Mailbag: Alabama vs Auburn Civil War Edition

It's Friday, time for the mailbag. So whether you're at work, in class, or hung over staring at multiple phones through crossed eyes, it's time to make your day better. 

Our beaver pelt trader of the week is you guys, collectively. October was our most read month in Outkick history and over sixty percent of our traffic was through social media, that is Twitter or Facebook. That means you guys are sharing our articles and helping to spread Outkick's stories, which is probably the most gratifying endorsement we can receive. I've always thought of Outkick as a team of sorts -- a team of people avoiding work and paying attention in class, of course, but a team nonetheless. Seeing the number of you who continue to come to the site and return again and again is gratifying. 

I can also tell you that Outkick is just getting started. We've got some good news coming before long about our footprint expanding into other media arenas. 

So thanks to all of you from your favorite gay Muslim. 

Now on to the mailbag.  

Morgan writes:

"I am a life long Mississippi State fan/recent graduate who has lived in Alabama for the last 18 years. After the Ole Miss game a fan tried to run up to Nick Saban and was destroyed by the police. Also the way Auburn stormed the field last year it's a wonder that they did not trample Saban after the game. If Auburn won this year, stormed the field, and Nick Saban was attacked by an Auburn fan (in Tuscaloosa), I believe the Alabama fan base would immediately declare war on Auburn and the entire state of Alabama would erupt into a Civil War. There would be hostility in the work place, churches would be torn apart, every public setting would turn into an all out brawl. If this were to happen which fan base would come out victorious? Who would lead each opposing fan base onto the field of battle? Would there be a Harvey Updyke march to the Sea? During which he would burn the city of Auburn to the ground along with any and every pro-auburn city in his path. Would Auburn even be able to put up a fight?"

Okay, let's pretend that we are the respective generals in an Alabama civil war. What would the best strategy be? Auburn's immediately cast into the role of the South because Alabama would have about three times as many soldiers. In virtually every community in the state, Alabama fans would outnumber Auburn fans, which means it wouldn't be safe for the Auburn people there. (Let's assume that women and children are not fighting the war and will be left unharmed. This might be unfair given the proclivities of the Bama 85%, but I'd prefer not to have to analyze war crimes here.) The population of Alabama is just over 4 million. Let's toss out three million of those people as women and children. That leaves one million men. Men under 18 and over fifty are excluded from combat. So let's assume that there is somewhere around 500,000 "soldiers." I would give Alabama 375,000 of those troops and Auburn 125,000 troops. In theory this would be a tremendous numerical advantage for Alabama, but keep in mind that many of Alabama's soldiers are complete imbeciles. The average Auburn soldier would be much smarter and more skilled. Could one Auburn man whip four Alabama men? That's a tall order. Made less so, however, by the war materials that each side would procure. 

I think you have to assume that the federal government would probably be caught flat-footed by the Civil War in Alabama. Primarily because most people in the federal government would think this kind of war was impossible. The federal government wasn't ready to respond to Katrina and we knew that was coming for weeks. No way they expect a Civil War to commence in just one state. So weapons seizure would be key, who could get the tanks and aircraft?  Keep in mind that the people guarding the munitions would be Alabama or Auburn loyalists, which would determine who gets the weapons.This is where the leadership of the state national guard and high-ranking troops would come in huge. Does one school have a leadership advantage? Would we have a night where the Robert E. Lee of Auburn stayed up walking the halls of his ante-antebellum mansion? He's been offered command of the Alabama army, but he's an Auburn man at heart? Also, what are the allegiances of the state government leaders? They could be key in stealing weaponry for the coming war as well.

Once the war started, Auburn's troops would have to gather in the vicinity of Lee County and await the assault of the 85%. Given the number of engineers Auburn produces, I'd anticipate them creating virtually impenetrable defenses. The 15% would be tasked with training the 85%, which would be well nigh impossible. The 85%, having never been exposed to running water or crowds of people larger than a double wide, would be filled with all sorts of illnesses. I feel confident that Ebola would break out in the Bama troop camps. The Bama troops would spend most of their time fighting with each other and disobeying authority while drinking heavily and screaming "Roll Tide," at inopportune moments. 

