It’s Friday, and I hope all of you have had a good post-Thanksgiving week.
I want to thank you guys for continuing to support OutKick. November was the best month we’ve ever had across radio, video, and the web. In particular, the radio show and OutKick the Show are absolutely rolling. So thanks for all the support for those shows.
As we get ready for another weekend of football, I want to encourage all of you in Tennessee to get your bets in by picking the winner of Browns-Titans. If you’re a new gambler, you get a 25-1 payout if you pick the winner. So a $5 bet turns into $125. Also, if you’re reading this in Michigan or Virginia, sports gambling is about to be legal in your states. So go get signed up in Michigan and Virginia so you’re ready to roll the minute sports betting goes live. Finally, if you’re a new gambler in Indiana, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Iowa, New Jersey, West Virginia or Colorado, you can get up to a $1000 free wager when you sign up. So go get signed up and start sports gambling today.
Okay, here we go with your questions.
“What will the NFL do if there’s a Ravens-like COVID outbreak during the playoffs?”
This is, to me, one of the biggest stories in sports that isn’t being discussed.
Right now, football games can be postponed, rescheduled and, if necessary, canceled without creating a massive issue for the crowning of a champion. But what happens once the playoffs start, and there aren’t easy ways to manipulate the schedule? That’s really difficult to contemplate, especially in the NFL, where the playoffs require weekly games and everyone needs to play at roughly the same time.
For instance, regardless of which teams are playing, here’s what the NFL playoffs look like once they start. There are 14 teams in the playoffs now, meaning the schedule looks like this:
Wild Card Weekend: Six games (if the playoffs are expanded to 16 teams, this would go to eight games)
Divisional Playoff Weekend: Four games
AFC & NFC Title Games: Two games
Super Bowl: One game
Look at the first two playoff weekends in particular. What are the odds that you’re going to be able to play ten games, featuring twenty teams, and not have any COVID issues at all over those first two playoff weeks? Pretty small, right?
Well, during the regular season, if the Ravens’ COVID issue emerges, you end up being able to turn what would have been a Thursday night game into a Wednesday game and move it six days. But how can you move playoff games without creating a substantial competitive advantage? Essentially everyone has to play within a day or two in order to create fairness.
It would be virtually impossible to move a playoff game like the Ravens-Steelers game was just moved.
I suppose the NFL could be thinking that the traditional week between the conference title games and the Super Bowl could be used as a buffer to allow the playoffs to take place. And, who knows, maybe the NFL isn’t committed to playing all these games on Saturday and Sunday as well — could they be moved around a few days in either direction? Maybe the NFL is also open to moving the Super Bowl back as well, once the playoffs start.
But this is the biggest issues for football — both college and pro — going forward, the playoffs provide far less scheduling flexibility than the regular season.
And this doesn’t even consider the biggest potential issue. It’s not just positive tests, it’s who the positive tests are. What would happen, for instance, if Patrick Mahomes tested asymptomatic positive before a playoff game? The Chiefs would go from Super Bowl favorites to potential underdogs to lose their playoff game.
Can you imagine if the Super Bowl was scheduled and Mahomes and Brees both tested asymptomatic positive? Would they really go with Matt Moore against Taysom Hill in the Super Bowl? Even worse, what if only one team has issues and they have twenty players unable to play and the other team has no issues at all? How could that be a fair way to crown a champion?
My point: the fewer — and bigger — games there are scheduled, the more of an issue any positives become.
I think, honestly, what the NFL may have to do is just say, ‘You play the guys who aren’t positive on the team, and any positive COVID tests are just unfortunate.’
But that will make gambling — and crowning a champion– pretty wild.
The teams with the most players who have already tested positive would have, in theory, a major competitive advantage because their teams would be less likely to have outbreaks.
It may sound crazy, but Ben Roethlisberger and Drew Brees testing positive for COVID on the Monday of their bye week would be the best thing that could happen for the Steelers’ and Saints’ Super Bowl runs. That way, both guys would be 100% certain not to miss a playoff game or the Super Bowl.
