All That and a Bag of Mail

It’s Friday and my kids have begun to return to school. (My fourth grader did, anyway. My kindergartener and my seventh grader go back next week. I hope your kids have begun to return to school as well. Because it’s way past time to end the madness of keeping all kids at home even though they are under far less danger from the coronavirus than they are from the seasonal flu.

Right off the top up here, I want to thank all of you for your support of the Outkick VIP. We have been overflowing with VIP sign ups, so much in fact that we had to order thousands of more copies of my book straight from the publisher for me to autograph and send to you guys for signing up for the VIP. So if you signed up and you haven’t gotten your autographed copy of my book yet, it’s coming. And if you haven’t signed up yet, go do it today and get my book, access to our VIP message board, a direct VIP dial in line for the radio show, the ability to comment on our articles and weekly VIP exclusive Zoom call.

With that in mind, here we go with the mailbag:

Ben writes:

“Rondale Moore opted out at Purdue.

Do you think players are actually scared of COVID, or is this just the best excuse ever for good players to start training for the draft / avoid injury, and avoid fan/media scrutiny?”

I think it’s a combination of multiple factors for most players. The data tells us that young athletes are not in danger from the coronavirus, but the combination of the coronavirus mess on campuses and the normal injury danger that comes from playing football games, makes it an easy way to not play and avoid getting criticized for quitting on your team.

Plus, if you look at trend lines when it comes to top picks sitting out for bowl games, I think there’s a movement in the direction of players not risking injury in the final year they’ll play college football. If you’re going to sit out a bowl game in December, why not sit out a game earlier in the fall too?

If I 100% knew I was going to be a first round pick next year, what value would I have from playing college football year?

I always like to use this analogy because I think it crystallizes the decision for many people. If you told me that next year I was pretty much guaranteed to sign a four year radio contract that would pay me $40 million guaranteed, but that in the next year of doing radio I had a (small, but very real) chance of injuring my voice and costing myself tens of millions of dollars, why wouldn’t I sit out of radio for the rest of the year and sign the guaranteed contract?

It would just be a smart financial decision to make.

Whatever you do for a living, you can easily put in your own profession here. I think most people would advocate sitting out if they had a payday like this waiting for them. The only reason not to sit out is because you love playing so much you just can’t imagine not playing.

If one of my sons was a guaranteed first round pick in 2021 and they came to me and asked my advice, I wouldn’t tell them what to do — they should be able to make their own decisions — but I’d weigh all the factors with them and I’d certainly support their decision not to play.

Sure, this doesn’t eliminate the chance you could injure yourself working out to get ready for the draft, but those injuries are far less common than severe injuries that can happen to you in games.

And all of this, by the way, presumes college games are even being played at all.

If the season keeps getting pushed back then if you get injured you have to start to worry about your ability to even play in the NFL in 2021.

That’s why I suspect we will see quite a few definite first round picks make this decision in the coming month.

Bear writes:

“How difficult is the CFB Playoff committee’s job going to be with no significant out of conference games?”

I actually think with more conference games being played there will be even less of a doubt who the best teams are in each respective conference.

If you win the SEC, Big Ten, Pac 12, or ACC then you’re going to play 11 conference games. (The Big 12 teams will still play 10 total.) That’s 20% more conference games than we’ve ever seen in, for instance, the SEC and the ACC. And it’s more conference games than we’ve ever seen in the Big Ten and the Pac 12 too.

So the key here is thinking about how many games you’d theoretically have to consider teams against top competition. Most SEC teams, for instance, play eight conference games, one big out of conference game, and three buy-in games every year. This year the college football playoff committee will actually have ten regular season SEC power five games to consider instead of nine in many years.

Plus, remember Notre Dame, who has been a playoff contender for several years, will also be playing a conference schedule this year, which makes them easier to evaluate.

Ultimately I believe conference championships will be even more highly valued this year and I think we’re likely to see four conference champs selected for the playoff.

That’s presuming, of course, that one conference champ isn’t 8-3 or something of that nature.

Without out-of-conference games I think it will be harder for the committee to justify taking more than one team from the same conference.

Jake writes:

“Has COVID forever changed the landscape of college athletics from a fiscal perspective? Will this be the tipping point for reduced coaches salaries and slowing the facilities arm race?”

No, I don’t think the impact will be very long lasting.

Top coaches are worth their weight in gold. Yes, Nick Saban has won many championships at Alabama, but go look at the university’s rise since Saban got there. It’s arguably much more impressive than what Alabama has accomplished on the football field.

Over half of the students now come from out of state, paying massive amounts in out of state tuition dollars. Overall enrollment at Alabama has skyrocketed and the quality of the university’s education profile has soared as they’ve had more money to offer scholarships to top students across the country.

Nick Saban’s the best advertisement the University of Alabama has ever had and his tenure has been worth far more to the university off the football field. The same is true for Dabo Swinney at Clemson and several other coaches as well. (Think about the value Duke has gotten, for instance, from Coach K. in basketball.)

So is there any way that top coaches like Nick Saban start making less?


