Outkick The Coverage College Football Blog

All That and a Bag of Mail: SEC Network Launches Edition

It's Friday, which means it's time for the mailbag.

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports / Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the mailbag, the place all of you hide on Friday while pretending to work or pay attention during class. 

Our beaver pelt trader(s) of the week are the staffs at the SEC and ESPN who put together the plan for the SEC Network. Not since Stonewall Jackson stormed up and down the Shenandoah Valley in 1862 has a Southern campaign been so masterfully executed. What could have turned into a prolonged battle over whether or not the SEC Network was carried by every major cable and satellite provider turned into a rout. The SEC and ESPN mobilized fans, got the individual schools informed of their strategy and executed a masterful plan that led to the SEC Network becoming the most successful new channel launch in the history of cable or satellite television. No station has ever gone from ceasing to exist to being in 75 million homes more rapidly in the history of the medium. This wasn't just a home run, it was a grand slam. 

So congrats to that crew -- many of whom are probably reading the mailbag right now. (Also, as a co-beaver pelt trader of the week, my wife, Lara, we've been married ten years now. Which, as I said on Twitter, makes us the Guinness book of world record holders for longest gay Muslim marriage). 

On to the mailbag, which we begin with two popular questions from a bunch of you of late:

"What are your thoughts on Tony Stewart?"

Lots of you have asked me on Twitter, email, and our radio show about the legal ramifications here and my thoughts on the incident and I've avoided writing or talking much about this because I just don't know racing well enough to have a strong opinion. The only thing I've really said is that Stewart will certainly be sued for wrongful death and that he and his insurers will probably settle that case before it goes to trial. With the lower standard of proof in a civil trial, there's no way Stewart and his group risk testifying. 

Honestly, this entire thing is just awful for everyone involved. 

Now let's move on to some more fun questions.   

Many of you on Twitter and email over the past several months:

"Is Nashville the bachelorette party capital of America?"

Yes, it's uncanny. No city in America has more bachelorette parties in America than Nashville. I'm not sure there is even a close second. If you've ever been out in Nashville, you know what I'm talking about. There are at least three bachelorette parties in every honky tonk on a Friday or Saturday night. Basically, what I'm saying is, Nashville was already home to some of the hottest women on earth and now other cities are sending us their hot bachelorette parties too.

It's pretty much unfair for a city to have this many good looking women. Nashville is to hot women what Alabama is to recruiting football players right now, we just bring them all in in one big happy sundress and cowboy boot laden tent.  

This is why you can't find a hotel room anywhere in Nashville. 

Rahul S. writes:

"Clay,

First of all, I just wanted to say that I'm a big fan of the site. I've contemplated questions to submit for the mailbag in the past, but I think I've finally got one that's good.

My friend (in damn law school; screw him, I'm going to a be a doctor) and I have been contemplating potential programming for the newly launched SEC Network. We were thinking that a "roast" of SEC football coaches would surpass even Kenny Bania's golden Ovaltine set. Our question for you is who should be the first coach roasted? Nick Saban is an obvious choice, but he's just that -- an obvious choice. All the jokes would be about, (1) the 85%, (2) how short he is, (3) how Johnny Football ripped through his defense like Taco Bell through your bowels and (4) the decision to go for a field goal from 50 yards out. My thought is that Les Miles should be the first to be roasted. I foresee a situation where every roaster asks him a question about grass and/or belittles him for the same screw up. The ensuing Les Miles craziness would make for some damn good TV (by the way, did you see how he was getting toasty when the reporter was asking him about what he would do if he wasn't LSU's coach?).

My almost-lawyer friend believes that the first roastee should be Bret Bielema, because his resemblance to the Arkansas mascot is too good to be passed up. Furthermore, his incessant slackjawed yowling provides great fodder considering he has only won 3 games in his first year at Arkansas. That only makes him marginally better than Stoops at Kentucky. Factoring in that Kentucky is indeed Kentucky, and doesn't give a damn about football, that's pretty sad.

Please settle this argument for us. Is it Miles, is it Bielema, or are we both at the same intelligence level as West Virginia fans?"

