All That and a Bag of Mail: Is Bama-A&M in September an SEC conspiracy?

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It’s Friday which means it’s time for the Mailbag. 

Congrats, you can pretend to work while reading in advance of the Memorial Day weekend.  

Our beaver pelt trader of the week is Kevin Durant. He’s included in a mailbag question as well, but his decision to donate a million dollars to the tornado victims is worthy of the award. 

And much more. 

Okay, let’s dive into the mailbag.

Mike W. writes:

“How coincidental is it that the SEC placed its biggest game of the year on 9/14? The loser of this game basically has 10 weeks to recover in the polls and, if they run the table, a probable rematch in Pasadena should everyone else lose.  Is this why the conference always put (and remains to this day) Florida/Tennessee so early back in the 90’s? 


If this is a strategic ploy, why don’t more conferences do this?  We’ve got UGA/SC early this year, too. It always seems as if we have a few marquee non-con games in September, but nothing in-conference that moves the needle. Bama/A&M destroys that concept and sets both up for a shot at the national title, regardless of the outcome at Kyle Field.”

I think it’s coincidental that the SEC’s best game is taking place in September this year. The reason why Florida and Tennessee played in September was Florida’s request that it space out the “big” games on the schedule. The Gators already had Georgia in October and Florida State in November. Tennessee would have preferred the game later in the year, but the Gators wanted it early.  

Back to Bama at A&M, remember that the SEC released the 2013 schedule on October 18, 2012. At that time A&M was 5-1, but no one could have foreseen Johnny Manziel’s Heisman or the upset on the road at Alabama. No one would have looked at the 2013 schedule then and said that Bama at A&M was clearly the best game in the conference.

I think what the SEC was trying to do by sending Bama to A&M early in the 2013 schedule was set up a guaranteed nationally televised game for A&M. It’s the same reason Bama went to Mizzou last year and why Florida went to A&M to start the 2012 season, to give a television bump to expansion. The SEC was trying to help out A&M’s introduction to the SEC.

Combine that with the fact that the SEC is trying to stagger the schedule better so there are marquee games each weekend and the decision makes even more sense irrespective of its potential impact in the BCS title race. 

I mean, I can basically guarantee you the CBS game of the week over 100 days before the season even starts. 

Bama at A&M has already been announced as the 2:30 central CBS game. 

9/21 will be Vols at Gators

9/28 LSU at Georgia (outside shot of Ole Miss at Bama if both LSU and Georgia have already lost a game)

10/5 Georgia at Tennessee

10/12 Florida at LSU

10/19 The toughest week of the year to project CBS’s pick. 

Who will be hot? Who will be undefeated?

Arkansas at Alabama

Auburn at Texas A&M

Florida at Missouri

Georgia at Vanderbilt

South Carolina at Tennessee

LSU at Ole Miss

Right now I’d bet on the winner of Bama and A&M as the pick. Because whoever wins that game should be undefeated and both teams are playing first-year head coaches in Arkansas and Auburn. But Georgia could also be undefeated and Vandy could be 5-1. Really, it could happen. Would that be a sexier game than a number one team against a weak opponent? South Carolina could also be undefeated. So could LSU. So could Florida.

This week is a complete wildcard, the only real wildcard on the 2013 schedule.

(Edit, this is also a doubleheader week. So this gets easier to project. One game will be an 11 am kickoff, the other a 2:30 kickoff). 

10/26 Tennessee at Alabama

11/2 Georgia vs. Florida at the Cocktail Party

11/9 LSU at Alabama in primetime (another game earlier in the day, this is the doubleheader week)

11/16 Florida at South Carolina

11/23 Texas A&M at LSU

11/30 Alabama at Auburn

Save my predictions and check back later in the year. The vast majority of these are pretty easy picks.

But back to your original question, Bama at A&M in September is more of a happy coincidence than it is a plan to keep both teams viable for a national title run. The SEC was just trying to make sure there was a decent game on 9/14. The conference didn’t know at the time this would be the biggest game of the year.  

Will R. writes:

“I’m a Southern ex-pat who has relocated to Seattle.  Rather than starting to drink coffee or wear socks with sandals, I gained my Seattle Card by giving up cable TV.  How far away are we from being able to view TV content like the SEC Network through our IPads and mobile devices without a cable subscription?”