The original sin here, of course, has been treating positive tests for young and healthy athletes like death sentences, but that’s where we are because of the fear porn embraced by the coronabros.
If you think things have been wild in football so far this season, and they have been, things are only going to get wilder in the playoffs.
“Will you take a COVID vaccine and if they are as successful as claimed, how long until ‘normal’ is resumed?”
I’ve said for months I’d be happy to take a COVID vaccine live on my radio show if they want to vaccinate public figures to help reduce fear in the general public. (We used to take flu shots live on air back when I did local radio in Nashville, so that’s where the idea came from).
But in terms of my own personal life, I feel like I’ve probably had COVID already. Why? Because I haven’t changed my lifestyle at all. I’ve been going to the gym, eating out at restaurants just as often as before, attending sporting events, going to movies and football tailgates, going to bars. I haven’t really changed my life much at all.
If COVID is as contagious as the data suggests and if the vast majority of relatively young and healthy people never know they have it, I feel like I’ve probably had it already.
So I’m not going to rush to get the vaccine because I don’t feel any sense of danger at all, and I’m also presuming that I’ve already had it.
As for when “normal” returns, I’d expect that the coronabros will come crawling out of their basements and blink in the light of day around June or July.
For those of us who don’t live in fear, normal is already here.
Today as soon as I finish my TV show, I’ll head out to the gym, and later my wife and I will go out for dinner tonight. On Saturday, I’ll be in the gym with my ten-year-old watching his basketball game, and I may go out to a sports bar to grab a beer later that night. On Sunday, I’m taking my family to my fifth Titans game of the year.
Honestly, that’s pretty much what I’d normally be doing on the first weekend in December, whether COVID existed or not.
I’m just not the kind of person to live my life in fear, so I’ve already returned to normalcy in my own life.
“Both of my athlete daughters said that the Vandy kicker fiasco was a mockery to female athletics, it appears that many viewed this the same way. Is there real blowback in that locker room over this situation?”
Yes, I think many reasonable sports fans of both sexes have the same reaction as your daughters.
The best thing about sports in this age of fundamental inauthenticity is that sports are still a meritocracy. The best man, or woman, wins. The best team wins. That’s why we love sports, because they can be an antidote for the world we live in, which is often steeped in dishonesty and inauthenticity.
Sarah Fuller’s kick was the worst kick, I would wager, to begin the second half in all of college football last week.
The absolute worst.
Yet she received almost universal praise from sports media.
Do we praise athletes who do the worst at their jobs just based on their identities? Unfortunately, that’s starting to happen. In my opinion, we shouldn’t.
Vandy could have had their punter kick off to start the second half, and he’d have done a better job. They could have brought back their kicker from last year, who is now a medical student on campus, and he would have done an infinitely better job. There’s just no argument that the best kicker they could have found on the entire campus was Sarah Fuller.
Add in the fact that Fuller addressed the team at halftime, let me repeat that, a kicker who had never played on the team until a few days before ADDRESSED THE TEAM AT HALFTIME AND TOLD THEM THEY SUCKED, while, according to my buddy Chad Withrow, having that “speech” filmed in the locker room, and this entire thing looks like what it is: a total sham.
Now the Vandy game at Georgia is reportedly canceled this weekend, partly, perhaps, because of a locker room revolt over this sham kicking situation combined with the firing of Derek Mason.
Trust me on this. There are many Vandy players, both current and former, who are disgusted by the entire situation, but who are also terrified of going public with their disgust because of the blue checkmark brigade of virtue signalers in sports who will immediately tear them to shreds for not considering this the greatest moment in SEC football history.
I don’t begrudge Sarah Fuller her opportunity to kick, but acting like she did a good job or that she’s worthy of extreme commendation is just fundamentally antithetical to everything I think sports should stand for.
All athletes should be judged on the same performance standard, not based on a sliding scale based on what they look like.
“Clay, all of Cougar Nation appreciates the love you gave BYU yesterday. We’ve been fed up w/ how the powers that be in college football have mistreated BYU, especially this 2020 season. NO ONE was committed to playing football west of Texas this year except BYU, and now the committee is determined to punish BYU for their strength of schedule, when it was basically the power conferences that destroyed BYU’s schedule and refused to play them this season. How do we end the corruption of college football and the bias of the CFP committee?”
