Cuonzo Is Gonzo: So Who's Next for the Vols?
Cuonzo Is Gonzo: So Who's Next for the Vols?
Cuonzo Is Gonzo: So Who's...

Cuonzo Is Gonzo: So Who's Next for the Vols?

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Cuonzo Is Gonzo: So Who's Next for the Vols?

Written by: Clay Travis

Cuonzo Martin and the Tennessee Vols were in the midst of an awkward divorce. Neither really wanted to be in a relationship with the other. Vol athletic director Dave Hart expected Martin to take the Marquette job, but at the last minute Martin told Marquette no. So just over ten days ago Tennessee released an unplanned commitment letter between Martin and the Vols. Clearly, that "commitment" is now no longer. Tennessee and Cuonzo both got their wish, the divorce is final.

So now the question becomes this -- what will Tennessee pay to hire a replacement coach? If the Vols are willing to pay in the neighborhood of $2.5 million a year then there are many top-tier candidates. That kind of salary would mean that Tennessee is paying top-ten college basketball coaching money.  There aren't many schools that can pay top-ten coaching money. Tennessee can. 

The men's basketball program has been right around the top five in the country for much of that last decade in total attendance. Three of the last four Tennessee coaches -- everyone except for the woeful Buzz Peterson -- has been to a Sweet 16. The Vols have been in the NCAA tournament for 11 of the past 16 seasons. This is without a doubt one of the top four basketball jobs in the SEC. Kentucky is the unquestioned number one job in the conference, but Bruce Pearl recently argued that Tennessee was number two. His argument was pretty simple, Billy Donovan makes Florida's program, not the other way around. (Pearl's top six SEC programs in order were Kentucky, Tennessee, Florida, Arkansas, Vanderbilt, and Missouri). That's a fair list. Given that Arkansas hasn't even been to the Sweet 16 since 1996, approaching an entire generation, it's hard to argue that Arkansas is superior to the Vols. I don't believe Vandy and Mizzou are either. 

As is, Cuonzo leaves behind a mediocre collection of talent, but Vol fans know this. Expectations will be realistic for a new coach. 

So who will that new coach be? It really depends on what Dave Hart can spend. The finances of Vol athletics have stabilized a great deal of late. Dooley's buyout is, mercifully, mostly gone. Butch Jones has the football team on the right track. Vol athletics has dug out of its buyout hole. 

Hell, Cal will actually be paying Tennessee over a million dollars for Cuonzo to leave.

Here's an early stab at a guess. 

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Look, it's Monday, and while everyone else is on spring break, you're at work. 

This means you're not on the same cruise as Blake Bortles's girlfriend, Lindsey Duke, and Matthew Stafford's girlfriend, Kelly Hall. 

Look, I could pretend there's some real story here, but when two number one overall draft picks at quarterback's girlfriends -- maybe, it looks like the Texans are taking Bortles -- miraculously meet on a cruise ship for the first time while both are wearing bikinis, why mess with destiny? And then, as if that wasn't enough, Kelly Hall, Stafford's girlfriend, immediately posts the pic on Instagram and adds this sweet message: "Got to meet a new friend on the cruise..Wishing her and her man all the luck in the upcoming draft!" 

It's basically a sign from God that He loves Outkick.

And that he doesn't want me to work that hard today. 

Not to be outdone, Stafford's girlfriend also got creative and made the picture of just the two of them black and white because she wanted to evoke the timeless moment of their initial meeting, which, I'm going to be honest, is kind of like when Elvis met Muhammad Ali. If, you know, Nixon and Elvis had been been hot coeds in bikinis on a cruise ship during spring break when they met for the first time.  

True Detective Finale Breaks HBO, Clears My House

Written by: Clay Travis

Last night we had six friends over to watch the "True Detective," finale.

At 6:45, over an hour before the finale was set to air, my wife asked me to ensure that True Detective was set to record on our DVR. Because, after all, if you have people over to your house to watch a show, the worst thing you could possibly do is not have the show ready for them to watch. I checked, it was set to record. At the same time my six year old brought down a book about the planets and started asking me questions about space. There is nothing like a six year old asking you questions about space to make you realize how dumb you are about space. 

So he starts by asking me what's the farthest planet from the sun and I say Pluto. 

And he says, "That's not right, daddy."

Then he opens up his book and flips to the section on our solar system and I'll be damned, there's a new planet in our solar system called Eris, which is farther from the sun than Pluto. When the hell did this happen? We're just adding planets willy nilly now? Is Jupiter still a thing, does Saturn still have rings? Worse than that, there's a split in scientific authority about whether Pluto is a planet or not. Half of the science books consider Pluto to be a planet and the other half don't. There's a split of scientific opinion on Pluto! How am I supposed to answer my kid's questions about space when scientists can't even agree on how many planets there actually are in our solar system?  

What other knowledge am I missing? Have they found life on other planets too?

This is my problem with science, we don't know anything. And we think we do and we teach a bunch of idiots like me things and I believe it all -- remember when dinosaurs used to be ancestral reptiles until they descended and became birds? Is that still true too? ARE DINOSAURS STILL BIRDS OR HAVE I BEEN WRONG ABOUT THIS TOO?

I don't even want to answer my kid's science questions now because I'm already like the old dad who still believes in treating fevers with leeches. (Remember there was always one kid at school with the old dad who told his kid all the wrong information. That kid was screwed.)

