All That and a Bag of Mail: Surfing Great Whites

Now that the NCAA has officially announced it could find no wrongdoing in the Cam Newton investigation, I'd like to make a humble suggestion: how about the NCAA has to turn over its notes, tape recorded conversations, and whatever other data it has amassed to Yahoo Sports investigative team? After all, Yahoo is the one uncovering actual wrongdoing, not the NCAA. In fact, what if the NCAA just got out of the investigative business all together when it came to major programs and uncovered all tips it received to Yahoo and allowed them to track down the legitimacy or illegitimacy of these stories?

Put simply, I trust the guys at Yahoo a lot more than I trust the NCAA.  

Our beaver pelt trader of the week is surfer Doug Niblack who managed to convince the world that he surfed a great white shark on Wednesday. You have to read this story.

He's the H.G. Wells of the shark surfing community.

Here's the opening to his surf story:

"Doug Niblack was trying to catch another wave before going to work when his longboard hit something hard as rock off the Oregon coast and he found himself standing on a thrashing great white shark.

Looking down, he could see a dorsal fin in front of his feet as he stood on what he described as 10 feet of back as wide as his surfboard and as black as his wetsuit. A tail thrashed back and forth and the water churned around him.

"It was pretty terrifying just seeing the shape emerge out of nothing and just being under me," he told the Associated Press on Wednesday. "And the fin coming out of the water. It was just like the movies."

We talked about this story on the radio yesterday and my questions are pretty basic, namely four things:

a. How do you know the breed of the shark?

Surfing a shark is impressive no matter what breed it is, but I question this story because there's too much specificity. Saying it's a great white shark definitely draws everyone's attention but can you really tell what breed a shark is from just being near it for three or four seconds? Especially if you're just a random surfer dude. It's not like this guy is a sharkologist -- I realize there's probably a name for this but sharkologist will suffice for our purposes -- he's just a surfer.

Given that he was only in the proximity of the shark for three or four seconds, can you really be sure what the breed is? If you think he could have identified the breed, what if you were in a murky pond and surfed a swimming dog for three or four seconds? Would you trust your own breed analysis of a dog?

Can you really distinguish between a Labrador and a Great Dane in that scenario?

Or equate this to my fear of snakes. I assume every single snake I see is poisonous. I don't care that the vast majority couldn't hurt me at all. By assuming that they're all poisonous I've avoided being bitten all my life. The same could be true of sharks. If you see a dorsal fin, you assume it's a great white because we've all been conditioned by the movie Jaws to expect the worst. 

b. Why would a great white shark, the greatest killing machine in the ocean, let a person surf him?

Let's put this on land. Would a tiger let you ride him across the African savannah? Of course not. He'd eat you or not allow you to get near him. That's what killer wild animals do.  

So why would a shark let a turtle or seal surf it? Based on my immense knowledge of marine life, I'm 100% confident that a shark would not let you surf on his back. It's not like he's distinguishing a human animal from a turtle or seal. 

And there's no way a turtle or seal is surfing on a shark's back.

This just seems like a real waste of the shark's energy. 

Kill, be killed, or surf? 

It makes no evolutionary sense. 

Somewhere Charles Darwin is pissed if this actually happened.  

c. How is there no eyewitness to the story?

Go back and read what the only "eyewitness" to this story says: "Marks said he never saw the shark, but saw Niblack suddenly stand up, with water churning around him."

Couldn't seeing someone "stand up, with water churning around him," also describe what every single person looks like as they surf on a surfboard?

Would the AP write a story about me if I claimed to jump rope with a cobra? And if my only witness was some guy who claimed to see something slithering into the brush and said I looked scared would this somehow make it more valid?

If so, let's start this now.

Yesterday I jump roped with a cobra. Email me, AP.

d. Here's what I think happened, a dolphin was trying to play with the surfer and the surfer, not surprisingly, saw a dorsal fin and panicked. 

If you're in the ocean and something with a fin shows up, you're not distinguishing between mammal and shark. If you're in the water and you see a fin you prepare to die.  

John S. writes:

Why isn't anyone considering kicking out Mississippi State from the SEC? Texas A&M is a great addition. Why go to 14 teams? I say ditch MSU and be set at 12 teams. They are the worst academic institution, provide no benefit in terms of media markets and I can't think of anything they really bring to the SEC...cut 'em out and move on as a stronger/wealthier conference.

The SEC teams should all pitch in $5 million each and give Mississippi State a $60 million parting gift. The Big XII or ACC would to pick them up. Everybody wins!

First, I'm assuming you're an Ole Miss fan who is sick of getting whipped by State, second, the SEC has already agreed that it's not going to kick anybody out.

