All That and a Bag of Mail

Videos by OutKick

It’s Friday, rejoice.

I’m knocking out the mailbag this morning and then immediately pivoting to work on the new book I’m writing that should be out next year. I figured why not go ahead and add another job to my plate since I don’t have enough already?

We had Lane Kiffin on Outkick this AM and I’d encourage you to go listen and subscribe to that podcast.

Also, we have Outkick VIP events coming up in Washington, D.C., Atlanta, New York City and, potentially, Los Angeles depending on how my schedule goes next week. More details on all of those forthcoming, but in order to be invited you have to go sign up here.

Now let’s hit the mailbag.

“What are your thoughts on the Jon Gruden to Tennessee rumors and who do you think gets the job?”

Here’s what I know, back in 2012 Jon Gruden was interested in the job, but he wanted to be wooed and told how incredible he was. And Tennessee had incompetent people at the helm who wouldn’t do what they needed to do to get the deal done.

So we ended up with Butch Jones at Tennessee.

It’s always possible that Gruden is angling entirely for more money from ESPN, but I believe if Tennessee puts the full court press on him, they can get him.

When I say “full court press” I mean Tennessee has to do what Alabama did for Nick Saban, what Ohio State did for Urban Meyer and what Michigan did for Jim Harbaugh. They have to pay him insane money, give him absolute control, and woo the absolute fuck out of him, convincing him that he’s the sun and the moon and the stars of Vol football.

Is Tennessee willing and able to do that?

I have my doubts.

But there are indications that the big money boosters are finally willing to get involved and pay what needs to be paid. I’ve said for over a month now that the Haslam family needs to take charge here and insist that their money go to hire a big name coach. Whether that’s Gruden, Bob Stoops, Chip Kelly, Bobby Petrino, you name it, I’m tired of Tennessee hiring unproven guys. I’ve never understood why you’d put the ceiling on paying a new coach at $4 million or so a year when you could pay $8 million and get a top candidate.

A winning coach ultimately pays for himself. A losing coach ends up costing you much more than you save by not paying him top dollar. Leaving aside the lost revenue in collapsing ticket sales and donations, if Tennessee ends up paying Butch Jones a nearly $9 million buyout it’s going to mean they effectively paid him over $6 million a year.

So why not have just paid a great guy $8 million a year to start?

Tennessee has consistently argued that they will pay a coach top dollar, but they’ve never done it when they hired him. They’ve always hired a mid-tier guy and then bumped up his pay if he’s successful. That’s really only worked once at Tennessee this century — with Bruce Pearl. Otherwise they’ve hired mid-tier coaches and gotten mid-tier results.

Tennessee has top ten money with sub-top 25 results over the past decade and I think if they want to be a top five money program they have to pay a coach to get them top five results.

Now the question becomes — how good would Jon Gruden be as a college coach? He’s been out of coaching for a decade and he hasn’t recruited a college kid since he was at Pittsburgh in 1991. He’s obviously made public comments about how little he likes NCAA rules and complained about the limited number of hours he could work with players. But anyone who thinks Gruden couldn’t recruit is insane. He would be the most famous college football coach in history who has never coached a college football game.

I mean, every recruit in America would know him from his work on Monday Night Football, from the NFL Draft break downs, from his time in the NFL coaching, from his television commercials, and, perhaps most importantly, from his Gruden’s Quarterback Camp.

Put it this way, can you imagine a top high school quarterback not wanting to play football for Jon Gruden? He’s also got infectious enthusiasm and, oh yeah, a Super Bowl ring. A home visit from Jon Gruden would be an event in any neighborhood, he’s not going to be texting recruits at all hours of the day and night.

Remember, Nick Saban has a flip phone, he’s not doing it either.

Recruits are smart, they want to go where they can win and where they can maximize their ability. The guys who have to text recruits all day long are the ones who haven’t produced superstar results.

What’s more, Tennessee has consistently produced top 10-15 caliber recruiting classes over the past twenty years. Do you really think Jon Gruden is going to recruit worse than Derek Dooley and Butch Jones? Much of a program’s recruiting is done by the school itself. There are only so many places with 100,000 seat stadiums, great fan support and tremendous facilities.

The next question asked most frequently is this, why would Gruden do it?

