All That and a Bag of Mail

ATLANTA, GA – DECEMBER 31: Head Coach Nick Saban celebrates after winning 24 to 7 against the Washington Huskies during the 2016 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl at the Georgia Dome on December 31, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) Streeter Lecka Getty Images North America

IT’S SNOWING IN THE SOUTH!

Did I mention that it’s SNOWING IN THE SOUTH!

As I’m writing the mailbag this morning with snow pouring down the city of Nashville has shut down and Tennessee has succumbed to the White Death. Soon Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Missouri and Kentucky will all be pronounced dead too. 

This means the only two Southern states to survive the weekend will be Texas and Florida. So go ahead and pencil in A&M and Florida for the SEC title game next year. 

On to the mailbag, which might be the last thing most of you read.

Luis writes:

“While home on winter break, I was catching up with a few of my friends that go to various schools around the country. One plays football for MIT, and of course we start to compare their team with Alabama. We come up with two questions. First, if Alabama and MIT were to play, could MIT hold Bama under 100 points? He claims they could if they kneeled every play and punted and Alabama scored on their first play every time, assuming they run straight up the gut with Bo Scarborough (although if Lane Kiffin was calling the plays, we can’t be too sure). Second, if you take the 2016 Alabama football team and 2016 MIT football team, which team will earn more in their respective careers? You have to figure each MIT player will make at least a decent salary, also having a fair chance of having somebody end up a billionaire, while Bama will certainly have a few multimillionaires on their team, but also a few duds. Would love your input here.”

First, I’d love to see the MIT players try and come up with the game plan that would most likely lead to them being able to keep Bama under a 100 points. Assuming the clock runs with college football rules then MIT could take roughly 120 seconds — or two minutes — off every possession by simply taking a knee. (The best plan would be to slowly go backwards on each play and try to milk a few more seconds off. By doing this you could potentially knock off another ten seconds).

So let’s say that every MIT possession ends in 130 seconds. (The real challenge here would be how many punts would Bamascore on? So I think you’d have to kick the ball out of bounds regardless of how far the punt traveled just to ensure that your defense actually came on the field. Could you keep from getting a punt blocked? Honestly, the best play might be to go for it on 4th down every time just to avoid a punt block score. But I think if you lined up to kick it out of bounds you could avoid the block and score).

I also don’t think Bama would score on every play even against MIT. You’d make some tackles on defense. So let’s say the average Bama scoring drive is 1 minute. 

Then let’s dive into the math. If MIT never got a first down and ran their offense for 130 seconds plus an additional 8 seconds for a punt that was directed straight out of bounds — you probably wouldn’t want to risk a fumble on the kickoff so you’d take a knee here without the clock running — and Bama scored in a minute on every possession. 

That means a quarter would look like this if MIT got the ball first:

MIT 2:18 with punt

Bama TD in 1 minute

MIT 2:18 with punt

Bama TD in 1 minute

MIT 2:18 with punt 

Bama TD in 1 minute

MIT 2:18 with punt

Bama TD in 1 minute

MIT runs out the quarter. 

But that’s if MIT gets the ball first. It’s hard to figure out the math where Bama doesn’t score at least 28 in a quarter. That gets you to 112. And that’s even if the average Bama scoring drive is one minute, which could end up being low given that the distance to drive would be low. So you might have to resort to some trickery to keep them from scoring 100. For instance, would it make sense to punt by just attempting to drill a Bama player on the punt and recover the fumble? Most football players aren’t prepared for a screaming line drive to hit them in the back ten yards from the line of scrimmage. Sure, it might hit an MIT player first, but if it hit a Bama player first you could recover the fumble and run more time off the clock. 

Somehow, someway you’d have to steal a possession. 

Is it possible that MIT could make Bama punt? This seems impossible absent a fumble on the quarterback/center exchange. Or make a drive take like 3 minutes, which would be a huge win? Honestly, I would love to see this game played.

Especially if you had Saban gameplanning to score 100 and MIT coming up with every strategy possible to keep the score under a 100.

On to your second question, let’s assume that each team has 85 players. Of those 85 Bama players, it’s probably fair to presume that around 30 of them will make a million dollars or more playing pro football. (The other 55 will only make what Bama paid them to sign with the Crimson Tide). But that the other 55, the ones who make less than a million off pro football, will make substantially less on average than the average MIT grad. 

That is, if we just took the mean average income of the 43rd player on each team, I think MIT would rank well above Bama. 

