All That and a Bag of Mail

FIFA President Sepp Blatter arrives for the opening ceremony of the 65th FIFA Congress in Zurich on May 28, 2015. FIFA president Sepp Blatter said on May 28 that the scandal-tainted football body faces “more bad news” and that officials accused of corruption had brought shame and humiliation on the organisation. But the 79-year-old Swiss official told the opening of FIFA’s annual congress he could not be blamed for the latest controversy to hit the body saying he could not “monitor” every official. AFP PHOTO / FABRICE COFFRINI (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images) FABRICE COFFRINI

It’s Friday, so you guys can stop pretending to work and read the mailbag now.

First, I’d like to apologize for not having a “Game of Thrones” review up this week. The number of you who have Tweeted or emailed me about the missing GOT review is honestly pretty gratifying. I haven’t been able to watch the show this week because we’re in Rosemary Beach in a house without HBO and our Comcast Xfinity passwords aren’t working. So I promise you on Monday that I’ll have reviews of both last week’s episode and this coming week’s episode. But I do feel bad about missing a regularly scheduled column because I know many of you guys get used to having them to read. Plus, y’all have been telling me there’s a great nude scene and you know how much I love those. 

Second, for those of you in Nashville — or other parts of the country who streamed the show — I’m going to be on 3HL today at six eastern, five central for the first time since I left the show at the end of August last year. It will be fun to be able to talk to you guys again.   

Our beaver pelt trader of the week is retiring SEC commissioner Mike Slive. If you’re an SEC fan or a college sports fan interested in the evolution of athletics and you haven’t read much about Mike Slive, I’d encourage you to read my 2010 profile of Slive as well as Wednesday’s column about his legacy.   

Okay, on to the mailbag. 

Andrew writes:

“Clay,

You recently tweeted that the SEC payouts per school would rise $10MM per school this year in your estimation to around $30MM. What do you think a good estimate for what they will be for the 2017-2018 school year is? With new contracts kicking in and the SEC network in full swing, could they get to $50MM?”

Last week in the mailbag I forecast an over/under of $27.2 million, but this week it was pointed out to me that I needed to factor in an increase in bowl payouts as a result of the new playoff. So yesterday on Twitter I bumped up the conference payout to an over/under of $30 million. (The actual number will be public early this afternoon. So by the time some of you are reading this you’ll know.)

I’ve already forecast the revenue from the SEC Network. Last year I gave a pretty good accounting of the numbers and most of this has held up. By year three and four I see revenue over $15 million per school, approaching $20 million a school in the years ahead. (Today’s announcement, by the way, will be the first time that those not reading Outkick realize how lucrative the SEC Network actually is. It’s now the fifth most lucrative sports network in the country. Only ESPN, the NFL Network, FS1, and ESPN2 are producing more revenue than the SEC Network. )

According to Kristi Dosh’s excellent Outkick break down of revenue from the new playoff, the SEC will receive $31 million more from the playoff than they received from the BCS — a near doubling. Breaking that down per school that would mean that each school will be getting just north of $2 million more from the playoff this year than they got from the BCS last year.

Last year the SEC distributed $20.9 million. Add in $2.2 million for the playoff, a stair step up in the rights fee extension from ESPN — I’m guessing around $1.5 million more there — and right at seven million for the first 9-10 months of the SEC Network revenue per school and my numbers would be at $31.4 million per school.

(Literally as I’m about to click publish on the mailbag Brett McMurphy just reported that the official number is $31.07 million. So I was pretty close on the math here).

Fifty million won’t happen anytime soon, but forty million will for sure. A doubling of the conference payout over the next 5-7 years will certainly happen.  

Evan writes:

“I know you love stories about Bama fans and the 85% but this is about two kids who were seniors in college at Bama.

