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All That and a Bag of Mail

It’s Friday, and I’m up in New York for two days of Fox News television hits. Last night, I was on Gutfeld and in a couple of hours I will be on Outnumbered. Then I’m headed back to Nashville to continue prep for the launch of the new radio show with Buck Sexton on June 21st. Needless to say, it has been a really wild past couple of months.

I hope all of you are set up for fun weekends. I’m flying back early in the morning and will take my kids to the Vanderbilt baseball super regional tomorrow, which should be a lot of fun.

Okay, here we go with your questions:

Bill writes:

“Do you see the CFP going to 12-teams? If so, is it a good idea?”

The most questions I got, by far, dealt with the College Football Playoff’s proposed expansion to 12 teams.

Yes, I think they will go to 12 teams. It’s just a question of when, not if. I’d bet it will be two or three years until we officially get rolling with 12 teams.

I probably need to write an entire column on this, but I like the idea and let me explain why:

First, the vast majority of you agree with me that four playoff teams is too small of a number. (90% of you supported playoff expansion in a poll I put out earlier this week.) So if most college football fans agree with the idea of expansion, the question then becomes, what’s the appropriate amount of expansion? Six isn’t enough, and sixteen, I think, is too many. So that leaves us with eight and 12 as the playoff options.

The more I think about it, the more I like 12 over eight.

Now let me explain why.

1. You get the six highest rated conference champions and six wild card teams.

This means you’ve preserved the importance of conference championship games, but you’ve also created a situation where a team that “steals” a championship at 9-4 or 8-5 isn’t able to play for a title based on having a guaranteed spot.

You also open up the opportunity for one or more non-Power Five teams to make the playoff, but you do so without feeling as if a more worthy team could be left on the sidelines as a result.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how many teams make the playoff, there will always be an argument that a worthy team was left out. Witness the NCAA Tournament every year. What’s the first topic once the bracket is revealed? Which team or teams got left out unfairly? And that’s despite the fact that 68 teams are selected.

So even in an expanded playoff, there will be grumbling over the 13th best team, but I think that will be very muted. If you weren’t able to qualify as one of the 12 best teams, the chance of you being able to win four straight games against elite competition to win a title are tiny.

2. You preserve the playoff race for more teams.

Right now by the beginning of November, there are only eight to ten teams that have a realistic chance of making the four team playoff.

Expanding the playoff to 12 will mean that as we enter November, most of the top 25, and even some teams potentially outside the top 25, can still look at their schedules and feel like they have a chance to win a championship.

The best way to preserve fan interest is to make fans believe their team can win a title as long as possible. That’s why so many leagues — the NFL, NBA, and MLB most recently — have been working to expand their playoffs.

College football has done an awful job of this for years. By the end of September, most fans feel like their team’s title chances are done.

But with 12 teams, hope will continue.

3. Seeding will matter a great deal, making the regular season still wildly important.

Getting a bye matters a great deal here, but so does getting home field advantage.

Four teams get a bye, and the next four teams get to host a home playoff game. This means there is enormous incentive to focus on your seeding and keep playing hard, no matter what your situation is.

The idea of the regular season not mattering or teams resting players is, I think, highly unlikely.

That’s primarily because most of the best rivalries in college football really have nothing to do with the record of the teams.

But also because the difference between, say, the four seed and the nine seed will be seismic. If you get the four seed, you get a week off and advance to the quarterfinals. If you get the nine seed, you go on the road. Yet the difference between the four and the nine seed could be determined in one week. So I think the incentive structure here is well set up to ensure the regular season remains massively important.

4. What do you not like about this format?

If I could wave my magic wand, I’d put every playoff game except the title game in campus stadiums.

The NFL plays every postseason game in NFL stadiums, rewarding the higher seeded team with the home playoff game, until the Super Bowl.

I think that’s the best possible set up.

I’d like to see as many College Football Playoff games on campus as possible.

Under the existing proposal, only the 5-12, 6-11, 7-10, and 8-9 seeded games would take place on college campuses.

This means the top four seeds get byes, but they don’t get home playoff games.

The quarterfinals would be played at bowl game sites instead and the semi-final and title games would remain neutral sites as well. Why is this? I think it’s likely the contractual complications that come from conference bowl deals. If you’re expanding the playoff to 12 teams, that’s eight new teams, the next eight best teams, by the way, that you’re pulling out of the bowl game rotation. How many people will watch the Outback Bowl or the Citrus Bowl if they are getting the fifth or sixth best team in the SEC?

