All That and a Bag of Mail: My Dream Foursome

All That and a Bag of Mail: My Dream Foursome

Published Apr. 11, 2013 1:00 a.m. ET

It's mailbag time and by the time you read this I'll be teeing off in a charity golf tournament at Legends Golf Course here in Nashville.

But I suspect there will also be some good SEC news that is bouncing around all over the Internets. OKTC will be there to cover it live next week. Check Twitter if you want to know what I'm talking about.  

In the meantime, the mailbag is off and rolling on Friday as always. Even if I'm in the process of posting a solid 100 on the golf course.  

Our beaver pelt trader of the week is 3HL listener and OKTC reader Brandt Snedeker, who I took at 30-1 odds to win the Masters; he had a good first day so I'm going to presumptively crown him beaver pelt trader of the week in hopes it will carry him on to victory and help to make me some serious money.


Good luck Brandt.  

On to the mailbag: 

Casey S. writes:

"Who would be your dream foursome (golf) and who would be your nightmare foursome (golf)?"

I love that you had to put (golf) in the parenthetical here. Because otherwise you worried I might have answered as a sex foursome. And the answer would clearly be, on behalf of gay Muslims everywhere, Kliff Kingsbury, Bradley Cooper, and Ryan Gosling.  

I debated the golf foursome question for a while and then decided it would be the following three people in no particular order:

1. Bill Clinton

I love Bill Clinton and I think his stories would be amazing. (Also, I don't care what political party you're in, if you don't love Bill Clinton, you probably suck.) 

2. Charles Barkley

I've been fortunate enough to go out drinking with Charles Barkley several times, but I've never gotten to golf with him. I think it would be pretty outstanding.  

3. Larry David

Larry David is the funniest man on television and he loves golf. Can you imagine putting him in a foursome with Bill Clinton and Charles Barkley. You know Clinton would want a gimme putt at some point and David wouldn't give it to him, right? 

This would be my ideal foursome.

My nightmare foursome would be:

1. My wife

My wife decided that golf would be something we could do together as a couple. But she is the worst golfer on earth. Worse than that, she's awful and incredibly deliberate. So every shot takes her five minutes and then it travels about five feet. There is a 100% chance we'd get divorced if we had to play 18 holes every week together. She would also divorce me if we had to take a canoe trip together. A few years ago I tipped us over in a canoe and I thought she was going to murder me with her paddle.

I'm not even kidding about this.

She would agree with all of this golf analysis, by the way. The last time we played was 2003 -- our 18 hole round took six hours and ended with her screaming at the men behind us for playing too close -- and I don't believe she has been on a golf course since.

2. Nancy Grace

Unless she would die of heatstroke on the second hole.

In which case I would move her up to my dream foursome.

3. Al Sharpton

Just what I need on my golf round, the most politically correct preacher in America. Y'all may be surprised by this, but politically correct preachers and me don't necessarily get along that well. 


FYI, I read this to my wife before I published it and she said, "You put me in the same group with Nancy Grace and Al Sharpton? You owe me for this. I'm definitely going shopping this weekend." 

Joe P. writes:

Icehockey emails:

"My boss and I got in an hour long argument this week about Saban and if he is as dirty as Coach Cal. I did something I never thought I would do in my life and defended Saban. So I bring the question to you: Is Saban as dirty as Cal?"

There is no way on earth that Nick Saban is as dirty as Coach Cal. We can begin with the fact that none of Saban's top seasons have ever been invalidated for actions that took place while he was in charge. Meanwhile, Cal is the only coach in the history of basketball to have two different Final Four appearances vacated.

The next step is this: basketball recruiting is much dirtier than football recruiting. Lots of the top football recruits end up as total busts. There are total busts in basketball recruiting, but they're infinitely less common. When was the last time the top basketball player in the country was just awful and made no impact on the collegiate level? Has this ever happened? (I mean actually awful at basketball, not that he got in trouble or had off court issues that rendered him worthless.)

Top player busts happen in football pretty often.

In fact, only half of the five stars in football ever get drafted and football has a seven round draft.

