All That and a Bag of Mail: Final Four Edition

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Feb 24, 2015; Morgantown, WV, USA; Texas Longhorns head coach Rick Barnes reacts from the bench against the West Virginia Mountaineers during the second half at WVU Coliseum. The Mountaineers won 71-64. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports Aaron Doster USA TODAY Sports

Your workplace or school productivity is about to take a dive because it’s time for the Friday mailbag. 

Before we get going any futher, I thought I’d go ahead and give you my Final Four gambling picks. I’ve actually been doing pretty well betting the tournament this year — checking at right at 60% for the second straight season. I need to give up college football gambling and just start betting on college basketball. 

I’m on Wisconsin +5.5 and Duke -5. I also took Wisconsin on the money line at +210. 

So there you go, get rich. 

Our beaver pelt trader of the week is Jay Onrait, for making this video promoting the Mike Francesca radio show. 

So good. 

On to the mailbag. 

Jonathan writes:

“With all the new hires, how would you rank the SEC basketball coaches from top to bottom?

As an Arkansas fan, I’m more nervous about Miss St. hiring Howland than I am Tennessee hiring Barnes. The way I look at it, Outside of maybe a couple years, Barnes was pretty mediocre at Texas. He went to just one final four. If he can’t do any better than that at Texas, how’s he going to be anything better than mediocre at Tennessee?

As far as ranking the coaches, me and my friend argue over this all the time.” 

My SEC basketball coaching rankings would look like this 1-5:

1. Billy Donovan

2. John Calipari

3. Bruce Pearl

4. Rick Barnes

5. Ben Howland

I don’t think you can make any argument that these five aren’t the best in the conference. Now, you can argue about the order — for instance, I have Donovan above Caliipari because he’s won two titles at a non-traditional basketball power and has never had any NCAA issues — but I don’t think any reasonable person can argue about these five as the top five. 

Then my 6-11 would look like this:

6. Mike Anderson

7. Kevin Stallings

8. Andy Kennedy

9. Frank Martin

10. Mark Fox

11. Johnny Jones

I think you can argue about how these coaches should be ranked. I’ve got Anderson up top because he finally got Arkansas to the tournament this year. But it took him four years to get there so I can see how you could have him lower. If it takes you four years to get to the NCAA tournament in the SEC, you’re not setting the world on fire.

Then I’ve got Stallings at seventh. He’s the only coach in this group who has taken an SEC team to the Sweet 16. But that was all the way back in 2007. And Stallings seems to specialize in running off his players. Andy Kennedy, in the most SEC basketball resume possible, has been at Ole Miss for nine years and won a single regular NCAA tournament game — also a play-in game this year, so we’ll give him 1.5 tourney wins in his career. 

Frank Martin is the poster child for how SEC basketball can kill a coaching career. He was pretty well thought of at Kansas State and now people have no idea he’s at South Carolina except when the Gamecocks play Kentucky. Mark Fox still hasn’t won a tourney game at Georgia and he’s been there six years. Johnny Jones has recruited incredibly well, but he’s still never won an NCAA tournament game in his coaching career — and he’s only been to the tourney three times in 15 years as a head coach. 

My final three:

12. Billy Kennedy

13. Alabama’s vacant coaching spot

14. Kim Anderson

Brad writes:


In full disclosure, let me state that I am a proud member of UK’s 15% and I love your site.  It’s funny, smart and informative……plus you tell awesome dick jokes. To our 85% out there: STOP. BEING. SUCH. IDIOTS.  This state has enough challenges. Your actions and comments justify every negative stereotype and embarrass those of us that are smart enough to think it’s probably not a great parenting move to put Mountain Dew in your baby bottles.

With that being said, I would like your thoughts on our basketball team this year.  More specifically, I’d like to know where you stand as an SEC fan.  In football, the conference rallies around S-E-C, S-E-C.  As a Kentucky fan, I’ve waived the conference banner in football for years even though my school hasn’t contributed much.  Do you get the feeling there is this type of rallying behind UK’s quest for a perfect season?