I love the idea of the roasts, but I foresee three major problems:

1. The vast majority of coaches don't have very good senses of humor about themselves.

Sure, some do, Les Miles, Steve Spurrier, and Kevin Sumlin for example, but others are very serious and would take offense to funny jokes. I can see it going bad very quickly. Like the coach storms out halfway through the roast and the camera feed suddenly dies and we cut to Ole Miss-Vandy from 1994. To prevent this all the jokes would have to be cleared in advance, which means they wouldn't actually be very funny. Which brings us to number two?   

2. How funny could the roaster actually be?

With the jokes having to be cleared in advance, the roast would be pretty boring and no one who is actually funny would want to participate. Because if his or her jokes sucked then you'd all blame the comedian. I've been roasted before, it went on for two hours because there was a lot of material. My wife even roasted me by putting up a Jeff Fisher picture to announce that he'd actually fathered our children. I thought it went great. But look at my Twitter feed, I get roasted every day. You can't take yourself very seriously if you're willing to be roasted. And there have to be plenty of borderline, and below the borderline, jokes. For instance, at my roast Memphis radio show host Chris Vernon referred to Blaine Bishop, my co-host on 3HL, as the only Titan with a worse playing career than Steve McNair. You should have heard that room. It went from raucous to silent in an instant. It was breathtaking, the exact reason roasts exist.   

3. Someone might kill the roaster if the jokes are too good. 

The dumber you are the less able you are to understand context and comprehend the humor. It's terrifying how many people read everything logically, as if hyperbole and satire don't exist. There are tons of SEC fans who would want to kill the roaster if, for instance, he lit up Nick Saban too much. I feel like the SEC Network might end up with a Lee Harvey Oswald situation on live television. Roaster finishes set, turns to walk back to his seat and a deranged Bama fan storms in with a gun and shoots him. Next thing you know an old JP game is on and everyone's pretending no one got shot. 

So I don't think roasts will ever happen.  

Now, I will say this, what if the SEC put on an event the equivalent of the White House Correspondent's Dinner and just said, okay, all jokes are fair game for tonight? And then went and hired a tremendous comedian to just crush everyone. Coaches, schools, media members, you name it, all was fair game. And on top of all of that you made it a huge fundraising event. I think if everyone got crushed it would probably work. Especially if you let one coach get up and crush the media every year too. Can you imagine how much Alabama fans would love it if Nick Saban just totally crushed me one year? It would be great. 

By the way, ESPN will never do it, but if the network had a yearly roast for charity where it crushed itself and all of its talent, it would be so much better received than the ESPYs. But it will never happen.

Brian L. writes:

"So just last week, the wife and I's twins were born, they are our first children. We wanted to wait to find out until they were here and we were both hoping we'd have at least one boy but had two girls. We're both thrilled they're here and healthy but my worry now is, I'm not a very intimidating figure. I'm 5' 8' and around 160 so I'm neither tall nor stocky. While I realize I'm years out from having to worry about boys coming by the house, I can't really figure on a growth spurt at age 27 to make me any taller.

So I've been trying to think through my options. I feel like the easiest (and still probably cheapest) option is to maybe get another gun or five to have around and "just so happen to be cleaning them" as dates come by but I feel like that's pretty cliche. I mean it might work but I'm sure my wife would prefer people don't think I'm a crazy person.

Not that I want to necessarily use someone just because of their profession, but I feel like finding someone who is a state trooper or police officer and becoming friends with them wouldn't hurt to have around down the road, but how do you try to make a friendship like that happen, get a speeding ticket and ask to be friends? Hang around doughnut shops?

I do happen to work in a ticket office for an athletic department and players will come in and out of the office from all the time. I've thought having a few of them over couldn't hurt but I feel like there's more downside than up. What if one the girls and/or players grow a fondness for each other? How would I get players over and not have it be an impermissible benefit?

Finally, I suppose I could just start working out a lot and try to get pretty buff. I'm sure the wife wouldn't mind this plan but I'm not sure I'll always have the time to keep with it.

Any suggestions for a new dad?"  

We're about to have our third boy so thankfully I don't ever have to worry about boys arriving to date my daughters, but I'd insist on two things:

1. Every time your daughter goes on a date the boy has to come inside and meet you. 

I'm stealing this one from Katie Nolan because her dad did it and it was genius. This will make your daughters much less likely to want to date, which you'll approve of. Once she gets to college, clearly, she's on her own. But at least in high school this works pretty well. 

