All That and a Bag of Mail

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It’s Friday, time for the mailbag. 

Our beaver pelt trader of the week goes out to Jon Ronson, who has written a book, “So You Have Been Publicly Shamed,” that I think all of you who spend time on social media need to read.

There are many incredible stories in the book, but do you know what the craziest stat of all was? In 2014 every time you did a Google search the company made, on average, 38 cents. 

Every single search!

Anyway, I’m just blown away by that fact. Use it at the bar this weekend. 

On to the mailbag. 

Paul S. writes:

“If every head coach in the SEC was forced into an NFL style draft tomorrow for their coaching services, what order would the coaches be selected? Who wins a national championship first? Who has the longest tenure? Who gets fired first? Who lies about a motorcycle accident to cover up the fact he was sleeping with an intern first?”

The only uncertainty here is how many years are you drafting for. Let’s assume it’s four years, one graduating cycle, and that the fit for a school doesn’t matter, you’re just going for the coach who will win the most games.

I’ve already ranked my top 25 coaches in the country, but that wasn’t under the scenario of only going forward, it was partially based on what they’d already accomplished as well. Here we’re going entirely with what they will accomplish in four or more years going forward. It’s like we’re buying stock in SEC coaches. 

If that’s the case here would be my SEC coaching draft:

1. Nick Saban

2. Gus Malzahn

3. Kevin Sumlin 

4. Les Miles

5. Mark Richt

6. Bret Bielema

7. Butch Jones 

8. Hugh Freeze

9. Dan Mullen

10. Gary Pinkel

11. Steve Spurrier

12. Mark Stoops

13. Jim McElwain

14. Derek Mason

Clearly, all of you would agree with every single one of my rankings. 

This is how I would rank the coaches at this exact moment if we were drafting for the next four years. Now, tons can change between now and the end of the season. If, for instance, Tennessee goes 11-2 and wins the SEC this year then Butch would jump quite a bit. The same is true of Freeze and Mullen. 

Gary Pinkel and Steve Spurrier, who I both ranked in my top 21 current coaches in college football, I just don’t see having great four year runs coming. I could totally be wrong, but this is how I’d rank them right now. 

Adam H. writes:

“Everyone always poses ridiculous questions of man vs. “insert animal here that would easily kill a man” but ours has a bit of a twist. My roommates and I have an ongoing debate that goes as follows. Could a man win a fight to the death against a cheetah? Now I know you’re thinking, wtf this is not unusual at all but wait. The details of this battle are this: The man in question is 6″3, 215 lbs and is in excellent physical shape and I mean excellent. The cheetah is your average sized cheetah being 4ft, 115lbs. The twist is that this fight takes place in the octagon and not out in some prairie where the cheetah could run fast as shit with all kinds of landscape advantages. Lastly, I am not by any means arguing that the man wouldn’t leave the battle beaten and scarred but this is a fight to the death we are talking about here. So all of that said, do you think a man could walk away from this with his life or does the cheetah prevail?”

I love that a man fighting a cheetah isn’t a unique enough concept, we have to place it inside the octagon to ensure that they can actually fight. 

Okay, my first thought here is how does the man kill the cheetah? Because the cheetah isn’t tapping out in a submission hold. I think the only way you could kill a cheetah is by either a. crippling it — that is, breaking one or more of its legs and then, with the cheetah relatively immobilized, just beating it to death with punches or kicks or b. choking it to death.

So really the question is this — who immobilizes who first, man or cheetah? A lot of this would be total luck. For instance, what if the cheetah gets your eyes with one of his paws and you can’t see? You’re done for. Or what if he bites you near an artery and you bleed out? Obviously, your number one goal would have to be to neutralize his biting ability in your face and neck area. You’d have to use your arms well and keep him off your body until you got an opportunity to tackle him to the ground. Because once you got the cheetah to the ground, advantage goes to the man.  

