All That and a Bag of Mail

It’s Friday, rejoice!

And also go play our free college football pick’em. You can win $10k each week if you make all the correct picks and it’s 100% free.

Go play! (But don’t do a good job on the picks because I really don’t want to give you any of my money).

Here we go with the Friday mailbag:

Ninja Patton writes:

“Would 3 SEC teams in the playoff be the straw that breaks the camel’s back for the 4 team playoff?”

Yes, I think it would.

Then the other four major conferences would all ask, “Why did we create a playoff system that didn’t guarantee our champion an automatic spot?” I also think TV executives would tell you, if they were being entirely honest, that the playoff is much higher rated and more popular if they have regional diversity. That is, you want west coast and Midwest teams because that increases the audience. (The South is watching no matter what). Also, the longer the playoff goes the bigger the audience becomes for the final championship game.

Okay, so how do we end up with three SEC teams in the playoff this year?

Alabama goes 13-0, Georgia goes 12-1, losing to Alabama in the SEC title game, and LSU goes 11-1, with their only loss on the road at Alabama. (Georgia could also go 13-0 and Alabama could go 12-1 with LSU at 11-1, but I think LSU’s resume is stronger if the team they lost to on the road is number one in the country and undefeated).

Given the above scenario there’s no way that Texas, Oregon or Notre Dame could get in front of these three SEC teams. (All three would have lost to SEC teams in the regular season).

Given that the Pac 12’s playoff chances seem highly unlikely already, all you’d need to happen in the rest of the country is for only one of Clemson, Oklahoma and a Big Ten team to go undefeated or only one of these title teams to have one loss. Then that undefeated or one-loss title team would go to the playoff and you’d have three SEC teams because none of the other teams would have better resumes than 12-1 Georgia or 11-1 LSU.

Is it unlikely that three SEC teams could all finish a combined 37-2?


But is is wildly unlikely?

No way.

So what’s the fallout then?

Well, two SEC teams rematching for a national title in 2011 — Alabama and LSU — essentially created the college football playoff. I think three SEC teams making the playoff would get us an eventual expansion to eight.

Which, if you’re a college football fan, is the ideal spot to be.

Play four quarterfinal playoff games in the home stadium of the higher seeded team and let’s roll.

Todd Fuhrman, my co-host on Lock It In, and the author of the weekly Vegas top ten column on this site, Tweets:

Asking for a friend… what’s the worst thing you’d be willing to say on national TV and make Rachel Bonnetta apologize for like she’s somehow directly responsible?

One of the behind the scenes jokes we have on Outkick is that if one of us says something inappropriate on the show, Rachel has to apologize for it.

So, for instance, last year Sal called me a dick live on the air and Rachel had to apologize for it, even though she didn’t say it.

We kind of enjoy torturing Rachel with the fact that even if we screw up, she’s the one who has to apologize. Tough break for her being the host and all.

Well, on Wednesday I was trying to make fun of the fact that Fuhrman hasn’t won a week on the show yet and I ended up using the phrase “hand job” trying to compare Fuhrman to the rapidly collapsing porn career of Dirk Diggler at the end of “Boogie Nights.”

And, as you can see above in the video, Bonnetta had to apologize for what I said.

That’s the danger of completely live television, there is no safety net at all. (We have a small delay on radio, but it’s essentially live as well).

Having said that, I generally try to stay well within the lines when it comes to FCC rules. (Even though I think FCC rules are kind of insane. Is it really going to set the world on fire if someone curses on radio or cable TV? I wouldn’t exploit the opportunity unnecessarily, but sometimes I do think it would be great to not have those restrictions and be able to do an adult version of sports talk radio on satellite.)

So far in four years of national radio I’ve had to be dropped for cursing once and I think it happened once or twice in five or six years of local radio on 3HL in Nashville. (So far I’ve never cursed on television).

Given how many live words I say every day, that’s a pretty good track record of not screwing up too bad.

So as much as I love making Bonnetta apologize for us, I hope she doesn’t have to do it for me again for a while.