2. Meet him one on one. 

Calmly look him in the eyes, take his hand for the requisite handshake, and say, "If you ever do anything bad to my daughter, I will kill you." 

Don't blink, don't laugh, just stare deep into his soul and say this. Sure, you probably won't kill him, but he'll be terrified of you. I think that's more effective than anything else you could do.   

Justin writes:

"Honorable Gay Muslim,

I am originally from Ohio and graduated in May from Notre Dame with my bachelor's degree.  Instead of going to grad school back at ND or somewhere else up North I am going to Ole Miss for grad school this year in order to truly experience the SEC lifestyle and everything it entails. What the hell am I getting myself into?"

Heaven. 

I don't even know what you're getting a graduate degree in -- it truly doesn't matter at all -- and already I can tell you this is the greatest decision of your life.

Brad writes:

"Clay,

Wisconsin's pathetic league schedule does not contain Ohio State, Michigan State, Michigan, or Penn State. How is this possible? Say they run the regular season table after losing to LSU in the opener...could they have the weakest 11-1 resume from a "Power 5" conference team ever? Can you think of any others this bad?  Your gay."

This is why the Big Ten went with the awful legends and leaders divisions, to try and even up the divisions in a way geography didn't. Right now Wisconsin and Nebraska are the two dominant teams on the western side of the conference. I actually took Wisconsin as my dark horse pick to win the title this year. Wisconsin is a four point underdog to LSU. If they pull off this upset -- certainly plausible since LSU will be breaking in a new quarterback and might play poorly -- then the only regular season game they'd be an underdog in is at Iowa.

Their home games are Western Illinois, Bowling Green, USF, Maryland, Nebraska and Minnesota. 

Right now Wisconsin's other road games are at Rutgers, at Purdue and at Northwestern. I mean, that's incredible. Even Ohio State fans are like "Dude, play somebody!" Wisconsin should be in the Big Ten title game and could end up in the playoff depending on how the rest of the country breaks. The schedule will hurt them, but if they pull off a Big Ten title game upset over Ohio State or Michigan State is there anyway a 13-0 Big Ten champ gets left out of the playoff?

Nope.  

Anonymous writes:

"Clay,

I'm going to ask I remain anonymous, as revealing my identity to the masses that follow your big, gay, muslim religion cult thing you've got going on would ultimately render me jobless.

Here's my question for you, not sports related, but work related. On a scale of 1-10, how drunk can one be in front of a coworker, in a bar, and it still be acceptable? I know this coworker's face, but not his name. What's the strategy for passing him in the hall tomorrow? (Important to note, I'm a guy... so it's not like I run the risk of making sexual advances, though that would add an interesting twist)
For reference: 1- sober, 10 - "oops I pissed my pants & I don't know where I live" drunk.

I look forward to your answer, as it will most likely determine how drunk I'm allowed to get in the presence of coworkers for the rest of my life."

There are a couple of broad questions to consider here:

1. Was it a work event with an open bar?

It doesn't sound like this was a work event. You just happened to see a co-worker at the same bar. That's not really your fault or his fault. If it's not a work event then you're free to do whatever you'd like within the boundaries of the law. If it is a work event, that's more complicated. I'd say you don't want to move past a five on your drinking scale until you see how your bosses and other long-time employees are behaving. Use them as your guides. Also, consider the party. Is it an office Christmas party -- and everyone is drinking like crazy -- or is it the make a wish foundation dinner and you're ordering Fireball shots at the bar? Just use common sense here.  

2. Where do you work?

If you work at a church that's different than if you work at the Hustler store. In theory, the more conservative of a work place you have, the more conservative your public drinking needs to be. That's not always the case, but it's a good guide as well. Some companies are more comfortable with alcohol than others. 

I hope this helps, but, as you can see, there are an awful lot of variables at play. Just be smart. 

Rick T. writes:

"Before proceeding with the ACC Network, ESPN wanted to see how the SEC Network fared. With that question answered ESPN should want to proceed with the ACC Network. Crazy idea: dump the failed Longhorn Network, put that material within an ACC Network. With this move, the ACC adds Texas households, creates larger demand for the channel, and will get a higher subscriber rate. First featured game on the channel: Texas at Florida State. Thoughts?"

