All That and a Bag of Mail

It’s Friday, rejoice.

This weekend you can win $10k of my money by playing Outkick’s free college football pick’em. All you have to do is spend a couple of minutes making your picks here. Dive in.

Okay, on to the Friday mailbag.

Charles writes:
“I’m a long suffering Hog fan and literally LOLed when I saw SportsCenter discuss this morning if Bama is on upset alert against us.  But that got me thinking, if you had practiced with the Tide this week, could you start at QB and beat Arkansas?
The case for: i)You will only need to score 20 points at best, and you might get a non-offensive touchdown; ii) you can run a 1980s style I formation run heavy set and count on a back breaking a long run; iii) you can mix in a few bubble screens or RPOs to the best set of receivers ever, and iv) the Hog defense has no depth and will wear down in the second half. 
The case against: even John Chavis knows to blitz the hell out of you and knock you around. 
What say you Clay?  Ready to suit up for the Tide?
Woo Pig!”
I think the only pass play I could really execute would be the bubble screen.
And that’s probably only if you put me in shotgun and as soon as I got the pass I turned and gunned it as hard as I could to the receiver out wide.
I could also execute a basic hand off too, but I’m certainly not a viable option to run the option or do anything that requires more than a couple of steps along the line of scrimmage to hand off.
Having said that, I still think this would be enough to beat Arkansas.
Clearly Arkansas would catch on to my offensive liabilities and start blitzing on every early down play to try and put us in third and long when I’d have no chance to succeed, but the bubble screen, if deployed at the right time, would hit for a massive gain on one of these blitzes as a result — especially if you look at Alabama’s receivers — and a few of the running plays would hit too.
Plus, I think Alabama’s coaching staff would be smart enough to put me in plays where I got rid of the ball almost the second it hit my hands.
This may be crazy, but I also think against zero coverage I could just take the snap and throw it up out wide and give Alabama’s receivers a chance to make a play and have decent success. I mean, I can throw the ball thirty or forty yards down the field the second I get the ball and probably give the receivers a chance to make a play in man coverage. (This would, of course, require me to recognize zero coverage, but even if I didn’t an interception thirty or forty yards down the field wouldn’t kill us, it’s the defensive scores and turnovers on our own end of the field that would kill us.)
The challenge would come if I ever got decked by defensive linemen because I might die, but, again, I’d be getting rid of the ball almost as soon as it hits my hands and my goal would be to hit the ground and protect the ball the minute anyone got close to me. I’m not trying to escape any tackles at all.
All of this begs the question, would I rather watch a random forty year old SEC fan play quarterback against Arkansas than watch Alabama play Arkansas with its current allotment of talent?
100%, I would.
I bet most of you would rather watch this game too.
The easy solution here, rather than play someone like me at quarterback, is just to put a running back in the wildcat and run the ball on every play.
I don’t think Arkansas could beat Alabama even if Alabama didn’t attempt a pass for the entire game.
But if, for instance, the rules required Bama to attempt at least ten passes and play a forty year old sportswriter at quarterback, I would watch every snap of this game.
It would be riveting television.
I’d also watch a 24/7 style show here too. I’d want to see the practice snaps and hear what the other players were thinking. Getting confessionals from Saban and his staff about their prep for the game.
All of this would be must see television.
Hell, I would love a new NCAA rule being passed that if you play an FCS opponent on your schedule you have to pick a quarterback from the intramural leagues. He can’t be a walk on or in any way affiliated with the team, a legit intramural quarterback who gets to start for the week.

Who wouldn’t watch these games to see what happened?

Den writes:

“Who takes the kids out trick-or-treating and who stays home to hand out candy? My money says you go with the kids in full costume.”

We have a Halloween party tonight at the house and then I have to wake up in the morning and go speak for an hour at Politicon in downtown Nashville tomorrow.

So this could be a total mess.

But generally speaking I get kid duty to walk around in the neighborhood.

I’m fine with that as long as it’s not cold, but it’s going to be cold and potentially rainy in Nashville on Halloween next week so I’m already dreading this.

I’m a total weather wuss so there’s no way I’m dressing up. I’ll be buried in way too many layers of clothes and hoping the kids get cold and want to come back home early.

It was like fifty degrees last night I was ready to cancel winter and go immediately back to summer.

I do, however, love Halloween.

I’m going as Jon Snow this year and my wife is going as murdered Daenerys after Jon Snow stabbed her.

Chris writes:

“Do you agree or disagree with my Dolphins’ Tank for Tua approach?”

If Dolphin management truly believes that Tua is going to be a transcendent, elite level quarterback then I don’t just agree with the decision, I think it’s a great one.