I don’t think this will happen unless the entire cable model explodes. And I don’t think the entire cable model will explode. That is, I don’t believe a la carte cable will ever happen. (I’ll write about this next week).  

Right now the number one thing keeping men from cutting out cable is sports. 

You just can’t legally get all the sports you want without a cable or satellite subscription. 

Going to a sports bar is far more expensive than a cable subscription. Plus, do you really want to watch every game you care about with strangers? Are you going to go all day Saturday and Sunday? 

Sure, you can stream an illegal feed through an online site, but it’s an awful, jumpy feed and you have to worry about computer viruses and whatnot. Not to mention, is there anything worse than streaming an illegal game, getting invested in it, and then having it suddenly disappear?

You can also use someone else’s cable password to stream games online, but, again, that’s illegal.

The vast majority of the SEC Network’s value comes via cable subscription fees. So they’re not going to allow you to buy it without a cable subscription. Unless, again, the cable industry explodes. I don’t see that happening.

So you might want to start drinking coffee or wearing socks with sandals and resubscribe to cable or satellite. 

Mike Y. writes:

“So Kevin Durant has officially become one of my favorite athletes in any sport. Not only is he really, really good, but the guy is unselfish to a fault on the court, humble, and now he gives $1 million to the Red Cross for relief efforts in the wake of the tornados. Is there any athlete more suited to be the face of America? Screw sending Rodman places. We should just send Durant everywhere.

Basically, if you could choose any athlete to be the face of America, who would you pick?”

I think you have to go Kevin Durant or Peyton Manning.  

You can eliminate most athletes because they have to be dominant at their sport, incredibly famous, and squeaky clean outside the sport. Durant is the definite choice in basketball. (LeBron isn’t a viable choice because he’s disliked by so many people. Even if, to be fair to LeBron, most of that dislike isn’t legitimate. Tiger Woods is also out). Baseball doesn’t have anyone famous and well-liked enough to make the cut. (Derek Jeter is on the way out). In football I think you could go with Peyton Manning or Drew Brees — based on everything he’s done with the city of New Orleans. (Tom Brady really hasn’t done anything philanthropic that I’m aware of).

Given the choice between Brees and Manning, I think you go Manning.

A dual peace mission between Manning and Durant would be the strongest possible athlete tandem.  

Zach McKenzie Tweets:

“How bad would it be if AG Holder had ordered wiretapping and email confiscation on you?”

You know, I actually wondered about this because the concept of the government secretly reviewing a someone’s correspondence is pretty scary. I could honestly argue both sides of the equation here. I get the need for governmental security on classified briefings, but I also get the need for a free and vibrant independent press. Personally, I’d side more with the press regardless of the political parties involved, but I could make either argument. This isn’t an easy decision either way. 

But if all my email and telephone conversations went public, would I be in any trouble at all?

I think the answer is no. 

I mean, I wouldn’t want all my business affairs out there and I wouldn’t want all the email threads I participate in with people in sports and with my buddies to be public. Nor would they. But I don’t think anything would get me in trouble. There wouldn’t be any shocking revelations.

I don’t even talk on the telephone that often anymore so I think the government would be bored with that.

I mean, there would be a lot of really funny, R-rated stuff that would come out from email threads and whatnot, but I think most people would just shrug their shoulders and say, “That’s kind of what I would expect for Clay Travis’s email to look like.”

This is one of the benefits of having a site like Outkick and a Twitter feed like I do, I get a lot more creative freedom than most. Nothing I do in my private life would be shocking.   