First, I think BYU refusing to allow the coronabros to cancel their season is one of the best stories in college football this season.
“I think the story of BYU being willing to go all the way across the country on a couple of day’s notice to fill in for Liberty, who has COVID issues, and play against Coastal Carolina in Myrtle Beach is one of the best stories out there in the world of sports.” –@ClayTravis pic.twitter.com/A3TIoH4s7z
— OutKick (@Outkick) December 4, 2020
As you mention, BYU was the only team in the Mountain or Pacific time zones that didn’t cancel their college football season when coronabro fear porn and panic set in back in the summer, and everyone else was canceling.
Having said all of this, there are really only a handful of teams alive for the College Football Playoff right now, especially with the move the ACC made to limit the number of games Notre Dame and Clemson are going to play.
The major conference teams that I believe are alive right now are:
SEC: Alabama, Florida, and Texas A&M
ACC: Notre Dame and Clemson
Big Ten: Ohio State
I believe your four playoff teams will likely come out of these six teams.
What would need to happen for BYU or Cincinnati to get in the mix? I think these teams would need to win out, and I think we’d need a game between BYU and Cincinnati as well. The undefeated non-Power Five team would become the seventh team alive for the playoff.
But the larger issue, as you are stating it here, is that BYU is fighting an uphill battle because all the Power Five conference teams canceled on BYU. And then the College Football Playoff committee is going to simultaneously punish BYU for not playing a tougher schedule, despite the fact that they were willing to play these games and the Power Five teams canceled on them.
It’s an impossible situation.
Which is why I think the real story here should be BYU’s courage in the face of unrelenting pressure to cancel their season.
And that’s why, personally, I’m rooting for BYU to go undefeated and play in a New Year’s Six bowl game, at a minimum.
And why I also think BYU should be, for instance, a far bigger story than Sarah Fuller. But the coronabros in sports media won’t let that happen because BYU defied them, and Sarah Fuller represents the identity politics they love.
“Are the CFP playoff teams going to allow their players to go home for Christmas or make them stay in a bubble to avoid a COVID issue in the playoffs? Chances Nick Saban allows this to happen?”
This is a great question that ties in with the first question above in the mailbag, about the difficulty of completing the playoffs in general.
In theory, college kids are far more likely to test positive after being off campus than on campus. So the likelihood of positive tests after Christmas is going to be incredibly high if players leave campus and return home.
For that reason, I think most teams won’t allow their players to go home for Christmas at all.
Now the four teams in the College Football Playoff might be willing to make this voluntary sacrifice, given the prize they’re competing for, but I think the bigger issue will come with bowl games. Are you really not going to let your team celebrate Christmas with their families so the Birmingham Bowl isn’t impacted? And are players really going to be disciplined once the regular season is officially over?
Which is why I think you will see a TON of bowl games canceled because of positive COVID tests.
“When will the Tennessee Volunteer administration pull the plug on Jeremy Pruitt? The economics of doing so seem clear. Any idea on what’s happening behind the scenes?”
I think athletic director Phil Fulmer wants to bring Jeremy Pruitt back for year four because Pruitt is his hire.
So he’s looking for justification to bring Pruitt back. Justification could be as simple as beating Vanderbilt next week, assuming, that is, the game is played at all. Justification in Fulmer’s mind could also be competitive losses against top five Florida and Texas A&M teams. (To be fair, if Tennessee had pulled off an upset in either of these games, it would have been a massive win and Pruitt would have deserved a fourth year.)
In other words, I think Fulmer is looking for a reason not to fire Pruitt as opposed to a reason to fire Pruitt.
Personally, I don’t agree with that philosophy.
Especially given the fact that South Carolina and Vanderbilt already fired their coaches, it’s hard to argue that firing a coach in a COVID year is unacceptable.