It’s also fair to say that some Bama players will make virtually no money because they won’t graduate from school and/or may end up in jail. Whereas the odds of an MIT player, almost all of whom will graduate college, making virtually no money is nearly zero. The top Bama player might make, let’s say, $70 million in his career. (Which might be too high since football pro football player salaries tend to be lower than you’d anticipate. Right now the top earning Bama football player of all time is Julio Jones who has made $52 million.)

We have no idea what the top MIT grad will make in his non-football career, but I think it’s fair to say that there will be quite a few guys on MIT’s football team that end up making tens of millions in their career. What’s more, the average MIT grads income will surge in his 40’s and 50’s and 60’s whereas the average Bama player’s top income will top out by the age of 35. 

So if I were betting, man, this is a tough decision, I think I’d take the certainty of Bama’s millions, but it’s a close call.  

I’d love to see the comparison, say, from the 1976 Bama football team with the 1976 MIT football team. And then I’d like to see a yearly comparison to see how much fluctuation there is. 

Has there ever been a former Bama football player who didn’t play in the NFL and made $100 million or more, for instance? I’m sure it’s happened, but that’s the wild card here. Imagine if you’d been betting, for instance, about the Arkansas football team in the 1960’s against MIT in the 1960’s and then Jerry Jones goes out and makes several billion dollars as an oil wildcatter and then from buying the Dallas Cowboys. He’d just blow up your entire theory by himself. 

Great questions. 

Mark writes:

“We’ve taken our son to Disney World three times and it’s a fucking nightmare. Completely ignoring the cost, it’s crowded as hell, the lines are ridiculous and trying to coordinate fast passes at different rides and attractions all over the park is a logistical nightmare. Depending on when you go, you might even have to schedule when you eat, unless you’re fine with the equivalent of minor league baseball stadium hot dogs or reheated Costco chicken fingers. And, I don’t even want to get started with the “adult” freaks who swoon like teenage girls at a Bieber concert when they meet Elsa or Aladdin or some shit.

The last two times we went, we set aside a day for Legoland and it was fantastic! With one or two exceptions, the rides are just as good as any at Disney World and we’ve never waited longer than 10 minutes to ride ANYTHING. The last time, we got there about 15 minutes before the park opened and the first hour or so, there were only a few people waiting in line when we finished the ride we were on. They actually invited us to stay on and go again. We rode the two roller coasters that are right next to each other almost non-stop for at least an hour! And the new water park only makes it better. My son told us that next time he only wants to go to Legoland except for a day at Disney doing all of the Star Wars stuff. He’s a smart kid.

The reason I’m writing is to ask you to shut the hell up about Legoland. Your column reaches a lot of people and I don’t want you turning Legoland into a crowded dumpster fire like Disney World. So help me God, if you fuck this up, I’ll hunt you down and hurt you.”

Don’t worry, Mark, I won’t tell anyone about LegoLand being much better than Disney World. 

It’s our secret. 

John writes:

“Big Outkick fan. I read your article on ESPN losing $75 million televising Raiders-Texans and it reminded me how bad the playoff games have been that the network was stuck broadcasting in previous years. For review:

2014: the 7-8-1 Panthers vs the Cardinals starting their 3rd String QB Ryan Lindley (aka Uncle Rico)
2015: 11-5 Chiefs versus the 9-7 Texans starting Brian Hoyer at QB. Chiefs won 30-0 in a game that didn’t seem that close.

In three years of showing ESPN Playoff Games, 4 of the 6 QBs ESPN got to show their viewers have been Connor Cook, Brock Osweiler, Brian Hoyer, and Ryan Lindley.

More fuel for the fire.”

ESPN is losing $25 million an hour showing a playoff game featuring Connor Cook against Brock Osweiler. 

They might as well be burning a huge pile of cash to keep people in the South warm as the white death descends upon us. 

Josh writes:

“Clay, I’ve heard you talk a lot about the current state of the sports TV bubble and it makes a lot of sense and it’s crazy that you’re the only person I’ve heard talk about it. My question for you is what will it look like for sports TV once this bubble bursts? When the housing market bubble burst in 2008 it led to a recession and lots of people lost money/jobs. So what do you think will be the ramifications to people when this sports TV bubble inevitably bursts?”

It’s a smart question. 

I believe the first time that most people will realize how bad things have gotten is when the Monday Night Football package goes back to market in 2020 or so. (ESPN’s deal runs out in 2021) There’s no way that ESPN can afford to pay over $2 billion a year for these games in the years ahead. At least not with Disney providing a huge loss subsidy.