Having said that, Mississippi State is by far the weakest link in the SEC chain when you consider academics and athletics budgets and succcess but also because having two teams in the state of Mississippi makes no sense whatsoever. Put it this way, Florida has one SEC school for 22 million residents, Mississippi has two SEC schools for less than three million residents.

That makes zero sense.

But I'm not going to beat up on Mississippi State fans any more because so many of you were crushed by yesterday's column when I asked you whether you wish you'd just have paid Cam $180k and kept quiet.

You were all honest and you all said you'd wished you just paid.

I respect that.

4 billion emailers paraphrased:


Do you still think Missouri is going to be the 14th SEC team?

Yes, I do.

Partly that's because the SEC is in a difficult spot with trying to set up a 13 team conference and needs a quick fix. But Missouri is also a great addition in its own right.

Mizzou needs to go ahead and withdraw from the Big 12 and submit an official application to the SEC. At the very least to keep the sabotage to a minimum. These Missouri leaks are ridiculous.

In a week or so ESPN will report the NCAA rule that makes a 13 game slate virtually impossible. But until then, the SEC's official response to OKTC's story about the impossibility of an 8 game SEC slate and round robin play was telling:

“We have been and remain aware of the rules governing scheduling, and will continue to consider appropriate options,” SEC spokesperson Charles Bloom said.

Since I specifically inquired about whether the conference was requesting a waiver that requires all teams in a division to play each other, I think it's telling that the answer didn't address that question.

I think the most "appropriate option" is going to be Missouri in the SEC East.

Adam P. writes:

Will you update Dixieland Delight with another chapter for Texas A&M and whoever else joins the SEC?

I love that book.


This is like getting the band back together again.

I wrote Dixieland when I was 27 years old, in the fall of 2006.

Now I'll be 33 in the fall of 2012. The same age as Jesus when he died and the same year that Mayan calendar comes to an end. 


I think not.  

Can I still hold up five years later? Who will show me around at those locations? Which games will I pick to go to?

I'm really excited about this.

But my liver is already tapping out.

Mark B. writes:


I have listened to 3HL for years and I just looked up you guys online and I thought your were a black male. Your radio voice is that of a black male.

If by "radio voice" you mean "voice" then maybe so.

For the record, I am white.

But for 3HL radio listeners who are reading this column -- we're currently on 12-3 central every day -- there is good news coming for listeners of all races.  

Pam C. writes:

I'm so glad Hank had on his Alabama hat. For damn sure, it was a Tennessee hat. If you ever get over your penis envy of Nick Saban, you might be able to be taken seriously. Until then, you're just a f---- joke. When other members of the media have no respect for you and literally make fun of you, your one big FAILURE. You may have money and lots of hits on your website, but you have no integrity, no values and will never be taken seriously.

Just a word of advise, Alabama has some of the toughest stalking laws in the country, and Nick Saban and the University of Alabama have very good connections within the state law enforcement community. Just keep doing what you're doing.

I appreciate the "advise." And If I was going to envy someone's penis in the SEC, I'm pretty sure it wouldn't be a 60 year old 5'5" white man's penis.

Furthermore, I'm pretty sure Nick Saban and the "state law enforcement community" realize that arresting an out-of-state writer for stalking is every bit as dumb as the state of Tennessee's guns in bars advocate being arrested for driving drunk with a loaded handgun. (Yes, this really happened).  

Also, when you write "your one big FAILURE," you aren't insulting me correctly. The state of Alabama's emailers who can correctly distinguish between your and you're is a substantial minority.

I bet some of the same members of the media who "literally make fun of me" have also sent me their resumes asking for a job. (Things are going so well with OKTC thanks to you guys that I think we're going to be able to make some hires soon. Stay tuned).

That's because sites like OKTC are the future.

After all, much to the chagrin of my haterz, I'm not a businessman, I'm a business, man.


The mailbag is now brought to you by Counsel on Call, which is one of the best legal companies in the country.

I'll tell you why. Because when I was writing Dixieland Delight I needed a way to make a living as a lawyer while still taking the risk of going on the road to write a book that hadn't been sold to any publisher. That's a terrifying decision to make because most lawyers don't have any schedule flexibility and most of us don't have the financial wherewithal to quit the law cold turkey.

So how could I write the book and still have money to live on? Counsel on Call was the answer.  

I had to write this book. So I took the risk and Counsel on Call provided me the safety net. I knew if the book idea bombed, or my CBS column tanked, I could always practice law with them while continuing to pursue my harebrained writing career. And while I was writing the book I was still practicing law.

Basically what I'm saying is, if you're a lawyer and you have a dream of doing something other than practicing law -- which is every single one of the lawyers reading this column right now -- consider sending your resume to Counsel on Call and at least pursuing that dream.

You can find them on Facebook here.  

It's the law + your life.

Written by
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.