And the answer is pretty simple, I think — because he wants to coach again and he’s tired of doing Monday Night Football. Most people aren’t wired like successful coaches, they are looking for the easiest job that pays the most money. But if that had been the goal, none of these guys would have ever gotten into coaching.

TV’s a great job that pays well, but sooner or later most coaches want to get another challenge. Other than John Madden can you think of a championship winning coach who retired at a young age and never went back to coaching? Maybe Gruden is this generation’s John Madden, but if he’s like most coaches I think he’d like to get back into coaching.

Plus, Gruden’s 54 now, that’s a time when guys start thinking about their legacies. Gruden’s kids are out of the house and starting their own lives. He has time now and if he sits around and thinks about it, is he really beloved anywhere? Maybe in Tampa Bay.

But he’s certainly not a legend.

College football coaches who win big become legends.

Wouldn’t it be an incredible burnishment to his legacy to become the fourth coach in football history to win a Super Bowl and a national title? I’d think it would have some appeal to join Jimmy Johnson, Barry Switzer and Pete Carroll as the only coaches to have ever pulled this off. And wouldn’t it be cool to become a legend in the state of Tennessee as you made Vol football great again with your son presently a student on campus and your cheerleader wife alongside you?

I’d think so.

Plus, what’s the risk? Say he doesn’t enjoy being a college coach then he can always go back to commentating NFL football games, right?

Finally, if he has an itch to coach I think it’s actually much easier to dominate in college right now than it is in the NFL. Especially in the SEC East.

I said this yesterday on my Periscope and Facebook Live show — sometimes you just want a new challenge. I’m a fraction of as accomplished as Jon Gruden, but I think many successful people are driven differently than the average person. Success isn’t the end goal, it’s the challenge to be successful that drives you.

Many people thought I was crazy when I left 3HL, my radio show, on 104.5 just over three years ago. We were the top rated local sports show in the entire nation and I could have done that job for the next twenty years and continued to dominate at that same level.

But I’m a guy who likes new challenges. I want to see if I can succeed at something else. And I’m in an infinitely stronger position now, three years after leaving a dominant show, than I would have been if I’d stayed at 3HL. But I’m not resting either, I’m waking up at four every morning, grinding away all day long, about to hit publish on this mailbag and dive right into writing a new book.

What motivates me is the challenge to be better today than I was yesterday. Ultimately great competitors aren’t motivated by external factors, the drive is all internal.

Gruden will turn 55 years old this fall which is a year younger than Saban was when he took the Bama job. He’s made a bundle of money over the past decade from Monday Night Football, Corona and Hooters. If money and leisure’s not his driving force — and I wouldn’t think it would be at this point — does he want another challenge and an opportunity to add to his resume?

If he does, Tennessee seems like a great fit.

Plus, it’s awfully flattering to be wanted and I think it’s fair to say Tennessee fans want Gruden badly.

Certainly they’re betting on him, because Gruden’s odds are the only one taking a big dive at the offshore sites.

Here are the latest BetOnline odds on who will be the next Tennessee coach:

44501 Chip Kelly +325
44502 Jeff Brohm +450
44503 Bobby Petrino +450
44504 Mike Norvell +750
44505 PJ Fleck +800
44506 Bob Stoops +900
44507 Tee Martin +900
44508 Les Miles +1000
44509 Jim Bob Cooter +1800
44510 Dan Mullen +1800
44511 Brian Kelly +2500
44512 Peyton Manning +10000
44513 Lane Kiffin +10000
44514 Jon Gruden +1200

Gruden has dropped from 20-1 to 12-1 in the past couple of weeks.

As I’ve said before my top three candidates would be Gruden, Stoops and Kelly.

Then I’d move to Petrino.

I think the Vols will get one of these four guys, but they have to put the full court press on their top candidates and not half ass this process.

Ryan writes:

“On Sunday Night Football, Al Michaels made a crack about the New York Giants coming off a worse week than Harvey Weinstein. I was watching, and I immediately recognized that people would not be happy about it. I’m assuming the producer told him to fix it ASAP so he comes back on and apologizes, but not before everybody on Twitter is TRASHING him on Twitter for making light of sexual harassment. However, I didn’t watch but I heard that SNL (also NBC) ripped Weinstein this past week, too. Some of the best satirists have created incredible change through their satire. Sure, joking about Weinstein might not have been an auspicious move for his career, but I don’t think it’s apology worthy. Where’s the line? Why can SNL do something and Al Michaels can’t? And do you think SNL has comedy immunity for any subject?”

