All That and a Bag of Mail

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

Our goal here?

As always, to make you smarter.

But not smart enough, I hope, to cost me $10k in the college football pick’em challenge this week. 

Outkick’s college football pick’em is free. Go play here.

Nathan writes:

“Hi Clay, after the recent news that the NFL has abandoned the 18 game schedule in favor of seeking a 17 game schedule, I have seen some questioning the logistics of an odd numbers of games (one more home or away game, who would it be against, etc). I know some people are stuck in their ways/cant accept change/ think that because a system exists already it must be the best one available. I for one am excited at the possibilities. The way I see it there are several options here for how they do it. Most of the current system makes sense logistically, so I am not going to tweak it, just add on. There are of course limitless possibilities if you scrap the current format and start over.

1)      Play the current format 16 games, and then play a “local” rivalry team from the other conference. Think Texans/Cowboys, Steelers/Eagles, Skins/Ravens, Giants/Jets etc. Sure, you would have to get creative with some of them, but, on the surface, creating this rivalry game would be a fun way to handle it.

2)      Current format plus the NFC team that finishes X in the conference plays the AFC team that finished in the same place. So last year, with KC finishing first in the AFC and NO finishing first in the NFC, they would play, and so on all the way to Arizona vs NY Jets.

Both of these formats have the same issue, depending on what division you are playing that year from the other conference, you could face that team twice that year. I don’t think that would be a deal breaker. As for who is home and who is road, I see two more options:

1)      The fun way is play all of these as neutral games. Each one of them in a site they want to explore, whether across the pond, down in South America, or in some American city they want to explore (Portland maybe). Drawback here is if a team is already slated for a London game, but, with a 17 game schedule, my guess is you have two bye weeks anyway.

2)      The simple way is one year the NFC team is home, the next the AFC team is home. Everybody gets equal home games in the end.

What are your thoughts?”

Great email.

I love the idea of a 17 game season, particularly if it cancels out the four game pre-season and you add an extra bye week so every team can play a Thursday night game coming off a week of rest beforehand.

I’d also extend the season to the President’s Day weekend so the Super Bowl is always played the day before the Monday President’s Day holiday.

Sure, not everyone gets that Monday off, but I love the idea of that turning into a day of pure football excess and wrapping the NFL even more firmly in Americana.

I kind of love your idea of each team in the NFL having one “rivalry” game they play every year against a team from the opposite conference.

I even like the idea of making this neutral game playable in a neutral site city.

For instance, the Titans and the Falcons should play every year. That seems like a good rivalry to get rolling. (If not Titans-Falcons then the Titans-Panthers, someone close to you geographically where there’s a decent connection between the cities already.)

I also kind of like the idea of being able to play NFL games in places that otherwise don’t get to see NFL games.

Yes, London, Mexico City, and Toronto could make a ton of sense — I’d see Buffalo, for instance, playing every year in Toronto in the 17th game, maybe against someone like Detroit — but I’d also like the idea of playing neutral games where fans might not get to watch an NFL game otherwise.

Would it, for instance, make sense to play Titans-Panthers in Knoxville, in a city roughly equidistant between both cities?

You could also make it really cool and have each team pick a neutral site travel game every year.

I can see fans getting pretty pumped about a destination game since so many fans use games as an excuse to travel.

Regardless, I think replacing the pre-season with an additional regular season game is a golden idea.

I’d also go ahead, by the way, and expand the playoffs to 16 teams and do away with rest weeks for top seeds. No other pro sport gives a bye to top seeds. Your goal in getting the number one seed would be to get to play the 8th best team in your conference at home, just like exists with every other pro sport already.

Jacrowell95 writes:

“What would be the craziest playoff scenario the committee might face this year?”

College football fans love rooting for crazy playoff scenarios. Every year about this time the talk about the crazy scenarios begins.

I always think the best scenarios at play here involve difficult decisions. That is, we could clearly craft a scenario where everyone loses multiple games, for instance, and you have to pick among a bunch of two loss teams, but I think the better ones occur when a bunch of worthy teams are all competing for four playoff spots.