My point is this: everyone knows who the top basketball players are in a class, much is still unclear in football. So that means that the top basketball players are pretty much all ineligible by the time they're 16 or 17 if you rigorously applied the NCAA rulebook to them. They've all received improper benefits based upon their talents.

As if this wasn't enough, football coaches have to sign at least 25 players per class. Each individual player, while important, isn't your salvation. It's not worth cheating to sign one player because one outstanding football player doesn't change your team's status that much. On the other hand, one outstanding basketball player can get you to the Sweet 16. Two or three truly outstanding basketball players can win you a title.

Two or three outstanding football players won't even get you to a bowl game if the rest of the team still sucks.

Given the fact that he recruits top basketball players, has twice had top seasons vacated, and actually signs much more dominant classes than Saban does, Cal is much dirtier and it isn't even a close argument. 

This is a common thought, that you could create a kicker with the proper degree of nurture and training.

Unfortunately, it's not a valid plan and you need to star the college fund and the 401k.

I know because I've actually discussed this theory with professional NFL kickers and punters before. While technique matters a great deal in kicking, it matters much more that you have a killer foot. Kickers have a gift,, an ability to boot a football or soccer ball a much longer distance than everyone else on their team. Often this gift is noted at an early age. For instance, former Tennessee kicker James Wilhoit told us on 3HL once that his nickname in youth soccer was "Thunderfoot." 

You can't train kicking distance any more than you can train speed. You're either fast or you're not and you either have a big foot or you don't. 

Now, you can refine that talent if it exists and maximize it's ability, but taking a random kid and trying to make him a successful kicker is impossible to pull off absent actual ability.  

In "Dixieland Delight," I asked a similar question that requires less talent, why is it that every college doesn't employ a great bad kicker? The theory is similar to yours, except it acknowledges that not every one can boom a punt. But lots of us can be great bad punters, right? With the proper training we could all get consistent at punting.  

How often do college punters boom a ball through the back of the end zone? And how infuriating is this? So my question, why not get a great bad punter who doesn't have the length on his kicks, but can consistently kick the ball around 35 yards?

How valuable would it be to know you could always pin the opposing team inside the ten yard line? Especially with college football having so many players on the sideline. 

This needs to happen.

Okay, now we have the two greatest mailbag related reply emails that I've ever received.   

Finally, several of you wrote in about our tank at Gettysburg hypothesis from two weeks ago. The question was asked, would whichever side had a tank have been guaranteed to win the Battle of Gettsyburg? The two best responses were, not surprisingly, from officers in the mililtary.

Captain Lopez wrote as follows:

"As an Armor officer, Civil War buff, SEC football fan, beard aficionado, and long-time reader, I think I can provide some insight on this subject. The tank (I'll discuss the American M1 Abrams since it is what I know and arguably the best main battle tank in the world) versus Civil War Army question has to take into account several variables.

The first being one you already introduced - the fuel issue. If we are playing this straight (I laughed a little typing this since we are, after all, talking about a tank in the 1860's) then the tank would be effective for only a very short period of time. As can be expected based on its characteristics, tanks burn fuel at an unbelievable rate (about 60 gallons per hour during cross country maneuver or .6 miles per gallon) so within a busy afternoon - and no means of resupply - the tank would be relegated to a stationary gun system.

This brings us to our second issue - ammo. Tanks can only hold a limited amount of munitions so once they fired their basic load they would be relegated to nothing more than a 60 ton battering ram - that is until they ran out of their aforementioned fuel.

We also have to consider the maintenance required to keep a tank running. While the barrage of artillery fire from Civil War era guns would have little impact on the armament of an M1 tank it is unrealistic (again, funny) to believe that a random cannon ball wouldn't damage the tank's track rendering it unable to move. The crew would be required to dismount the tank to repair it thus creating the issue you discussed with them being vulnerable to enemy fire.

