All That and a Bag of Mail

BIRCH RUN, MI – AUGUST 11: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a press conference before delivering the keynote address at the Genesee and Saginaw Republican Party Lincoln Day Event August 11, 2015 in Birch Run, Michigan. This is Trump’s first campaign event since his Republican debate last week. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

Bill Pugliano Getty Images

It’s Friday, time for the mailbag. 

Our beaver pelt trader of the week is Marcus Mariota. I don’t remember the last time I was this in love with an athlete. This is what happens when you root for an NFL team with an awful past five years at the position: the best quarterback in franchise history, Steve McNair, was murdered by his mistress, the next great superstar quarterback, Vince Young, was out of the league before thirty and was so dumb he went bankrupt off T.G.I. Friday’s and Cheesecake Factory meals, and your latest top ten draft pick at quarterback, Jake Locker, retired at the age of 26.

I mean, can you think of a worse trio of results, both on and off the field, for the last three franchise quarterbacks?

We were due for the salvation that only Hawaiian Jesus can bring, aloha, bitches, Marcus Mariota is here.

By the way, we have “Aloha, bitches!,” tshirts for sale, which you can have to wear in time for next week’s game. Go buy them here. All proceeds will go to my fund to put more strippers through college.

After all, I’m a giver.

On to the mailbag.   

Joey S. writes:

“My question to you is this…in the middle of my debate drinking game, I thought it would be great to get your breakdown of which SEC coach is which Republican Candidate to date. There are 15 candidates, and 14 coaches. We should kick out Pataki because he is last and irrelevant. Working from the other 14 candidates, which coach is which candidate and why?

Here are my ideas

Trump = Spurrier – you never know what shit is going to come out of his mouth but you can’t wait to hear it, and you will like it even if it takes you a few minutes to realize he is talking about you

Paul = Saban – he is always pissed that he has to answer questions from the media and is convinced he’s the smartest man in every room

Carson = Mason – not race related, just think they both fittingly come from Stanford level schools and quietly suck

Christie = Miles – kind of like a bull in a china shop, right?

Jeb = McElwain – both from FL, both should belong but you can’t quite say they will work out just yet

Walker = Bielema – both from WI, have decided to take their WI experience outside of the state and they seem to keep getting in their own way.

Huckabee = Richt – has experience, belongs on the stage, but at anytime could quit to become a pastor, a more successful pastor than they were in their previous field.

Rubio = Stoops – new guy to the field, doing damn well with limited resources, just needs a few lucky bounces their way and they will become a household name

Cruz = Pinkel – just can’t stand the guy and don’t think he belongs, but somehow he still has the numbers to say “I’m still here and a factor”

Kasich = Sumlin – big name in a key state and use that to their advantage. Ohio is to politics what Texas is to high school football, but neither has fully cashed in on the treasure they are sitting on

Jindal = Mullen – both from Katrina effected states, both names have been teased for bigger jobs, but there is a reason they have stayed put

Graham = Freeze – only because when Graham talks you feel like you are frozen in a horrible hell of pain and suffering only to be out done by literally Biblical hell.

Santorum = Malzahn – just go away…

Fiorina = Butch – always on talking points, don’t go away from them at anytime…no candid moments.”

This is a really good list. So good that I don’t even see the point of making my own list. 

Poor old Lindsey Graham, by the way. He was the only person whose name is on this list and I couldn’t immediately place him. I was like, “Graham, Graham.” I even thought for a minute, has Florida senator Bob Graham switched parties? 

I’d make some changes though.

Rick Santorum is Gus Malzahn because they both wear awkward sweater vests and because at any moment you’d definitely expect the conversation to go from incredibly normal to strangely awkward and religious. You ever have one of these conversations with someone where everything is normal and then they drop in an incredibly weird religious line? For instance, you’re talking about point spreads in SEC games and then the guy you’re talking with is like, “It’s a shame all the liberals are trying to teach our kids evolution in schools when evolution is made up and doesn’t really exist.”

Record. Scratch.  

I feel like everyone in the South has had this moment. And you’re sitting there thinking, wait a minute, do I have to debate evolution now? I just want to talk about whether or not Alabama’s going to cover this weekend. Hell, I don’t even want to go to any social event during the fall that’s outside my house. I’m a fall hermit. I travel every week for three or four days so when I’m in Nashville I just want to be home doing nothing. Anyway, whenever this happens, you just kind of nod and then try to flee that conversation as quickly as you can. 

