All That and a Bag of Mail

It’s Friday and the battle for college football continues to be fought against the coronabros on all fronts.

But as we head into the weekend I am increasingly optimistic about college football being played in the SEC, Big 12 and ACC. We aren’t through the woods yet, but we are 12 days from the kickoff of the first college football game of the season — South Alabama at Southern Miss. Once we cross that Rubicon, I think the return of college football becomes more and more likely.

I also think the Big Ten’s colossal failures over the past ten days have made college football more likely. The Big Ten thought if they canceled that everyone else would follow them. Instead the Big Ten has received far more criticism for canceling from parents and players than the SEC, Big 12 and ACC have received from parents and players for playing.

That’s because parents, players, and coaches all want to play.

In fact, things have gone so crazy, that, plot twist, I’m now the most popular guy in the Big Ten. And you can now even go buy Clay Travis for Big Ten commissioner tshirts.

With that in mind, let’s dive into the mailbag:

Sean writes:

“How much of a legal case do the parents of Nebraska have in regards to getting info released?”

I think they have a strong chance to make it a real mess for the Big Ten. The most promising angle in my opinion for the parents to pursue is what do the Big Ten bylaws say about canceling a season? The commissioner and university presidents have told conflicting stories about what happened in their meetings. What type of “vote” of university presidents and chancellors is required and what type of vote actually occurred? Was the meeting recorded to prove proper protocols were followed? Did anyone provide any sort of written legal guidance? Were individual state open meeting laws — remember 13 of the 14 schools are state institutions — violated?

Even if the bylaws were properly followed, was the decision to cancel the season justified in light of the fact that university campuses are open for all students and players are allowed to continue to train with their teams? How can you argue player health was the primary focus when athletes are exposed to the virus inside classrooms, dorms, and cafeterias? That’s a far larger danger than would occur during the course of a sporting event. Given that the Big Ten has cited a myocarditis study that has been discredited and may well be pulled from a medical journal, was the decision by the presidents arbitrary and capricious?

All of these are very valid questions that I think parents, players, coaches, and fans all have the right to examine via a lawsuit. Significantly, I doubt the Big Ten is going to voluntarily provide this information to the media, players, coaches or parents, which means a lawsuit might provide the only means of redress.

I also think it’s possible a federal district judge, especially one in a state like Nebraska who is more likely to be supportive of football being played, could support an injunction that would bar the Big Ten from canceling the season pending a hearing. What would the grounds be to receive this injunction? There’s clearly a significant financial harm to players and schools if they aren’t allowed to play this fall. In fact, especially in the case of a school, that harm is directly tangible and the money lost by a state institution is unlikely to ever be recovered. The challenge here is I believe a school or a player would have much better grounds for a lawsuit on these grounds than the parents would. (Although a taxpaying parent would theoretically have the grounds to file the lawsuit).

Think, for instance, about Justin Fields at Ohio State. He might well win the Heisman Trophy this year. If he doesn’t play he will lose that opportunity forever this year, impacting him in a financial manner to a significant degree. There are other players who hope to play in the NFL and will lose their ability to prove their talent this fall on the field. That’s why I actually think the players themselves are better litigants than the parents of players.

Remember, all these players are adults, so why are the parents filing the lawsuits instead of the players?

If Justin Fields — and other Big Ten players alongside him — filed a lawsuit against the Big Ten, I think it would be a tremendous mess for the league and receive substantial media attention, regardless of what the final result of the suit ended up being. Remember as well that legal representation is allowed to be provided to players for free. So the best lawyers in the country could theoretically sue on behalf of players and do so pro bono, without the players being on the hook for any of the costs of the lawsuits.

So I don’t know what the odds are of the parents “winning” their lawsuit against the Big Ten, but I don’t think that’s their purpose. I think it’s about creating yet another obstacle for the league. And I think they are very likely to create an ongoing mess for the league by filing their lawsuit, which I’d expect to be filed on Monday.

Matt writes:

“If you had just written a $25K check for your son to attend college this semester, how would you respond to him being sent home two weeks in to take online classes because of an “outbreak”?”

I’d be furious.

Particularly because my son would be in greater danger of dying of the seasonal flu, being murdered, having a drug or alcohol overdose, dying in a traffic accident, or committing suicide than he would be of dying from the coronavirus.

The inability of Americans to understand basic risk and probability has been thoroughly exposed by this virus. The virus is not, and has not been, a legitimate threat to young people in this country.