Assuming the man could train beforehand and come up with a cheetah beating strategy — seriously, who wouldn’t watch this show and the resulting fight — I’d probably make the man a slight favorite here. But neither side is so favored that you’d be shocked by the outcome. This is like an NFL game between a 10-6 team and an 8-8 team. Anything could happen.  

Related: could you put this on pay-per-view? Is it illegal to have a man fight a cheetah to the death in an octagon? Because you could get a million viewers for this, couldn’t you?

Mark S. writes:

“The USMNT will never be great… and I have learned why. The preeminent excuse that our most talented athletes choose other sports in the US is not the reason.

It is our fault. Yours. Mine. It is the fans’ fault.

I went to the the Gold Cup semifinals in Atlanta with a group of friends. We had pretty good seats in the American Outlaw section. The USMNT’s performance was pathetic, but the fans were worse.

I take issue with what happened after an island nation with a smaller population than the Tampa MSA slayed the mighty USA on its home turf. As the defeated Americans left the field our fans cheered and clapped wildly! Yes, people cheered after watching Sepp Blatter and his cronies wave Jamaican flags on our soil!!

Do you think the Germans cheer when their national team loses? Do you think Brazil finds a loss to Jamaica as an opportunity to praise their team? Even the 85% get this concept. The BamaNation demand wins.

We will never be great because our fans are not passionate about the game. I bet our team received neat participation trophies and had a celebratory pizza party after the game.

Since this is a mailbag where you answer questions, here is the question: Will you “raise awareness” on this issue?  Will you make America great again?” 

Clapping after that game is totally inexcusable. 

That’s like Bama fans clapping after they lost to Louisiana-Monroe in Saban’s first year.

Soccer fans are a unique bunch because you’ve got the hipster soccer fans suddenly commingling with the redneck sports fans and it’s hard to tell which is which. You can’t tell the difference between who is wearing a bald eagle shirt to a soccer game because it’s sublimely ridiculous and who is doing it because they think it’s totally awesome. What has always been interesting to me about American soccer fans vs. world soccer fans is that in just about every other country in the world, it’s the masses who are fans, not the hipster sports elite. American has been the exception so far.  

What’s even wilder is how tough these kind-hearted socialist countries are about their soccer training. Think about the Netherlands for example. The Dutch are like the nicest people in the world. But they create the most brutal soccer academies in the world. They bring in their best players at insanely young ages, they rigorously challenge and train them every day, and if you’re like 10 years old and not performing at a high level they kick you out. In America, a country that’s brutally capitalistic in most walks of life and creatively destroying companies every day, we’re giving our ten year olds juice boxes and having cheer tunnels whether they win or lose soccer games.

It’s totally fascinating to me.  

Anyway, the hipsters are the guys clapping about that performance, the guy in the bald eagle shirt because he loves America is pissed off about losing to Jamaica and wants to kick Bob Bradley in the balls. We need more anger about losing to be really good. You need the 85% of soccer fandom drunkenly calling post-game shows and going on ill-advised rants about how dumb our coaches are.

What’s slowly happening here is that the culture of other American sports is infiltrating soccer. For example, immediately after the loss the guys on Fox debated whether Jurgen Klinsmann’s job might be in jeopardy if we lost in October. That’s a quintessential way that Americans respond to big sports losses, right? By immediately questioning a coach’s job security. So many soccer fans have been worried about growing the sport for so long, that they want to celebrate the game more than they want to win.

We need to be more pissed off about losing.

That’s one definite way to get better.  

Chris writes:

“So my wife and I have a 9 year old daughter and of course at some point soon we are going to have to have the talk about the birds and the bees and some of the other womanly things that go along with growing up. Well my wife and I disagree with how to parent her when it comes to having sex.

I want to preach abstinence and tell her how important that is and my wife thinks that is unrealistic for kids especially these days to go a long time before having sex. I don’t necessarily care if she doesn’t wait till marriage even though that would be nice, but at least wait till you are 21 or so which again my wife thinks is an impossible to do.