(By the way, if you could buy stock in TV people — which would be a really fun concept — I’d buy stock in Bonnetta right now. She’s only 27 years old and is as talented of a person as I’ve ever seen on TV.

She’s eventually going to leave our show because her options are going to be too good, but seriously she’s going to do some awesome things in our industry — and beyond.)

Jacoda writes:

“This is a sensitive issue, but doesn’t the fact that a civil case was filed against Antonio Brown rather than (or before) a criminal charge speak to the legitimacy of the allegations? And, would the lack of a criminal conviction or charge prevent that NFL from taking any disciplinary action?”

I spent quite a bit of time talking about this issue on my radio show and on Outkick the Show.

Yes, I do think it is a significant issue that, at least so far, Antonio Brown’s accuser hasn’t gone to police and made a criminal complaint against him. I think if she’d done that before she filed the civil lawsuit her civil case would have been strengthened quite a bit.

My opinion, which I the majority of the public would share, is pretty straightforward — if you believe you were raped, wouldn’t you want your rapist to face criminal punishment as well as financial punishment?

As is, she’s essentially suing him seeking money for what he did to her. I don’t begrudge her seeking that redress via the civil court system, but Brown is already rich. Even if he has to pay you money for what he did to you, he’s still rich.

You really aren’t changing his life at all.

I’d want him to go to jail for what he did to me, more than I’d want him to pay money for what he did to me.

I think that’s an opinion that most people out there would have.

So I think it undercuts the legitimacy of her civil complaint not to have also pursued a criminal complaint.

As for the NFL, the league has not made criminal charges mandatory when it comes to issuing suspensions. Ezekiel Elliott, Ben Roethlisberger, and Kareem Hunt, among others, were all suspended for off the field issues that didn’t lead to criminal charges. (On the other hand, Tyreek Hill didn’t receive any punishment at all for the child abuse investigation that took place last offseason.)

So it’s difficult to forecast exactly how the league will respond under the NFL’s personal conduct policy.

But I do think they have to be careful here because if they suspend Brown — or place him on the commissioner’s exempt list — with only a civil complaint being filed, they open the door to potential future civil lawsuits that are timed to keep players out of big games.

With the rise of gambling, what’s to stop a gambling syndicate from paying someone to file a salacious civil complaint against a player and try to bully the NFL into suspending that player so you can gain financial advantage based on your bets? Or what’s to stop a rich fan who desperately wants his team to win a big game from doing the same? Sure, they’d be in trouble if they got caught, but how difficult would it be to catch someone doing this? And even if you did catch them, what are the chances it could happen long after the punishment has already been levied?

Essentially, what if the NFL one day ended up with their own Duke Lacrosse case.

I just think this is a messy situation for the NFL and it’s why I’ve been saying for a decade that the NFL’s personal conduct policy is nonsensical.

I think the NFL should let the criminal justice system make determinations on a player’s off field conduct and I think individual teams should decide whether a player’s conduct is so bad that they can no longer be employed by the team.

My general position remains pretty straightforward — if you aren’t in jail, you should be eligible to play pro sports.

James writes:

“Have you ever had mono?”

Yes, after my sophomore year college summer I came back to college in August and just felt awful. I had previously spent the summer studying abroad in London — where I’d tried to take advantage of having an American accent with British girls — and I remember playing a game of tennis against my buddy Chris Shaw. It was an epic three set match on a broiling Washington, D.C. late summer day and I thought I was going to die.

So the next day I went to the student health clinic and they diagnosed me with mono.

I remember they had all the med students come check out my symptoms because by that point my lymph nodes were so swollen they said I was the prototypical case.

I didn’t go home or anything, but I missed a week of classes and spent it just sleeping in my dorm room.

I felt like I was dying and I was also signed up that semester for 18 hours of classes because I wanted to graduate in three years. (Spoiler alert, I did, because I’m a bad ass.) But after a week, again because I was a bad ass, I felt good enough to go back to class and I rebounded like a champ without any real ill effects.