After a Bull Run meets George McClellan like start to the war -- during which time Auburn would crush the initial Alabama assault --  I foresee Nick Saban, who would have immediately left the state when the Civil War began and taken over another football program, being brought in as Emperor of Alabama and, like Napoleon, a man whose stature he shares, I believe Saban would assume supreme control of all Alabama soldiers. These Alabama troopers would follow Saban anywhere and I think Saban's process would demand that he lay siege to Auburn's army, Petersburg style. I could see this going on for years, Saban's troops adding a few feet every month and slowly strangling the Auburn troops. At some point the Nathan Bedford Forrest of Auburn, doubtless Gus Malzahn, would point out that in order to win the war, Auburn would have to abandon Auburn. The 85% unloosed upon Auburn after a prolonged siege would not be a pretty sight. I think it's likely that the trees would all be raped.  

Honestly, I think I could write an entire book about the war between Alabama and Auburn. The big question is could Alabama's raw resource advance overcome Auburn's clear brain advantage?     

Will writes:

"In light of Todd Gurley suspension, I ask you this: Why wouldn't a young man, who, is an elite talent and is an instant success in college football, forego his scholarship and take out a student loan instead? Granted, the student loan system in America is beyond foreseeable repair, but it's a better option than being in the chains of the NCAA. The young man, with no scholarship (thus having no adherence to the NCAA bylaws) and using the government instead of the NCAA to pay his way through college can make as much money of his likeness as he is able and, barring any horrific injury, can pay off the student loan with a fraction of his rookie NFL contract. I know that this situation is in the small minority of college athletes, but so are the cases in which the NCAA cares enough to "take a stance" and ruin a young man's Heisman chances, potentially his draft status and more importantly, his ability to help his family."

It's a really smart question. I've actually wondered why an in-state kid couldn't accept a lottery scholarship -- assuming he qualified -- and then pay his own room and board with the money he made off the field? While everyone is focused on how much college costs, it really isn't that much when you consider what other things cost for kids. Once you have to pay for child care you start wishing your kids were already in college. When my wife worked, we had our boys in a middle class day care and each boy cost more than tuition would have been at the University of Tennessee. Think about that for a minute, we would have been saving money if both our kids were in college.

Instead, they were three and one and in day care and it cost insane amounts of money.

Anyway, back to your hypothesis, I suspect the NCAA would still try to enforce prohibitions about earning income off the field as a result of playing college sports -- after all, only the NCAA can make money off the labor of the players -- but I think your argument would be strong that they have no basis to enforce those rules against you without a scholarship included. You aren't receiving any tangible benefit in exchange for playing the sport, why shouldn't you be able to sell your autographs and control your off-field likeness? 

Bob Bullis writes:

"Hey Clay,

I just read your column on the Pittsburgh Steelers having one of the Ten Dumbest fan bases in the country. Thank God that nothing on the internet ever really disappears or I wouldn't have had the opportunity to read it.  And now that I have, I'll remember your name and who you work for for the rest of my life.  I promise you, I will never ever read or listen to anything with your tagline again; for eternity.  Eat shit and die.

Most disrespectfully,

I love emails like this. Is there anything better than people who read articles that are years old on the Internet, get offended by them, and then feel compelled to tell you how offended by them they are? I've never sent an unsolicited angry email in my life. What's more, I've never even thought to do it. Who are these people?

Also, what does this mean? -- "Thank God that nothing on the internet ever really disappears or I wouldn't have had the opportunity to read it."

Are we hiding things on Outkick? Every article we've ever written here is up online. Hell, we're still working on a searchable database of everything I've ever written. I want to ensure that I'm getting hate email over things that are decades old. That's the hope, anyway.   