Now in the short term many colleges and universities will have massive budget issues in their athletic departments, but if you think on ten or twenty year horizons the coronavirus will be a short term retrenchment in an otherwise rising trajectory for college athletics.

Eventually, probably by next year at some point, we will have a vaccine and even the most terrified coronabros will come out of their basements, blink in the light of day, and life will return to normal.

The biggest issue facing athletics, at least in my opinion, is still the collapsing cable and satellite bundle. Will leagues receive the same amount of money in a streaming world — where consumers choose to subscribe on a monthly basis as opposed to being locked in for yearly contracts — as they received in a cable and satellite bundle world?

How will the finances of conference channels — the SEC Network and the Big Ten Network, in particular — work as businesses in a collapsing cable and satellite bundle universe? Those are the issues that I still feel are far more consequential on a long range basis when it comes to the business of college athletics.

I also think universities as a whole may well have a major issue going forward. With the rise of remote learning many parents are going to ask why they are paying so much in tuition and whether college is still providing a good value.

Richard writes:

“Why do NFL and the 32 franchises disclose the names of people going into COVID-IR when all other leagues don’t, or try to avoid it for privacy? Why isn’t the NFLPA intervening to prevent situations like those that happened to Matt Stafford again after his false positive?”

Well, the league would need to release these names once the season begins because those players wouldn’t be eligible to play in games. And the NFL already releases a fairly detailed injury report for other health issues so this is just an extension of that.

I do, however, agree with you that there is potentially a major issue with false positives. We saw Matthew Stafford be labeled as a false positive, but the same thing just happened with Ohio’s governor too. Given the tremendous amount of testing going on, what percentage of people are being falsely labeled positive? (Remember these two guys only found out they were falsely positive because they received multiple tests in rapid succession, something that most people don’t have the opportunity to do.) Also, what percentage of people are receiving negative results, but actually might be positive? Is that happening too?

In essence, what’s the failure rate for these tests?

The NFL, given the abundance of tests they are conducting, actually creates an interesting opportunity to help figure out these issues. I’m sure Matthew Stafford isn’t the only player to receive a false positive. So how common has the NFL found these false positives to be given the thousands of tests they are giving each week? I’d like to see that data.

Star writes:

“Am I overreacting or is a very dangerous precedent being set by the Democrats right now? Nominate a candidate who is clearly mentally ill, and then they get to hand pick a vice president, who will in all likelihood become president shortly after election.”

I’m not sure how much of an issue Joe Biden has with dementia, honestly.

Which is why I think having three debates is so important.

We all need to be able to judge him under a high stress, high intensity environment to gauge his mental acuity when he faces difficult decisions in the White House.

Look, the truth of the matter, in my opinion, is most people ages 75 and up, if they had every statement scrutinized, would say things that give us all pause.

While Republicans are now focused on Biden’s mental fitness, we spent four years when Democrats argued Trump wasn’t mentally fit for office.

That’s why I think there’s a strong argument that we should have an upper age limit for presidents just like we have a lower age limit. If we believe you should have to be at least 35 years old to be president, doesn’t it make sense that you’d need to be, say, under 65 on your first election too? That seems reasonable to me because it would create a thirty year window for people to be elected president.

But we don’t have that, which means you can end up with two old guys slugging it out for president.

I honestly think the viewership for these debates will surpass the Super Bowl. That is, EVERYONE will be watching.

And ultimately it will be for the voters to decide who they want as president, which is why I’m not troubled by the precedent set by the Democrats. If the Democrats are able to get more electoral votes for Joe Biden and his VP, that’s how democracy works. Credit to them for figuring out a way to win the election.

Right now this election is about Donald Trump. Joe Biden isn’t running against Donald Trump, Donald Trump is running against Donald Trump. The people voting for Biden aren’t voting for him, they’re voting against Trump. Which is why I see this election as ultimately a Yes or No referendum on Trump.Trump’s challenge is to make this a choice between he and Biden and not a choice on whether or not he gets to continue as president.

That’s why the debates are so key, because it crystallizes the choice for everyone. You pick one guy or the other.

But I guarantee you Biden’s advisers are debating what the outcome would be if they refuse to debate. Because they are terrified of what might happen in those debates.

Now, to be fair, that may also help them set the floor so low that if Biden just doesn’t perform in a catastrophic manner then it feels like a win.

We’ve seen this before, ironically enough when Sarah Palin debated Joe Biden in 2008. The expectations for Palin were so low that she managed to exceed them by just not being awful. The same thing was true with George W. Bush in his debates with Al Gore in 2000.

Expectations matter a great deal when it comes to debate performances. You can win by just not being awful if you are adroit enough to manage the media expectations game.

And let’s be honest, we don’t really have any impartial judges left in the media anyway. Most people are going to score it a win for their side no matter what happens. It would take a true disaster for Fox News to say Biden won and for MSNBC to say Trump won.

Right now the coronavirus has worked very much in the favor of the Democrats. It’s kept Biden off the stump and allowed him to mostly run a presidential campaign from his house. That’s allowed Biden to limit his media exposure, thereby limiting his gaffes.