Look, ever since Dan Marino left the Dolphins your franchise has been a quarterback desert.

If you find the right quarterback he can be great for the next 15 years or longer. One year of stinking to maximize your quarterback options is a small price to pay for the excellence to come.

If, and this is a big if, you draft the right quarterback and he turns out to be great.

Now what you have to be fearful of is this — it’s hard to get the quarterback position right, even if you’re drafting in the top five.

Look at this list of quarterbacks drafted in the top five since 2006.

Vince Young
JaMarcus Russell
Matt Ryan
Mark Sanchez
Matthew Stafford
Sam Bradford
Cam Newton
RGIII
Andrew Luck
Blake Bortles
Marcus Mariota
Jameis Winston
Carson Wentz
Jared Goff
Mitch Trubisky
Sam Darnold
Baker Mayfield
Kyler Murray
I bolded the hits here, but you’re talking about six out of 18 being certified hits so far and none of them has won a Super Bowl.
That’s a pretty low hit percentage.
At the absolute best a top five quarterback in the draft is a coin flip.

But I’m going to be honest with you, right now I’m wondering if Joe Burrow shouldn’t be the overall number one pick over Tua and Justin Herbert and everyone else.

Burrow looks like a prototypical pocket passer in the NFL: big, strong, tough, mobile enough to extend drives and move well in the pocket. He also reads defenses like a savant.

As the season continues to play out, if you haven’t watched Burrow, you need to, he looks like he could be special for the rest of this year and for next year as well.

Jabber writes:

“Clay, my wife wants to reenact the whip cream scene from Varsity Blues but I have a dairy allergy, and she knows this but she’s being persistent about it. Is this her way of saying she wants a divorce?”

No, she just thinks you’re a pussy.

And so does everyone else reading this right now.

Is your dairy allergy really that bad? Are you really going to die from eating whip cream?

And if you die licking a whip cream bikini off your naked wife, is there a better way to go? I don’t think so.

Suck it up, buttercup.

Greg writes:

“Is there a former left wing President (dead or alive not counting Obama) who could actually succeed in winning the Democratic nomination and election in 2020 or have things gone too far left for that to happen?”

Bill Clinton would win the Democratic nomination this year.

I think we underrate great politicians and their ability to shape shift to suit the moments. A great politician finds out what people want and then tells them how he’s going to give it to them.

Those skills transcend eras, conflicts, and nomination battles.

It’s only an average or good politician who is only able to be elected based on a given circumstance that arises in a country. In other words, this is the man meeting the moment as oppose to the man making the moment. I’d say Jimmy Carter and George Bush, Sr. would be good or average politicians that we’ve elected president in the past forty years. Those guys got elected because the Republicans tripped all over themselves out of Watergate — Carter — and because Reagan was so popular — Bush, Sr.

That’s not to denigrate them, it’s just to say that their timing was right.

Great politicians make the timing their own.

That’s because a great politician can be elected no matter the circumstances because he’s able to adjust and fit the times. Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton were both great, incredibly talented politicians who I believe would be electable in many different decades.

Including today.

Their skills transcend their eras.

So Bill Clinton would win the Democratic nomination if he were ten years younger and running today.

I think the big issue the Democrats have right now is until you see the nominee go head-to-head against Trump it’s hard to foresee any of them as being “big” enough for the moment. That’s also why I think all polling is crap about Trump vs. the Democrats right now.

Trump is going to drag whichever Democrat he runs against down into the muck of an ugly, vicious election cycle. Make no mistake, this is going to be a presidential campaign as trench warfare. Both parties are pretty much set in place and I doubt there will be much movement in either direction.

This is a fifty-fifty country and this will be a fifty-fifty election.

The election, as I have said from the moment we first started writing about 2020 in the mailbag, will ultimately come down to what voters decide in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota.

This is the Big Ten’s election.

Whatever those voters decide will decide the presidency.

Joseph writes:

“Now that Tulsi Gabbard will not seek re-election for her House seat, what is your take on the Russian operative claims and did they have an effect on her decision?”

The Russian operative claims are absolutely insane and, honestly, a disservice to anyone in the political process.

What Hillary said about Tulsi is just as bad as anything Trump said about the Republicans he was running against in 2016.

The truth of the matter is this, Tulsi Gabbard has an interesting collection of beliefs that don’t all follow script. Like most of us in the this country she has a mix of conservative and liberal beliefs. She leans left, but isn’t a far left loon and I believe she sees the DNC for what it was in 2016 — an organization captured by Hillary Clinton that fought to ensure Bernie Sanders wasn’t the nominee.

