All That and a Bag of Mail

It’s Friday, rejoice!

Here in Nashville they shut down schools because of the flu and we also got snow. So we’re in the midst of a #flusnow combo that makes the coronavirus in China seem like a hangnail.

Pray for the city. (And me because as I’m writing my nine and 12 year old sons are playing Madden against each other and screaming downstairs right outside my office. I keep having to yell down the stairs that I’m going to turn off the Madden if they don’t stop screaming. Yep, I’ve become my dad.)

Speaking of which, my nine year said this as we were driving to basketball practice earlier this week.

Nine year old: “Dad, do you want some of these?”

Me: “These what?”

Nine year old: “Deez nuts!”

I’ve never been prouder.

Here we go with the mailbag:

Tripp Tweeted:

“Which potential democratic nominee has the best shot at beating Donald Trump?”

I think it was Joe Biden, but he’s going to lose Iowa and New Hampshire, it appears, pretty badly. Meaning he’ll potentially be out of the race by early March. Biden’s early falters are why I think you’ve seen Trump’s re-election odds improve substantially in the past week. (The absolute mess in Iowa has helped him too because it makes the Democrats look thoroughly incompetent).

I think Bernie will get waxed if he’s the nominee. (And I suspect most Democrats know this.) There’s just no way a socialist is getting elected president amid the best economy of most of our lifetimes. I suspect there will be a ton of moderate voters, such as me, who would never vote for Bernie that would vote for Trump in a landslide if those were the two options. That’s especially the case in the battleground Midwest states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Aside from the fact that I don’t think she will get the nomination, I think Elizabeth Warren is Hillary without the appeal. I just don’t see her having much of a chance of beating Trump in the Midwest at all. Amy Klobuchar has better Midwest appeal, but I think she’s, at best, a vice presidential nominee who guarantees Minnesota wouldn’t flip for whomever the presidential nominee is.

Pete Buttigieg is currently polling at zero percent for black voters in many surveys. Sure, that would improve if he were the nominee, but his homosexuality is a major, major issue for him with black voters, especially black men. There’s no way black voters turn out in big numbers to vote for him in places like Philadelphia and Detroit, where Democrats will need to drive up their margin in a big way to win the election. And that’s even with his running mate being, I would almost guarantee you, a black woman. So I see no way he wins the election over Trump.

Andrew Yang, Tulsi Gabbard, Deval Patrick, Tom Steyer and everyone else still running has no shot at the nomination so it’s not really worth debating them against Trump.

That leaves Michael Bloomberg as the best Democratic nominee, I believe, to beat Trump. Now I don’t think Bloomberg will get the nomination, but he’s got more money than anyone else to spend. (He could spend, legitimately, a billion dollars, and he’s creeping up in the polls every week.) With Joe Biden faltering I can see an opening for Bloomberg to snag the nomination with an impressive performance on Super Tuesday.

That’s made even more likely with the Iowa caucus effectively being a wash — what a disaster that was for Democrats — and Bernie likely to win in New Hampshire.

That would leave Nevada as a toss up state and Joe Biden still strong in South Carolina.

Essentially that would mean the first four states didn’t really produce any strong front runner and then the nomination battle would turn into a very costly war of attrition from that point forward.

Honestly, I think the Democrats best option is to go to the convention with no one having snagged the nomination and then drafting Michelle Obama as their nominee. I’m not sure she’d run, but I think she could mobilize the Obama coalition and would probably have the strongest claim to beating Trump in 2020.

But I really do believe you have to make Donald Trump a pretty prohibitive favorite right now to win re-election in 2020. The betting markets certainly feel he is as well. Right now he’s up to a 60% favorite — and he’s higher other places — in the offshore betting markets.

Biden’s struggles have really aided Trump because I think he’s the strongest nominee the Democrats could have picked. Now I think the second strongest is Bloomberg. I’m not sure Bloomberg could beat Trump — you’d have a former New York Democrat running as a Republican in Trump and you’d have a former New York Republican running as a Democrat in Bloomberg — but I think he’d be the best option the Democrats have.

I just don’t see it as very likely at all that Mayor Pete, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, or Bernie Sanders beat Trump.

Morgan writes:

“Is it the right move if cowboys franchise tag Dak Prescott?”

I think if you’re franchising Dak it’s a clear sign of two things: 1. you don’t believe in him long term and 2. he’s asking for too much money.

But the bigger issue here is the Cowboys have set the precedent that they will eventually pay a guy who sits out. Look what they did with Ezekiel Elliott. And Zeke sat out even though he was still under his rookie contract. To Dak’s credit he played all four years of his rookie deal even though he only made a total of $2.7 million over the past four years to play quarterback for the Cowboys.

So if you franchise Dak I think you have to prepare for the fact that he might sit out to protest the franchise tag. That means he’d miss learning a new system with Mike McCarthy. I know Kellen Moore is staying on as offensive coordinator, but it’s still important for Dak to get as many reps in this new offense as he can.