With that in mind, I think the toughest decision for the committee would have to look something like this:

Alabama is 13-0, Georgia is 12-1 with its only loss to Alabama in a close game in the SEC title game, LSU is 11-1 with its only loss to Alabama in a close road game in Tuscaloosa, Big Ten champ Ohio State is 12-1, with a loss to an 8-4 Michigan team, ACC champ Clemson is 12-1, with a loss to an unranked South Carolina, Big 12 champ Texas is 12-1 with its only loss to LSU, Notre Dame finishes 11-1 with its only loss at Georgia, and California finishes the Pac 12 13-0.

Which are your four playoff teams?

I think it probably ends up Alabama as the one seed, Clemson as the two seed, Georgia as the three seed and Ohio State as the four seed.

But the debate would be wild because you’d have eight teams with very legit claims to the playoff.

Rudy writes:

“Do you think the impeachment is gathering speed with the whistleblower report?”

I guess it depends on what you mean by gathering speed. I think it’s likely the Democrats, facing pressure from the far left wing of their party, end up feeling compelled to impeach Donald Trump in the House of Representatives. But that’s an empty gesture because there’s no way twenty Republican senators vote to remove Donald Trump from office, which is what would be required.

Given the political calculus, I actually think it’s more likely some Democrats in the Senate in states Trump won easily — like Doug Jones in Alabama and Joe Manchin in West Virginia — would vote not to impeach than Republicans would vote against Trump.

I suppose some Republican senators in states Trump lost might feel compelled to vote for impeachment, but I actually think that hurts them more than it helps them. That is, I think Republican voters would hold it against their senators more than independents or Democrats would reward them.

Regardless, the chances of twenty Republicans joining every Democrat in the Senate to post the requisite 67 votes for Trump’s removal is zero.

That’s especially the case since any vote to remove Trump from office would take place in a presidential election year.

Think about it, are 100 senators really going to argue their opinions should count more than 130 million voters?

That seems crazy to me.

There’s just no way that ends up happening. Hell, even if you’re a Democrat senator who hates Trump, I’m not sure how you can argue your individual opinion should count more than 13 million voters. (I’m dividing 130 million voters by 100 senators here).

This also raises an intriguing question, if you are impeached and removed from office can you run again for a new term? In other words, think about this, could the Senate remove Donald Trump from office as president and still permit him to run in 2020?

Yes, theoretically.

Now that’s a wild scenario which isn’t likely to happen, but it’s at least constitutionally possible.

I think if you are going to decide to remove someone from office, which has never happened in the history of our country — remember, Nixon resigned, something I don’t think Trump would ever do — then the conduct needs to be so egregious there’s no way to defend it.

And this Ukraine business is just nowhere near that.

Plus, again, THERE’S AN ELECTION A FEW MONTHS AFTER THE REMOVAL FROM OFFICE VOTE WOULD HAPPEN.

Why should the United States Senate remove Donald Trump from the office of the presidency when hundreds of millions of Americans will be able to vote on Trump’s fate in 2020? Shouldn’t the Senate — and the House, honestly — just allow the democratic process to take place? If voters believe Trump should be removed from office they have the right to make that choice in just over a year.

That’s why this entire story is a bit wacky to me.

Regardless of your politics this Ukraine issue is far less significant than what Robert Mueller already investigated. That is, the allegations at play here are much less severe than what was alleged in the Mueller case. So what’s really going on to make impeachment here a potential reality?

I have three theories.

First, and probably most likely, is that Democrats so hate Trump that they’re willing to believe he’s a venal and evil political genius trampling all over the Constitution. I don’t think the evidence supports this opinion at all. Trump is more like a bull in a china shop than he is an evil dictator. When he knocks over a priceless vase, it’s because he’s clumsy, not because he’s deliberately attempting to break valuable things. The Democrats see this clumsiness as evil genius, but the reality is, most of the Trump scandals haven’t been brilliant conspiracies, they’ve just been clumsy moves by a political neophyte who doesn’t have the most talented or skilled team surrounding him because most people have only been on the job for a short period of time.