Yet many people who should know better continue to propagate these falsehoods, even when we know the seasonal flu is more deadly to college kids.

What it looks like here is many of these schools opened up to ensure they got full tuition dollars for the fall and then shut down as soon as there was a hint of the virus on campus. In doing so they avoided many withdrawing students who might otherwise have taken a gap year, ensured they got full tuition dollars for online schooling, and it feels very much like a bait and switch was perpetrated.

I expect lawsuits will be filed here too.

Because there’s a substantial difference between in person classes and online classes.

The cost shouldn’t be the same for both.

Mike writes:

“The Big 10 says they will move to indoor stadiums for football in January. Do you think that’s safer than playing in open air stadiums in the fall with reduced capacity?”

No, of course not.

This entire plan is absurd.

If it’s not safe to play football in October, November and December outdoors, why is it going to be safe to play football indoors in January?

This is completely illogical. It’s a more dangerous JV version of college football. (The best players won’t even play because they’ll be leaving for the NFL, meaning there will be fewer players required to play two football seasons in the same calendar year. Playing two football seasons in the same calendar year is far more of a health risk to the players than the coroanvirus is.)

If anything the risks will be more significant for the players indoors in January, which is the height of the cold and flu season, than they will be in October, November and December outdoors.

I mean, this is just totally illogical thinking.

The fact that many people in the media are not immediately recognizing this is pure insanity.

The Big Ten is lying to its players, coaches, and fans. And even worse, most people in the media are spreading their lies without pointing out how absurd these decisions are.

The only thing changing between now and January is we’re having an election in November. And it feels increasingly to me like this decision by the Big Ten is entirely political.

Johnny writes:

“What will the fallout be with recruits if the B1G/Pac 12 don’t have a season while the other conferences play a full schedule?”

It will be incredibly debilitating to the Big Ten and Pac 12 for years to come.

Look, if you have a son and you want him to play college football, why would you send him to a conference that shut down this fall? That’s the easiest possible argument to make against a choice to play in these conferences. When push came to shove and hard decisions had to be made, the SEC, Big 12 and ACC did everything they could to protect the players and still permit them to pursue athletics while the Big Ten and the Pac 12 ran and hid, spreading lies in the process.

If the SEC, ACC and Big 12 manage to complete a fall football season and the Pac 12 and Big Ten don’t then they are going to have to put the Big Ten and Pac 12 presidents and commissioners in witness protection. I don’t think there’s any doubt that Kevin Warren and Larry Scott, the commissioners of both conferences, will also lose their jobs.

At this point the Big Ten and Pac 12 have to be desperately rooting for things to collapse in the other conferences. They have to hope playing this fall is a disaster because otherwise their conferences won’t recover from this debacle for years.

In fact, nearly 90% of you voting in my poll already believe the commissioner of the Big Ten, Kevin Warren, should be fired.

Drew writes:

“What can we do, as normal constituents, to pressure our state school (Ohio State) and the BIG 10 to give legitimate answers and factual data?”

I think fans and alums should bombard their school presidents and chancellors with their disagreements about canceling the season.

Lawyers in these states should also be checking open records laws and researching whether state law was potentially violated by taxpayer funded presidents and chancellors at taxpayer funded state schools in the Big Ten conducting “votes” about whether to cancel the fall sports season behind closed doors. This remains a huge issue to me, how has there not been a public release of how these school presidents and chancellors voted? How can taxpayer funded state employees have a closed door meeting on an issue this substantial and never release the details on what was said there? We’re talking about state institutions in Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, Indiana, Ohio, Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Illinois being involved here. How should these votes not have to be made public?

I also think the big donors to these schools, people giving millions to athletics and school departments, should withhold those donations to express displeasure with the decisions being made.

These schools all desperately want your money.

But if they won’t listen to you when they have to make big decisions, why should you listen to them when they ask for your money?

I’d play hardball here and threaten to withhold all the money I’d pledged to a school, especially if the money was connected to athletics in any way.

We have a market-based economy predicated on democratic capitalism. Using your money to express your opinions on issues is the most American thing you can do.

So do it.

Okay, I’m about to go record another Wins and Losses podcast.

Then I’m taking my kids to a movie theater tonight to watch “Empire Strikes Back.” The local movie theater just opened back up and they are playing classic movies.

I can’t wait to go sit in a movie theater again for the first time in six months.

Hope y’all have great weekends and thanks for supporting Outkick.

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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