Even if, for arguments sake, the refuel, rearm, and maintenance issues were mitigated there is still the problem with it being a lone vehicle. As history and world military doctrine dictates, tanks fight in tandem with other tanks. A lone vehicle rolling around Tank Girl-style would be relatively useless in a full scale battle on open terrain. So, bottom line, without some means of resupply, maintenance or additional armored vehicles, a tank would have done little to impact the outcome of a single battle much less an entire war.

That is unless Les Miles is commanding the tank...Then all bets are off...Geaux Tigers!

Taking the other side of the tank at Gettysburg argument was officer Michael G, although he was operating on the premise that the tank was able to be maintained.

Though for the analytical break down; lets put some ground rules into place. Tank has an experienced Crew. Tank has the ability to refuel and fulfill basic maintenance tasks (oil, electrical, etc.). Without these two things, any technological marvel would be a paperweight right quick.

An M1A2 Abrams tank is the most sophisticated Main Battle Tank (MBT) used in any significant numbers. Even on the modern battlefield, it is an absolute terror. For instance, it's one of the few MBT's to have faced other MBT's in multiple engagements (the T-72 is still the MBT of Russia, China, Iraq, Etc.) and has had resounding success. Most of the time it has been stopped it's because of large amounts of anti-tank rocketry that was aimed against perceived weak points, such as tracks. The powerful anti-tank rocketry in question still had to be used in urban or rough environments in order to get close enough to even be effective.

Why is this important in a question about Gettysburg? Between 1860 to 1864, most of the major battles of the Civil War (including Gettysburg) was fought in the Napoleonic style of vast sweeping fields. As units were ground to dust by Artillery and Rifled fire, both sides realized that this type of warfare was no longer sustainable. During 1864, there was a shift into trenches, firing pits, and wooded terrain which would have made the Abrams less practical. In Gettysburg? The Abrams would have had an incredible amount of room to maneuver and excellent range to fire on targets with impunity. Essentially, even if the other infantry had the ability to damage the tank in close quarters, there would have been little likely chance they could have done so. Instead, they would have been destroyed in ways that even the new repeating rifles and explosive shells could never do.

The M1A2 Abrams tank also has armor that can stop just about any regular ordnance in the modern world. Let's take for instance, the story of the Western Union Flotilla versus Island No. 10. The Flotilla had armored gunboats which were in reality, lightly armored paddleboats. Island No.10's Cannons which were designed to stop wooden vessels could not penetrate the paddle boat's flimsy armor and a new era in naval warfare was born. Thanks to Steam and Steel, ships no longer needed 3 to 1 odds to defeat a Fort. Island No.10 guns were equal to or stronger than the field guns that the Union or Confederacy had at Gettysburg. The Abrams tank has a long stronger armor than a 1862 paddleboat. In essence, there could not have been a scenario in which a lucky strike could have done anything more than damage a track and slow the Tank down.

Even in scenarios where the opposing force had retreated in sheer terror at the decimation that 250 miles of rampaging Abrams could do; there would not have been any enemy forces that could have closed with the Tank when it was refueling. The M1A2 Abrams also has a .50 Caliber Machine Gun and two 7.62 Machine Guns which are mechanically fed and not reliant upon tank to fire. With a crew complement of Four and utilizing some pickets (sentries) for the untaxed friendly forces, the Tank could be refueled while being overwatched by its secondary weapon systems that still could fire farther than any Civil War Era armament.

The few scenarios in which the M1A2 Abrams would not have won the battle are such as the there was a catastrophic failure in the electrical system or some other kind of calamity that required repaid beyond the capability of the crew. This does occur enough that most tank units will send out a pair of Abrams to watch out for each other, instead of just a solo tank. Another could be if the crew miscalculated a ridge and the tank got stuck or was immobilized in such a way that it could not bring it's main gun to bear.

Other than these types of instance, I would be hard pressed to be accept many scenios in which the M1A2 Abrams would have not been the determining factor in the Battle of Gettysburg; if one were to have been available.


Dueling theories on whether a tank would have decided the Battle of Gettysburg from two different army officers?

I just don't know if the mailbag can get any better.

Outstanding work, gentlemen.


I love all of you.