That’s the way I think Gus Malzahn would be. He’d be talking about his radically forward thinking offensive system — because I really believe he can’t talk about anything else in public — and then he’d say, “You know, I always wondered what it must have been like to be a cave man and look outside and see a big old dinosaur trying to eat you.”

And then Hugh Freeze would be like, “I wondered about the same thing, Gus!”

Anyone else find it absurd that the two most forward thinking offensive geniuses in the SEC probably don’t believe in evolution?

I actually like Gary Pinkel and in Pinkel’s defense he doesn’t look like the funeral director who shakes your hand after your grandfather dies and says he’s sorry, but you can tell he’s not sorry at all. Which is totally Ted Cruz. Someone needs to pull Ted Cruz aside and say, “Dude, you will never be President. Ever. You need to find something else to chase. The presidency isn’t happening.” Right now Ted Cruz is like the junior on your high school basketball team who never plays, but still thinks he’s going to make the NBA. 

So I’d switch Saban for Ted Cruz, although Saban as Rand Paul is also great because both men are really smart, total assholes, and seem to have a process in place to win whether you like them or not. Pinkel’s more like Kasich, I think. Pretty affable guy as long as you keep the jumbo glasses of wine out of his reach.  

And while I love your Walker as Bielema analogy, Chris Christie is definitely Bret Bielema in all other respects. Fat, outspoken, Bielema’s probably obsessed with 9/11 too.

I love Carly Fiorina as Butch Jones. In every public appearance in his entire coaching career, Butch Jones is the only coach to only use coaching cliches for every answer. It’s really incredible discipline. It used to terrify me because I was afraid that Butch Jones didn’t even realize he was speaking in cliches and thought he was being original. You know people like that, right? Hear a cliche once, don’t realize how popular it is, and use it like it’s an original thought of theirs? These people are always really dumb, so dumb they don’t realize the cliche exists. The kind of dumb where on fourth and six inches you kick a field goal and…I’m sorry, I don’t want to rehash this. 

Before we leave the Republican debates, we have to watch the most awkward white man five I’ve seen in years. I absolutely love this.  

Paul C. writes:

“Aloha, Gay Muslim

We all know how perfectly glorious Marcus Mariota’s debut was. On top of that, the other AFC south teams looked like shit. So I’ll keep this simple: Do the Titans contend for the South this year if Mariota keeps playing like he did?”

100% yes. 

Not only do the Titans contend, they win the division if Mariota keeps playing like this. I mean, really it would be a two team division, right? The Cols with Andrew Luck against the Titans with Marcus Mariota.  

The NFL sells a total myth right now. And that myth is this — the parity between teams is so close that any team could win the Super Bowl. False. There are around 12 teams that have good enough quarterbacks to win the Super Bowl in any given year. If your team doesn’t have a top 12 quarterback, your team has no chance to win a Super Bowl. That’s just a fact. 

Other positions and talent only matter if you have a quarterback good enough to win a Super Bowl. 

J.J. Watt is the best defensive player in football. How many games are the Texans going to win this year? Six or seven? Eight at most. If you traded J.J. Watt straight up for Aaron Rodgers right now, the Texas would win at least four more games this year. And the Packers would lose at least four more. That’s trading the best, and most dominant defensive player straight up for the best quarterback in the NFL.  

In fact, you give me Aaron Rodgers on any team in the NFL and I guarantee you three playoff appearances and at least two playoff wins over the next five years. Guaranteed. Because Aaron Rodgers is just that good and his position matters that much more than any other position.

That’s why Mariota is such a godsend. Based on his first start and his college career, I’m convinced he’s going to be a top ten quarterback in this league for the next 15 years. (Thank God, I never overreact to anything).

By the way, how do you think Tampa Bay Bucs GM Jason Licht felt on Sunday evening? The guy watches thousands of hours of tape of both Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota and makes the decision to take Winston first overall. Then in the first game he and Mariota play against each other, Mariota has the best rookie performance for a quarterback since 1933 and Winston looks horrible. This is this dude’s entire job, to analyze quarterback play. And he totally whiffed.

He passed on Michael Jordan and drafted Sam Bowie instead.

He might as well go ahead and resign.   

Reagan writes:

“Hey Clay,

I hope your Friday is going better than mine. No, I’m not having a bad day, but I’m just confused by something and it is really grinding my gears…like a second cup of coffee in your belly type of grinding.

