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All That and a Bag of Mail

Videos by OutKick

It’s the next to last Friday before SEC football returns and we may have the busiest sports calendar of all time. We’ve got the US Open, NFL week two, quite a bit of college football, the NBA playoffs, the NHL playoffs, NASCAR, basically whatever sport you like they are probably playing right now.

And it’s all absolutely fabulous.

The coronabros in sports media have lost pretty much every battle they’ve fought as sports are now raining down upon us.

I absolutely love it.

If you want to gamble this weekend on any of these sporting events, go sign up at fanduel.com/clay, you’ll get $1000 in free money to gamble with. So why wouldn’t you make that move?

Now that the Big Ten is playing again, I can tell you guys the truth, I worked my ass off to make this happen. I worked with the Big Ten, I worked with the White House, I worked with coaches, I worked with schools, some day the full story of the battle for the Big Ten season will be told and it will be absolutely fascinating for all of you to watch and/or read.

I’ve stayed quiet about all my behind the scenes work because I didn’t want anyone in the Big Ten to vote against coming back to play because they didn’t like me or Outkick, but I’m absolutely thrilled that Outkick and I have the platform to be as impactful as we are in the world of sports media. I’m not being cocky when I say this, Outkick has become the most influential independent sports website in the entire country.

And we’re really just getting started.

Thanks for all your support. I’m excited with where we’re headed in the months and years ahead.

In the meantime, here we go with the questions:

Buck writes:

“How will the CFB playoff committee view late season starts and shortened seasons of the Big 10 and PAC 12?”

It’s a fantastic question.

Right now the plan would be for SEC, ACC, and Big 12 schools to all play 11 or 12 games en route to a conference title and the Big Ten might play only nine.

How do you compare those resumes?

It will be a real challenge.

Especially if, for instance, a team like Ohio State or Penn State is only able to play six or seven games because one or more of their opponents cancels on them due to covid infections.

Look at the calendar, there aren’t really any bye weeks built in very easily into the Big Ten season.

So what if you end up with 7-0 Big Ten champ Ohio State? How do you compare a 7-0 Big Ten champ with a 10-1 SEC runner-up? Or even a 9-2 SEC runner up?

I think the committee will have to factor that in in a big way.

As for the Pac 12, they typically don’t make the playoff anyway, but they’re in an even tougher spot than the Big Ten. The best case scenario for them might be an 8-0 champion.

Given the limited number of games, I think the big takeaway here is it’s probably going to require a Big Ten or Pac 12 champ being undefeated in order to even get into the playoff discussion.

One additional question I have: could you bump the playoff selection committee back a week and have them pick the teams on December 27th? Then move the dates for the playoff and conference title games back too?

That seems like a fairly reasonable adjustment for a fundamentally unreasonable year.

I also think the media as a whole is spending far too little time discussing how smart the SEC plan is looking as sit here eight days from the start of the league season. SEC commissioner Greg Sankey pushed the start of the season back as far as he could because his medical experts told him exactly what would happen when students got back to campus. You’d see an initial spike in cases and then things would decline pretty rapidly.

That’s exactly what we are seeing happen all over the country.

Frankly, the lack of hospitalizations for college students testing positive for the coronavirus should be a monster story. If kids are testing positive, but having no ill effects, why do we care about the positive cases at all? What colleges should be doing is telling their kids on campus to limit all interaction with elderly people and just stay on campus and around other college kids all the time.

If they do that, they will rapidly develop herd immunity and things will be fine.

In many ways young, healthy people getting exposed to this virus is the best thing that can happen.

Again, as I’ve been telling you for months, college kids are under greater danger from the seasonal flu than they are from covid and we never cancel anything for the seasonal flu.

Scott writes:

“How many voters in the BIG TEN will vote Trump strictly because of the call between Trump & Kevin Warren and the BIG TEN now playing a season?”