It seams that the national media’s tune has changed this year in regards to this edition.  It’s a great group of kids, playing elite level basketball.  Putting our fan base aside, are you rooting for 40-0?

Apparently I’m supposed to tell you to eat some dicks or something….”

See, I like Kentucky’s team so I’m not rooting against them. They’re fun to watch, seem to be pretty likable guys, there’s nothing that I have against them. I don’t want them to lose. 

But here’s the deal — I can’t stand the vast majority of Kentucky basketball fans. They are awful human beings and I don’t want them to be happy. In fact, I enjoy seeing them crushed.

Personally, there would have been nothing better than the UK fan reaction shots if Notre Dame had drained that three to win the Elite 8 game. I live for that moment when UK fans lose and you see the realization dawning on their smary little faces, that moment when they think, “Holy fuck, we just lost a basketball game and I have nothing else positive in my life.” 

I. Love. That. 

And I say this as someone who has several best friends that are Kentucky grads. I like these guys and girls. But they actually went to the school. And they don’t like most Kentucky fans either. Put it this way, if you are capable of being admitted to the University of Kentucky, you do not like the vast majority of your fan base. It’s impossible. 

Hell, my sister lives in Lexington — fortunately for her she’s married and doesn’t share my last name — and my brother-in-law is a doctor at UK’s hospital. The university’s great, Lexington is a really nice place. But those fans? Good lord, they are awful.   

So I don’t know anyone rooting against Kentucky’s team to lose because they dislike Kentucky’s team.

Most of us just hate Kentucky’s fans. We’re rooting against you guys.  

Daniel writes:

“I was wanting to make a bet with a friend regarding the future of Shaka Smart at Texas. My friend is a big UT fan who thinks Shaka Smart is the 2nd coming of John Wooden. Personally, I find Shaka’s system way too aggressive, and at times, reckless.

I was willing to give my friend “even” money that Shaka Smart wouldn’t lead Texas to a Final Four in the next ten years. My friend who pretends to be a sharp bettor thinks that 5-1 for this bet would be more fair. I find this crazy considering he lead VCU to the Final Four just four seasons ago. Can you be the Gay Muslim judge and make a fair bet for us?”

I’d say two to one is a fair bet.

Five to one is way too high. 

Texas has been to the Final Four three times in its basketball history — 1943, 1947, and 2003. Rick Barnes, who took the Longhorns to that last final four, took Texas to the NCAA tournament for 16 of the past 17 years. In fact, for all of the Barnes criticism, he has taken Texas to as many NCAA tournaments in his tenure at the Longhorn helm as the Texas program had been to the tournament in its history before he got there.

The simple truth is that prior to Tom Penders Texas doesn’t have a tremendous basketball history.  

Figure that Smart should be in the NCAA tourney 90% of the years he’s at Texas. And if he’s not making the tournament then he gets fired, which is probably the best angle on this bet, he may not be at Texas for ten years.

Even still, a Final Four run requires great talent and a decent amount of luck. So I think 2-1 is fair. 

Remember, yes, Smart made a Final Four run, but his team was barely in the tournament that year too. Since that miracle run to the final four Smart’s won two tourney games and never advanced to the Sweet 16 again. And if you want to bet against Smart’s success at Texas, VCU is a really good mid-major job. Remember how excited Bama fans were when they hired Anthony Grant? Well, in three years at VCU Grant had a higher winning percentage than Smart did. 

And how did that turn out for Bama?

Barry writes:

“At lunch yesterday, I could see the NFL Network reporting on Winston & the FSU pro day. I couldn’t hear what they were talking about, but I’m sure it’s pretty easy to guess what the questions were and the answers (Hint: I can’t wait to get to work and prove myself!) How great would it be if someone slipped a nice “gotcha” question into the interview. “Can you name 3 of your professors and match them with the course they taught?” Of course they could do the same thing to a lot of folks at the Final 4 this weekend but wouldn’t that be awesome to watch?”