What is the deal with wearing your Under Armor/Nike/Adidas (lol) coach’s polo to work every Friday. Is it me or does that just scream “Don’t promote me.” It seems to happen mostly with lower tier fan bases like Clemson, Tennessee, Bama and of course UGA guys who still think they are frat stars.

Secondly, how old is too old to stop wearing a jersey? I personally think once you hit puberty you shouldn’t wear another man’s jersey, but I see it all the time. It just screams, “I didn’t play High School Football.”

Thanks and just to let you know I don’t have a beef with you, just your people on this day.

Go America.”

First, no grown ass man should ever wear a football jersey. You look fucking absurd. You might as well be wearing a potato sack over your shoulders. Why do NFL jerseys have to be made to fit shoulder pads? No fan wears shoulder pads. Why can’t they just fit like normal shirts like soccer jerseys? Or, to be honest, like women’s football jerseys, which actually look sexy. As is, you have a potato sack on that drags down to your mid-waist and looks like a damn skirt. If you tuck in a jersey you look like you have a FUPA. They’re just impossible to wear without looking like a total loser.   

Once you graduate from college, you can’t wear a jersey. Period. You just look stupid. On the rare occasion when I’m able to be out at a bar drinking with a buddy, I love to point out guys in jerseys and be like, “Hey, look, Ray Lewis is at Sam’s Sports Bar.” This never gets old. 

And don’t even get me started on grown men wearing college jerseys of 19 year old players. “Dude, you are thirty years older than that 19 year old freshman. Have some self respect.” Wearing a jersey to a football game just screams, “I would totally let (player’s name on jersey) screw my wife doggystyle if he give me a high five on every thrust.”

Now, as for the coaches polo, I’m sympathetic here because the coaches polo is the go to shirt of non-jersey guy. The coaches polo says, “I graduated from college, but I can’t be trusted to pick out my own clothes to wear to a game so I’m going to dress the exact same as the coach.” It’s a conservative wardrobe play, like punting from your opponent’s 41 yard line on 4th and 3.

The biggest problem with the coaches polo is it’s a fucking dri-fit shirt and dri-fit technology is the worst invention in the history of men’s clothing. All dri-fit shirts do is stink like ass. I mean, seriously, wear one of these things for over twenty minutes and you smell like John Daly when he wakes up in the morning. A cotton shirt is infinitely better than dri-fit. The fact that dri fit shirts exist — and remain popular — proves how dumb men are. I have thrown away every dri-fit shirt. We’ve all been sold a fake bill of goods here. Just go with cotton polos. 

Of course, there’s one immutable fashion fact — True ballers wear Outkick pants in SEC team colors and a white cotton polo, but, hey, not everyone can have sex with three different women at the same tailgate.  

Daniel H. writes:

“A little early for Friday mailbag, but “your” gay.

After Arkansas’ embarrassment against Toldeo last weekend, the local sports radio stations have been pure gold. One of the excuses being thrown out there is that the game was in Little Rock and not in Fayetteville. Just for reference, Little Rock is about a 2.5-3 hour drive from Fayetteville.

While I don’t think it was WHY the Razorbacks lost, I think it brings up an interesting discussion. Should any team, especially a SEC team, be playing an annual designated “home” game away from home? I’m not talking a neutral site game like Arkansas and A&M in Jerry World or FL-GA in Jacksonville. I mean where a school plays a different opponent at a secondary location each year and is considered the home team (last year Arkansas got stomped by Georgia in LR). Does this even happen anywhere else?

I was born and raised in Little Rock and loved having games there as a kid. Now that I’m older, I think it’s insane. Arguments for it range from the tailgating is better in Little Rock to the players from central Ark. enjoy it to the money in LR carried the university before Northwest Arkansas exploded so it’s “owed” to people in LR.

But, the stadium is garbage. It was “renovated” a few years ago, but is still horrible. Its main use now is high school football. There is obviously the issue of travel for players and staff. I don’t know what the revenue agreement is but there is no way they’re making as much money in Little Rock as they are in Fayetteville. The stadium in LR holds about 17k less!

Am I blowing this out of proportion? Or am I justified in thinking this is insane for Arkansas to continue to do? The contract is up after 2018. Arkansas fans want to believe we’re not bottom dwellers in the conference, but this kind of crap shows that we are. Total Vandy move.”

I understand why you might play a game in a different city if you’re trying to compete with another fan base — for instance, Tennessee occasionally playing a game in Nashville, which has an abundant sea of competing fan interests — but what other team are people in Little Rock rooting for if Arkansas doesn’t play there?