I don’t blame Dak for wanting a big money deal — especially when he sees guys like Russell Wilson, Carson Wentz and Jared Goff getting big money — but I also don’t blame the Cowboys for not wanting to give him a big money deal. That’s because Dak, to me, is a Jimmy G. equivalent. A guy who is good enough to be a top 10-15 quarterback in the league, but he’s not a difference maker who can win you a title like I think Patrick Mahomes, among the young quarterbacks, is.

What’s more once you pay Dak big money you are forestalling your ability to sign some of your other top talent. Indeed, one of the biggest assets the Cowboys have had these past four years is they’ve had Dak under a rookie deal, meaning they could spend big money on talent around him without having to worry about the salary cap.

That’s why I’d seriously consider letting Dak walk and sign Tom Brady for the next two years if I were Jerry Jones.

Dave writes:

“What are your thoughts on the Jaguars playing two games in London for the 2020 season? I feel like this is a novelty gone too far.  No top European soccer club would ever play a regular season game in the United States. One game I can understand, but two? Seems excessive and I can’t imagine it’s popular with players and especially unpopular with fans who now only get six true home games.” 

This feels like when the Rams moved from St. Louis to Los Angeles. Every sign out there suggested the Rams were planning that move, but the team kept telling all of us that they had every intention of staying in St. Louis. Then, boom, they were gone to LA.

It seems clear the Jags want to move to London, but they keep claiming their plan is to stay in Jacksonville. Much like with the Rams in St. Louis, I’m not buying it.

And I get why that sucks for Jags fans in the Jacksonville area because how can you invest in your team when it feels like they already have one foot out the door?

By playing two games back-to-back in London it’s not just that you’re taking away 25% of the Jags home games, it’s that you’re requiring fans to pay for two preseason games as well. You’re taking away two of the eight reasons why people in Jacksonville invest in their team all season long.

Now there’s the possibility that two games in London will be the plan for several years ahead because in the new CBA the league appears likely to move to 17 games. Rather than rotate between having nine and eight home games every year, one of the Jags games in a 17 game schedule could be a yearly neutral site game in London and then the Jags would only have to take away one home game to play two games every year in London.

So that might be the plan and they might be getting a jump on it right now.

But here’s the deal, has anyone ever explained why it makes sense for the Jags to play in London every year if it’s their intent to remain in Jacksonville forever? Does anyone really think there’s a huge group of English sports fans watching Jags games back in Jacksonville? Of course not. If you’re an English NFL fan you’re not going to root for the 32nd most interesting team in the league because they happen to play a couple of games in London, you’re going to root for the teams that actually play games that matter and have players you care about. The reason the Jags are playing in London is simple: this is about priming the London marketplace for the eventual day when the Jags will be based there.

Right now the Jags are in an open NFL marriage. And London is the younger, hotter, more desirable side chick. At some point the marriage with the Jags will end and the team will move to London.

Otherwise these games in London don’t make any sense at all.

I mean, if you told me, as a Titans season ticket holder, that the Titans were going to play one game every year in Mexico City, I’d be furious. Much less two games. And there’s no way you’d be able to sell me on the idea that somehow that benefits the team because they’d be developing a huge fan base in Mexico.

And I think the same thing is true of every other fan base in the NFL.

It’s just fundamentally dishonest to make this argument to Jags fans.

I’m not sure when the team will move.

It might still be 10-20 years away from happening. But I would wager big money that eventually the Jags will be based in London. Because Shahid Khan, who already owns the EPL team Fulham, stands to make billions of dollars more if this team is based in London.

H. writes:

“Do you ever see Patrick Mahomes becoming the villain of the NFL, similar to the respectful hate Tom Brady and the Patriots get since they have been so good for so long? Obviously, a few major things would have to happen, namely have a dynasty and winning/going to multiple Super Bowls in the next 5+ years. I just find it to be a fascinating question because now we see Mahomes as the young gun slinging kid. I honestly think he may be one of the most loved athletes in the world currently. But is there any level of winning that could make people get annoyed with him and Andy Reid to the point they effectively “hate them?”

Just about any team that wins long enough provokes a great deal of hate.

I think it’s because fans get tired of the same teams and players dominating year after year.

I would, however, agree with you that Mahomes and Reid are very likable right now, which sets the bar for disliking them pretty high. One big issue that could emerge and make this hate more likely is having a major rival. Right now Mahomes doesn’t have a major rival.

But much of the Brady hate began, honestly, because of the Peyton Manning rivalry. Pretty much everyone who was an NFL fan was either a Brady or a Manning guy. People picked sides in that rivalry. Which meant you might root against Brady even if you didn’t dislike him because you preferred for Manning to win.

Will there be a Manning to Mahomes’s Brady? That remains to be seen. Right now there isn’t a rival for him, which makes it harder to dislike him.

But the thing is the more time the media spends scrutinizing a player or a team the more opportunity there is for the player or the team to do things that are distasteful to the general public. For instance, people loved the Golden State Warriors with Steph and Klay, but as soon as they added Kevin Durant many bailed on the Warriors.

That’s why the only team I can remember in my lifetime that has won at a high level and not provoked a great deal of hate is the Chicago Bulls dynasty with Michael Jordan. And I’m honestly not sure that would have remained the case if, for instance, instead of Jordan dominating in the 1990’s he had dominated in the 2010’s.

