All That and a Bag of Mail: We Need Conference Challenges in CFB

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Okay, it’s mailbag time.

The college football season doesn’t seem that far away now. That always happens once SEC Media Days arrive.

We’re 41 days from the Thursday night college football kickoff.

Our beaver pelt trader of the week is Johnny Manziel because he managed to take over the entire sporting calendar by hooking up with a girl on Friday night. I’m not sure that’s ever happened before. So props to Johnny Football. 

Now on to the mailbag. 

(Note, the Alabama fan pictured here was in the lobby at SEC Media Days. I took this picture myself. He is real. So is his mustache.)

Now on to the mailbag. 

David D. writes:

Why don’t we see more “conference vs. conference” pre-season challenges in college football? 

Consider the following Big XII / SEC slate – to make the logistics work (and to shut up the Big XII folk who insist the SEC is superior ONLY because it has four additional teams) I removed the best team (Bama), worst team (Auburn), and the 4th place team in each division (Vandy/MSU). Isn’t this a great early September slate??

Georgia v Kansas State: The oldest of old man football. Complimentary walkers passed out to the first 10,000 fans. 
A&M v Oklahoma: Just a hunch, the Ags would win by 28
LSU v Oklahoma St: The 2011 title game that should have been
Florida v Texas: The battle for Muschamp’s soul OR the battle for most felonius team of the 2000’s
South Carolina v Texas Tech: The number of points scored would be higher than the cumulative IQ of the crowd
Ole Miss v TCU: Crack smoking Christians against a team stuck in the Jim Crow days. Nothing can go wrong. 
Missouri v West Virginia: The only truly uninteresting game. Umm, they both wear yellow?
Arkansas v Iowa State: Bad football, but worth watching just in case Bielema challenges Paul Rhodes to a staring contest. 
Tennessee v Baylor: The O/U is unofficially set at “All” Take the over.
Kentucky v Kansas: All 6,000 fans ignore the game while praising/lamenting the recruiting process of Andrew Wiggins
I think you’d have to have Alabama play Texas or Oklahoma for a premium broadcast and my inclination would only be to have the top ten teams play in this challenge.
So I’d either use last year’s rankings or take the projected top ten from the SEC and slot them for the best match-ups.
But your idea is a good one, particularly as we move into a playoff era.
How awesome would an SEC vs. Big Ten 1-14 be? You could also do the Pac 12 vs. the top 12 in the SEC or the SEC vs. the ACC 1-14 (of course lots of these ACC vs. SEC games happen anyway. Just off the top of my head you’ve got seven ACC vs. SEC games this year: South Carolina vs. North Carolina, Florida vs. Florida State, Georgia vs. Georgia Tech, South Carolina vs. Clemson, Kentucky vs. Louisville (a year early, but still), Clemson vs. Georgia, Vanderbilt vs. Wake Forest.
With all the talk about increasing the quality of out-of-conference schedules, I’m surprised this isn’t happening.
It would be a ratings bonanza.
My idea has always been to play it on the opening weekend of the college football season and start the games on Thursday night.
So you could go with two games on Thursday night, two on Friday night, six on Saturday, three on Sunday and then close it out with the best game of the challenge on Monday Labor Day night.
Since the NFL hasn’t started yet college football could completely take over the sporting calendar. Plus, can you can imagine the months of trash talk that would precede an SEC vs. Big Ten 1-14 challenge?
Basically, I think this is a brilliant idea whose time has come.
James writes:

Given that this is Mariano’s last season with the Yankees and the last season of “Enter Sandman” I wanted to pick your brain about a bar room discussion me and my friend have had going for a couple of years now.
In some alternate universe where Clay Travis could throw the perfect cutter and 100+ m.p.h. fastballs (assuming you were a relief pitcher) and they open the gates of the bullpen (also assuming this is not an alternate universe in which the bullpen golf cart is not still in use) what song is it that would play for your walk/jog/John Rocker to the mound?
What ya got?”
I’d go with R. Kelly’s “Ignition” for the total hilarity of it. 
Especially if I started doing a patented “ignition,” dance after each strikeout. 
Can you imagine seeing a pitcher — with a completely straight face — pretend to turn the ignition on his car after each strikeout? I just tried to do it with a straight face here at my computer and I couldn’t even pull it off. 
I’d also refuse to let anyone know that this was a joke. Whenever reporters asked me about the song or the patented strikeout move, I’d say, “I think R. Kelly’s the greatest musical artist of all time. It’s a tribute to him.”
Again, completely deadpan. 
I might even rotate through all of R. Kelly’s greatest hits if people got tired of “Ignition.” Can you imagine all 37 chapters of a “Trapped in the Closet,” for R. Kelly as I ran on the field?
I think what we’re learning here is that God really screwed me by not giving me an amazing fastball. 
Will B. writes:

“Given a year to focus exclusively on training and unlimited access to PEDs, blood doping, etc., how fast could you run the 100m? Or could you finish the Tour de France? I think people forget that these guys getting caught are still amazing athletes whose cheating only gave then that final edge to beat out the field (who are probably cheating themselves).”
PEDs make a tremendous difference for the average athlete.
I know this because during my final year of law school a couple of my friends went on steroids. Really, they did.
They were guys in decent shape — they worked out a few times a week at the gym like most of us — who immediately skyrocketed in athleticism. In particular, one of the guys got so strong so fast that he was doing sets of twenty dips with double 45s on the belt around his waist. That’s pretty freakish for a random guy in the Vanderbilt student gym to be pulling off. People used to stand around and gawk.
This is one of the things I’d actually like to see — a regular guy uses whatever PEDs he can and tracks his body development on a website. I think you’d be blown away by the results. Because when you really think about it, superior athletes are already in the 99th percentile of athleticism. Their ability to take their bodies to the next level makes them superhuman, but how many people are they surging past in the overall athlete rankings? Not many. They’re already extreme outliers. 
But your average athlete would skyrocket from the 50th percentile to the 65 or 70th or 80th percentile really fast. In terms of just raw strength, it’s an enormous impact in the gym. would be a huge viral hit.
Never show your face and just track all your progress on the best PEDs in the world for six months.
I think you’d be blown away by the results.  
Someone needs to do this. 
For science. (And backne and dumb girls). 
Ben writes:
“I am currently a graduate student at an SEC institution (my e-mail should give that away). Recently I was at a science conference presenting my research, and I won the award for best student poster. While at the banquet where I was to receive this award I learned that there would be complimentary wine with the meal. The server comes up to me, says “You look like a guy who enjoys a heavy pour”, and proceeds to fill my glass to the brim, Gary Pinkel style. I have no idea what made him think I liked to drink so much, maybe it is just that look most grad students have that says “I still don’t know what the hell I want to do with my life.” So we get through the meal and I have had two jumbo glasses of wine, fairly stout I must say, and am feeling pretty good. Then comes the award ceremony. My name is called and I go to accept the award, but this odd feeling comes up. I have a sudden urge to begin the SEC chant among this group of academics, who range from Ivy League institutions to prominent European universities. I am one of about 3 SEC students there, and probably the only person obsessed with college football.  I wind up fighting back the urge to drunkenly start the chant, and I return to my seat.  My question is: did I fail the conference by not starting the chant? What is proper etiquette for starting the chant? Does it apply to academic situations too? I mean I beat out kids from Hopkins and Harvard to win this damn award, can’t I at least rub some athletic dominance in their face too?

Also, could you please just use my first name? I don’t know how my professor would respond if this got back to her, and she knew this was my thought process.”

I love the idea of talking college sports trash with an audience that has absolutely no interest in college football for an award that has nothing to do with sports. 

Because it’s so profoundly awkward. 

Imagine if you’d gone with, “Okay, guys, say it with me, SEC, SEC, SEC,” would there have been complete silence?

Or would Harvard’s Moldovan expert on valence bond theory have started chanted it in horribly accented English? “S, E, and the C, S, E, and the C, S, E, and the C…”

This segues perfectly into another mailbag question:

Andrew M. writes:

“I just recently got back from a cruise out of New Orleans, and wanted your opinion on a matter I found amusing. What exactly is an acceptable time to use a school chant/cheer. I’ll give some examples. 

A few 8-10 year olds are playing Jenga when from a distance I hear the blocks fall. Immediately, I hear a “Roll Tahd!!” Seems a little overzealous. Am I wrong?”

As a general rule, if your average Alabama fan does it, it’s probably wrong. This is particularly the case when it’s done without irony for a minor accomplishment. I mean, the game of Jenga has to end by the tower falling, right? It’s inevitable. Is it really that much of an accomplishment to not knock over the tower given that when you start playing you’re aware that someone has to do it or else the game would never end? Given that most eight to ten year olds don’t have an ironic sense of humor developed, it’s likely that this 8-10 year old Bama fan was playing with other 8-10 year old Bama fans and legitimately celebrating. Which means he was taunting them with the same taunt that they’d use on him if he lost.

