All That and a Bag of Mail

Jul 15, 2014; Hoover, AL, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks head coach Steve Spurrier talks to the media during the SEC Football Media Days at the Wynfrey Hotel. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports Marvin Gentry

It’s Friday, time for the mailbag. 

I am still recovering from the dastardly bad beat that we all just suffered in the Western Kentucky – North Texas game. We got hit with a hail mary to end the first half, but were still in great shape left, up 55-14 with six minutes to play. 

When, you guessed it, disaster happened. 

North Texas fumbles going into the end zone and Western recovers, which should have ended the game. But WKU has 12 players on the field. On third down, touchdown. 

Then Western gets stopped by a yard, punts, and the North Texas coach is calling plays like its the final drive of Super Bowl 50. He calls two timeouts with under 50 seconds to play, and on third down a prayer gets answered for a touchdown with thirty seconds to play. (That was after the clock, inexplicably, didn’t run on a play where Western jumped offsides. 

Seriously, I need therapy after this game. 

Anyway, our anti-beaver pelt trader of the week is the North Texas coach.

At least Auburn covered.

On to the mailbag.  

“Brian T. writes:

Clay,

Given all your sports media insider savvy, can you give me one good reason why ESPN Gameday shouldn’t back up the proverbial dump truck full of cash to grab Steve Spurrier as the successor to Lee Corso? He seems like a natural fit and one of their only options to preserve the historical format of the show.”

Here are the two most important ingredients to College Gameday’s success:

1. The on campus crowds

2. Lee Corso’s madcap antics

It’s Corso’s zaniness that is the lifeblood of the show and he’s still really hard to replace even at 80 years old. I’ve written about potential replacements before. My top pick was Charles Barkley, but Steve Spurrier was my number two pick. So if Spurrier was willing to step into the Corso role, he’d be outstanding at it. 

Spurrier would be different — for instance, I don’t think he would put on a mascot head like Corso — but he’s got the perfect down home speech patterns and mannerisms. He’d be great for social media clips and viral moments which, to be honest, is becoming more important than the actual show itself. That is, television shows are increasingly just fodder for online viral videos. Remember that it used to be the reverse, the Internet existed to provide content for TV. Now it has flipped. Sometimes I think the late night shows don’t even want to do entire shows any longer, they just want their clips to go viral.    

But here’s the larger issue, does it even matter who is on this show? I really think everyone is replaceable. For instance, Chris Fowler was great in the host role forever. He left this year and I guarantee you that many viewers haven’t even realized that he and Rece Davis are different people. That’s no knock on either of those guys, it’s just reflective of how similar they are and the fact that the show is a juggernaut that’s bigger than any individual voice. 

Put it this way, if you took our FS1 Friday night show — that is, trot out Matt Leinart, Bruce Feldman, Stu Mandel, George Wrighster, Lindsey Thiry, Petros and me — and put us with the same campus backdrop and the same time slot on ESPN, I don’t think ratings would change at all. 

Corso is the most important part of Gameday and even he’s replaceable. It’s the perfect franchise for ESPN because it will make gobs of money regardless of who they put out there. 

Alex writes:

“Last weekend I’m watching the Wisconsin/Nebraska game and noticed a coaching philosophy that just irritates me. Nebraska has the ball up by 21-20 with approximately 1:30 left in the 4th quarter and Wisconsin has three timeouts. Nebraska needs ONE first down and the game is over. Instead, they call three running plays with the intent to make Wisconsin burn all their time outs. And these were just no upside running plays, the kind where you hand it to the back and have him run directly into the line to keep the clock moving. So Nebraska punts to Wisconsin with about 1:15 left and yadda yadda yadda they drive down and kick the game winning field goal and win 23-21. While I can see the benefit of burning the timeouts, WHY?!?! WHY?!?! WHY O WHY gayest of muslims do coaches do this?!?!?! When is the thinking going to be, “Let’s get a first down and win the game!” instead of curling up in the fetal position and hoping the defense stops the team with no timeouts? If they fail at converting they are punting anyways, but allow the team to stop the clock one or two extra times. Can’t they just put the pressure on the offense to get 10 yards in three plays instead of all the pressure on the defense?

Please give me your insight on this issue that’s making me crazy.”

This has replaced punting the ball from the opponent’s forty yard line or so into the end zone as my most infuriating coaching decision. 

We just saw it again in the Auburn at Kentucky game last night. Auburn is literally a foot away from a first down that ends the game. Teams spend all game trying to win the game and then on the final drive they turn into total wusses and try not to win the game. 

Forcing someone to use up their timeouts is fine, but it shouldn’t eliminate your opportunity to win the game. 

I mean, if you have a play on this series that you feel like can definitely get you a first down, why not try it? Isn’t the risk of leaving the other team with an extra timeout a small price to pay for your opportunity to end the game? Especially given how defenses play the run so aggressively, why not throw the ball?

I’ve long believed that coaches would rather lose by making the decision that every coach would make than lose by doing something that’s risky. 