A second theory: this is an attempt by Democrats to attack Trump while also discrediting Joe Biden and keeping him from attaining the nomination. Yes, Trump will be tarred and feathered with Ukraine, but so will Biden. We know the DNC rigged the process last year for Hillary Clinton to win. Is it far fetched to believe the DNC wants a liberal standard bearer like Elizabeth Warren over Biden this year? Not at all. So this could be a kill two birds with one stone scenario. You weaken Trump and end Biden with the same story.

Third theory: this is about Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s health. If she has to step down from the supreme court, rather than permit Trump to appoint a third supreme court justice and ram his appointee through the senate with a 53 vote majority, Democrats will argue it’s inappropriate for a president facing impeachment to nominate a new justice to the court. This argument may persuade four Republican senators not to support whomever the president puts forward as his nominee, thereby leaving the fate of RBG’s court seat to the 2020 election.

This would be really brilliant political calculus by the Democrats.

Which is why I think it’s probably not very likely.

But if you think things are messy now, look out if RBG dies and Trump nominates a conservative woman, likely Amy Coney Barrett, to replace her. Democrats would lose their ever loving minds over this.

I think all of these scenarios are plausible, but I tend to think this is more reactionary and motivated by Trump hate than anything else.

I also believe that ultimately this will strengthen Trump because it will turn the next year into a referendum on impeachment and Trump will emerge vindicated when the senate votes not to remove him from office. This way he can run his entire 2020 campaign arguing that the professional politicians in Washington have been out to get him since he won in 2016 and now he needs his voters to show up more than ever and help him drain the swamp and keep America great by winning a second term.

Again, from a pure narrative standpoint, this is a good one for the president.

Especially if he’s running against someone like Elizabeth Warren, who I believe is too cerebral to persuade voters in the Midwest to support her. This is an election that will come down to what aging white men and women in the Midwest — in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota — think of Donald Trump compared to Elizabeth Warren.

Are Democrats really going to make the mistake of nominating another liberal white woman to run against Trump?

I just don’t see any reason why Warren will be more appealing to these voters than Hillary was.

Given that we’re now down to a three horse race for the presidency, I think Biden would beat Trump. I don’t see Warren or Bernie Sanders beating him.

So, of course, the Democrats, so overcome by their hate for Trump, will overreach and give Trump his best chance to remain president by picking someone who moderates don’t find much better than Trump.

Ryan writes:

“Do you believe that the Des Moines Register Carson King debacle can hold enough momentum going into the presidential primaries, thus impacting, even slightly, the primaries through the Iowa caucus, specifically which Democratic receives the nomination?”

For those of you who don’t know this story at all — Carson King is a 24 year old college kid who held up a sign asking for beer money during the Iowa-Iowa State College Gameday.

The sign went viral and people sent him a ton of money, which he then announced he was donating to the University of Iowa children’s hospital.

Several companies jumped on the donation bandwagon and the amount raised surged to over a million dollars.

The Des Moines Register newspaper decided to do a story on King and as part of their “background research” on him they uncovered a shocking truth. Back in 2012, when he was 16 years old, King had sent a couple of Tweets the paper deemed racist. (Many have said the Tweets dealt with a Tosh.0 skit and weren’t actually that bad, but I haven’t even seen the Tweets in question). That led the beer company to disavow their association with him and for King to have a press conference apologizing for the Tweets he sent as a teenager.

As these stories often do, it turns out the newspaper writer of this story, the person who “uncovered” these Tweets actually had far worse Tweets in his history and he ended up being fired by the newspaper after being forced to turn his Twitter account private.

All of this is absurd, of course, beginning with the very idea that anyone needed to write about the Tweets of a 16 year old in the first place.

How is this news?

My personal opinion is that if we as a society have decided to erase criminal convictions from the personal records of minors once they become adults, how in the world are we going to hold teenagers to higher standards when it comes to their Tweets than we do their criminal misbehavior? I think teenage Tweets should just be off limits. (I also think, by the way, that all teenagers should delete their Twitter history when they turn 18. I’d even suggest Twitter build this function into the account themselves and make it a standard notice everyone receives at 18 years old.)