It’s always hard to quantify what exactly makes a swing voter vote for a particular candidate, but here are a couple of things we know.

First, Joe Biden ran ads in the Big Ten states blaming President Trump for the Big Ten not playing football. The only reason he would spend millions of dollars to run those ads is because he thinks some voters would be less likely to vote for Trump because the Big Ten wasn’t playing.

So if the Biden campaign believed people would blame Trump for the Big Ten not playing and not vote for him, doesn’t it stand to reason that some voters might be willing to vote for Trump because the Big Ten is playing?

I think so.

Certainly the White House believes that.

Second, how many people are in this camp?

I have no idea, but would suspect the answer is definitely in the tens of thousands and potentially in the hundreds of thousands.

Look, college football fans tend to be in Trump’s base and the states of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania were decided by a total of 77,000 votes in 2016. That’s roughly the size of one Big Ten stadium on a fall Saturday effectively swinging the entire election.

Put another way, if 38,500 people had changed their minds and voted for Hillary, she’d be president right now.

Given that I still believe many of these Big Ten states will be decided by a small margin, the battle over the Big Ten playing football could, and I stress could, end up deciding the election.

Now, importantly, note that I said “could.” There are still a ton of things that can happen between now and when the election occurs, most notably the debates. The first debate is in 11 days. The last one is on October 22nd. I think these debates will be the most consequential we have ever seen in my lifetime.

Whoever “wins” the debates probably wins the election.

Right now the general trendlines between now and the election favor the president. That is, the economy is likely to be better in early November than it is now and the number of coronavirus deaths and hospitalizations seem to be trending down substantially too. (We are near an all time covid hospital low and most people who die with covid have to be hospitalized for a decent amount of time beforehand. So we’re unlikely to see surging death counts between now and the election. Furthermore, many of these covid deaths being reported currently are often from months or weeks ago. The total number of new deaths each day have fallen to a very low level, particularly within the larger context of deaths in the country).

My general proposition is the more “normal” things feel the better it is for the incumbent. The more abnormal things feel the better it is for the challenger. We are trending more in the direction of normalcy, which is why I think the president’s poll numbers in the swing states have improved a decent amount of late.

There’s really no point in paying attention to the national polls since it seems very likely Biden is going to win the popular vote by running up big margins in states like California and New York. The easiest way to think about this election is, what’s going to happen in 2020 that’s different than 2016?

Joe Biden has to change things to win, the president just has to produce the same — or largely similar results.

So where are the real targets to flip state outcomes in the electoral college?

Joe Biden’s targets to flip are Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Florida, North Carolina and Arizona. (You can argue for a larger battlefield, but ultimately these are the states I believe Biden can flip. I don’t buy that Georgia or Texas or places like that are truly in play and I doubt Biden’s camp does either).

So Trump has to defend these toss up states above, but he can lose a couple of them and still be elected president because his electoral college win over Hillary gave him some leeway.

Okay, well, does Trump have any states he could flip? Potentially, yes. He could flip New Hampshire, Nevada, and Minnesota, three states he lost narrowly in 2016.

So there are your nine state battlegrounds.

I think Trump will end up winning Florida and North Carolina. And I think Biden will end up winning New Hampshire, Nevada and Minnesota.

If I’m right that means the election will be decided in four states: Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Arizona.

Trump needs to win two out of these four to be elected president. Biden has to win three out of the four. That’s your election right there.

And that’s exactly where Biden has been running ads blaming Trump for not having Big Ten football — and Pac 12 football in the case of Arizona.

The president has now neutralized that issue and turned it into his favor. And, again, given how tight these states are, it could be the difference between winning and losing the election.

RKnight writes:

“Why don’t sports journalists do follow up questions after the facts come out? Like “Lebron what do you have to say to the sexual assault victim, and to her child? Do you still stand by your comments now that all the facts are out? If so what do you say to the me too movement?”

