All That and a Bag of Mail: Elections and Playoffs Edition

It’s Friday, and I hope all of you are having great early starts to your weekends.

Right off the top, we’ve got $50 pretty much guaranteed for you if you live in Tennessee, will be in Tennessee for the holidays or can quickly drive across the border and place your bet. Right now for every 250 people who bet on Tennessee to cover against Auburn, the line moves one point in Tennessee’s favor. Right now we’re at Tennessee +42.5. The line is likely to end up close to 100 points before all is said and done. All you have to do to make $50 (technically $45.45) is go here and place your bet. That’s it. You get whatever the final number is. So if you bet right now and get 42.5, but the final line ends up being Tennessee +100, you get the final line, not the one you bet. Again, it’s effectively free money. So go get your bets in and drive up this line as high as we can.

And if you’re going to be traveling for Thanksgiving — I know I will be — and need something good to listen to, we’ve now got 38 long form interviews in the “Wins and Losses” podcast I do. Seriously, if you haven’t checked out any of these interviews yet — or you’ve just fallen behind — these are fantastic interviews and I guarantee you can find several that you’ll enjoy. We are adding a couple of these every month so go listen and subscribe to this podcast today.

Okay, here we go with the Friday mailbag:

Sweet writes:

“With positive vaccine news being overshadowed by more shutdowns, how much farther can the goalpost move? Is thinking a 100% return to normalcy by next summer even something we can imagine?”

Here’s what I think is key: the vaccine has to get rolled out in the next few weeks, and we have to start vaccinating people in nursing homes. That seems like a relatively easy process to commence because people in nursing homes aren’t going anywhere, and they can all be vaccinated at their specific nursing homes.

Given that over the half the COVID deaths — and potentially way more than over half of the deaths because New York’s data isn’t accurate — are from nursing homes, just vaccinating nursing homes before the end of the year would effectively end at least half of the upcoming death toll with COVID. (You would also vaccinate all nursing home workers as part of the process of vaccinating the nursing home residents).

Simultaneously, you would vaccinate all health workers in hospitals.

Then you could turn to vaccinating teachers so kids could get back to school, which would allow parents to finally return to work without having to worry as much about child care, which would provide a huge spark to the economic recovery. (How many moms and dads aren’t able to work right now because of child care issues? Millions.)

All of this feels like it could happen before the inauguration.

So if the flow chart of inoculation is:

1. nursing home residents
2. health care workers
3. teachers

Then we’ve effectively ended the pandemic’s worst issues just with focusing on these three groups.

I don’t think that’s an exaggeration. Because just with nursing home residents, you knock out half of the COVID deaths in one fell swoop. You then handle all health care workers and teachers, and you’ve taken care of the oldest and youngest in the country. (Kids don’t need to be rushed to be vaccinated because COVID does almost nothing to them).

Once these initial three groups are handled, then I think you mass distribute the vaccine and encourage people aged seventy or older — or those with incredibly suppressed immune systems — to get the vaccine. Again, these are the people actually dying of COVID. Maybe you allow these people, the ones most at risk, a couple of months to get the vaccine.

Eventually you open it up to the general public and allow those least at risk, healthy people under fifty, to get the vaccine.

Will I get the vaccine? Eventually. But I’m not at risk from COVID and neither are my kids. I’m already living my life as normal, so there’s nothing that I’m missing.

Now we used to get flu shots live on the radio to encourage people to get flu shots. So if, for instance, they decide it’s important for people with large audiences to get the vaccine to show that it’s safe, I’d be fine getting my vaccine shot live on the radio, but if you’re asking me if I’m going to go stand in line for the vaccine, the answer’s no.

I think at this point, it’s incumbent upon individual citizens who are young and otherwise healthy to get back to 100% normalcy in our own lives. Personally, my life feels pretty normal right now.

My kids are in school, I work all the time just like I always have, other than occasionally wearing a mask when I walk to a table in a restaurant or go to a sporting event, my life isn’t much different right now than it was back in February.

Which is why I think by spring, much of the country will be back to normal. I really do.

What I’m more interested in is whether the coronabros will ever acknowledge that they got this completely wrong. It took a while for people to acknowledge the failures of Vietnam. Will the coronabros ever be willing to do this? And, if so, how long will it take?

I’m intrigued to see.

Taz writes:

“Why do schools keep closing when the CDC has never recommended closing schools?”

Because fear porn won over science, logic, and facts. That’s the simple truth. The same people screaming to look at the science haven’t actually done it.

The data is crystal clear: schools should have never closed at all.

We’ve known since March that kids aren’t primary vectors for the transmission of the virus. That is, it is abundantly clear that schools aren’t spreading the virus in any significant way. In fact, the virus spreads less at schools, probably, with kids there than it would with everyone shut up in their houses all day.

The idea to shut down schools was based on a misguided study of the 1918 flu, which showed that shutting down schools was very beneficial in reducing the spread of that flu virus. But here’s the problem, that flu attacked all ages. This virus doesn’t.