You could get a lot more gotcha than that question too. “Jameis, if the Tallahassee police department was competent, would you be in jail right now or do you think you would have beaten the charges at trial?”

You would be able to hear a pin drop in that room if you asked that question.

Most people aren’t willing to ask really tough questions in public settings because of peer pressure. And the fact that as ballsy as you think you’d be, you wouldn’t be. When I asked Tim Tebow if he was saving himself for marriage, I was a pariah. Same thing when I went at the Tennessee Titans for being so incompetent. You have to have great big balls of steel to ask tough questions in a sports press conference.  

My goal when interviewing athletes or coaches is to ask them a question they’ve never been asked before. Because I think that’s the only time you get a real sense for what they’re actually like. Otherwise they’ve got their answers memorized and they’re going to give yiou bland, anodyne responses.  

That’s because athletes and coaches get asked the same questions over and over again. Winston’s been working hard, thinks he’s the best, wants to be drafted number one, can’t wait to meet his new teammates, I mean 99.9% of what he was going to be asked you or I could have answered for him instead and there would have been no difference in the answers.

That’s why I’ve always been in favor of deputizing one intelligent person to ask all the questions at a press conference. Instead of treating everyone in the media equally — and let’s be honest, there are a lot of dumb people asking dumb questions in sports media — why not pick one smart person and let them ask all the questions? 

Ronald writes:

“If you were creating an animal army NFL draft style for global domination (i.e. The Game of Risk), which animal would you draft first? They have to be currently living animals and you can’t be a fun-sucking loser and choose humans, bacteria, etc. I go killer whale to establish a navy, but I also wanna say hippo or some other type of amphibious animal. Thoughts?”

So are we assuming the animal army responds to your orders and does its best to carry them out? Also, are we assuming that you get all the animals of that species? I’m drafting based on these assumptions being true.

So I’m taking the elephant with my first pick.

I think you have to go after land first. It’s great to control the sea or the lakes or rivers, but I can avoid those areas, right? If you want to conquer a huge land mass then I’m going elephants. This gets me Africa and probably most of Asia too. If I’ve got elephants you’re not taking either continent. Now the downside to elephants is you can’t move them from one continent to another without a long march, Hannibal style, but that’s a risk I’d be willing to take. 

In the second round I’m going outside the box and taking dogs. This is a numbers play, I think dogs have good upside all over the world, but particularly in North America. If I take dogs and they all listen to my orders, I think we would take over North America for sure, maybe South America too. What other animal is winning with the numerical advantage I’d have with dogs? I’ll tell you, none.

That would give me Africa, Asia, North America, and maybe South America. I think I could get Europe too and maybe Australia with my savvy canine play. 

Richard writes:

“Dearest Gay Muslim:

My wife teaches at a high school here in Texas, and because her students like to talk to her, and my wife talks to me, I’ve been made aware of the Promposal.  In case you’ve been living under the same rock that I have, a promposal is the process by which a high school kid asks a prospective date to the prom.  According to my wife, most of them involve a silly sign, some balloons, and sometimes flowers.  The most elaborate one that her students have mentioned to her involved a kid using the digital screen at the football field to ask his prospective date to prom.

I just chalked this up to kids being kids, but then I saw a news story this week that the average kid spends $324 on a promposal.  Let me repeat that: the average high school kid spends over $300 to ask a girl to go with him to the prom, and this does not include the cost of the prom itself.  I almost fell out of my chair when I saw that story.  Of course, this got me thinking, that even if a kid spends $100, there is someone out there that had to spend over $550 just to make the numbers average out. Also, given that most high school kids don’t have a dollar to their name, the parents have to be the driving force financing this.  It seems outlandish, but as a parent, they have to be looking at this saying to themselves “There’s no way I’m going to let my son’s promosal be outdone by our neighbors.” Is the promposal not just a by-product of narcissism of the kids, but also the parents?”  

If this math is right — and you factor in inflation and the fact that most boys go to two proms during high school — this means I’m going to be spending somewhere in the neighborhood of $3,000 for my three boys to ask girls to prom. 