"Keep me anonymous please" writes:

One of our grad school friends really hates you. Yes, he's a Bama fan that takes everything way too seriously. This is pretty entertaining to the rest of us because we like reading Outkick, especially the mailbag. We always include him on emails to make sure he has to see what you've written. The other night we were out drinking and he started talking about how he wished he had enough money to pay you to never again write on Outkick or Tweet out dumb things Bama fans do, go on TV, or do radio. We were debating how much money that would cost. We also weren't sure if you would even do it. So what would someone have to pay Clay Travis to fire Clay Travis?"

The toughest part of this hypothetical is I love what I do for a living. So you're not just asking me to give up my livelihood, you're asking me to quit doing something that I love. Everyone reading this loves college football -- how much money would you have to be paid to never watch or listen to another college football game for the rest of your life? What if I took away the NFL too? That would cost a ton of money, right?  

The big question here is, what would I do with the rest of my time? I'm 35 years old and I sure as hell am not going back to being a lawyer. Assume that without the stress of ever having a job for the rest of my life I'd live to be at least eighty. So that means I'd have 45 years of life to fill up with just being a parent. My kids and my wife would be sick of all the attention. 

Can I still write, but I just can't write about sports? Assuming that was the rule, I'd be fine. I've always wanted to write a TV show, so I'd probably pour all my interest into that. I've got five unpublished novels so I could pop those out too. If I couldn't write anymore at all, I honestly don't think there is a number I'd accept. This is what I love to do plus I'm making pretty good money doing it. So you'd have to compensate me for all the fun I have plus all the money I'm not going to make over the next 25 or 30 years. It would be a big number. 

I think it would cost $100 million lump sump. And I'm not even sure I'd do it for that.      

Derek writes:

"Do you sometimes start to believe that you truly are a terrible, gay, racist, Muslim after constantly being told so? My brother tells a lot of people I was adopted and I know I wasn't, but sometimes I think I am?"

Aren't big brothers great? It's incredibly liberating to embrace the fact that I'm a terrible, gay, racist, sexist Muslim because once I did that it gave me total freedom to say or write whatever I wanted without wondering what anyone thought. Most people are so worried about what other people think about them that they keep quiet about their actual opinions. I'm the exact opposite. 

My wife says I have the unique ability to be completely uninfluenced by what people think of me. She claims that's very rare and that most people spend lots of time worried about whether or not other people like them. I assume she's correct about this, but I don't have that gene trait all. So most people couldn't handle my Twitter feed on a day-to-day basis. I'm like Br'er Rabbit and social media is like my very own briar patch. I love being thrown in there.    

Jeb S. writes:

"Hi Clay,

Recent new job responsibilities have made it necessary for me to fly to Chicago Midway Airport frequently on Southwest Airlines.  Soon I'll be an A-List Member, which I assume you already are, and have the opportunity to be in the A1-A15 boarding priority.  I've been trying to ascertain the best boarding strategy to minimize the probability of having someone sit in the middle seat next to me.  It seems if I sit too close to the front of the plane, a family travelling with kids always sits in my row.  If you sit too far in back, the people who are trying to find the last window or aisle seat, and don't have any luck, just stay there and grab a middle seat.  And of course, if you choose an exit row, you always get someone in the middle.

Being a man who studies probability and odds, have you come up with good system for determining the optimal seating row on Southwest Airlines?  Thanks in advance."

I fly Southwest so much that I keep hoping a Southwest pilot is going to come out and say hi to me like in "Up in the Air." I've got my flight strategy down. So much so that I feel a bit like Billy Beane giving away his secrets in "Moneyball." Here's how I approach every Southwest flight. 