Having said all that, if I’d been advising Donald Trump, I would have told him to jump all over this story and make it political. Offer to double the money King raised as a donation to the Iowa children’s hospital and make attacking the cancel culture a big part of his campaign in 2020.

This cancel culture is impacting everyone — Democrats, Republicans, and Independents — everyone has something they did or said at some point in their past that is potentially able to be attacked by people who want to cancel you. We have statutes of limitations on crimes in this country, how is everyone perpetually held hostage by what they said or did when they were a teenager or young adult?

I think this is a really winning issue for Trump because the far left wing of the Democratic culture is driving the cancel culture.

This is also going to become even more of an issue in the years ahead because nothing vanishes in our present culture. Kids today are online in pictures and video from the moment they’re born. Every teenager sends thousands and thousands of Snapchats.

Just about every president for the rest of our lives is probably going to have nude photos out there, especially if he or she was a teenager on the Internet.

But at least those are politicians.

I don’t know that every single kid on the planet — who goes viral for doing something positive — needs to be subject to this same scrutiny.

I think about this, by the way, much more now that I’m a parent than I did before I was a parent, but the amount of technology that my kids and your kids are going to be dealing with is off the charts compared to what we dealt with. Back when I was a teenager or a college kid if someone did or said something stupid, it almost immediately vanished.

Now it’s all preserved forever for all to see, often devoid of all context.

How often did you jokingly call your friend an insult without intending to be serious? Now those things happen on Twitter and everyone is perpetually held hostage, at least to some degree, by what might have been the worst decision of their life.

Or judged for something they did several decades ago that was totally normal that now has been cancled.

Does this really make sense?

I think everything about the cancel culture itself needs to be canceled.

So if I were advising politicians on either the left or right, I’d go all in here. Hell, if I were running for office, I’d go all in on this issue.

Imagine if a Democratic candidate like Tulsi Gabbard, who seems reasonable, unlike many of the people she’s running against, made this the focus of her Iowa campaign push.

I think it would receive a ton of publicity and her poll numbers would move in a positive direction. Iowans of all political stripes think this kid was mistreated by the media.

I’m not saying she’d win Iowa because of it, but I think it would create a necessary conversation and help her to receive more attention in the overall Democratic primary race in the state.

Herm writes:

“With Cousin Sal moving up to Fox Thursday night, what would be the moonlighting moves that the rest of Lock It In could make? Travis—Dancing with the Stars? Bonnetta—The Drew Carey Show reboot? Fuhrman—Law and Order: Vegas?”

Cousin Sal getting added to the pre-game show for Fox Thursday Night Football is a really big deal.

It’s very cool for him and for our show.

I feel very confident that Bonnetta is going to be a star, either in sports or outside of sports at some point, in the near future. She’s wildly talented.

As for me and Fuhrman, we’re just hoping for invites to the Fox holiday party this year.

Casey writes:

“Who will be the better pro quarterback Tua or Trevor Lawrence?”

The reality is, none of us know.

And it might be some dude playing FCS ball for all we know who is much better than both.

But if I had to pick between the two right now, I’d take Tua because he seems to make quicker decisions and process things on the field faster than Trevor does.

That’s not to take a shot at Trevor, who clearly will be a top five pick in the 2020 draft, but Tua, to me, just seems to see the field so fast and to make decisions in such a rapid fashion that he projects better in the NFL where the windows are smaller and the decision making has to be lightning quick.

Having said that, I’d be a bit nervous about Tua’s durability.

He isn’t hit all that often at Alabama, but he’s still had issues staying healthy. In the NFL, where everyone gets hit a ton, could he be another Marcus Mariota? Capable of making plays when healthy, but never healthy enough to rely on?

I think that’s possible.

But you’re going to have doubts about everyone when leave college and head to the NFL. That’s because the hit rate is roughly 50/50 no matter what you did in college.

Thanks for reading the Friday mailbag.

Hope y’all have great weekends.

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