Now, if you’re a reasonably intelligent Alabama fan — okay, work with me here, they do exist — and you have friends who aren’t Bama fans, it would be ironically funny if after minor victories you started saying Roll Tide. Example, you’re at Cracker Barrel and beat your seat companion in the jumping pegs game.

Dropping a “Roll Tide,” here would be okay.

But that’s being done in a knowingly ironic fashion. i.e., you know how ridiculous it is to do and do it anyway to make fun of the Bama fans who would do it for real.  

I think it would be even funnier, however, if SEC fans took back the Roll Tide cheer and started making fun of Alabama fans by doing it every time we screwed up.

Accidentally spill ketchup on yourself, “Roll Tide.” Fail your GED test for the ninth straight time? “Roll Tide.”

Kenny writes: 

“Today I have a job interview at the company I currently work for. I’m interning at the company right now and the interview is with my current boss, but for a different, full time position. Long story short, I found myself on a party bus to a concert last night with a bunch of my buddies (I’m an idiot I know). I figured I would go, have a beer or two, and be sleeping by midnight since the concert was less than an hour away.  Well, I didn’t know until halfway there that almost everyone else on the bus had today off so the plan was to go where the road took us and drink until the sun came up. So, like an idiot, I went along with it and got about two hours of sleep after countless beers, vodka/redbulls, and shots. I’m sitting at my desk right now with the shakes still feeling pretty drunk and I’m scared that people can still smell booze on me.  What would you do in this situation? This interview has been scheduled for over a month. Do I try to come up with something so that we have to reschedue or do I risk not being at my best and just go ahead with my interview? Interview isn’t until 4:00 today and I’d love to get your advice.”

Okay, it’s not yet noon. At lunch, take an hour off, go home, eat something substantial to get your stomach grounded, lay down for a thirty minute power nap — set an alarm — and then when you wake up reshower. Change your clothes if you can do so without being conspicuous. If you can’t do that, keep the same clothes on.

That should kill any lingering alcohol scent and get you back in fighting shape. 

Don’t reschedule the interview because that raises way too many flags. I’m not sure which job you’re interviewing for, but you’re an intern. You’re not interviewing to be director of the CIA. I’m pretty sure you can handle all the questions no matter what you did the night before.  

Everyone who has ever worked in an office will completely agree with this — you’re going to be faking your ass off at your job a ton. “I love to work here.” “If (insert company) doesn’t succeed, I won’t be able to sleep at night.”

Working in a corporate office is just one lie after another. 

You might as well start now.

Good luck.  