So we used a historical playbook that made sense for a different virus as opposed to addressing the current virus. And in the process we failed our children, many of whom will never recover from a full year of schooling that we’ve effectively taken away from them. It’s all madness, complete and total madness.

There’s zero science or rational thought here.

Our politicians were unwilling to stand up to the teachers unions, and most of our leaders of both political parties were either unwilling or unable to make a clear and transparent case for why schools had to be open.

The result?

American public policy failed, and our kids were the victims.

Dylan writes:

“With Notre Dame’s win over Clemson, will Trevor Lawrence’s absence affect Clemson before the initial rankings? Which four teams will make the College Football Playoff?”

I write about this every weekend in the Starting 11, but here’s what I think the four playoff teams will end up looking like:

1. Alabama
2. Ohio State
3. Clemson
4. Notre Dame

So if I were predicting right now, I’d predict that Alabama and Ohio State will win out — probably beating Florida and Wisconsin in their respective conference title games — and that Clemson will come back to beat Notre Dame in the ACC title game.

If that happens, then I think your first three seeded teams are easily Alabama, Ohio State, and Clemson, probably in that order, and then I believe Notre Dame would get in the playoff as the fourth seed over the following additional playoff contenders:

5. 9-1 Texas A&M
6. An undefeated Pac-12 champ
7. A one loss Oklahoma State Big 12 champ
8. Undefeated BYU or Cincinnati

If Florida beats Alabama in the SEC title game, then Notre Dame would get bumped.

If Notre Dame loses two games or beats Clemson again, then I think 9-1 Texas A&M would be the next team to make the playoff in the event the ACC didn’t get two teams.

Doug writes:

“More likely: Jim Harbaugh is coaching Michigan in 2021 or Donald Trump is President?”

Well, Trump is president until January 20th so he’s certain to be president for the start of 2021, but I think this is an easy call: Harbaugh is far more likely to remain at Michigan next season than Trump is to remain president.

I think what will end up happening with Trump is he will continue to claim that he actually won the election in 2020, and he will run again in 2024. He may not attend the Biden inauguration, but I don’t foresee his lawsuits overturning the election because he’d need to flip three states from Biden’s roster in order to do so.

That seems highly improbable to me.

If you look at the current election results and presume they aren’t going to change a ton now, Trump lost in 2020 by around 42,000 votes. (He lost Arizona by roughly 10,000 votes, Georgia by around 12,000 votes, and Wisconsin by roughly 20,000 votes.) If he’d won these three states Trump would have tied Biden in the electoral college 269-269 and won the election in the House of Representatives.

So out of 150 million or so votes cast for president, Trump lost by 42,000 votes. (Trump won the election in 2016 by around 77,000 votes. So we’re talking about tiny, tiny margins in both elections).

I don’t think there is any doubt at all that, absent COVID arriving in 2020, Trump would have won the election with ease. In fact, I think he would have absolutely crushed Biden.

If you look at the returns, Biden won this election based on COVID fear porn.

So let’s look ahead. I suspect Joe Biden will be a relatively weak president incapable of accomplishing much of anything given the divided state of government. Given that most parties lose seats in the mid-terms of their first terms in office, I would expect there’s a very good chance the Republicans take back the House of Representatives in 2022, which makes it even harder for Biden to enact any of his policies.

Given that Biden is unlikely to be able to run for president again in 2024, that would mean that he’s effectively done by 2022.

Meaning the Democrats and Republicans will all be angling for 2024 sooner rather than later.

If I were advising Trump right now, I’d tell him to focus on the roll out of the vaccines and claim victory over COVID as his final act in office. If the vaccine is already in fairly wide distribution by Inauguration Day, it will be hard for Biden to mandate shutdowns and it will also be hard for him to claim any victory over COVID himself.

In fact, if the vaccine is already rolling out, what will Biden’s focus be? I have no idea. He’s focused his entire campaign on COVID fear porn. What if COVID’s gone? He’s got nothing that he can accomplish.

In the meantime, I’d advise Trump to get out of the way of the double Senate races in Georgia and allow the number one issue in those races to be the importance of not giving Joe Biden control of the Senate. It’s very important that Republicans win at least one of the two Georgia senate seats. Because if that happens, then there’s no tiebreak possibility in the Senate and Biden will have to work with Mitch McConnell and govern from the center.

As long as Trump contests the election, he’s taking away the best argument the Republicans have in Georgia: that they need to provide a check on Democrat overreach.

I understand that people are upset about losing an incredibly close election, but I haven’t seen anything that leads me to believe the outcome in multiple states is going to be overturned by the courts.

To me, the Republican focus should shift to ensuring Biden doesn’t control the Senate.

Lauren writes:

“Why aren’t sports media coving the (alleged sexual assault) issues going on at LSU. They sound serious, and Coach Orgeron doesn’t seem to care.”

I can’t speak for everyone, but I think it’s because there are so many college sports stories on a daily basis related to COVID that everyone is overloaded there.

Nothing sticks when every time you click refresh on Twitter, there’s a new fire to put out.

Personally, I haven’t even had time to read all the LSU stories. And I suspect I’m like most fans and media in that respect.