Even a guy like Gus Malzahn, who is batshit crazy at times, turns into a 1940’s plodder at the end of games. 

So, anyway, Auburn punts on fourth and a foot — the odds of them getting this first down and ending the game are what, like 75% there? — giving Kentucky the ball back with over two minutes. Now the Wildcats exhausted their timeouts, but so what? They lost because they got stopped on down and distance. 

That happens the vast majority of the time. Your defense still has to get a stop, it almost never happens that a game ends because an opposing team runs out of time. 

So why not go for the win more often on the final drive?

I’d love to see the analytics on the number of times that a team up by a touchdown or less, runs the ball three times, forces the timeouts to be called, and then punts in late game situations.

Great question.  

Lots of you on email and Twitter:

“What are your thoughts on DraftKings and Fan Duel and daily fantasy in general?”

First, full disclosure, I personally endorse DraftKings and enjoy playing their games.

I also believe that daily fantasy is a game of skill and that the most skilled players win more often than those that are less skilled.  

Ultimately, I think this is a tempest in a teapot. Daily fantasy is clearly legal. Congress specifically created their business in 2006. Having employees play at rival sites isn’t illegal. It isn’t insider trading because you don’t have any information that is guaranteed to be valuable. You don’t know what players will do in games before the games start. All you know is the percentage of players that are being started in your company’s own games, which may or may not correspond to a competitor’s games. That is, these guys were trading on info that may or may not be the same information elsewhere. The same line ups don’t win on Draft Kings and Fan Duel every week, right?

Moreover, if these guys actually thought they were doing something wrong, why were they playing under their own names? How easy would it have been to have friends who weren’t employed by daily fantasy games playing for you instead?

So I think there will be some greater regulation and clarity about what employees are allowed to do, but the business is here to stay.

I also don’t see how what these daily fantasy employees are doing is any different than sports book employees using information from their sports books to bet at other sports books in town.  

While daily fantasy is clearly legal, on a broader scale I’m in favor of legalizing and taxing most illegal things that consenting adults want to do: drugs, prostitution, gambling, it’s insane to me that we spend tax dollars trying to keep adults from spending their money as they see fit. 

Prohibition doesn’t work. Worst of all, we spend money trying to keep the underground from existing which means we’re throwing good money after bad money.

You want to know what I think will seem crazy fifty years from now? We employe police officers, pretending to be prostitutes, to try and entrap guys paying for sex. Think about that for a minute, our tax dollars go to pay people to be fake sex workers. They are selling something that the johns could never buy.   

But what do I know, I’m just a gay racist, sexist, feminist, liberal, conservative Muslim. 

Lots of you on Twitter:

“What’s up with the Deadspin-Jason Whitlock feud?”

Whitlock called out Deadspin for its obsession with him and for its inaccurate reporting. Specifically, Whitlock said one of their writers lied in a story and blamed his editors for writing racist allegations. And Whitlock published emails to prove his accusations. I’d encourage y’all to read the above link.

It’s damning stuff.  

Deadspin’s gotten lazy because most people in media don’t return fire at their incessant sniping. So the site thinks no one will call them on their bullshit. 

Whitlock did. 

Most of the sports media said nothing about Whitlock’s napalming of the site because they’re afraid of Deadspin, which has become the leader of the liberal pearl grabbers on the Internet. Where once the site existed to entertain, now it exists to be perpetually offended. 

Deadspin’s boring and tiresome and old and I’m sure that soon they will trot out their same old Clay Travis is racist/sexist/KKK member attacks. 

It’s predictably boring. 

If Hulk Hogan wins his lawsuit against Gawker, I hope the Hulkster makes the site less racist. 

Kara writes:

“Knoxville-born, Vandy grad, never written in to something like this, but your explanation of your love for the Vols while still loving Vandy basically sums up my existence, and your column about Spurrier perfectly encompassed my feelings about him.

My grandmother is probably the sweetest person alive. Does not curse, does not drink, always ready with a smile, and will serve you food until you can’t force anything else down. But, like all TN fans, she HATES Spurrier. With a fiery passion.

We always went to FL for vacation, every year. One year, my grandmother noticed that there were red lights on the merge ramp of the interstate (we do not have these things in Knoxville) and, no joke, she let out a “psssh” noise and said (read in very Southern grandma voice) “Well, you know that Spurrier, he always has to have everything nicer than everybody else has.” We were in St. Pete Beach. She was not joking. She literally believed that Steve Spurrier orchestrated the addition of red lights on merge ramps throughout the entire state of FL.

He will be missed.”

So perfect. 

We need to start Southern grandma stories in the mailbags.

Here’s one about my own Southern grandma. My grandfather, who played for General Neyland before he left the University of Tennessee without graduating, occasionally worked nights when my mom and uncle were little.