Personally, I think it’s a smart move to leave the House of Representatives if she wants to be a national figure and I suspect she would have left no matter what Hillary said. Unless you’re the speaker, how many Americans can even name a member of the House? Hell, how many Americans can even name Nancy Pelosi?

Tulsi’s political future lies, I think, in becoming a cabinet member of a Bernie or Biden presidency or, potentially, moving to a new state and running for higher office there.

As for election interference, look, here’s the truth, other countries have and will attempt to impact our elections through often covert means. Just as, and I can’t believe no one ever points this out, WE REGULARLY ATTEMPT TO INFLUENCE THE ELECTIONS IN OTHER COUNTRIES THROUGH COVERT MEANS TOO.

We act like election interference in our country is a one way street.

We have been interfering in other countries elections for hundreds of years.

The truth of the matter is election interference only impacts, in any way, the potential outcome of an election when the race is very close. In 2016 roughly 80,000 people in Big Ten country determined the outcome of the presidency. But the 2000 race was even more ridiculous than the 2016 race. In the 2000 race the idiot ballot designer in Palm Beach County cost Al Gore the election.

That’s not because the ballot designer was intending to change the election outcome, just because the race was so incredibly close that every little detail ends up being magnified in a close election. That’s where we may end up in 2020 again, honestly.

If you want a sports equivalent, fans are most upset at referees when the game is close and a single call can swing the outcome.

If the game’s not close, most don’t care about a missed pass interference penalty.

If Hillary flips those 80,000 voters and wins Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin then no one talks about Russia or election interference or social media or anything else. But because Trump won — and won so narrowly — Democrats have been looking for reasons why that could happen again.

The reason why it happened back in 2016 was because Hillary was a weak candidate who couldn’t rise above her historic baggage. She didn’t have her husband’s innate likability or his political talents. That’s why Obama beat her in 2008 and it’s why Trump beat her in 2016.

It wasn’t Russia or Facebook or any of those things, it was Hillary.

Todd writes:

“I’m sure you’ve seen the SI story about the Astro’s assistant gm who got fired for his outburst towards some SI female staffers. He’s now been fired. Is this really a big story?

I mean, his outburst came AFTER Osuna blew the save and luckily got bailed out in the bottom of the 9th.  If it’s such a big deal, why hasn’t there been more blowback from the beginning when Osuna was acquired by the Astros (via a trade) in 2018?  You have to mention his case was dismissed yet he did get a 75 game suspension from MLB for violation of it’s domestic abuse policy.  
I hate domestic violence worse than anyone, period.  I just can’t figure out if this story is being blown out of proportion or not. And also ironic it’s SI, who’s only contribution to sports the last decade has been a yearly magazine objectifying women.”
There are several things at play here that turned this into a big story. First, you have a female victim. Second, you have a white male bad guy in a position of power taunting someone of a lower power dynamic. Third, you have a lie, which was proven to a be a lie, prolonging a story and further burnishing the good vs. evil moral motif of this story. Fourth, the Astros lost two straight World Series games, keeping the negative angle focus on the team. (If the Astros had won two straight in the World Series, I doubt they fire this guy in the middle of the World Series because if they tanked afterwards everyone would blame the decision to act in the middle of the series).
I think if any of these story angles are different, it doesn’t blow up in a big way.
But the wildest thing about this story to me is the Astros fired a GM for bragging — or taunting — a group of reporters about deciding to sign a guy who had been accused of domestic violence.
Think about this for a minute.
So the Astros are fine paying a guy tens of millions of dollars to play for them despite the domestic violence suspension, but they aren’t fine paying a guy a few hundred thousand dollars because he taunted the media about employing a guy accused of domestic violence?
This seems pretty wild.
So the guy who ends up losing his (relatively low paying) job here is the guy who bragged about the decision to bring in a player, not the guy accused of actually doing the bad acts (who makes infinitely more money). It’s yet another situation in this country where we are punishing words more than actions. And it’s yet further evidence that all the matters in cases like these is talent. If you’ve got it, you can get away with almost anything.
Having said all of that, why in the world do you care enough about a reporter’s opinion to stop your World Series celebration to taunt them?
Maybe I’m unique in this, but I really don’t think very much about the people who don’t like or criticize me.
I’m kind of impervious to the noise unless it benefits me to dive into the noise and put on a show.
So why would you decide to yell at some reporters while you’re celebrating a World Series trip? It just seems like a really poor decision. You’re having your moment, enjoy it. Don’t let the critics stifle your joy, or in the end, cost you your job.
That’s a good lesson for everyone in the age of social media.
Hope y’all have great weekends.
Thanks for reading Outkick.
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