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ERIC JOHNSON GOES TO CULVER'S: THE REAL STORY

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Iowa's recruiting coordinator abruptly left the program to open a fast food franchise. But there's more to the story...

Two weeks ago, at the home of five-star defensive end Jashon Cornell...

Johnson_icon_medium /knocks on door
Cornell_icon_medium Come on in!
Johnson_icon_medium Hey, Jashon...
Johnson_icon_medium Jashon?
Cornell_icon_medium I'm doing some laundry. Just have a seat in the kitchen and I'll be right up!
Johnson_icon_medium OK!
Johnson_icon_medium /sits down at kitchen table
Johnson_icon_medium I brought the recruiting maerials you asked for!
Chris_hansen_medium What kind of materials are those?
Johnson_icon_medium Aw hey, are you Jashon's dad?
Johnson_icon_medium I'm Eric Johnson, University of Iowa.
Chris_hansen_medium Yeah, we'll get to who I am in a minute.
Chris_hansen_medium Fow now, let's focus on you.
Chris_hansen_medium What are you doing here?
Johnson_icon_medium I'm here to recruit Jashon to play for us.
Chris_hansen_medium Really? And what makes you think it's OK to come to his house with a bag of football stuff to 'recruit' Jashon?
Johnson_icon_medium We talked on Twitter. He invited me here.
Chris_hansen_medium Oh, I have the transcript from your Twitter account.
Chris_hansen_medium There's a lot of talk of joining the 'Hawkeye family' on here, sir.

Chris_hansen_medium This is some creepy, creepy stuff, sir.
Chris_hansen_medium I'm not even going to get into the direct messages.
Chris_hansen_medium Suffice it to say, you've done a lot to build this relationship with Jashon.
Johnson_icon_medium Well, that's what I do!
Chris_hansen_medium So what did you intend to do here?
Johnson_icon_medium If I was lucky, I was hoping to convince Jashon to come to Iowa with me. Join the Hawkeye family.
Chris_hansen_medium Come to Iowa with you and join your 'family'? And what would be do when he got there?
Johnson_icon_medium Oh, he'd play immediately down there.
Chris_hansen_medium I'm fairly certain that's a Mann Act violation, sir.
Chris_hansen_medium Well, I'm Chris Hansen from Dateline, and we've been recording this conversation.
Chris_hansen_medium You can leave whenever you want, but I'm warning you: You'll be arrested when you exit the building.
Johnson_icon_medium Arrested for what?
Chris_hansen_medium For your 'recruiting' of high schoolers.
Johnson_icon_medium Well, you know I don't just recruit, right?
Johnson_icon_medium I'm a recruiting coordinator.
Johnson_icon_medium I direct eight other coaches toward the homes and schools of teenagers for the purpose of getting them to come to Iowa.
Chris_hansen_medium Where do these coaches go?
Johnson_icon_medium Just about everywhere. Illinois, Wisconsin, Missouri, Texas, Ohio, Michigan, the mid-Atlantic.
Johnson_icon_medium We don't really go into the South or the West Coast, but otherwise we'll go anywhere for a promising player.
Chris_hansen_medium So you're telling me you can give me the names and locations of eight other people doing this same thing?
Johnson_icon_medium Yeah, no problem.
Chris_hansen_medium Holy shit, it's The Blacklist.
Johnson_icon_medium The what?
Chris_hansen_medium This is ratings gold.
Chris_hansen_medium Turn off the cameras.
Chris_hansen_medium We need to get you immunity and protection.
Chris_hansen_medium They'll be certain to come after you if they know what you've done.
Johnson_icon_medium What I've done? What are you talking about?
Chris_hansen_medium You're going to give me those recruiters' names and locations, one each week, in the form of an elaborate riddle.
Chris_hansen_medium And when you're done, we'll stash you somewhere where no one will ever find you.
Chris_hansen_medium You said these guys don't go to the South.
Johnson_icon_medium Yeah, we gave that up years ago.
Chris_hansen_medium We can put you there, and we'll get you a fake identity with a common name that's difficult to Google.
Chris_hansen_medium Something like 'Eric Johnson' would be perfect.
Johnson_icon_medium That's my name.
Chris_hansen_medium Good, you're already getting how it works.
Chris_hansen_medium Keep playing along like that.
Chris_hansen_medium Now we just need to find a plausible front that nobody will question.
Johnson_icon_medium /takes out a package of cheese curds
Chris_hansen_medium Wait, what's that?
Johnson_icon_medium Culver's. I was starving, and I couldn't find a Hardee's.
Chris_hansen_medium A Wisconsin fast food franchise in a region where cheese, cream and butter are health foods...
Chris_hansen_medium My God, it's perfect.

Six months later...

Johnson_culvers_medium

Johnson_icon_medium Here's your Butterburger, sir!
Johnson_icon_medium Hope it tastes like freedom!
Johnson_icon_medium ...because it's responsible for mine.