One of the worst things about social media is that everyone turned into the worst HR representative imaginable. And even worse than that is that executives listen to the opinion of social media when they make decisions about their top jobs. Social media has taken the balls of top media executives and put them in their purse. They’re always sitting around worrying about what people are going to say.

“Well, why the fuck do you care?”

You didn’t get these jobs because of other people’s opinions, you got it because of your own talents. Trust your own instincts.

I’ve written about this for years, but why is the immediate response when someone sends a Tweet you don’t like or says or writes something that you don’t like that they should be fired? This doesn’t happen in any other job. If Bob in accounting makes a bad joke at lunch he’s probably not getting fired. And certainly the entire office isn’t advocating that someone be fired.

Al Michaels made a clear joke about Harvey Weinstin. IT WAS A CLEAR JOKE! No one actually thought he was saying Harvey Weinstein and the Giants were the same. We like comedians who embrace satire because often that’s the only way to make sense of the world.

I understand why he apologized, but so far in 14 years of writing online and doing daily shows do you know how many times I’ve apologized for what I said or written?

Zero times.

Do you know how many times I’ve been suspended for anything I’ve said or written?

Zero times.

Could I misspeak at some point in time and feel the need to apologize? Sure. But would I ever apologize for something like Al Michaels said or, for instance, for saying I loved the first amendment and boobs? Of course not.

I think that’s one important reason my audience continues to grow and why Outkick has so much loyalty, because in an age when so many people in media are saying what they think you want to hear, I tell you exactly what I think every day.

You may not always agree with me, but I think the majority of Americans favor honesty they disagree with over bullshit.

And much of the media today is complete bullshit.

Levi writes:

“I need some help for gambling. Currently I am a sophomore at the University of Northern Iowa with a savings account around $10,000. I pay for 1/3 of all my expenses of all college including tuition, rent, groceries, etc. (I pay for all of my own alcohol, food if I go out to eat, and gas). I don’t have any source of income/job at the moment.  I want to get into gambling based on your predictions for college football, however I’m kind of frugal with my money. How much should I bet on each game to maximize returns and minimize losses (although losses are unlikely because you’re the King Solomon of the internet and gambling)?”

Honestly, I wouldn’t gamble if I were you.

What I’d do is make a list of the bets you would have made and keep a ledger to see how you would have fared. This is good practice. I’d advocate, by the way, doing the same thing with stock investments. Practice analyzing stocks before you have the money to put into actual stocks.

I only think you should gamble if you can afford to lose most of the money you gamble and right now you’re a college kid with quite a few expenses. You’ll have several decades ahead of you when you have more disposable income when you can gamble as much as you’d like.

I treat gambling as entertainment. I certainly hope I win money, but I’d rather spend money losing on gambling than I would most other things I could spend money on. Once you become a dad, you don’t spend that much money on yourself; I’ve got three kids and a wife spending my money all day. But I bet I don’t spend $200 a week on myself. Other than buying books on Amazon and maybe a trip to Costco every six weeks, I don’t even remember the last time I bought anything other than food and drink.

So gambling on college football is what I do for fun.

As for how much to gamble, I think you increase the amount you gamble as you earn more money. I’ve never had more than $5k on a game and having that much on a game is rare for me even now. (I had $5k on Titans -6.5 on Monday night, FYI). I’ll have several grand on Bama to cover against Tennessee this weekend and I usually bet a couple of grand on every blood bank guarantee.

It’s hard to win or lose a ton of money if you bet a lot of games and try and keep your bets relatively consistent.

That’s why for a long time the amount I bet was $100 a game. That was because I didn’t have very much money. Now I bet quite a bit more than that, but that’s because my finances have improved.

So for everyone out there without much money of their own, I’d encourage you to wait until you have disposable income to gamble real money.

But if you absolutely insist on gambling, I’d counsel small amounts on parlays. Yes, you are likely to lose that money because the odds aren’t fair, but if you put $50 on a four or five team parlay then you can feel like there’s a real payday that you’re rooting for and it gives you multiple games to follow. I think that’s more fun than putting $10 or $20 on four or five games.

