Tim Ruberton almost good enough to be on JEOPARDY!

Regina Siefert

Some Lawrentians may not be aware that the ever-popular game show JEOPARDY! has a college edition. Many more will be surprised and excited to learn that one of our fellow students, the one and only Tim Ruberton, qualified to be on this prestigious program.
It was not meant to be, however, for while he may have qualified to be on the show, the taping deadline for the series came and went without Ruberton hearing anything from the JEOPARDY! camp. But regardless of not being on the show, qualifying was indeed a feat.
“I tend to retain large amounts of utterly useless knowledge that is only of value for things like quiz shows,” Ruberton said when asked what made him decide to try out. “The fact that the college champion gets a hundred grand and a spot in the tournament of champions – which is worth $250,000 to the winner – certainly sweetens the pot.”
As stated before, qualifying was something to be proud of in itself. Aside from the pure luck of being one of the names pulled out of a hat, Ruberton had to struggle through long waits, a few corny contestant coordinators, a written test of 50 of the show’s hardest clues, and quite a bit of nail biting. Out of the 80-90 people that came to try out, Ruberton was one of nine at his audition site in Memphis to make it. “They don’t tell you your score, the passing score, or anything else,” said Ruberton. “They don’t want people to start judging themselves against stated standards and, consequently, filing lawsuits. People don’t take defeat well in this country.”
Once prospective contestants make it through the qualification process, the show’s organizers decide whether they’ll appear on the show. If they want them, the agents will let them know in a FedEx delivery explaining the good news. “If not,” Ruberton said, “you get icy silence.”
The entire college tournament was taped between October 1st and 2nd, “two dinky days,” as Ruberton put it. After the second week of not hearing back, all hope of making it onto the show began to fade. “The silent treatment is cruel to the starry-eyed optimist,” he said, “but actually rather humane to people who have a decent idea of their chances.”
When asked how he felt about not making it onto the show, he admits that he didn’t think about it that much, and was satisfied with knowing he did all he could do to be on the show. Since he did qualify for the college series, he is pretty confident that he has a good chance of making it onto the regular JEOPARDY! Program someday. “Which, as Ken Jennings showed … can be a much more lucrative prospect,” the game show hopeful points out. But Ruberton notes that “it would have been nice to have the most ass-kickingest party in school history around the end of term II.