Three reasons:

1. Most sports journalists are far left wingers and buy into the athlete victimization narrative. If they ask a question like this, that would require that they directly combat their own world views.

This is why when stories like Jacob Blake blow up, they don’t get addressed anew, they just disappear. Just like the racist graffiti on LeBron James’s gate or the Michael Bennett racism allegations against the Las Vegas police. When sports victimization narratives collapse, athletes are never held accountable for spreading false narratives, the media just moves on and never mentions the stories ever again.

So this is the most common reason these follow up questions don’t happen.

2. Sports journalists who recognize these narrative fallacies are often afraid of provoking the mob to come after them. Particularly if they are white, which many sports journalists are.

There’s a tremendous fear, especially in this cost-cutting era, that if you rock the boat too much you get tossed into the water without a life jacket.

There’s a huge number of people out there who would love to make $50-$75k a year to write or talk about sports. These people will do anything they can to protect their jobs, even if it means not actually doing their jobs — aka not speaking truth to power.

3. If you ask tough questions of athletes you lose access to those athletes.

Sports media members are aware that in a social media age athletes (and coaches) have fewer and fewer reasons to need to speak with them. The athlete or coach can do directly to the public and bypass the media through social channels.

If your lifeblood relies on athletes speaking to you and they won’t do it any longer, what value do you have?

In order to get access, you have to pull your punches.

That’s why I don’t have many athletes or coaches on my radio show. I don’t play that game.

But most in my industry do because of the three factors I laid out above.

ATL writes:

“Do you think PAC-12, MAC and MWC will end up playing? If so, why?”

Yes, they will play.

And they will play because they are sheep.

And the herd has now decided it’s safe to play.

Look, here’s the deal, the Big Ten blew it by making a decision to cancel their season in early August. They should have done what the SEC did, push the start of their season back to September 26th and wait to see what the trend lines were going to look like at the end of August.

If the Big Ten had just waited until the end of August to make a decision then they would have never had to deal with the past five weeks of absurdity that came when they canceled their season.

Now that the Big Ten is coming back, however, all the other conferences that canceled are realizing how ridiculous they will look if they don’t play.

So everyone is rushing back to the field as rapidly as they can.

Jason writes:

“Given that tickets to home games (Titans and presumably all teams) will be limited to season ticket holders, and if you were owner / President or whatever, how would you handle season ticket holders that sell to visiting fans?”

I wouldn’t do anything.

Look, I’m a capitalist and I believe in markets.

If my season ticket holders would rather sell their seats to visiting fans — or anyone else for that matter — that’s their right as ticket holders.

I have Titan season tickets and I plan on going to as many games as possible this fall. But that’s partly because I’m in good financial shape so I don’t need the money I’d get from selling my tickets to someone else.

But many people, particularly in this economy, are not in great financial shape.

So I don’t blame them for doing what capitalists do, selling their assets to the highest bidder for the best price they can receive and taking the money they receive for that asset to make their lives better.

John writes:

“When can we stop wearing a mask? Am I wrong thinking that we will have to wear masks for the foreseeable future?”

I understand the mask frustration some people have, but I carry a mask in my pocket or leave one on my center console in my car. If I enter a business and they want me to put a mask on, I put it on. If they don’t require it, then I don’t wear it.

I really don’t think it’s that big of a deal, honestly.

I suspect some people will wear masks until there are vaccines available.

But I think most people will gradually stop wearing masks as the risk and danger of infection continues to decline in this country.

By the way, the people who I think can complain the most about masks — kids — seem to be doing the least amount of complaining about it.

I have a kindergartener, a fourth grader, and a seventh grader who are all attending in person school. And none of them complain to me about wearing their masks at all.

If that’s the price my kids have to pay in order to attend class in person, I think it’s a small issue. And I’m actually very impressed with how little complaining they have done about wearing their masks.

JDS writes:

“Thoughts on Daily Wire moving from CA to TN. Curious your thoughts more from the leaving CA perspective . It’s only 75 people leaving the state but is this a sign of things to come?”