But there’s also no way the network can remain viable without NFL rights. So it will be a really tough decision for ESPN’s parent company Disney. 

Can ESPN give up the NFL and rely on college football, college basketball, and the NBA in the years ahead? Or will the TV market rights have declined enough that ESPN can pay, let’s say $1.3 billion a year for the rights package instead of $2 billion. Because, remember, who else is buying Monday Night Football? Fox has the NFC, CBS has the AFC and NBC has Sunday Night Football and those deals extend through 2022. 

Would a cable network other than ESPN be able to afford Monday Night Football? I don’t see it. They would lose even more money on this than ESPN would at the existing prices. 

So who does the NFL have to bid on the property against ESPN? No one. The NFL is going to desperately need new bidders to arise. But who has the money to pay for games right now? Just Facebook, Amazon, Google, and Apple. So far these companies haven’t been willing to bid on NFL games because they’d lose money on them. (All four of these companies have fantastic profit margins. Why would they want to lose money on sports?) So far Twitter is the only buyer among the tech companies and they’re spending a tiny sum of money to stream the NFL games online. 

So maybe the NFL has to look at direct to consumer options to make this money up, but could they replicate the $1.9 billion a year they make off Monday Night Football by going direct to consumers? That would require 19 million subscribers to pay $100 a year for Monday Night Football. Considering only two million people subscribe to NFL Sunday Ticket, there’s no way that happens.

Right now, in order to get to $1.9 billion, and this is an amazing stat, every single cable and satellite subscriber with ESPN effectively pays $21.60 a year just for Monday Night Football and ESPN’s assorted NFL programming. 

How insane is that?

Every single one of the 88 million ESPN subscribers pays $21.60 a year just for Monday Night Football and ESPN’s studio shows around the NFL. And how many of those 88 million cable and satellite households actually watch Monday Night Football in a year? Maybe a quarter of them? So 75% of the people paying over twenty dollars a year for Monday Night Football probably never watch it.

The NFL and ESPN are both making tons of money off people who aren’t even sports fans. 

The sports right bubble is just an incredible house of cards when you actually unpack how many people are paying for sports that they never watch.

So the leagues are in a difficult position here. They can’t replicate the money they make off cable and satellite television right now in other ways. And if they can’t replicate that money then league and team revenues would decline, which means that player salaries would decline too.

So far we’ve only lived in a sports world where player salaries for sports went up. But can they keep going up forever? I don’t think so. 

So I believe the NFL’s Monday Night Football TV contract in three or four years will be the moment when the shit finally hits the fan.

What will the NFL do with Monday Night Football if ESPN can’t afford to pay what it pays now?

The NFL Network could potentially take Monday Night Football for a year and then decide to craft new TV properties to sell to Fox, NBC and CBS. There has been some talk of eliminating the AFC and NFC distinction and just having a weekly draft of games among TV partners. Could the NFL put more games on and let teams draft weekly like happens in college football now?

Maybe. 

In an ideal world wouldn’t every NFL game be on national television? Instead of having to watch your local team wouldn’t it be better if the NFL was more like the NCAA tournament and every game was airing somewhere? But then the NFL would have to give up the billions it makes from NFL Sunday Ticket exclusivity through DirecTV. 

Basically I think the NFL’s in trouble when it comes to making more money off TV than it does now. The NFL’s deals have been artificially inflated by cable television, which is rapidly unraveling, and so far there isn’t a new bidder to replace a collapsing ESPN.  

Seth writes:

“Am I the only one that finds it weird how little emphasis has been put on Joe Mixon compared to the Stanford swimmer? Brent Musburger was freaking out about giving Mixon a second chance while people wanted the death penalty for the swimmer. Both were wrong and I don’t think either person deserves a second chance. Is this just another example of the MSESPN white privilege talk?”

The liberal sports media wants white men to behave badly because it fulfills their belief that white men are evil and treated more fairly than anyone else. 

So when white men behave badly, which is honestly pretty rare from a statistical perspective, these acts get covered way more aggressively than black men who behave badly do.

Think about these stories and how they’ve all been covered: Duke Lacrosse, the University of Virginia rape hoax, Peyton Manning’s twenty year old mooning, and Ryan Lochte peeing outside a gas station.

In the past year alone the Lochte peeing and the Manning mooning have been covered like they were the crimes of the century. That’s because they’re white guys. Both of these stories got way more attention than Joe Mixon breaking a girl’s face in four places on video.

