It turns out that yes, I can totally make it happen. I may have gotten lucky (I got to make a proposal at the first council meeting and was able to get scholars in residence through) but no one even looked at me funny the entire time. There's just so much space on a pangaea that it seems like if you never expand you don't get anyone's attention. My capital was truly terrible though, and I couldn't even increase my hammer production because I was skipping mining, but I got it it work.
What I needed to do was force a path to new techs. I'd picked up all of the cheap stuff but since the bug only applies on techs with a discount if I could have opened up a 'new to me' tech then I could have started actually spending science when I had 100k or so. Or maybe I just didn't need scholars in residence at all. Or maybe I could have started earlier with a smaller start-up value from my great scientist.
I'm going to give it some more thought about how to transition from infinite tech into a victory and how much set-up I actually need. Maybe I can just use the sailing side of the tree and can afford to at least get mining and masonry to build up my capital. Maybe I can even afford to expand a little bit? And I can probably find a better civ to play... I'm actually think Mayans for the early great prophet (I couldn't see any other way to get a religion in this game unless you can get a huge faith pantheon) and the also free great scientist which might let me get started without waiting for the university workers to generate one for me.
I did learn that I don't need to waste time using scouts to find all the other civs. As long as someone else does it the council will introduce me to everyone else and unlock all my discounts.