I don’t know why anyone would voluntarily pay 13% state and local taxes when they could live in Tennessee, Texas or Florida and not pay that.

In order for me to have the exact same lifestyle in LA that I have in Nashville, I’d have to make triple my salary.

And why in the world would I want to run a business based in California instead of in Tennessee? The state of Tennessee is a much more welcoming business environment than California is.

I think more and more people, thanks to the opportunities available with technology and remote work, are going to be leaving the high priced and expensive places on the coasts and moving to other places in the center part of the country to do their jobs.

I have a home radio and TV studio that allows me to be just as productive as I would in an office setting. In fact, it makes me more productive because I don’t have to spend a large part of my day driving from one place to another to do my jobs.

Outkick has writers or editors in Tennessee, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Texas, New York, and Arizona. And I might be missing a state or two in this mix.

If we were all in the same office would we be more productive? I kind of doubt it.

Because modern technology allows us to do our jobs remotely in a very efficient manner.

Now as we grow and continue to get larger could we eventually need an office setting, for instance, to allow ad sales and larger meetings to take place in person? Maybe. But I think working remotely for us is working pretty well so far.

I think in a post-covid world you are going to see many businesses and employees moving from high tax locations to low tax locations.

A to Z writes:

“With news of alleged collusion to suppress actual Covid19 cases traced to Nashville bars, and as a part-owner of a downtown Nashville bar, and lawyer, what are your next steps, legally speaking?”

I know there are many lawsuits being filed over the decision to shut down Nashville bars and keep them from reopening to full capacity, but I’m not going to personally be a named plaintiff in any of them because I just don’t have the time to be involved.

I will, however, regularly point out absurd decisions that are being made that I believe are bad for the city.

There are thousands of people out there in my city alone who aren’t able to go to work and make their salaries because of idiotic and panicked decisions being made about a virus that almost no one actually gets sick from. And there are tens of thousands of kids unable to go to school.

It’s insanity.

It’s way past time to open my city — and probably your city and state too — completely up.

We have to all be back to work, school, and sports.

And rest assured Outkick is going to keep fighting to make that happen.

….

Thanks for reading and supporting Outkick and I hope all of you have fantastic 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.

15 Comments

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  1. Look, college football fans tend to be in Trump’s base and the states of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania were decided by a total of 77,000 votes in 2016. That’s roughly the size of one Big Ten stadium on a fall Saturday effectively swinging the entire election.

    with all due respect, that’s flat out not true. Trump won those states by .7% . You make it sound like Donald Trump didn’t lose the popular vote by over 3 million people. Cmon Clay. You better than that.

    • If the popular vote was the criteria then Gavin Newsom and Andrew Cuomo would be co-presidents.
      The state(s) with the biggest populations don’t get to choose what we’re eating for dinner.
      Each state gets representation in Congress and each state votes independently of each other.
      It’s a known fact that Cali and NY have lots of non-citizens voting…so Hillary didn’t kiss enough asses is why she’s a screeching hag sitting on a fence post now.
      Electoral votes are based on the # of US Reps and the # of US senators (+ DC and PR) and Trump won more states than Hillary.
      Not everybody wants the people who ran Cali and NY into the ground to be running the country.

    • I don’t even understand the point you’re trying to make lol..

      1) I think it’s fair to say (generally speaking) college football fans lean right – not a whole lot of die hard libs, yuppies and granola eating, Subaru driving college football fans out there.

      2) I believe that 77k number is correct. Between those states that was how many more votes Trump had than Hillary. 0.7% of the vote for those 3 states is probably about that number.

      3) Touting Hillary won the popular vote is like saying your teams scored more buckets in a 7-game series but lost 4 out of the 7 individual games. Y’all knew the rules before the game started. It’s not like these same rules haven’t been in place for hundreds of years. FFS.