Anonymous writes:
“A few weeks ago my brother caught his wife of six months having an affair with the athletic director at the private school where she teaches. My brother was, and still is, devastated. The local newspaper caught wind of the story and wants to break it with him as the source. He is refusing so he doesn’t “hurt her or her career.” I say she should’ve considered the consequences of her actions. Adding insult to injury, she is insisting on keeping the wedding rings, diamond necklace he bought her as the wedding day present, and set of diamond earrings. I thought proper protocol was that whoever cheats gives up the goods. What do you think?”
That’s awful. 
Six months in!
I wouldn’t go public with it because I wouldn’t want to air my dirty laundry even if I wasn’t the one at fault. It wouldn’t be so much about protecting her as it would be self-interest. I wouldn’t want to be the guy whose top Google search result was a story about his wife cheating on him six months after they got married. I mean, the people closest to you are going to know the truth and when you get divorced after six months it’s pretty clear that something big happened.
He’s not going to be the bad guy here.
Going public just prolongs the story.  
Now, on to the gifts that he gave her.
She should definitely have to return everything. I mean, it’s truly the least she could do, right? Why should she get to keep the wedding ring and the diamond earrings? Legally she can keep them, but morally she should have to return them. Imagine if he’d given her like his great-grandma’s wedding ring and she insisted on keeping it?
I don’t know that I’ve ever endorsed armed robbery before, but I might here.
This raises the question of the wedding gifts as well. Let’s say this was a big wedding, how pissed are the people about their gifts now? If it was a big Southern wedding the bride could have received tens of thousands of dollars in wedding-related gifts.
And she gets to keep all of that?
You ought to get a wedding gift refund on all of this too.
Condolences to your brother, hopefully he’ll bounce back before long. I’m far from an expert on women, but I would think this story would play pretty well on the dating circuit whenever he reenters the market.  
Mark P. writes:
“This past week we learned that the MLS has decided to go all in on a new “super franchise” in New York to be co owned by sports superpowers the Yankees and Manchester City. It doesn’t take one long to look at the map and figure out that the southeast is without an MLS team. It’s been long rumored that Miami is a likely spot for a franchise to land. However, I think it’s important to consider Miamis lackluster sports fanbase and inept ability to get stadiums built, and to consider areas more in the traditional south. I think many agree with me that a MLS team could do well in the south. But how about Atlanta, Raleigh, or Nashville for example? So my question is, if an MLS team were to be awarded to the south, what city would it be most successful in and for what reasons?”
This is a great question.
The South definitely needs an MLS team at some point in the next several years.
With the newest team addition there will be twenty teams in the league, 17 in the United States and three in Canada. There are teams in Dallas and Houston, but other than that there are no teams in the South. Early in the MLS history they had to contract teams in Miami and Tampa because of poor support.
Leaving aside the state of Florida, the viable Southern cities are fairly easy to map out — Atlanta, Nashville, and the state of North Carolina, Charlotte or Raleigh, are pretty much it. There are strong soccer fans in all these areas. 
Right now you’d be forced to play the games in stadiums built for other sports. So the question really becomes, would any of these markets be willing to build a soccer stadium? Playing in a cavernous non-soccer stadium would be tough.
If I had to bet, I’d put my money on Raleigh, which only has one pro sports franchise and is unlikely to ever be able to contend for football, baseball, or the NBA based on proximity to Charlotte. (Charlotte has two pro sports teams now, but I think if a major league team ever came to North Carolina it would go to Charlotte over Raleigh).
See below for why I think Nashville wouldn’t build an MLS stadium.  
Ben L. writes:
“With the SEC channel choosing to locate in Charlotte, does that do anything to bring a North Carolina school into the conference?  Looking at the current SEC footprint NC seems to be a glaring omission. Who (if any) could you see jumping?”
I’ve been arguing for years that eventually there will be a North Carolina team in the SEC. I’ve pegged N.C. State as the most likely school to make the jump. It’s a matter of when, not if. We just mentioned Raleigh as a potential location for an MLS team, but it’s a fast-growing market with favorable dynamics. N.C. State could see the SEC as a way to finally lift its brand to the same level as North Carolina’s. (See what the SEC has already done for Texas A&M in its rivalry with Texas).
So that’s the team that’s most likely to be the SEC’s addition in North Carolina. 
The reason Charlotte’s the location is because of the ESPNU studios that are already there. The infrastructure was already present to allow the channel’s production with ease.
I argued that it made more sense to put the SEC Network inside the SEC footprint in Atlanta or Nashville, but the cost would have been prohibitive. (I don’t know how Charlotte was selected as the headquarters for ESPNU, but what a coup that has turned out to be for the city. Now it has two major sports networks located in the same city. Well done, Charlotte.)
Putting the SEC Network in Charlotte wasn’t a covert sneak attack on the ACC, but it does probably help the network get distribution in North Carolina pretty rapidly. And it definitely will be even harder for the North Carolina schools and their fans to ignore the impact of the channel when it starts rolling off hundreds of millions in profits.  
Ben from Stillwater writes:

“Clay, I’m a very recent graduate who loves Oklahoma State and am going to be attending business school here. While it does not have the history of success that other schools can brag about we do have a very proud fan base. I also like to believe we have a pretty respectful fan base all in all and outside of OU fans most Big 12 fans I’ve spoken to over the years have agreed.