Also, think about the path a team might have. You play your conference title game at a neutral venue, then could go on the road for a playoff game. Win and you’ve got another playoff game at a neutral site in the quarterfinal, followed by another semi-final road game and then a title game also on the road if you keep winning.

So if you’re a fan of a team, you could have five different weeks of travel to five different venues if you want to follow your favorite team’s playoff run.

I understand that most people watch the games on television, but how many people could actually manage this travel to watch their favorite team play all these games in person? A tiny number.

If you played as many games as possible in campus stadiums, you could help eliminate that issue.

5. Expanding the playoff allows college football to get buy-in from more than just ESPN for its playoff.

One reason the NFL playoff does so well in ratings is because the league gives playoff games to ESPN, Fox, CBS, and NBC.

As a result, all four networks promote the NFL like crazy.

Right now, the entire College Football Playoff is on ESPN. So there’s less buy-in for the postseason from Fox, CBS, and NBC. While the playoff money will increase substantially, college football, if they’re smart, will allow these playoff games to occur on multiple networks.

Now the money increase will also bring interesting dynamics as it pertains to the paying players issue. The amount of money produced by college football is going to dwarf all other sports in college. How will that money get distributed, if at all, to football players? And how will athletes from different sports, particularly the women, given the Title IX ramifications, be compensated compared to the men? It’s a fascinating question without an easy legal answer.

But I’m very much in favor of expansion in general.

And I think 12 likely slams the door on expanding any further for the foreseeable future.

For those of us who have been long time college football fans, it’s remarkable how much and how quickly this sport has evolved after decades of resistance to change.

I was talking the other day to my ten-year-old, and he was blown away that there was ever a time when college football crowned multiple champions and those multiple champions never played each other.

“So people just voted on who was the best team, even though those teams didn’t play?!”

He was absolutely incredulous this situation ever existed.

But it wasn’t that long ago at all.

We’re truly in a brave new college football world.

Jason writes:

“Are you going to talk sports with Buck Sexton during your new radio show?”

We will talk about whatever the biggest stories of the day are in the world of politics, pop culture, sports or otherwise. The easiest way to think about it is, whatever stories are leading the day on your favorite newscast programs, we’ll be discussing them.

I love sports, but if you’ve read or listened to OutKick for very long, you know that I’ve always talked about a ton of things outside of sports too. Sometimes sports has a top story, but many times there aren’t great sports stories.

That’s why I’m excited to have a full radio runway to discuss whatever we think are the most interesting topics out there. And, remember, I’m going to continue to do OutKick the Show as well. So you’re going to have a ton of places to be able to hear my opinions on pretty much everything under the sun. You won’t be lacking in sports opinions from me, if all you care about is what I think about in sports.

Like all new shows, I’m sure it will take us a bit to hit our stride, but I’m confident we will be very good already when we launch of June 21st at noon eastern.

And I can’t wait to get rolling.

Tom writes:

“How do you feel about CNN having a female host interviewing Jeffrey Toobin on set about masturbating on live zoom but yet they still shame you for saying you like boobs?”

Well, if you haven’t seen the clip yet, here it is. Jeffrey Toobin went on CNN yesterday and talked about being caught masturbating on a Zoom call.

Look, Toobin is a really talented writer. I’ve read and enjoyed several of his books on the law and our court system. But how can you say that me saying I believed in the First Amendment and boobs was worthy of a lifetime ban from the network and then trot out this guy to explain on live TV why he was masturbating on a work Zoom call?

Also, how did this woman get this assignment? How did they decide she’d have to be the person conducting an on-air interview about his masturbation issues? Shouldn’t Toobin have just written a piece for CNN.com apologizing and explaining himself as opposed to doing this live interview on TV? If they wanted to have him on video explaining his behavior, they could have embedded it in the article.

I just don’t get how this segment made sense to anyone.

Again, I’m not in favor of canceling people who do stupid things — I think we should all exercise more grace and forgiveness on social media — but the double standards at play here are just insane. There’s no way to square how they responded to me with how they responded to Toobin at all.