First, once you're permanent A list you only get to board at number 16. The first 15 spots are reserved for business select, which is a more expensive fare. You want to be business select if possible because that way you get to board just after all the pre-boarders. (Don't get me started on the excessive pre-boarding that's going on. Lots of people pre-board without having actual need to pre-board on Southwest. They don't say no to anyone). I'm generally A 1-5 on my flights and I go straight to the exit row -- which has a few more inches of space -- and sit in the aisle of the exit row. (I've been through like a billion exit row briefings now and I still have no idea what to do if the plane crashes and we have to escape). If the exist row aisle seat is taken by someone else I still go with the exit row, either window or the middle. Being in the middle in the exit row is better than being in a normal aisle seat. 

Once I'm seated in the aisle, the Southwest flight attendant is generally also hanging out in the exit row aisle because there's more space to stand. I ask him or her if the flight's full. If the flight's not full then I ask him or her (I say him or her, but the back of the plane attendants are almost always women, again, not sure why) to stand in the middle seat of the exit row so no one else will ask to take that seat for a while. The flight attendants are happy to do this because it gives them more room to stand. If the flight's full then i request the flight attendant to find a skinny person to put beside me. Southwest flight attendants love to play skinny match maker for exit row seats. Otherwise you're at the mercy of chance and it's my experience that the worse your boarding pass is the fatter you tend to be. On a four hour flight having a skinny person in the middle makes a ton of difference. But trying to encourage a skinny person to sit beside you is creepy. So you need the flight attendant to do your work. 

Then I sit down and pray the wifi works. If the wifi works I barely even realize I'm on an airplane because I just work the same way as I would at home. If the wifi isn't working well then I want to murder someone.

Hope this helps.     

Neal writes:

"A little over a week ago you tweeted an article about soda being as harmful as smoking. I read it and quit cold turkey. I was drinking 5-6 Cokes a day. I've dropped 9 pounds in a little over a week. Thanks for that.

Your the best gay Muslim dietician I've ever seen."

I love Mountain Dew. I can't help it, it's the redneck in me. But I'm now only drinking three Mountain Dews a week. Otherwise I've switched to cranberry juice with all meals. Our kids don't drink soda. I'm pretty convinced that in future years drinking soda will be considered as absurdly stupid as smoking. So stop drinking soda if you can.  

Austin C. writes:

"If you had to choose from Woody Harrelson character or Matthew McConaughey character in "True Detective" who would you pick? The crazy good detective or the partner that has sex with all the hot young women?"

Is this a real question? What the hell benefit would I get from being an awesome detective? There's no crimes I'm trying to solve now. I'm not Encyclopedia Brown. Every single man on earth would pick the Woody Harrelson character. Just like every single person with a pulse, when given the choice between being Frank or Joe Hardy, goes with Joe Hardy.  

Matt writes:


Judging by your mentions, retweets and responses to mostly unintelligent banter that you encounter on a daily basis, you seem to engage in "twitter wars" on a regular basis. First, it must be established that you do a masterful job in responding to these people. Second, as one who is learned in twitter wars, what is the proper way to go about one? If you ask me, I say that you don't respond to people that can't even use "your" and "you're" properly, scream profanities, wish death upon you, and call you a gay muslim (which may or may not be true). But there are times that you must respond. Please provide a blue print way to go about this so that maybe you can educate the idiots that constantly troll you.

P.S. your gay"

The dumber you are, the more likely you are to hate me. I love this. My twitter feed is a source of endless amusement to me and to lots of you as well. Every time I think people can't be dumber, they get dumber. As I said above, it's almost impossible to offend me and I find the attempts of idiots to do so to be endlessly entertaining. That's why I only retweet hate for the most part. Around 75% of my Tweets are positive. I appreciate all of those too, but I don't retweet them because praise isn't entertaining. Hate? Now that's compelling. 

Anonymous writes:

"Can you think of a better college football rivalry than Democrat/Republican right now?

Both teams have star players saddled in scandal and booster money; but that's okay, because these tremendous kids help their teams win. 