Sean writes:

“First off, new visitor of Outkick.  Yes, I learned who you were from the 1st Amendment and Boobs interview on CNN.  LOL  Been going to your site ever since though and really like it.  Keep up the good (and needed) work!
Just wanted to shoot you an email to tell you how spot on I thought your Michael Bennett articles were.  I have forwarded the one debunking his bullshit race-baiting written statement to everyone I know as an absolute must read.  Sadly, as you know, since it doesn’t fit the MSM’s agenda, we’ll probably never hear the details of the truth outside of sites like yours.”
It amazes me how biased the sports media is in terms of the stories it covers.
Before I got into the media myself I had much more faith in the mainstream media to be honest and unbiased, but having seen it from the inside now I can tell you that the industry is incredibly biased. And the place where that bias reveals itself most clearly is in the stories that major media companies choose to focus on.
Can anyone out there provide any justification whatsoever for how Fox, CBS, ESPN and NBC can all cover Michael Bennett’s allegations of racism as a lead story and then not cover the Las Vegas police’s refutation of those stories at all?
That’s mind boggling to me and entirely unjustified journalistically.
I think uneven treatment happens because so many people in sports media are afraid of being called racist if they don’t believe a black guy’s story about racism. We’ve swung from an era when a black guy isn’t believed because of his race to an era when a black guy is believed because of his race. And we skipped right over objective and fair coverage in both instances.
I think it’s just as racist to believe someone because of their race as it is to not believe someone because of their race.
At least that’s the way I approach things at Outkick.
And I do the same thing, by the way, when a woman accuses a man of rape. I don’t automatically believe a woman is telling the truth because rape is a serious crime just like I didn’t automatically believe a man was telling the truth beforehand. Sometimes men lie and sometimes women lie.
No one sex or race is more honest than another.
But go check my mentions on social media, doing this in high profile cases gets you called racist and sexist all the time.
Luckily for me, these insults don’t have any impact on me. In fact, I welcome them. Because if that’s someone’s response to you that probably means the substance of your argument is pretty sound. Attacking someone instead of their argument is a failed strategy.
I’d rather get a story right than be lauded by social justice warriors who care much less about the truth of a story and much more about whether a story fulfills their already existing world view.
“With the amount of money CBS has had to pay to have the marquee rights to SEC football, why do they continuously hire studio hosts who have no knowledge or feel for SEC football?  They offer no reasons for a SEC fan to tune in for their pre or post-game shows. Tony Barnhart is the only person I can remember being an analyst that had any real knowledge of the conference.  If you had control, who would you put on CBS to cover the SEC?”
Honestly, me.
I’d kill it in that job.
Then I’d try to get Charles Barkley to put alongside me and just get out of the way. That would be the most entertaining college football show ever created and SEC fans would love it.
If you tossed in Derek Dooley as well, look out, that’s Gameday level fun.

Written by Clay Travis

Clay Travis is the founder of the fastest growing national multimedia platform, OutKick, that produces and distributes engaging content across sports and pop culture to millions of fans across the country. OutKick was created by Travis in 2011 and sold to the Fox Corporation in 2021.

One of the most electrifying and outspoken personalities in the industry, Travis hosts OutKick The Show where he provides his unfiltered opinion on the most compelling headlines throughout sports, culture, and politics. He also makes regular appearances on FOX News Media as a contributor providing analysis on a variety of subjects ranging from sports news to the cultural landscape. Throughout the college football season, Travis is on Big Noon Kickoff for Fox Sports breaking down the game and the latest storylines.

Additionally, Travis serves as a co-host of The Clay Travis and Buck Sexton Show, a three-hour conservative radio talk program syndicated across Premiere Networks radio stations nationwide.

Previously, he launched OutKick The Coverage on Fox Sports Radio that included interviews and listener interactions and was on Fox Sports Bet for four years. Additionally, Travis started an iHeartRadio Original Podcast called Wins & Losses that featured in-depth conversations with the biggest names in sports.

Travis is a graduate of George Washington University as well as Vanderbilt Law School. Based in Nashville, he is the author of Dixieland Delight, On Rocky Top, and Republicans Buy Sneakers Too.