They’re similar, honestly, to the double standards we’ve seen with Hunter Biden using the n-word. Most left wing media outlets didn’t even cover this story. Can you imagine how gleefully they would have covered it if one of the Trump children had done the same thing as Hunter Biden? It would have been front page news, probably for weeks.

But it’s not just the political angle. Look at how the media has treated many other people who have made mistakes similar to Hunter Biden when it comes to the n-word.

Morgan Wallen in country music, Kyle Larson in NASCAR and a would-be University of Tennessee cheerleader named Mimi Groves all got canceled to one degree or another for doing the same exact thing as Hunter Biden. The New York Times even put Mimi Groves, a 15-year-old high school student who sent a Snapchat video celebrating getting her license while using the n-word, on the FRONT PAGE OF THEIR PAPER.

Think about that, a minor in high school made the front page of the New York Times for using the n-word. (And lost her admission to Tennessee as well as her cheerleading scholarship.) Yet the New York Times, the supposed paper of record in this country, can’t deign to cover Hunter Biden’s texts using the n-word?

The biggest power media has today is they determine which stories to cover. And most of the time, the way many media outlets determine which stories to cover is based on whether or not those stories confirm an existing narrative. But the problem is that’s not news, or at least not reliable, unbiased news. It’s just storytelling.

What I try to do — and I’m far from perfect at it — is apply even precedents to all, regardless of their race, gender, religion, sexuality, ethnicity, or any other identity politics laden descriptor.

For better or worse, I think of my content as rooted in consistent precedents. I think if you read my columns like court opinions over the past several years, you could see consistency here. I do my best to treat everyone the same and apply consistent logic in the process. That’s what our court system tries to do as well. And the best judges out there try to make decisions on tough cases within the context of their prior precedents. They can’t just make up decisions without considering how those decisions impact their past decisions and their future decisions. No case stands alone.

I think many in media don’t do that. They make it up completely as they go along, without any guiding tenet other than whether it advances their narrative or not.

The Toobin clip above is a perfect example of CNN’s double standards at play. I just happen to be directly involved in this particular hypocrisy, which makes it fertile ground for me to discuss.

JRod writes:

“COVID question- Just went to a Suns game with 20,000 fans, a baseball game with 12,000 and everything is open. Yet..Canada. What if Montreal makes it to the finals? Why are people still accepting all of this lockdown stuff?”

Most people are sheep.

And an embrace of lockdown restrictions has become, among roughly a third of the American population, a sign of their extreme virtue.

Masks are the MAGA hats of the left wing.

I’ve spent the past couple of months in Tennessee and Florida. You see almost no one in masks now in either place. But yesterday at the Nashville airport, everyone was wearing masks.

What sense does this make, given that everything is 100% open now in Nashville and there are no masks anywhere? Yet I still have to put a mask on to fly on an airplane? (Except, of course, when I pull down my mask to eat a snack on the airplane or have a drink.)

Last night in New York City, the restaurant hosts still asked me to put a mask on to walk to my table. Once I sat down, I could immediately remove the mask and have a normal meal.

There’s no logic or rational thought behind these rules at all.

It’s complete and total cosmetic theater.

The Canada example, where they are all still on strict lockdowns in much of the country, is a great one. Can you imagine if there’s a Canadian NHL team in the Stanley Cup Final and the American team has a full arena of screaming fans and then there’s virtually no one in the stands in Canada?

It’s just a continuation of the ridiculous farce we’ve all been a part of for much of the past year.

Okay, I’m headed over to the TV studio for Outnumbered.

I appreciate all of you and your support of OutKick and hope you 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.

4 Comments

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  1. Meh, get rid of the playoffs and go back to a pure bowl system. That Clay’s son can imagine a time when two teams could both claim to be champions is beside the point: It’s sports. It doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. Sports is entertainment – it exists to gives us a break from reality (well, lit used to) and to give us something to talk about. Well, frankly, college football was MORE popular in the bowl era – and having dueling national champs gave us MORE to talk about! The idea that we have some right to know who the “real” champ is is utter nonsense.

    Then again, I hate the DH, too – so I’ve probably migrated over into the grumpy old man “Get off my lawn” territory anyway …

  2. Clay: what is your opinion on the lack of reseeding for the expanded playoffs? Shouldn’t the number 1 seed be rewarded with the chance to play the #12 team if they beat number 5? I’m open to expanded teams but want the seeding to REALLY matter to make the reg season more important.

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