Both teams have two of the dumbest fanbases in America.  Most of them couldn't write a coherent one page paper on the issues or the players they voted for; but that's okay, because you don't need a reason for wanting your team to win.

Election night is the big game, and each team spends most of their time and energy getting prepared for it. 
The winning team and its fans act like they just won the national championship, while the losing team and its fans act like their situation is worse than Michigan's. The rest of us either don't care or wish we didn't have to root for the lesser of two evils (like the time we rooted for Notre Dame to beat Florida State.)"

The only people dumber than sports fans are people who are strongly committed to one political party or the other.

"David writes:

What does Mrs. Travis think about the hatemail from people (recently FSU fans) which usually goes like "(insert famous person/coworker) f#(k€% your wife" or "your wife sucked (insert famous person/coworker)'s dick" or something along those lines?

Also, do people really think that just because they say something on Twitter that other people will believe it?  Scarier question, what percentage of people actually believe everything they read on Twitter?"

She thinks it's very funny. Particularly since she's never slept with anyone famous. I also find it hysterical that people think I would be offended by this. Just about everyone's wife or girlfriend slept with somebody else. And if you count oral sex, no one's a virgin. So would you rather your wife banged some random loser working at Outback when she was in high school or Justin Timberlake? I mean, if my wife had slept with Justin Timberlake, I would totally brag about that. 

The same thing has to be true for women too, would you rather your husband have slept with all the sorority skanks he did, or Katy Perry?

Anyway, not surprisingly, my wife has a good sense of humor. She has to. She sees me naked every morning.   

Brad writes:


While I totally agree with you regarding "if Michigan State scheduled Akron instead of Oregon they'd be in the top 4," shouldn't we also look at the other side of the story? That Sparty win is a giant boost for Oregon. Their next-best win was at home vs hot-and-cold UCLA.  Add in the struggles against Cal (defensively) and Wazzou and you could make a strong argument that - without the Michigan State win - Oregon wouldn't be in the top 4, right?   They could be leap-frogged by:  Michigan State (who'd be undefeated), Alabama, TCU, and KState.  Of course, Oregon could also win out, making this a moot point, but just wanted to bring up the other side of your argument.  I LOVE big non-conference games and would hate to see less Spartans-Ducks in favor or more Spartans-Zips.Your gay."

I wish there were more major out of conference games, but they don't make sense. 

Sure, it helps the Duck resume, but 12-1 Oregon would be in the playoff regardless of who they played. 

Anonymous writes:

"(PLEASE leave anonymous so my friends/family/fellow employees continue to at least somewhat respect me)

First of all I love you, never change. I want to be like you when I grow up (even though I technically am "grown up," that's the dream). Being the degenerate gambler I know you are I wanted to ask how you feel about the "emotional hedge".

I am a UGA grad and settling into my annual post-letdown game depression that I have unfortunately come to know and love. I have a strong 'no betting on the Dawgs' rule, but the all-consuming feeling that takes over my life after a loss and feels more like someone died and less like a group of college kids lost a football game is irrational, ridiculous, and very real. I think the emotional hedge might be a way to deal with this.

Instead of curling up into a ball after a big loss do I just start betting against the Dawgs every game where they are favored or the spread is really small? With an eye on that Auburn game in a couple weeks and the line likely being close to a pick em, is this a good solution or am I completely crazy (Obviously worst case scenario here would be taking Auburn -2 and Auburn wins by 1 and then I quit my job, leave the country and come back to live in a trailer park in Mobile as a member of the 85% with a tattoo of Saban as a Greek god across my chest. I think I just answered the crazy question.) 

Go Dawgs and thanks for helping out a fellow degenerate in need."

I think the emotional hedge is a pretty strong play. It will also help you to realize these are just games and it encourages you to gamble, two things I endorse.

No one wants to be the grown ass man crying over teenage boys you don't know losing football games. If the hedge helps take that out of the equation, then by all means, you need to adopt it.  

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.