So she wants to put her on birth control whenever she gets to that certain age and I don’t because I feel like we can’t put her on birth control and then tell her not to have sex. I just feel like that’s not being very consistent. It would be like giving someone a 6 pack of beer and telling them they better not drink. So it can really only be one or the other, give her pills or try and instill in her how important it is to not have sex until you are ABSOLUTELY ready, which in my eyes is when she’s 30.

So do you think kids not having sex until later on in life is realistic or is that just a pipe dream I have and we better put her on pills because teenagers these days are hornier then ever.”

Every now and then I get asked for something really radical that you’re in favor of that most people haven’t really thought about much and my answer is this — universal birth control, fully funded by taxes and made available to any family or individual girl for as long as they want it. The most reliable form of birth control is IUD — pregnancy is almost impossible with an IUD.

If you study poverty statistics — I’m far from an expert, but I pay attention to the data — one of the top causes of American poverty for women and children is single parenthood at a young age. If I could snap my fingers and make one thing happen it would be this: Imagine how much better things would be in our country if no unwed person had a kid before the age of 25. Rates of poverty would crumble, you’d have people who would otherwise becomes teen mothers able to advance their educations and get decent jobs without the struggle of trying to raise a child in the process. I think it’s the single best thing we could do in America to lift up people from poverty and give them a shot at a better life.

Now, it’s controversial because birth control sits at the intersection of religion and personal responsibility and abortion and all these other issues that are fraught with peril in our modern society. But as a radical moderate I just see it as a no brainer. I don’t see how any reasonably intelligent person wouldn’t be in favor of limiting teenage pregnancies. If you’re a fiscal conservative, think of it this way — it’s a small cost on the front end to help defray the likely cost of public support on the back end. And if you’re a social conservative this makes abortion infinitely less likely. If you’re socially liberal, this is the number one program we could implement — again it’s voluntary — to help break the cycle of poverty.  

Anyway, if you don’t have kids it’s impossible to really imagine how much work they are. I have no idea how a single parent can take care of multiple kids. I honestly don’t. We have three kids seven and under and if I have to take care of them all day by myself I’m borderline insane by evening.

So I’d be on the side of your wife here. I think you give your daughter all the information you possibly can, scare her to death by telling her that every boy in her high school has herpes, and then eliminate the possibility of her ever getting pregnant at a young age with birth control. You say you’re in favor of abstinence — which I would imagine just about every father of teenage girls is — but how much more difficult of a decision would you and your family have, based on your religious beliefs, if your 16 year old daughter got pregnant?  

I understand your beer analogy, but to me this is more akin to tossing your daughter a helmet before she goes biking or ensuring that she’s wearing a seatbelt while driving. We all make bad decisions in life, especially when we’re teenagers, why not do whatever you can to try and limit the consequences of emotional decision making?

Mikey writes:

“You mentioned in your State of OKTC column that Facebook drives 6 to 7 times the traffic that Twitter does. My initial thought was “Well, since Clay rakes in the page hits from the 85%ers and those of the like, of course Facebook funnels most of the traffic.” That concept falls in line with the idea that all the kids that may or may not have graduated high school and never left their hometown use Facebook and the more worldly crowd uses everyone’s favorite 140 character app – the theory thrown around by the pro-Twitter army that ditched Facebook years ago.

What’s your take on the Facebook vs. Twitter crowd? Politically, socially, even economically? Does it all balance out? (I know there are a bunch of morons on Twitter, too.) And is there more money (i.e. clicks) in targeting the dopes out there who flip out over a silly list and share it with all their dope friends? I think your variation between aiming at the 85%ers and writing solid, thoughtful pieces is balanced, and it seems to feed the family, which is the most important part. But in a world of mainstream media clearly dumbing down everything to the lowest common denominator, could the market for the more intellectual crowd ever dry up completely? And if so, what are the implications of THAT?”