Fall 2013 Alabama vs Ole Miss. I had just move to Tuscaloosa for a job and was living in a house near campus. Being an Auburn fan and never been to a SEC game day in Tuscaloosa and was really looking forward to it. I went to the quad to tailgate during the day while my roommates had people over and preceded to drink a good bit. After the game and a quick visit to the bars I returned home to find a people just drinking on our front porch. I couldn’t have been there 15 minutes when two guys start yelling at each other in the front yard. A minute later they start throwing punches, which they were both drunk so the fight was nothing more that sloppy punches and rolling around on the ground. The fight got broken up and we separated the two and told one to leave. So he grabs his scripted “A” Styrofoam cooler and started to leave before more yelling ensued. The two get at it again and eventually they roll over the cooler destroying it and set the natty light cans and jack daniels bottle loose. This fight finally breaks up and one kid leaves as he totes his alcohol in his hands.

We then started discussing the fight and what started it since none of us knew what happened. He finally admits to what started it and this is 100% true. The two idiots were arguing about which Alabama defense was better, 2009 or 2011. Rowl Tyde!!!!”

Absolutely perfect. 

Jack writes:

“Wondering if you can help me out with an argument a group of friends and I have been having over the past, say…6 years. Yes, it’s been that long with very little changing of opinion regardless of the number of valid arguments that have been presented.

Question: Would you rather be homeless or in prison?

Some facts of note:

We are talking like a real prison. Maximum security, not some white collar joint.

Homeless, you are homeless wherever you currently live, but may travel by any means possible to you, a homeless person.

Prison has no chance of parole or escape or getting out

Homeless– Assume that it’s not like you can just go back and get a job like you have now. You’re essentially homeless as your new occupation (you are homeless for as long as you are in prison).

You have the obvious Pros and Cons to weigh for each:

Prison pros: Three hots and a cot, food, library, showers

Prison cons: Gang Rape, Being someone’s bitch, Fights, showers

Homeless Pros: Freedom, No Gang Rapes, Shelters, 

Homeless Cons: Reliable access to food / water, Sleeping locations, weather

So, what is the choice? Homeless or in prison?” 

I don’t see this as a difficult choice at all — you go homeless. 

You hitch hike your way to Southern California — where the weather is basically perfect — and sleep outside there. It rarely gets too hot or too cold to be awful. There are free meals distributed here. You can read all day in a local library. (If I were homeless I would spend all day every day in the library. I’d read everything.)

I mean, it wouldn’t be a great life, but being homeless in Southern California — without mental illness or alcohol dependency issues — is probably better than living in much of the rest of the world. You wouldn’t starve or freeze to death, you could actually live okay.  

Maximum security prison is the absolute worst. 

Chris writes:

“Clay,

I’m sure you read about the FIFA scandal that came to light this week with indictments and arrests of FIFA officials.

I know soccer isn’t your forte, but give us your infinite wisdom and legal breakdown of the indictments and charges. I know you will have some insight even the 85% will understand.

We all know FIFA is the most corrupt governing body in the world. How would Americans react if this was the NFL? Or NBA? Do you find it interesting that the US (a nation where soccer is nowhere near the number 1 sport) brought these charges and investigated FIFA? What do you think FIFA’s response will be?”

Here is my reasoned legal opinion: when the United States attorney general, the director of the FBI, and the head of the IRS are all present for a press conference discussing charges being brought against any person or corporation that person or corporation is fucked. 

Totally and completely fucked. 

If I were advising any high level FIFI official right now, my legal research would basically be a printed out list of countries without extradition treaties with the United States. Because I think all of these arrested individuals will roll over and give up the big fish in an effort to save themselves now. So if I were Sepp Blatter I’d be terrified that eventually I’m going to be charged with a crime.

As for why the United States brought charges, I think the simplest answer is because FIFA would buy off most other countries. The U.S. justice system is one of the few entities in the world that can go head-to-head with FIFA and not get bought off.

As for what FIFA could do, I’d advise them to do exactly what they’re doing –claim they support the investigation and are cooperating. What else can they do?

There’s truly no way for the NFL, NBA, or MLB to ever be corrupt on this level. It’s just impossible.