I don’t think there has ever been a better time to get in trouble for something because I think the amount of public attention for transgressions has never been lower.

Scandal stories in general just don’t register because of all the insanity going on every moment of every day.

Roy writes:

“Just for this year, why isn’t college football execs going to an 8 team playoff. It makes so much sense.”

I’m in favor of an eight team college football playoff, but I disagree this is the year to do it.


Because the more teams there are in the playoff, the more potential scheduling issues there are as well. Look at weekly conference schedules and look how often games are getting postponed or canceled because of positive COVID test issues. The more teams there are in the playoff, the more likely it is that a playoff team can’t play.

Then what do you do?

You might have to wait two weeks to play a playoff game. Which means no one else can play their playoff games either. (You can’t have forfeits in the playoff).

In the future, I think eight playoff teams is the right number. Maybe, possibly, that could even happen by next year, given how much money schools are going to need to make up in their budgets due to COVID losses.

But this year is not the right time to expand the playoff.

Rocket writes:

“Is Nashville Mayor John Cooper’s edict/declaration to restrict gatherings of more than 8 persons just political grandstanding? How is it remotely enforceable? Or constitutional?”

I believe politicians have vastly exceeded their authority with their COVID pronouncements, and I think most citizens are ignoring them at this point.

Heck, look at the Orange County, California sheriff’s office — they put out a statement saying they weren’t going to be enforcing the new shutdown rules of the governor.

These rules are almost completely for show, regardless of which part of the country you live in.

They’re also totally illogical.

No one is going to be arrested or prosecuted for having more than eight people at their house in Nashville. And if they were, the courts, I believe, would toss out these cases in a heartbeat. Honestly, the worst thing that could happen to many of these politicians is for their regulations to actually be enforced because, if that happened and the courts tossed these prosecutions — as I think they almost certainly would, — then the mayors and governors would realize they really are the emperors wearing no clothes.

In fact, and I’ll be honest here, if I owned a small business and the government was trying to shut me down again, I think I’d stay open and make them arrest me for doing so.

I really do.

I’d want to fight these rules in court.

I mean, if you’re telling me my choices are my business, which I’ve spent years pouring all my blood, sweat and tears into, was suddenly going to go bankrupt because of governmental rules, I’d 100% stay open and risk the consequences.

I just don’t see this as a difficult decision.

Wes writes:

“Why do most sportswriters virtue signal?”

Because they are grown men who write about sports for a living, and as they age, they realize it’s not that serious of a job and they feel insecure compared to other journalists.

When you’re 25 years old, it doesn’t feel that strange to be writing about other people in their twenties playing sports. But imagine being 60 and asking naked 20-year-olds about games they just played that everyone already watched on television.

The older you get, the more it feels like a pretty weird thing to do for a living.

Now, again, I’m not speaking for everyone because there are plenty of sportswriters who do a great job and realize that effectively they are entertainment reporters, but I think COVID has exposed a couple of things: 1. Many sportswriters — and media in general — aren’t smart enough to handle covering stories that actually matter and 2. Many sports media members are horribly insecure about their jobs and don’t like or respect the people who consume their content.

The COVID story is their chance to prove that they matter just as much as the people covering actual stories in the world.

I’m a bit unique here because I had a serious job — practicing law — and found a way to make a living writing and talking about sports, which isn’t a serious job. So I had a serious job and decided I’d rather have a less serious job.

But let’s not confuse ourselves here, I work in the toy department of life when it comes to sports and sports opinions.

I’m an entertainer, just like the athletes and coaches are entertainers too.

Now I hope to entertain in a smart and intelligent way, but I understand that most people coming to me for sports are coming to me because they (mostly) want to escape the serious things in life.

Heck, at this point, I wouldn’t even really consider myself a sportswriter. I’m just an opinion guy.

I take my opinions seriously, but I don’t take myself very seriously. And I think that’s a healthy place to be. I think what you see is that many sportswriters, due to their insecurities, take themselves very seriously and their opinions very seriously too.

That’s almost always a bad combo, no matter what you do for a living.

Thanks for reading OutKick, and I hope you guys have a fantastic weekend.

Go get your bets in on Tennessee so that even the Vols can’t fail to cover! It’s a free 50!

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.


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  1. We have a 10:00 pm curfew now in California, in effect until December 21st. It seems that every time a politician gets caught in this state violating their own edicts, more restrictions come down. Haven’t met one person who is in favor of Prince Gavin’s last set of rules

  2. Your response to the last question is spot on, Clay. Sportswriters today want to be known as Journalists first (yes I capitalized the J intentionally) and sports fans second. When I was growing up ( quite older than you) broadcasters and sports writers just loved sports, and found out they had a talent for writing about it. Now the Peter Kings and Jemele Hills of the world think that they are Woodward and Bernstein. Let’s be honest: if Jemele wasn’t black, she’d be making caffe mochas for a living.

  3. I won’t accept a system that puts a Florida team with 2 potential losses, to Texas A&M that would be 9-1 and Alabama that is ranked #1 most of the year, behind teams like OK State, group of five teams and a Pac-12 champ that played 7 games. FUCK that.

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