Let’s begin with this — think about the person of the most average intelligence in this country.

Then consider that half the people are dumber than him or her.


Plus, the more intelligent your audience is, the more competition there is for that audience’s attention. There is way more content of all types — smart and dumb — than can ever be consumed by the audience. The number of people who actually read any article — as opposed to watch video online — shrinks every month. Readers are a minority. Readers with the ability to comprehend an entire article are a substantial minority. That’s why so much of you what you see — on Twitter especially — is writers without many readers competing with other writers without many readers while ripping the writers with actual readers. All for tiny audiences. Keep in mind that in my experience 99.9% of all sports articles published on the Internet, even on popular sites, will have less than 5k actual readers.

There is just way more content than there are readers for that content.  

So what I try to do — and what I did with radio too — is have two conversations going at once so you can appeal to as large of an audience as possible. Smart people can read the ten dumbest fan bases piece and experience it one way while dumb people read it and experience it a different way. But they’re both reading (or listening). Once you click publish or turn on a microphone you can’t control how people respond to what you say or write or why they like or hate it. It’s the same reason I don’t worry about whether people love or hate me or love or hate the site. That’s not really about what we do at all, it’s about what those people bring to the site before they even start reading or listening.   

That’s because all of social media these days is a form of performance art. What you like or share says something about you. The entire foundation of social media right now is people trying to do things to make people like them more. We self select the pictures that make us look the best, we post the vacation destination or restaurant we visit that is the coolest, we like or don’t like a TV show or a politician or a movie or an actor or a writer because liking or not liking that person says something about us too. It’s all a big artificial portrait contest.

What’s more, much of it is fake, primarily superficial and motivated a by a child like comprehension of the universe. That’s why social media is filled with people publicly embracing sides that don’t have another side advocating against it, the vapid bumper stickers of digital life: Racism is bad! Cancer sucks! Support the troops! America, fuck yea!

It’s why I always say that I’m opposed to death. I hate death more than all of you. 

So as big as Facebook is, it just reflects the country. I think Twitter does as well. Honestly, I don’t think there’s much difference between the two sites now. And if you’re a writer it’s crazy how many more people read and click thru on Facebook than they do on Twitter. There was a time when Twitter was much smarter than Facebook. I think that time has pretty much passed. They’re both roughly reflective of the country at large and Facebook is destroying Twitter when it comes to sending people to read articles online.

I’m not sure why, but people are much more likely to share and click on articles via Facebook. It’s a huge problem for Twitter. All the writers are on Twitter, but not many are reading what they put out there. That’s why my advice to young writers is to spend more time on Facebook. That’s where the audience is.    

Written by Clay Travis

Clay Travis is the founder of the fastest growing national multimedia platform, OutKick, that produces and distributes engaging content across sports and pop culture to millions of fans across the country. OutKick was created by Travis in 2011 and sold to the Fox Corporation in 2021.

One of the most electrifying and outspoken personalities in the industry, Travis hosts OutKick The Show where he provides his unfiltered opinion on the most compelling headlines throughout sports, culture, and politics. He also makes regular appearances on FOX News Media as a contributor providing analysis on a variety of subjects ranging from sports news to the cultural landscape. Throughout the college football season, Travis is on Big Noon Kickoff for Fox Sports breaking down the game and the latest storylines.

Additionally, Travis serves as a co-host of The Clay Travis and Buck Sexton Show, a three-hour conservative radio talk program syndicated across Premiere Networks radio stations nationwide.

Previously, he launched OutKick The Coverage on Fox Sports Radio that included interviews and listener interactions and was on Fox Sports Bet for four years. Additionally, Travis started an iHeartRadio Original Podcast called Wins & Losses that featured in-depth conversations with the biggest names in sports.

Travis is a graduate of George Washington University as well as Vanderbilt Law School. Based in Nashville, he is the author of Dixieland Delight, On Rocky Top, and Republicans Buy Sneakers Too.