Here’s an interesting question for you, if the United States gets the 2022 World Cup instead of Qatar, do these charges ever get brought? 

Erin writes:

“As a frequent flyer yourself, I seek “youre” wisdom. I’m a window seat gal myself. I avoid airplane bathrooms at all costs, so for the most part, I’m not bothering nor being bothered by my fellow rowmates. However, sitting in the window seat = Window Shade Master. I’m of the mindset that for any flight occurring between the hours of 6 AM – 10 AM, the shade should remain down.

So it’s Monday morning, I’ve already been awake for 2 hours, and I’ve impatiently stood behind people who still don’t know to take their shoes off for security. No way do I want the experience a sunrise with my corneas 30,000 feet closer to the sun. Nor do I want to take a blurry Instagram of the clouds. It’s like people have never seen a sunrise (that occurs on a daily, recurring basis) or the clouds before!! Ugh, people!! As the Window Shade Master on these early flights, I will raise the shade upon the plane’s descent, which I think is a fairly reasonable and polite act to anyone in a 3 aisle radius trying to sleep. This week, the woman next to me in the middle seat asked if I could raise the shade when we took off and leave it raised so she could look outside!! So it was 7 AM, the sun was shining in my eyes, & this woman proceeded to encroach and lean into me so she could peer outside for the entire 3 hour flight.

So my question, at what point during an early morning flight is it acceptable to raise the window shade? Do the middle & aisle seats have any say in requesting the shade to be opened prior to this said acceptable time? And can we please release a PSA banning all flying Instagram pictures of clouds?”

I agree with you that you are window seat master if you’re sitting in the window seat. You should have control over everything window seat related. Just like, by the way, the person in the middle should have both arm rests. The middle seat is the absolute worst, you should at least get both arm rests.

There are only two exceptions I’d make to the general rule of window shade master:

1. If there’s a kid in the middle seat next to you. You have to open the window shade if the kid wants it open. It might be his/her first flight and I feel like you’re destined for karmic disaster if you won’t let a kid look outside. 

2. I also think you’re obligated to open the window seat on landing. There’s a decent argument that it should also be open during take off as well — you shut it once you’re in the air — just because it’s nice to prepare yourself for when you’re actually lifting off or landing. Especially, landing. 

These would be my only exceptions to the rule. 

I do think a ton about travel because I spend a lot of time traveling. 

Here’s my biggest complaint about travel right now: who the hell are these people still putting liquids through the x-ray machine? It has been nearly FOURTEEN YEARS SINCE 9/11. Fourteen years! If you put liquids through an x-ray machine, I honestly think you should be executed. Like, right there in the terminal they should have a guillotine and cut your head off. After a couple of heads got chopped off no one would ever put a liquid through the x-ray machine again. 

Also, is there a worse job in America than the guy or girl who has to remind people how to go through security? You have to say all day long for people to remove their laptops and their shoes. And that liquids are forbidden. Seriously, pay attention to this job. Someone says this all day, every day. That’s an actual job. Worse, they will say it multiple times while you’re in line. Does anyone else in recorded history say the same thing this many times over and over again? 

Further, while I appreciate the fact that the TSA pre-check exists now and that we have a no-fly list for people we suspect of being terrorists, I think we need to go a step further. There should be a, “You’re too fucking stupid to fly list.”

It would make airports so much better. 

Jason writes:

“My girlfriend has a roommate who loves to talk. 2 minute stories take her 20 minutes; “So we were walking by that cafe, you know? whats it called? We had brunch there last saturday, no actually it was last sunday. For sure Sunday. I remember they were out of cream for my earl grey tea and I got the crepe with the crazy cheese on top. Who puts cheese on top of crepes?” <--That's literally how she tells EVERY story. And EVERY time I zone out and pray for a labotomy.