      • Exactly. I remember saying this same thing and using the 1996 World Series as an example after election night 2000. Braves outscored the Yankees about 26-14, but lost in 6. Runs win games but games win series; same with the Electoral College. You know the rules, and it’s more important to win the close ones.

  2. “Right now the general trendlines between now and the election favor the president. That is, the economy is likely to be better in early November than it is now and the number of coronavirus deaths and hospitalizations seem to be trending down substantially too. (We are near an all time covid hospital low and most people who die with covid have to be hospitalized for a decent amount of time beforehand. So we’re unlikely to see surging death counts between now and the election.”

    No offense Clay but you do know your President will be holding a PRESS CONFERENCE TODAY about the United States passing the 200,000 DEATH mark for deaths due to the Covid 19 Virus? IJS

    • Maybe get out of the vacuum and compare relevant stats…or just blame Trump for the arsonist set wildfires, the cages built by Obama in 2012 and filled with children kept apart from their parents for their safety from other adults, the destruction in the Dimcrap led cities, China-India-Russia pollution of the atmosphere…getting bored with BS. Don’t want to believe your eyes…close ’em and maybe tomorrow this will have been a fantasy.

    • He is your president, too. Just like Obama was president for all of us Americans for 8 years- even the Americans that didn’t like him.
      And do you really believe those 200,000 deaths are due to Covid? C’mon man. Time to put down that red Solo cup of mainstream media Kool-Aid. Search the Outkick website to find the article Clay Travis published on August 30th about the CDC’s analysis of these supposed Covid deaths.

  3. “Sports journalists who recognize these narrative fallacies are often afraid of provoking the mob to come after them. Particularly if they are white, which many sports journalists are.
    There’s a tremendous fear, especially in this cost-cutting era, that if you rock the boat too much you get tossed into the water without a life jacket.”

    With all due respect, the white male or Angry White Male victim card is so overplayed by conservatives in a sports world were MERITOCRACY supposedly rules. It’s a weak and ineffective argument. IJS

    • I think Clay clearly painted the picture that the Sports Journalism world is not a meritocracy like sports themselves. The winners of sports journalists are not the best journalists. They are the ones that navigate the current pitfalls (laid out by Clay) in their industry. Take a deep breath, my friend.

      • Anton, exactly. I don’t see how buddy missed that, it’s the entire point of that quote. There’s a difference between being the best journalist vs being a journalist who will ride the player’s collective dicks to keep their access. I don’t see where merit plays a role in that.

  4. “I will, however, regularly point out absurd decisions that are being made that I believe are bad for the city.”???

    Like your city’s absurd decision to HIDE INFORMATION about Covid 19 cases in Nashville bars? Can you address the cover up Clay and your thoughts about possible charges against those who held back this information possibly putting the people of Nashville’s health in jeopardy? Your thoughts

    • You must have missed the email…Clay’s been HAMMERING that since the coverup was exposed…you know how many businesses, workers, people have lost their jobs and worse? That’s a Dimcrap mayor who said they couldn’t let the numbers be published b/c it didn’t jive with the Dimcrap narrative.

  5. Great updates – I’m late in reading this obviously.

    One trend that is absolutely on point is that technology is forever changing how work is done. My company is still headquartered where I live but we’ve been working from home since mid-March and it’s been great. I do miss going to the office in some respects but a lot of people I work with are remote anyway as lots of consultants are not travelling and I don’t see that really picking up a lot even when the pandemic is over. It’s an unnecessary expense for a business and outside of selected events like periodic team building or all hands meetings, you can get just as much done remotely.

    Why pay huge taxes and deal with wasted commute time? Even though my commute isn’t bad, it still wastes part of my day. I used to work with someone who moved from CA that had 3-4 hours per day in the car which is insane. When I was a kid, my dad worked in NYC and commuted from northern NJ and had 3 hours/day on the bus.

    Love this site and the honest opinions!

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