Cameron C. writes:
“This might pass to far into the nerd realm for you to use, but me and my friends always debate whether or not the voice Christian Bale uses as Batman is stupid or not.  I think that logically it makes sense that someone with as much publicity and clout as Bruce Wayne would have to disguise his voice somehow. You, for example, have a very recognizable voice. If you were running around downtown Nashville at night in black and grey tights (to each his own), how many people would you come in contact with?  With the size of your audience, wouldn’t it be plausible that at least one person would be like, “Hey, didn’t that guy sound like Clay Travis?” 
This is not too nerdy because my wife and I have talked about this as well.
The voice disguise is definitely necessary.
But don’t you think with modern technology that the police could match the part of Batman’s face that’s visible beneath his mask to every face in Gotham City and identify him? I mean, his jawline is pretty recognizable, right? His height and weight are pretty easy to determine. You can narrow down the potential Batman’s pretty fast. If the police really wanted to know it was Bruce Wayne, it’s an easy call. 
And don’t even get me started on the Gotham city press — which is always deciding that Batman is good or bad to sell more newspapers and increase television ratings — wouldn’t they be able to come up with a list of twenty potential Batman’s? How many people in Gotham City can afford a helicopter or the batmobile? How many are taller than six foot and in great shape?
That’s my biggest issue — the voice disguise is necessary — but everyone would know who Batman is.  
As for the voice — I’ve also spent an embarrassing amount of time thinking about Batman’s voice — my focus has always been on how much doing the Christian Bale Batman voice would hurt my own vocal chords. Try to do your Batman voice. Okay, now picture that you have to do it for hundreds of different scenes a day for several months. 
I have no idea how Bale’s vocal chords survive. 
Patrick F. writes:
“Hey Clay, big fan of your work. Love all your columns and look forward to the Friday mailbag every week, so I finally decided to give a question a shot! – I’m 22 and just graduated from school in Indy. This fall I’ll be going to Georgia for grad school and don’t know a soul there. I’ve never been in any real serious relationships (longer than 6 months) because I’ve always been too busy worryin about other things. But ALOT of my friends and other young people my age are getting into serious relationships/married super early now a days and it’s driving me crazy! I think it should illegal to get married before you’re 25. – So I guess my question is, am I wrong for wanting to perfect my craft, focus on school and find a good job for my future? Rather than put a lot of time/effort into a relationship before I’m even 25 years old that may really limit my career opportunities going forward? Especially when most marriages prior to 25 just end in divorce anyway? Just wondering about your opinion! Cuz settling down at 23 just sounds awful right now!”
I really don’t see the point of either a guy or girl having a serious relationship in college. You idiots having serious relationships in high school are just foolish. Really? You’re 14 or 15 and you need a boyfriend or girlfriend? Stop. You don’t. Not at all. Just hang out with your friends and worry about yourself. The same is true for college. College is the only time in your life you will be surrounded by smart people who you can hang out with all hours of the day or night. 
Decide you want to play a pick-up football or basketball game?
It takes like ten minutes to organize one. 
Try that once you’re out of college or grad school. 
It’s nearly impossible. 
Try it after you have kids. 
It’s completely and totally impossible. 
If you get engaged while you’re in college — and she isn’t pregnant — what’s the big rush? (If you say so we can have sex, just have sex before you get married. I promise god won’t strike you down. If He did, 99% of us would be dead.)
My favorite people are the ones who are like 22 and in couples counseling. (These people exist, really, they do.) Couples counseling! Here’s my couples counseling idea for both of you that won’t cost a dollar — break up. You’re trying way too hard here. If you have to go to couples counseling in your early twenties it doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with either of you, just that you’re with the wrong person. Plus, what great relationship are you trying to save here?
“But we’ve been together since we were 19!” wails the girl.
Yeah, that’s three years.
Big f’ing deal. 
I’ve got eight year old underwear and twenty year old t-shirts. (This is a real sore point for my wife). Your three years together doesn’t really impress me. Your relationship is the same length of time that Tyler Bray started at quarterback for Tennessee. How will the world stop turning if you guys are no longer together? You’ve been together since before NewsRoom even started!
I agree completely with your no one should get married before the age of 25 rule. 
It’s a proven fact that the older you are when you get married the first time the less likely you are to get divorced. This makes complete sense. Most people have relationship issues because they think the other person should make them happy. That’s impossible. If you’re not happy before you meet your partner, you’re not going to be happy after either.  
Also, PSA, if you’re reading this and your marriage sucks and you don’t have kids yet, just get divorced. Kids will not make your relationship easier. Getting divorced before you have kids isn’t really that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things, it’s like a do-over in elementary school kickball.
Everybody forgets about it pretty quickly and it ends up benefiting the overall game of life.  
William A. writes:
“A while back, you mentioned that you take your boys out to the backyard to pee (to your wife’s dismay). We are in the middle of potty training my 2 year old boy, but he can’t hit the toilet without soaking everything in a 3 foot radius.  So we started taking him to the backyard where his “allowable radius” increases from 3 feet to infinity.  Now he thinks it acceptable to poop anywhere outside, so when he is outside he just drops trow and takes a dump about once a day.  Normally it’s too late to stop once we realize what he is doing.  I’m worried this will carry over into public outdoor areas.  Surely you have had this experience……any advice?” 
There is no correct way to potty train. 
It’s as close to chemical warfare as most of us will ever reach. 
My boys love to pee outside. (So do I, but I try to limit my outdoor peeing to at night in my backyard and anywhere on a golf course during the day). The issue we have now is how old do you have to be when peeing outside goes from acceptable behavior to unacceptable behavior. For instance, my five year old — he’ll be six at the end of January — has no issues whatsoever with pulling down his pants and peeing in front of a large group of people. 
Last year I threw out the first pitch at the Sounds game and he had to pee. 
He wanted to go on the field. (Can you imagine the ESPN outrage if Yasiel Puig caught a foul ball for the second out and then called timeout to pee in the outfield grass?)
He’s still young enough to get away with this now, but at some point, say six or seven, people start to wonder. And, go figure, everyone thinks it’s cute when a four year old pees at a playground, but a 34 year old does it and he goes to jail. Talk about a double standard.  
Anyway, last month my two-year old pooed on the indoor McDonald’s playground. I wasn’t there, but my wife said it was unfortunate because the poo actually came out of his underwear and landed on the ground. She grabbed it from the floor and then cleaned up the spot, but it was a near disaster. She actually uttered the words, “Thank god it was just a poo log.”
The worst parenting poo disaster I think can of is being the parent of the kid whose kid poos in the pool and shuts it down for hours for chemical treatment. 
So far this hasn’t happened to us, but I’d imagine that’s pretty mortifying. 
I mean, they have to bring in the hazmat team to shock the pool. It’s like a CSI episode. This is pretty much the worst thing a two year old can do, like being a toddler serial killer.  
So I think you just have to accept that your kid will poo in public and hope it’s not in the pool, which would be parental disaster. Unless, of course, you have multiple kids. You can tell the parents who have multiple kids at the pool because we’re always like, “Are you sure the entire pool has to get cleaned out for one poo log? Can I sign a consent form to let me kids keep swimming? I think they’ll be fine. I’ll take another margarita too.”
By the way, here’s a potty-training tip — don’t try and save your kid’s underwear when he poos in them. Just throw the underwear away. What do kid’s Batman underwear cost, like fifty cents? I tried to clean those things in the sink once and it was a complete disaster. I was doing my Christian Bale Batman voice to distract myself from throwing up, “The poooooo, it stinksssss.”
Then I’m thinking, these are fifty cent underwear, just bag them and toss them outside. We’ve been throwing away diapers that cost a quarter or more for years and suddenly I’m cleaning out poo underwear to save a quarter?
No thank you.  
JTH sends us this picture:
I was trying to be circumspect but this contractor has  a ‘The SEC Conference’ logo tattooed on his neck.
Abby writes:

“After you made it known to the world Johnny Football was clearly hooking up with a hot chick the night before he “overslept” at the Manning Camp, it got me thinking…what would happen if Johnny hooked up with Nick Saban’s daughter? Would Saban wallpaper his office with Scooby Doo Johnny to keep him motivated? Would Saban’s daughter punch any girl that got close to Johnny again?”
After reading about the sorority catfight beatdown she delivered and knowing her bloodlines, I’m pretty convinced that Saban’s daughter is basically Keri Russell’s character in “The Americans.” She might be able to beat Manziel’s ass by herself.
If Johnny hooked up with Saban’s daughter I would completely and totally assume that this was part of Alabama’s master plan to win on September 14th. And every single one of you reading this right now would too. I’m not sure what she would do to him, but I would see it as a KGB-esque Cold War plot all planned and executed by the Saban family. What if Saban’s daughter got Manziel to fall in love with her — this is assuming that Manziel was capable of falling in love with one girl ever — and then broke up with him the night before the game via a series of crushing texts? What if she became incredibly controlling and burned his Scooby Doo costume, thereby destroying all of the magical mojo that Johnny Football has had since he wore that costume for Halloween?
Of course, Saban said at SEC media days that he can’t control his daughter at all. (Is that a clever ploy to fool Manziel). Which is great. Because kids don’t care what their dads or moms do for a living. Barack Obama’s got two daughters who don’t care at all that he’s President. Prom season will be coming up for both girls soon and he’ll hate whichever guys take them to prom. That’s because he was a teenage boy. 
Obama will be thinking, “The entire country trusts me not to blow up the entire world in ten minutes, but if I tell Sasha or Malia I don’t like their boyfriend, they’re going to keep dating him just to spite me.”
I guarantee this. 
Anyway, can you think of a more unexpected relationship than Saban’s daughter dating Manziel? What if she really liked him and showed up in the stadium in an Aggie #2 jersey? Can you imagine the media asking Saban about his daughter dating Manziel during game week? Would Saban’s head explode? Would he choke the media member to death who asked about it? Since that media member would clearly be me, could my family recover any civil damages in a wrongful death lawsuit if Saban choked me to death in Alabama? 
Conversely, what if Johnny Football hooked up with Saban’s daughter just because he thought it was the only way to distract Saban from his maniacal hundreds of hours of football tape viewing?
This needs to happen just so we can all deconstruct the possibilities.  
Dan writes:
“Last week the US Men’s World University team beat the United Arab Emirates team 140 to 46. Almost a century margin. My question is how low in American basketball leagues would this UAE team have to go to be competitive? Would the decent DIII teams still beat them?  Would they have to go all the way down to the 5A high school leagues?”
The UAE has nearly five million people.
So that’s basically the population of Alabama.
I have zero doubt that the best high school basketball team in Alabama could beat them.  
Just about every D3 team would, every major state championship team would beat them as well. 
Have great weekends. 
I’m off to watch a matinee version of Turbo with my five and two year olds. 
I’m just hoping they don’t both decide they have to poo at the exact same moment. 

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.


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