She’s super friendly and bakes all kinds of delicious goods for me and my girlfriend to eat….but I’ve reached my breaking point. I find myself avoiding my girlfriend’s apartment because I can’t take another story about how the vet messed up her dog’s diarrhea medication which traverses into another story about which laundry detergents are best for cashmere. She’s driving me slowly insane and my girlfriend is starting to catch on and is asking me “what’s the matter?” when I am avoiding them. However, I’m afraid to tell my girlfriend because they’re really good friends….also don’t want to ruin whatever chance there might be for a drunken threesome. (There’s gotta be a way)

What’s your sage advice, gayest of muslims? How would you approach this situation?”

I subscribe to a simple theory: BPTB

Bullet point that bitch. 

Regular radio listeners know I was being driven slowly insane by bad callers who never got to the point of their calls. My attention span is short. So is yours. If you’re not entertaining me, I’m gone. So I would have regular PSAs where I explained to callers that they had an obligation not to suck. My suggestion: Bullet point that bitch. BPTB for short.

Figure out your thesis and start there.

I use this in all aspects of my life. 

If my wife is telling me a story and she gets distracted on the back story — I cut her off and tell her to get to the actual story she’s trying to tell me. Or if there are tons of details coming at me, I just want it simplified. “No, no, what do I actually need to know here?” I still mess it up, but in theory I should know exactly what to do when everything gets BPTB’d.

The only other option you have is to ignore her stories. The next time she starts a boring story, just disappear into your mind and think about what you would have to do — “Groundhog Day” style — today to make a threesome happen.

Will writes:

“With everyone’s constant fascination with the next bubble in the finance world, I’m curious as to your thoughts about a massive bubble in the sports television world that may bust if a la carte ever becomes an option. I’m going to use Major League Baseball for this example. The prevailing thought is that these massive, long-term player contracts that continue to rise (now even done by small market teams) are becoming common place because of expected revenue from television, especially regional deals in the baseball world. As you touched on in your piece about ESPN suing Verizon, the majority of this money comes from people that don’t ever watch baseball but rather are paying for these networks (Fox Sports Ohio for the Reds in my area) as part of their bundled cable plans. Many comment on how monthly fees for sports channels will skyrocket in an a la carte world but who’s to say all characterized “sports fans” would actually continue to pay for it. I know I wouldn’t pay $30+ a month for ESPN and I consider myself a sports fan and have enough money to comfortably pay that, it’s just not worth that much in my eyes and I would think there has to be a reasonable amount of sports fans with a similar opinion. So say a la carte happens, skip forward past the disaster of networks not being able to fulfill their absurdly high rights agreements and don’t we see a market correction in MLB revenue and therefore in MLB salaries? For example, Giancarlo Stanton signed a 12-year, $325 million contract but my argument is that is not his actual market value, his market value may be closer (just hypothetical numbers here) to $100 million over 12 years when it is not being subsidized by non-sports fans (who see little-to-zero monetary value in his baseball abilities) in the form of the cable bundle. Similar to most market corrections, I believe this would be in the best interest of the consumer market (fans in this case, obviously would hurt the players) because not only would people be able to choose what they are paying for in an a la carte plan but it would also still be at a reasonable price that, in my opinion, the market demands.”

This is a great question and I’m planning to write on this soon.

I wrote about it somewhat, as you said above, in my piece about ESPN suing Verizon. 

No one ever believes a bubble exists until it suddenly explodes. Then everyone’s like, “How did we not see this bubble coming?”

If you’re looking for the singular event that would change sports in this country the most, I think it’s a la carte cable suddenly becoming common. Everything in the sports business model — from TV to player salaries to new stadiums — is predicated on the cable sports bundle. 

Sports rights are worth what they are worth because the bundle exists in cable television and many people are paying for cable sports channels that they never watch. That’s it. it’s the very foundation of most sports business models.

Will the bundle blow up?

I don’t know.

But if it does, sports will blow up with it. 

Written by Clay Travis

OutKick founder, host and author. He's presently banned from appearing on both CNN and ESPN because he’s too honest for both.