My grandmother stayed home with the kids in her Chattanooga-area home. One night she was convinced that someone was trying to break into her house. Home alone with the kids, she was terrified. (My grandmother was the kind of person who propped chairs underneath hotel room doors her entire life. She also bought some siren doorstop that went off if the door was opened. I remember one night, I was probably five or six, she told a story about a friend’s house burning down and the kids all having to be rescued. I was terrified. My mom was like, “Mom, the house is not going to burn down tonight. Tell him.” And my grandmother said, “Well, it might.”)

Anyway, my grandmother was just over five feet tall, wore high heels and dresses every time I ever saw her — seriously, I don’t know that she ever even owned a pair of jeans — and had a deep Southern accent. She was really opinionated, full of stories, and after graduating from college after the age of forty drove to Georgia to teach elementary school because they paid better than Tennessee did. 

That night she was terrified that her house was about to be robbed. 

So she got a handgun, cracked open the front door with the latch still attached, and fired four times into the pitch black night. Then she shut the door and went back to bed.

Can you imagine that today? Just taking a gun and firing off into the distance of a Chattanooga night and going right back to bed?

I’m sure you have your own crazy ass Southern grandma stories too. 

Feel free to share them. 

Anonymous Gator fan writes:

If you haven’t read Will Grier’s father’s article about his son, it’s outstanding!

As a father it’s worth it.. As a former 18 year old boy who fucked up as well it’s even better…

NOW.. After going down that rabbit hole and looking him up on Facebook.. I linked over to his Mother’s Facebook page.

Even a gay muslim will like to look at her!

Please let me know that you get this. I’m still in awe

PS her instagram is even better.. Oh god this is such good stuff, I wish he would still be playing just to see more of her!”

I’m sure none of you will click on that Instagram link. 

After all, hot moms aren’t popular on the Internet at all. 

As for Grier, I really wonder whether this suspension would hold up if he had Tom Brady’s legal team challenging this suspension. Most college kids have to take the suspensions they receive because they can’t afford high powered legal representation — although it can be donated — but this year long suspension is fascinating to me because we know so few of the details surrounding it. 

Given how many pro athletes have beaten tests based on the potential for error involved, don’t you think the NCAA’s policies are probably pretty ripe for being attacked?

Moreover, did anyone consider trying to get an injunction to allow Grier to play while his suspension is being appealed? That seems perfectly reasonable to me. If he got the right judge — i.e. a Gator grad — he could potentially finish out this year and then battle the suspension in the offseason. 

I’d love to hear whether they considered this route. 

Jeff T. writes:

“A few years ago, Russell Wilson was playing college football and being paid to play minor league baseball at the same time. If an athlete is paid for one sport, they are still considered an amateur for other sports. Is it possible that a booster who also has a lot of pull with a major league baseball team could arrange for a team to draft a player that chooses to go play football at the booster’s school?

For example, a booster could draft a 5 star football recruit to “encourage” him to play football at Vandy. With the length of the MLB draft, it is common for teams to draft athletes with very little baseball experience with low expectations of them signing. The player wouldn’t have to do much more than work out with the baseball team and football would take priority. As with all illegal recruiting, nothing could be done if the athlete took the money and went to another school. What do you think about this concept? Do you think this would work?”

Given how many rounds the major league baseball draft is, I don’t know how you could keep an owner who also happened to be a huge fan of (insert school here) from drafting a player and then signing him to a larger than normal bonus in order to ensure that he went to your favorite school for football.

I suppose if this kept happening you could make a case that this was a violation of NCAA rules, but how do you know that a guy drafted in the 46th round of the baseball draft isn’t a viable player? Especially if the player in question is competing in high school baseball. Late in the draft everyone is taking fliers on athletic guys. 

It’s incredibly easy to pull this off if the player is actually decent. For instance, why couldn’t Jameis Winston have been drafted, paid by a booster to sign a baseball contract, and then gone to play football at Florida State? Sure, he wouldn’t have been able to play NCAA baseball, but he’d potentially have been in line for hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal baseball payments to play football.

Honestly, it’s a loophole I’d try to exploit if I was filthy rich and owned a baseball team.  

Jeremy writes:

“So, there we were at BurgerFi’s new Brentwood location, sitting across from owner Albert Haynesworth. My former-punk/emo-turned-white-collar coworker (Tim) is oblivious that he’s in the presence of greatness. Now, Tim is in shape. He eats well and works out, but he’s hardly athletic. Later on, Tim explains that he thought Albert seemed too big or fat to be athletic. I’m shocked at his naivete and hubris. Anyway, Tim claims that he could beat Albert in the 40 while wearing skinny jeans.

Can you please publicly call Tim out on his stupidity?”

Albert Haynesworth would dust 98% of the men in the forty, regardless of age, reading this mailbag right now.

He could dust most of us while carrying a cheeseburger and a large fry and Coke.   

I feel like I need to say this often, the fattest guys in the NFL are infinitely better athletes than you are. They would dust you in all races of relatively short distance.

Hope y’all have great weekends.

I’ll be trying to recover from that Western Kentucky kick in the betting teeth. 

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.