I'm just not sure the ACC Network will work because I don't know if there's enough demand across the conference to force cable and satellite companies to carry it. You have to make the cable and satellite companies believe they are poised to lose millions of dollars by not carrying the channel. I'll grant you that the states of North Carolina, Virginia and Florida are probably states where, given the ACC has multiple teams in each, consumers would raise a big enough demand to force carriage, but where else? Remember, while the ACC makes a big deal about its geographic footprint, over half the conference teams are in North Carolina, Virginia and Florida. (And I may be giving too much credit to the Florida duo. Miami has hardly any fans. So Florida State fans would have to drive the charge there.)

I'd say that Kentucky and Georgia are toss-up states with Louisville and Georgia Tech fans representing a substantial minority of the overall college sports fans in the state. Clemson's got a big following in South Carolina, but how many people in the state would change content providers over a couple of Tiger football games a year? I think it's another toss-up state. There's no way enough people in Pennsylvania care about Pitt or people in New York care about Syracuse or enough people in Massachusetts care about Boston College to make a stink there. So I don't think you'd ever get the requisite demand in those states to force cable and satellite companies to act. Since it already has an NBC deal for home games, you'd only get Notre Dame demand for the ACC road games -- that's assuming it's even possible, it wouldn't shock me if Notre Dame demanded its road ACC football games be on ESPN or ABC as part of the decision to join up for five ACC games. So how much of an uproar would there actually be? The SEC was able to mobilize 11 states as one. The ACC might be able to mobilize three. 

I just don't see the ACC Network as a slam dunk at all. I think it has more in common with the Pac 12 Network's struggles and the Longhorn Network's disastrous roll out than it does with the SEC Network. But we'll see.

Also, remember, the key here is how many companies are carrying the channel as part of their regular package? Not just how many homes the network is "available in." The Pac 12 Network says it's "available in" sixty million homes, but how many of those homes actually have it? A fraction of that sixty million, maybe a quarter.

The SEC says its network is "available in" over ninety million homes, but it's going to end up in around 75 million.     

Will writes:

"Hey Clay, So I was walking downtown with a colleague when I saw a "dollar bill" on the sidewalk. One dollar. Of course I exclaimed "look a dollar!" but then proceeded to kick the dollar to the side. Perhaps I was thinking that because the dollar was on the ground that it somehow was dirtier than it already is? Your thoughts on the most germ-laden objects guys touch every day is a different question for a different mailbag, but finding the dollar (that I eventually picked up) got me thinking:

At what point, or annual salary, do you pass on picking up a 1 dollar bill? Also, what would the amount have to be for LeBron James to pick it up? Floyd Mayweather? What about you?

The scenario can be extended to different cities. I would almost always pick up a $1 bill off the street in Birmingham-since we only have dirt streets here anyway-but I would be hesitant to pick up a $1 bill off Bourbon Street."

I think I'd always pick up the dollar anywhere provided it wasn't sodden. We had a mailbag question from a college kid about a bill floating in a toilet with feces before. That's where I'd draw the line. No way I'm picking up that dollar and risking the germs. Same thing with, for instance, a twenty dollar bill stuck to a used condom in a Bourbon Street alley. No way I'm touching that. Would I take a $100 bill stuck to a condom on Bourbon Street? Probably. But don't tell my wife. 

I'd immediately take the $100 into a convenience store, buy a drink, and make them change it. 

Assuming the dollar bill is relatively normal, I'm always picking it up. As for LeBron and Mayweather or and anyone else's decision to pick up the dollar, I'd hope they would pick it up too. If you have so much money that you wouldn't pick up a dollar, it's probably a sign that you've gone too big time in the rest of your life.   

Steve writes:

"Clay-

As a man who has been married under a year and a University of Tennessee football season ticket holder, I've got a serious decision on my hands. My wife's family is having a family reunion in St. Louis on Labor Day weekend which, of course, conflicts with my plans to spend the whole weekend in Knoxville to catch the Utah State game on Sunday night. The first game of the year is always awesome, but with the addition of being on SEC Network and it being a Sunday game, it makes me want to be there even more. Further complicating the situation is I completely scored in the in-law department. They're awesome and a ton of fun to be around. If this was almost any other weekend there's no question I would be there. Not to mention her whole family drove from all over the country to watch us get married in Kingsport last September. I really don't want to let anyone down on this but I can't hide the fact that I would much rather be at the game. So my friend, what do I do?"