Is Arkansas in danger of losing Little Rock to other teams?

Of course not. 

Regarding Toledo, I think that was just a freakish outcome. I think Arkansas steamrolls Texas Tech tomorrow. 

In a larger context, I’ve been arguing for more neutral site games. For instance, I think if the SEC went to 9 conference games that every team should play one neutral game a year, that way the four home and four away set-up is preserved. You’ve already got games between Florida and Georgia in Jacksonville and Arkansas and Texas A&M in Dallas, why not add five more and spread the footprint to new cities that otherwise don’t have SEC football games?

Some neutral site stadium ideas: 

Tennessee and South Carolina could play in Charlotte each year, Vandy and Kentucky in Nashville, LSU and Ole Miss in New Orleans at the Superdome, Mississippi State and Alabama in Memphis. That leaves Missouri and Auburn — who never play — but you guys could come up with your own ideas for games. 

Jake R. writes:

“Is accusing a writer of being a click baiter the dumbest insult possible on the Internet today? Can we add this to the list of ridiculous insults to say to someone in a media position? As an avid reader of college football message boards (I know, I know), I always find this argument to carry such little weight. Always several posters saying “of course he wrote that, he just wants the hits.” Well, no shit, is that not the name of the game of being a writer? I assume you don’t write an article for no one to read it. Anyways, just my two cents to throw into the insult pot a long with:

your gay
Click Baiter”

There are lots of dumb insults on the sports Internet today, but accusing someone of being a click baiter is the dumbest insult possible. Because, as you pointed out, what you’re saying is, “That writer is trying to get as many people as possible to read his or her article.” Which is, you know, THE ENTIRE POINT OF WRITING ONLINE.

The better and more entertaining your tease, the more readers you get. That’s why I pay so much attention to analytics. I know what people want to read as good or better than they actually do. I can pretty much predict my yield rate on every Tweet I send out. For instance, sixteen percent of you will click on the Outkick mailbag tease this week. I already know this before I even click publish. 

The downside of bad click baiting — which is where you can criticize — is that many of those readers may not stay long once they arrive on the site, which is why the content you deliver needs to be well baited and entertaining, smart, original and funny. The mailbag gets a lot of readers, but it really gets a ton of engaged readers. That is, you guys stay and spend time on the article when you come to read it. I think future online advertising dollars will be pegged towards time spent more so than simply page views.   

Accusing an Internet writer of being a click baiter is like accusing McDonald’s of trying to sell too many hamburgers. “Oh, there they go again, advertising their hamburgers so someone will go buy a hamburger.” The criticism of Outkick among the hipster sports bloggers has moved from, “That site will never work,” to, “It has too many readers.” Too many readers! People actually criticize us for this now. We’re too good at our business.

The click bait insult truly makes zero sense if you apply it to any other business. “Oh, look, Star Wars is advertising their new movie again. There they go, trying to get as many people as possible to go watch their stupid movie by showing us the best scenes from that movie.” Even if you put it in a sports context, it’s still dumb: “There goes CBS, advertising the SEC game of the week again during the Broncos-Chiefs game, what are they trying to do, get more people to watch their stupid football game by showing us Auburn and LSU highlights? What losers!”

Outkick is in the readership business. As such, we advertise — entirely free by the way, we’ve never paid for an ad — our product on social media in the best way to get readers. Every writer who doesn’t do this will eventually be unemployed. If you won’t sell your work, who will? And if you’re consistently writing things that no one reads, why should someone pay you for that? Your job is to get readers to read what you write. If you refuse to do that, it doesn’t mean you’re noble, it just means you’re bad at your job. 

I suspect much of the antipathy here — which is also shared by some writers — is that many writers won’t acknowledge that they are in the sales business. You have to sell and promote your work today. Lots of writers are, by nature, socially awkward creatures and don’t feel comfortable shilling their work in public. Newspapers made writers lazy because your work was bundled as part of the newspaper. If someone got the newspaper, they got your article. (By the way, no one ever knew if the article was being read then either. They just knew it was available to read. This made editors lazy too, they came to rely entirely on their own judgment of what people wanted to read as opposed to what people actually read).

But getting your work delivered at someone’s doorstep isn’t enough on the Internet. Everyone is competing with everyone else for readers and the vast majority of the readers have to choose to read your article. That is, they have to click. So if you aren’t baiting your clicks, you’re essentially going fishing without bait.

Good luck catching fish that way.

As always, thanks for reading Outkick and good luck with your bets this weekend.  

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.