Hell, Grayson Allen tripped a dude on a basketball court and you would have thought he was OJ the way that ESPN covered that story.  

Welcome to MSESPN’s world. 

“Clay, I’d like to remain anonymous so I don’t get identified by friends who may be fellow readers.

In my opinion, I have a diplomatic, pragmatic, and radically moderate way of tackling the ‘blacks/Latinos/Muslims, etc can’t be racist’ narrative.

As a minority, I can say without any doubt that there’s rampant racism in my culture, and I’d be willing to bet racism exists in every culture on earth. I come from a Muslim background, and there’s heavy racism from the Arab community vs non-arabs, Nigerians vs other West Africans, so on and so forth.

My opinion on this is that we should be able to come to a middle point on this issue with those on the far left.

The way to do that is to concede that yes, while blacks and other minorities cannot be systematically racist (apartheid/Jim Crow, etc), they absolutely can be bigoted against other people. While minorities don’t have the power to block whites from voting or from sitting in the front on the bus, they can and do commit crimes of hate and bigotry against them. The four black guys in Chicago brutally beating the special needs white man is just our latest proof.

Do you believe this way of conversing would get through to the other side?”

I think the single most important thing that has to happen in order for race relations to improve in this country is for the media to stop covering racism like it’s still 1965 in this country. People of all races can be racist and this country is made up of many people who are neither white nor black. 

Right now it’s definitely black privilege for a black person to point at a white person and call them racist. This happens to me on Twitter every single day now. And most of the time if I click on the people calling me racist’s profile I immediately see a dozen or more Tweets that would get a white person fired.

The people who are the quickest to allege racism, in my experience, tend to be the most racist themselves. That’s why they think everyone else is racist.   

We’ve allowed an entire generation of people out there to believe that only white people can be racist. And as you noted above, that’s just not true, particularly in a country that is as diverse as America is today. All races have people who are racist within them. Hell, lots of times the most virulent racism in this country can be towards other people within your same racial group. That is, Asians being racist against other Asians, blacks racist against other blacks, and so on.

Simply focusing on white to black racism is a substantial failing of our country’s ability to talk about race in an intelligent manner.  

Here’s the other thing, we’ve reached a point where white people are afraid to say anything other than they hate racism. And where white people actually spend time patrolling other white people so they can accuse other white people of being racist. I get called racist by other white people more often than minorities call me racist. Why? Because there’s a subset of white America that feels better about itself if it spends all day calling other white people racist. 

The media, I think, is more to blame for the way racism is talked about in this country than anyone. They set the tone. Which is why it’s important, I think, for people with substantial audiences like me to push back and point out that facts matter and that race is more complicated than the way the media covers it. 

The only times police shootings, for instance, make substantial news is when a white police officer shoots a black person. The result is that tens of millions of people legitimately feel like police officers are trying to kill black people. The data just doesn’t back this up at all. Black people are thousands of times more likely to shoot and kill police officers than police officers are to shoot and kill black people. In fact, black people are killed 93% of the time by other black people. So if you’re a black person and you want to be scared of getting killed by someone, you should be afraid of other black people, not the police.  

In 2016 there were only 48 unarmed people shot and killed by police. (Unarmed doesn’t mean without danger, by the way, you can be punching or kicking a police officer without a weapon and still be very dangerous even though you’re “unarmed.”) And the majority of these people shot and killed by police were white and Hispanic, 31 of the 48 unarmed people shot and killed by police in this country last year were white, Hispanic or other. That means only 35% were black. Yes, that’s a higher percentage than blacks in the country, but black men make up just 6% of the United States population and they commit over half of all murders. So as a proportion of violent crime black men are actually less likely to get shot than other races are. (Women of all races almost never get shot and killed in this country, by the way, it’s almost always men. And white women are the safest people in the history of the world).

How rare was getting shot and killed by the police if you were unarmed?

Unarmed people were more likely to be killed by wasps, bees and other insects last year than they were by the police. Lightning strikes killed 38 people, roughly equivalent to the number of unarmed people shot and killed by police.

The media has done an awful job of covering race-related issues in this country. If I could change one thing it would be this — we have to acknowledge that racism doesn’t just run from white to blacks in this country. In fact, that’s actually a small subset of racism in the country today.   

Hope y’all survive the snow. Thanks for reading the mailbag. And if you’re going to be in Tampa for the Clemson-Bama game, come by and see us broadcasting Outkick the Coverage live from 6-9 am eastern Monday and Tuesday from the Marriott in downtown Tampa. 

Also, #dbap

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