I will say, I think I recovered faster because I’d already had my tonsils removed. (I got my tonsils out after my first semester of freshman year in college. That sickness nearly killed me. Seriously, I thought I’d die from that.) But the benefit was without tonsils, even though my throat was insanely swollen, I could still eat foods.

Honestly, I’m stunned more college quarterbacks don’t get mono.

Think about the number of girls your average college quarterback — or college athlete in general — is making out with per year compared to the average guy on campus. I mean, for most of these guys it’s like an off the charts number, right? Yet everyone was totally shocked when this happened to Sam Darnold because it’s so incredibly rare for it to happen to athletes.

Wouldn’t you think this would happen way more often? (I feel the same way about AIDS, by the way. How are Magic Johnson and Tommy Morrison the only pro athletes to ever get AIDS? Wouldn’t you think it would be way more common given the lifestyles of some of these guys?)

Anyway, I’m probably jinxing myself right now, but I really haven’t been sick in the twenty years since I had mono.

I mean, I’ve thrown up and had a fever every now and then, but I haven’t been sick enough to miss a day of work since I got a stomach bug from one of my kid’s like eight years ago.

I think the mono cleansed me.

Hopefully the same thing will happen for Sam Darnold.

(End note: if you had to predict an NFL team whose quarterback would get mono, it would have to be the Jets, right? Either that or the Titans. I could totally see Marcus Mariota getting mono and missing a month of games just when it seems like things are actually starting to go well. Hell, if the Titans ever got to the Super Bowl again I’d legit expect for Mariota to be out with mono.)

David writes:

“What are the implications for the new California law for fair pay for play. If California passes this bill what are the next steps with teams such as USC, Stanford, UCLA and what advantage would they have compared to the rest of the NCAA?”

First, it will be charged in the courts by the NCAA and probably take years to be adjudicated.

So nothing will likely change in the short term.

Second, the NCAA could fairly argue that there need to be uniform rules and regulations to cover NCAA competition in the country. Which could make it hard for California to implement their own rules.

Third, I think there are potential Title IX implications here because only a handful of players would have value and all of them would be in men’s sports. Title IX requires equal scholarships and equal payment, for instance, of full cost of attendance to men and women athletes.

Fourth, it’s a complete falsehood that most schools make money in athletics.

Fifth, the real solution to the college players getting paid argument, in my mind, is to allow college athletes to go pro if they’d like to go pro. Instead of paying college kids to play sports, why don’t the NBA and NFL simply allow all players who are capable of getting drafted to go pro?

Sixth, GOOD PLAYERS ARE ALREADY GETTING PAID! Is no one else paying attention to the college basketball recruiting scandal stories. If you’re a really good college basketball player you’ve likely been getting paid since you were 15 or 16 years old.

I just find it hard to get too worked up about this issue. I don’t care if the players get paid under the table, but I also don’t particularly care if they get paid either. Personally, the only rule I’d have is that you truly have to post a minimum SAT or ACT score and GPA in order to play college sports.

Armstrong writes:

“Who gets fired first, Chip Kelly, Jeremy Pruitt or Willie Taggert?”

This all comes down to how much it costs to fire a coach.

I don’t think any of these coaches get fired this year unless they violate the terms of their coaching agreements. But if they all aren’t substantially better in year three then all of them will be fired then.

Bryan writes:

“I have a Titans over 8 wins ticket for $1k to win $1.2k. Should I look for a solid middle opportunity now that we’re 1-0 or roll with it cause the Titans are winning 10+ games easy.”

You have probably just totally jinxed the Titans.

Thanks for that.

This weekend the Titans play the Colts. (I’m taking SIX eight and nine year old boys to this game because it’s my second son’s ninth birthday and this is what he wanted to do. It’s also going to be like 100 degrees so pray for me.) If the Titans can beat the Colts on Sunday in Nashville then they’ll have a decent chance to beat Gardner Minshew and the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday night in Jacksonville too.

If, and I stress if, the Titans start off 3-0 then I think you can start to get excited about your over ticket hitting.