There are many more haters now in our world than there were in the 1990’s.

Jordan was the most uniquely beloved athlete of my lifetime. I genuinely believe the vast majority of the American sporting public was rooting for Jordan in 1998 to win his sixth title. There’s no way the vast majority of the American sporting public was rooting for Brady to win his sixth title last year.

In terms of other dominant, dynastic athletes of my life, the only other athletes I can think of that have had long running stretches of dominance and kept most people rooting for them are Roger Federer, Michael Phelps, and Serena Williams. And all of these were, significantly, individual sport athletes. (Tiger Woods would be on this list if he hadn’t had his off the course personal life collapse. And, interestingly, Mike Tyson was also really beloved even with his arrest and imprisonment. But he just never achieved the same level of dominance as he had in his youth. You can also argue Lance Armstrong was on this list before we all found out he was cheating in cycling.)

The point is, it’s rare for a dominant athlete to retain a beloved status among American sports fans.

If Mahomes manages to do it, he’ll be a sporting unicorn, the most popular dominant quarterback, potentially, in the history of the game.

Khalid writes:

But where exactly does this money go? Players still don’t get paid and boosters pay the majority of coaches salaries. I have not heard of any chatter of these schools lowering tuition rates.
I know we are in a capitalist country and we should all strive to make as much money possibly, but these are public universities not tech companies. I don’t get how the disparity in TV money affects anyone. I don’t see high school students turning down Stanford to attend Rutgers simply because it’s school is earning more TV money.”
Well, the schools do end up paying a large percentage of the overall coaching salaries. It’s why many SEC coaches make far more than NFL coaches. So the biggest impact of the difference in revenue is that SEC schools are able to outbid pretty much everyone in the marketplace for top coaches, which leads to their teams being better coached than teams in other leagues.
1. Georgia
2. Alabama
3. Clemson
4. LSU
5. Ohio State
6. Texas A&M
7. Auburn
8. Florida
9. Texas
10. Tennessee
Now look at this list, Tennessee finished seventh in the SEC, but the Vols would have been first in the Pac 12, second in the Big 12 (barely behind Texas), second in the ACC, and second in the Big Ten.
Why are all these top players going to SEC schools? Partly it’s geography — the best high school football players are in the South — but also it’s in the facilities and player amenities.
Right now the way colleges compensate great athletes is via what I’ll call a penumbra of compensation. (This leaves out the fact that many players are being paid to go to schools as well, but that isn’t directly connected to school revenues). What’s that penumbra made up of? It’s weight rooms, dorm rooms, practice facilities, locker rooms, the players are incredibly spoiled by the largess that surrounds them. Effectively they live in golden palaces, gilded cages of gridiron excess.
If you go visit schools on recruiting trips, what are you going to use to make your decision about where to go? The coach and the facilities. If the SEC has the highest paid coaches and the best facilities, why would you go elsewhere? The SEC has had the most players drafted for 12 straight years. Why is that? Because they consistently have the best players. Why do they have the best players? Because top recruits follow the money and prestige of a program, which is often a function of how much money is spent on a coach and the facilities.
Now there are top schools in the other conferences — Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, Oklahoma, Texas, USC, and Oregon — that might have all these same attributes, but the difference in the SEC and elsewhere is that Mississippi State, which is the “poorest” of the SEC schools, has incredible facilities, just like these top programs in other conferences do.
If anything, the SEC and the Big Ten are creating a bigger gap between themselves and the rest of college football. The advantage the SEC has that the Big Ten doesn’t is that it’s creating this advantage and all the top players are in its region. So the Big Ten has to persuade these Southern kids to come north. The SEC just has to get them to stay at home.
So the money directly impacts the quality of the team.
Michael writes:
“Could this be the best NCAA tournament for men’s college basketball we’ve seen in awhile?”
If by “best” you mean “most wide open” then I think the answer is yes.
Right now there is no team better than 10-1 odds to win the title, which is the worst collection of favorites I can recall seeing as we enter the month of February in twenty years or more.
Right now here are your top 11 most likely teams to win the NCAA tournament according to FoxBet: Kansas, Baylor and Gonzaga are all 10-1. Then Louisville and Duke are 12-1. After that are Oregon and Dayton at 20-1. Then come Kentucky and Michigan State at 22-1 followed by West Virginia and San Diego State at 25-1.
I mean, good luck trying to figure out who is going to win this year.
Even oddsmakers don’t know which is why the payout is pretty great for all of these teams.
And, hell, it could easily be one of the teams from outside of these top 11 as well.
I’d give anything for the team Tennessee had last year to be in this year’s NCAA tournament because I think they’d be by far the best team in the country.
Yes, the tournament is really wide open, but that also means there aren’t any really good teams either. From a ratings perspective people claim they want upsets and underdogs, but what actually draws eyeballs are big brand teams playing in the biggest games.
We say we went a Final Four of no-names, but the ratings reflect that isn’t true at all.
Thanks for reading Outkick. As always you can send me your emailed questions — put anonymous mailbag in the title of the email if you want to be anonymous — at
Hope y’all have great weekends.

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.