What I’ve been saying is this: wait until the end of the year and then assess the situation. If Tennessee finishes 3-7 — or 2-7 if Vandy isn’t willing to play — what has occurred this year that makes you think year four is going to be a lot different? And look at the historic precedent as well. How often does a coach that is almost fired at the end of his third year go on to turn the tables and become a remarkable success in years four, five, and six? It almost never happens. If a coach almost gets fired one year, he typically gets fired the next year.
Plus, if the Vols wait until year four to pull the plug on Pruitt, the buyout money doesn’t change much. Tennessee would owe a couple of million less next year to fire him than they do this year. But they would probably lose that money in decreased ticket sales for Pruitt in year four, so that’s kind of a wash, honestly.
Ultimately, you need to win to make money. And if you aren’t winning, you need to be able to sell the fan base on the excitement of a new hire. Right now, Tennessee might not have either of those things for next year.
So what coaching options are out there?
To Pruitt’s credit, Tennessee has decent, young talent now. I think there would be a ton of coaches who want this job.
Including Hugh Freeze.
I’m just tossing this out there: what if Freeze could go hire Kevin Steele from Auburn — Steele’s a Tennessee alum — and that was your offensive and defensive play callers next year? That seems like a pretty decent combo that would immediately inject a ton of momentum into Tennessee.
But I don’t think Tennessee will have the stones to do that.
Which is why I’d bet on Pruitt being back for year four.
“The general public has mostly come around on the idiocy of closing schools, how much longer will it take for politicians (and teachers unions) to jump onboard?”
Shutting down schools — and keeping them closed — for a year, or more, is the biggest American public policy failure since Vietnam.
Shutting down schools for covid is the biggest American failure since Vietnam. Listen to this: pic.twitter.com/yJyudBwV89
— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) December 3, 2020
Sadly, I think teachers unions aren’t going to support their teachers being back in the classroom until next school year.
Which means teachers unions — and the politicians who are afraid to stand up to them — are responsible for the biggest public policy failure since Vietnam.
It’s all completely shameful.
As is the media’s failure to cover this issue aggressively enough to incite anger in the country.
“If Trump gets his way and Section 230 falls, do you think social media becomes the Wild West or do social media companies ramp up their monitoring efforts further to mitigate liability as a publisher?”
I think with the first term of Trump’s presidency ending and COVID fear porn ending by the summer, social media is going to decline in overall impact in the country.
I really do.
Because most intelligent people are going to realize how utterly unrepresentative social media is, and they’re going to stop fearing the mobs that break out there.
The left wing media, in general, is going to fall apart without Donald Trump to brand as their Great Satan. I think you’re already seeing it happen. Their ratings will collapse, their audience will shrink. Trump was their stimulus, their crack. They need him as much as he needs them.
Anyone who thought Trump being gone would make the Democrats sane again is seeing that’s not the case. The Democratic insanity is just as prevalent, if not more so, despite Biden’s win.
That’s why I think there’s only one possible ending to the Trump resistance revolution: it’s going to tear the Democratic party apart. Just you wait. The left wing, “defund the police” community and the rational Democrats have a tenuous union predicated on Trump being the Great Satan.
Once Biden is in office, their battle is going to turn internal.
I think we’re headed for a civil war in the Democratic Party.
Trump is the only thing that’s kept it from happening so far. (And COVID is the only reason Democrats won in 2020. If COVID doesn’t happen, then Trump would have won reelection with ease. Even with the election taking place in the midst of COVID, he lost by around 40,000 votes. That’s it! The nation is more aligned with Trump than they are the left wing Democrats).
What you saw in the election is the things that are very popular on social media — defunding the police, the Green New Deal, reparations, heck, even affirmative action in general — aren’t actually supported by the country. (Affirmative action was crushed in a California ballot initiative, losing 57-43).
Hell, the biggest election story that is receiving relatively limited attention is the amount of minority support that Donald Trump received. His share of the Hispanic and black vote soared in 2020 compared to 2016. Labeling everything as racist and sexist and the cancel culture has no support in this country, outside of social media.
It’s the left wing emperor with no clothes.
Which is why I think the impact will continue to decline.
Buckle up and grab some popcorn. The fireworks in the Democratic Party are just about to start.
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