But right now I’d temper the expectations. And, honestly, having been disappointed so frequently by the Titans in the past twenty years I’d probably sign up for 1-1 in the next two games just because I think they’re every bit as likely to go 0-2 as 2-0 in these games.

Look, I bet on them to win the division at 7-1. (This was before Andrew Luck announced his retirement). Right now they are around +180. At 3-0, which would be 2-0 in the division, they’d move to solid favorites to win this division. But even then you’d have to worry about Mariota’s health.

In the meantime, I just want to enjoy the big win over the Browns and revel in that before I get way too worried about the Indy game in a couple of days.

But, regardless, it’s far too early for you to even think about hedging your over ticket.

Austin writes:

“How much responsibility do you take for the disaster hire that has become Jeremy Pruitt? Hindsight is always 20/20 but it seems that Greg Schiano would have been a much better choice.”

See, I fundamentally reject this argument.

First, Greg Schiano’s Ohio State defense was a disaster last year and he was effectively fired by the Buckeyes. Now he’s completely unemployed. So I don’t believe there is any evidence at all he’d have been a better choice. In fact, based upon the fact that he was effectively fired by Ohio State I think there’s actually substantial evidence he wouldn’t have done a very good job at Tennessee. And there’s certainly no evidence he would have been “a much better choice.”

Furthermore, there have been dozens of head coaching opportunities come open since the Schiano hire was shot down at Tennessee and no other school has tried to hire him either.

If he were such a magnificent head coaching choice another school would have made that move.

No matter who the Vols hired instead of him Schiano was a bad choice for Tennessee.

(Remember last year, the year Ohio State fired Schiano because their defense stunk, Pruitt beat two top 25 teams and it’s still early in the season this year.)

So I see these two situations as relatively unconnected.

Just because Shiano was a bad choice doesn’t mean that Pruitt was a good choice. And if Pruitt ends up being bad it won’t mean that Schiano was a good or better choice either. These are two distinct decisions. When Tennessee rejected Schiano there were a bevy of good choices still out there, including Mike Leach. It’s altogether possible Tennessee made a bad choice on Schiano and then made a bad choice on Pruitt too.

But I don’t see these as connected in the same way you do.

It still remains to see how Pruitt will do in his job. It also remains to be seen how Schiano will do if he ever gets another head coaching job. In the meantime, last year Pruitt did better as a head coach than Schiano did as a defensive coordinator.

Plus, right now Pruitt’s record is the same as Scott Frost’s at Nebraska and I don’t hear anyone saying Frost is a disaster hire for Nebraska.

It’s simply too early to know for sure exactly what will happen with Pruitt at Tennessee, especially since Tennessee, if they can survive Florida, Georgia, and Alabama, is just as good, if not better, than South Carolina, Mississippi State, and Vanderbilt, all of which will be games played at home, and Kentucky. (Tennessee also plays UAB, who they should be quite a bit better than, and Missouri, who will probably be better than Tennessee.) But 6-6 is still in play here, which would be a better record than last year.

Finally, I didn’t want Schiano, but Pruitt wasn’t my guy either. I wrote and said that I would have hired Mike Leach over Pruitt. If former athletic director John Currie had begun his head coaching search with Mike Leach as his target and his hire I think most Tennessee fans would have accepted that hire from the get-go.

Currie’s mistake was in going for Schiano when expectations were for a much better hire.


“Is LSU a threat to Alabama?”

No, until I actually see it happen I will never believe that Ed Orgeron will beat Nick Saban.

That’s especially the case when this year’s game will be played in Tuscaloosa.

Thanks for reading Outkick. I hope you guys have a great weekend.

Go play our free college football pick’em and try to win $10k of my money.

Written by Clay Travis

Clay Travis is an author, radio show host, lawyer, TV analyst, and the founder and lead writer of Outkick (formerly known as Outkick the Coverage).
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The Daily Outkick: Friday, September 13, 2019

Outkick the Show: Friday, September 13, 2019