Which is why most of the election so far has been Trump vs. Trump. Can Trump turn it into a legitimate choice between he and Biden and demonstrate that, amazingly, he’s the safest choice of the two men?

We’ll see.

Final thought here, don’t underestimate Joe Biden picking someone who is pledging that she won’t run for president herself. If I were Biden I’d be nervous about picking a vice president who, given the fact Biden probably won’t run again in 2024, immediately starts upstaging me and running for president from the moment we’re both sworn in.

I actually think a Biden (insert VP here) ticket where he has a running mate that pledges not to run is a strong move. Because then Biden and his VP can run as a duo just pledging to return normalcy to the White House. And the truth is, a pledge not to run for president is easy to break for the VP too.

How so?

Just say the people begged you to run.

Tim writes:

“If the left somehow pulls off Biden getting elected, how do you see society being affected in the long run (i.e. next several years)? And if Trump wins term 2, how close to “back to normal” can/will society get?”

If Biden wins the big question will be about what happens in the Senate. If the Democrats win the Senate and Biden wins the presidency then the most immediate impact, I suspect, is one or two Democratic appointees — most notably Ruth Bader Ginsburg — will step down from the Supreme Court and we’ll see them replaced by a younger, more diverse Democratic judges.

I also suspect the Democrats will push through a bevy of tax increases.

But with all of government on their side they will inevitably overreach and go too far left, which will set up a whipping in 2022, when the sitting president typically loses a bunch of seats in Congress.

The final two years will be a stalemate as we get ready for a new president to be elected in 2024.

Personally, I hope if Biden wins that the Republicans can control the senate. If that happens then there will be a ton of partisan wrangling going on, but I doubt much substantive action will take place. Which is fine with me. I think most politicians tend to cause more problems than they solve.

If Trump wins, the Democrats will scream and rend their garments. They’ll probably impeach him again for something, but he won’t be removed from office. The biggest fight, assuming the Republicans control the Senate, would be if Ruth Bader Ginsburg were to die during these four years and Trump got to replace her. This would be a total mess for the country and make Brett Kavanaugh’s hearings seem team, but I suspect Trump would nominate a woman, Amy Coney Barrett, is my bet, to replace Ginsburg.

By 2022 the Senate would be likely to swing back to Democrats if Trump is reelected, meaning not much would happen from a policy perspective in the final two years of a Trump presidency.

As for what the future looks like, every four years tensions get ratcheted up in this country.

This year the coronavirus has added to those tensions, but most of the racial tensions in 2020 are very similar to the racial tensions we saw in 2016.

Trump is the left wing’s boogeyman.

No matter which president wins we’re going to get a vaccine for the coronavirus and that threat will subside. Whichever president wins will have about two years to get anything done and then everything will shut down for the 2024 race, which I think will be less of a battle between good and evil because Trump will be out of the picture.

So I suspect the national fever will be dialed down substantially over the next several years regardless of the outcome in 2020.

Having said all of this, I’m pretty afraid of what might happen in the wake of the election before we swear in a new president. Barring a landslide, it’s unlikely we know who won the presidency for much of November. Given all the mail in votes and absentee ballots to be counted, we’re going to be sitting on pins and needles for months to know who is our next president.

So that could be a truly wild time for protests and riots.

I’m not looking forward to November to January 20th at all.

I’ll also say this — the one thing we haven’t seen in a long time is an assassination in this country.

We haven’t even seen a major political candidate — or president — shot since Ronald Reagan in the 1980’s. That’s nearly forty years.

There are many eerie parallels between 2020 and 1968. What we saw in 1968 that we haven’t seen so far in 2020 was multiple assassinations — Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy were both killed in 1968. That’s what I fear happening in 2020 — that our national fever is so high right now that there could be assassinations which turn everything even crazier.

Fingers crossed that doesn’t happen. .

And, honestly, fingers crossed that someone also wins a decisive victory in 2020.

Because I don’t think we would handle a 2000 Bush v. Gore like situation very well in this country at all.

Thanks for reading Outkick and for all of your support.

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.


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  1. Hey Clay,
    Great stuff…very thoughtful explanations to everyone, no shooting from the hip (which I think is fine btw lol).
    I just want to mention the mail-in ballot situation vis-a-vis Joe Biden. A large number of states allow mail-in voting, and many will be accepting mail-in ballots before the first debate is even held. Even if your mind’s already made up…”stuff happens”. And you referenced the 2000 fiasco (is that a hanging chad?!?) Well the fiasco this time will be a tsunami because it’s not just Florida. God help us.

  2. I’m with Star. This sure feels I like a sandbag job by the Democrats to get someone like Harris into office. Her own party rejected her, but now she’ll be back. Or someone worse like Bass. Biden already said he’s not going for a second term. What would stop him from stepping down after being elected and handing it over to the VP? Doesn’t have to be day one, but something after his 3rd year if elected. Wouldn’t put it past the party of “voting in person is deadly but go ahead and riot in the streets”

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