Why can't you go to St. Louis for Friday and Saturday and then come back for the game on Sunday? Based on Google maps, that's about a seven hour drive. Faster, if you speed. It's a Sunday night game, so that helps with the timing. Who has a four day family reunion anyway? Two days is plenty of time to spend there. Now, granted, that's a lot of weekend driving, but you would have to drive it and come home eventually anyway. 

So do both.

Yep, I'm like Solomon here, just making everyone's life better one mailbag question at a time.  

Dave P. writes:

"Clay,

I'm a Bama fan and member of the 15% (I was accepted to Alabama....chose to play a college baseball elsewhere...I wasn't SEC material) You're correct about Alabama fans. 85% of us are complete idiots. But I think you are missing the full picture. Here's the deal....85% of ALL PEOPLE in this country (possibly the world) are idiots. Think about it. That's 269 MILLION dummies in America that are eligible to become part of any fan base. Why do Bama and Kentucky fans stand out? Easy answer.

A winning tradition + Pride + Stupidity = a LOUD 85%

The more your favorite team wins....the more loud stupid fans you have....the dumber your fan base appears. Period.

That's the downside to winning. Personally I like winning....so I hope Bama forever stays #1 in your dumbest fan poll.

Vandy could be the only SEC exception....their numbers are the opposite. 85% of Vandy fans are alums....15% are idiots....and 15% of 37 isn't very many.

Oh yeah...I almost forgot. 99% of West Virginia fans are probably related...and 100% will leave the Georgia Dome early. Cue the banjo music in Atlanta. 45-13 Bama. Roll Tide.

Your thoughts?

KIGAM, (Keep It Gay and Muslim) - by the way....this should be how you end every correspondence."

We agree that there are a scary amount of dumb people everywhere, but here's where we disagree -- I think there are more dumb people in the states of Alabama and Kentucky than there are in most other states. Plus, unlike in other states where the dumb fans get diluted and end up rooting for a variety of teams, there aren't that many teams to root for inside either Alabama or Kentucky. There are no pro teams at all. Sure, Auburn and Louisville have fans, but those fans are a substantial minority inside the state, and they're much more likely to have actual connections to the school than Alabama or Kentucky fans are. Alabama and Kentucky get all of the dumb fans. 

The dumber the people are in your state and the fewer teams there are to root for in that state, the dumber the fans will be. Now, I'll grant you that dumber people end up being fair weather fans to a larger degree than the 15% so right now both Kentucky and Alabama have more dumb fans than they ever have had before.   

George P. writes:

"Clay,

Have you ever though about creating your own tv show based off OKTC? College Football After Dark has a nice ring to it. Topics of college football, beer, and hot women would go over pretty well for the majority of american men. Obviously, you already have a loyal fanbase that would provide you with high ratings. If only half of WVU fans that hated you watched the show (seriously, how are they just now seeing this article) it would be successful. I think a censorship along the lines of Tosh.o would gel well with your material. Thoughts?"

Also, do you think that once all your current contracts run out for radio/tv that you will consolidate all to one company to better utilize your time?"

Well, this fall on Friday nights we'll have a midnight eastern college football show on FS1. So I'd encourage y'all to check that out because I think it will be pretty fun. Then we'll also be back on late Saturday night discussing all the games as well.

TV's a new challenge though and I'm still learning everything. I've got writing online and radio down pretty well and I'm not awful on TV. Like anything else, I just have to get more reps and keep working at it. As for a more permanent TV show, I think that's likely to happen in the next year or so. There's still a lot to be decided though. Long range it makes pretty good sense to have writing, radio, and TV all at the same place, but we'll have to see. I'm very happy right now doing what I do and so is my family. I always hate to mess with happiness.

Anyway, thanks to you guys for supporting Outkick, listening to 3HL, and making my days so entertaining. I've said it before and it remains true, we have so much fun at Outkick because so many of you have taken ownership of the site. The same thing has happened with radio and I'm pretty confident the same thing would eventually happen with TV too. The end result? The "Your Gay" mansion is going to be awesome.