My question is how does an Oklahoma State fan deal with this Gundy controversy. Any educated person can tell that Gundy has gone overboard but he is a former OSU star QB and has brought a level of success that OSU has never known. With that said I dealt with his wandering eyes this winter with the thought that we could put that to rest for a bit and refocus on football. Now with this fresh controversy the only strategy I can come up with is burying my head in the sand and waiting for this to blow over.”
There are two types of fans: the ones who will defend their school no matter what it does and the ones who are at least somewhat objective. 
I always try to be an objective fan. 
It’s really not that hard to do.
In order to be an objective fan all you have to do is this, think to yourself, “What would I think of this situation if (insert most hated rival) did this?”
If your opinion would be drastically different then you aren’t being objective, you’re allowing your fandom to justify your opinion. As a general rule, the dumber you are the less capable you are of being objective about your fandom.
To me, being a fan doesn’t mean you blindly support your team. Tough love isn’t a bad thing at all, it’s actually healthy.
In fact, I can’t think of anything in the world I blindly support.
Why would a team be one? 
Tyler H. writes:
“The talk of the Tampa Bay Rays to Nashville seems legit. Great spot for an American League team between three strong National League franchises. So let’s say it really happened. What would this cost and where do you think is the best spot? As a fellow north Nashvillian I am a big fan of the former Sulphur Dell site. But I don’t think it is just local bias. James Robertson, Rosa Parks and Jefferson St seem ready to handle the traffic. What do you think?”
I think at some point in the next ten years Nashville will get a third professional sports franchise. And I think it will be a major league baseball team.
The city is exploding in growth and is a vibrant sports market. Hell, the Nashville Predators sold over 99% of their seats this year and people in Nashville don’t even like hockey.
The Major League stadium needs to be downtown and it needs to be out of East Nashville. (Eventually we’re going to have to replace LP Field and we’ll need more land to build that new NFL stadium).
Your north Nashville site is a good one — I live here too and our part of the city is growing rapidly — but I’d also suggest where NES is presently located and the site at 11th and Charlotte where the Gulch currently ends. There are 35 acres of undeveloped land there and that site is primed for a major development. If we have to wait several years and the 35 acre site gets developed, I’d tear down NES and relocate NES outside the downtown corridor. There’s no reason why NES needs to be downtown. That property’s too valuable to have acres of utility trucks parked there all the time.
Can you imagine how awesome Nashville’s Gulch would become with a major league park easily walkable from the thousands of apartments and condos there? You’d also put the stadium right on the interstate coming through town allowing pretty easy access to and frrom the stadium. 
My conspiracy theory on why the talk of a new ballpark for the Nashville Sounds has stalled? Because if you wait a few years on building a new minor league stadium you can build a major league stadium instead.
In the next eight to ten years a major league team would do very well in Nashville. The benefit of a major league baseball schedule is that you only overlap a small amount with the existing sports calendar in the city. The month of September is the only time when the Titans and the baseball team would both be selling tickets. (And there’s only two home games then). The month of April is the only real overlap with the hockey schedule. (If you’re in the hockey playoffs those tickets would sell regardless).
Plus, you’d get a ton of New York and Boston fans traveling down to Nashville for games. Just like Chicago and Detroit fans roll in for Preds games. Nashville’s an awesome place to go for a weekend. The bigger your city is, the cheaper your weekend seems. You can get a kickass hotel room in the city and walk everywhere. 
Major league baseball would work really well in the city.
I hope we get the Rays.  
Andrew A. writes:

“I’m a high school science teacher that spends half of a semester teaching the solar system. The students love learning about Uranus. I have an arsenal of Uranus jokes. Am I allowed to top a joke/rebuttal when a student tries to pull a Uranus joke on me?”
I think you’re obligated.
Happy Memorial Day weekend to all of you. OKTC and 3HL will be live from the SEC spring meetings all next week in Destin, Florida.
Can’t wait.  

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.