Just fuck.

And for those of you with daughters who are laughing at me right now, you know why these guys are spending so much money on promposals, right?

Because it makes the girls more likely to sleep with them on prom night.

(Right now there are so many dads reading the mailbag with their smiles totally frozen on their faces. Like they went from giggling to frozen in an instant.) 

Andy writes:

“I’ve recently begun watching House of Cards. Frank Underwood’s character is extremely interesting to me. Aside from the accent, Kevin Spacey is incredible in the role. The way he comes off as a southern gentleman at times while all along planning to screw over everyone in Washington has become rather comical to me. His ruthlessness is a bit overwhelming and frankly scares the crap out of me.

This leads into my question to you. Is Nick Saban college football’s version of Frank Underwood? I have begun seeing a lot of similarities between the two. Do you think that Nick has gone to such lows in order to advance and keep his career in tact? To what extent do you think he has gone to?”

Nick Saban as Frank Underwood is a perfect analogy. 


Here’s a great question for you, how many head coaches in college football would commit a murder — Frank Underwood style — if it guaranteed them a national title?

That is, they could totally get away with the murder, wouldn’t be caught, and would only have their sense of guilt as punishment? But the murder guaranteed them a national title?

I need Todd Fuhrman to set odds on this. Would you go over or under five in major college football?

I’d go over for sure.

Over or under ten? I think ten is probably your betting line. I’d probably go over that too.  

These guys want to win that bad.  

Gil writes:

“I was listening to Howard Stern the other morning. This particular guest he had on the show was a very weird lady who was one of the final 100 people of over 200,000 that are being selected for possibly moving to Mars.

This particular “mission” probably won’t happen for another 15-20 years. Nonetheless, if she is chosen she will be one of 4 people that will ultimately move to Mars and essentially will never come back. The 4 people chosen will be 2 males and 2 females.

This, in my opinion, would absolutely suck! What if you get stuck for life with 3 weird asses or someone who never shuts up? Or even worse 3 Kentucky, Alabama, or West Virginia fans?

My question to you is: What 1 male and 2 females would you want to accompany you to Mars for life if you were to go. EXCLUDING family. Let’s keep it celebrities or well known people so we all know who you are talking about. Would you go with 1 really smart guy who would enhance your chances of staying alive and 2 really hot girls? Or 3 really funny people that would keep you entertained. The opportunities are endless. Let’s hear a gay Muslims logic.”

I’d want Elon Musk — Tesla’s founder and overall genius who is evidently an all around awesome dude who would keep us alive in the event of disaster since my dick jokes and sense of humor would be pretty worthless in space — and then two really hot, really smart chicks who never get mad at us, get along well with each other, will age well — think Jennifer Aniston as they near fifty –, love abundant sex without attachment, and are incredible amounts of fun and also great scientists.

So, two unicorns. 

Who would I pick? I don’t know because I’m drafting entirely on public perception of famous people. Who knows what those people are actually like in real life? I’d probably take Kristin Wiig, who seems to be pretty hot and smart and funny, and Charlotte McKinney, who has big boobs. 

I can also see the argument that it would be better to put an all male or all female crew together to eliminate the sexual tension on Mars. Also, this would eliminate the risk, however small it might be, of one of the crew getting pregnant and having a baby on Mars. A real life Martian!

But you know if you put together an all male crew that would be considered incredibly sexist and all the earth women would be like, “What, you don’t think we can survive on Mars?” And if you put a group of four women together after three years there would be four different camps and none of the women would be speaking to each other and Congress would have to dispatch a colony of kittens to make things better and then Mars would turn into a feline cess pool and I’d never be able to visit because of all the cat dander there.  

Honestly, I’m thinking about life on Mars right now and my biggest question is — can you get the Internet and watch TV there? Is it possible to get sporting events? Even if they’re on delay? Or would I spend the rest of my life getting Morse coded scores of big games?

I mean, there are satellites right, you have to be able to get TV and the Internet on Mars.

This is why I’m taking Elon Musk with me.  

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.