camp, Pachall might find the same redemptive success.