By Mike Dorr   Fox Sports One has recently added horse racing to its programming lineup, covering the top races in the US not associated with the Triple Crown. Their debut in February was widely seen by racing fans as a great start, catering to serious fans and newcomers alike. Horse racing can be a bit inscrutable to those not familiar with it. I actually think this is especially true in the south; live horse racing (with gambling) only occurs in states on the periphery of SEC country. (Texas, Louisiana, Missouri, Kentucky, and southern Florida all have racing. Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina do not.) College football is king, but horse racing remains a sport worth following. After all, this Saturday marks six months to the start of the football season.

Time to stop pretending you're working and dive into the mailbag.

Our beaver pelt trader of the week is Tim Francis, who Tweets me this, "Mailbag...I am at the hospital, my wife is in labor with our son. How much would you pay us to name him Clay Travis?"

I Tweeted him back that I would pay him $1,000. 

That's a decent start on the college fund, right?

For those of you who don't live in Nashville, you're missing out. Time Magazine calls us the hottest city in the country.

Okay, okay on to the mailbag. 

DirecTV Issues Official Statement on SEC Network

Written by: Clay Travis

The SEC Network is just over five months from launch and already SEC fans are at a fever pitch over whether or not their cable or satellite providers will be carrying the channel.  

A couple of weeks ago SEC fans forwarded emails to Outkick from DirecTV in which the satellite provider said it had no plans to carry the SEC Network. That set off a social media firestorm and led to a number of customers cancelling their subscriptions. In the wake of that tempest, DirecTV said they were in negotiations with ESPN over the SEC Network. Then Dish Network, DirecTV's biggest competitor, officially announced it would be carrying the SEC Network nationwide. That increased the pressure anew, leading SEC fans to take to social media and announce they were dropping DirecTV in favor of Dish. 

Now DirecTV has issued a new statement, this time to Alabama's JOX radio station, which requested a DirecTV spokesperson come on the show to explain why they weren't carrying the SEC Network. 

DirecTV declined to appear on the show, but it issued this statement to the Jox Roundtable, the mid-day show on the station:

If there's one thing that Nick Saban has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt, it's how much he cares about the health of his players. The guy gives out medical redshirts like a grandma of fifteen gives out birthday cards. He's just so nice. In fact, Saban just might be the nicest guy in all of sports. Do any of y'all doubt that Nick Saban has the best interests of the sport in mind when he endorses new timing rules and works to ensure that they get secretly passed?

I mean, do y'all really think Nick Saban would do anything to get an advantage for his own team while simultaneously hurting another team that he's playing against?

Of course not!

Yesterday Saban compared football concussions to smoking cigarettes. I say bravo to Nick Saban for connecting two completely unconnected things. Without Nick Saban standing steadfastly on the front lines of college football health, we were clearly heading towards an era where players smoked while playing football. Plainly, that's dangerous. Especially with sickle cell and HIV and syphilis to consider. Otherwise, those hurry up no huddle offenses want to trot out sickle cell syphilitic smoking HIV positive quarterbacks who they are trying to kill. AND RUN THE READ OPTION WITH THEM IN THE HOT SUN. Who's going to protect you from sickle cell syphilitic HIV positive smoking deaths on the football field?

Nick F'ing Saban, that's who. 

Thanks to Outkick's spectacular relationship with Nick Saban, we were able to obtain 14 additional rules that Nick Saban has endorsed to make college football safer. I think we would all agree that these are necessary and proper rules and that we're all very fortunate that Nick Saban has the best interests of the game in mind.  

Former Vanderbilt coach James Franklin has now been at Penn State for a couple of months.

Franklin talks about pretty much everything -- his appreciation for everyone at Vanderbilt, the challenges of Penn State, the fact that he had nothing to do with a Penn State moving truck showing up to pick up his belongings, living at the Residence Inn in Happy Valley, Penn State's upcoming trip to Ireland, our wikipedia marriage, and whether or not he'd be willing to play Vanderbilt down the road. 

Here are a few selected quotes, but I'd encourage y'all to listen to all thirty minutes. After all, it's not like you're working, right?

Franklin on attending football camp at Penn State: "My focus was to be the next Randall Cunningham," he said. "Jim Caldwell was the quarterbacks coach, and he gave me the stiff-arm. He told me I wasn't good enough, which I wasn't."

Dish Network Officially Adds SEC Network

Written by: Clay Travis

Last night news officially broke that Dish Network had agreed to carry the SEC Network. Combined with the already announced deal with AT&T Uverse, the SEC is now assured that its network will be in twenty million households for the August 14th launch. (The SEC is also launching a week earlier than earlier announced to increase the pressure on DirecTV, Comcast, Time Warner, and other smaller cable and satellite providers). You'll recall that roughly ten days ago DirecTV made the mistake of emailing SEC fans that it would not be carrying the SEC Network and immediately felt their wrath on social media after Outkick published those emails

The multi-year deal with Dish Network is big for the number of homes that will carry the network, but also for the tier on which the channel will be carried as part of the multi-year agreeement -- Dish Network's 120+ package nationwide. That's a level of nationwide distribution that neither the Pac 12 Network nor the Big Ten Network currently have. (Those networks are only available on the 200+ channel package nationwide). Being carried on the 120+ package goes a long way towards endorsing the SEC and ESPN's proposition that they see the SEC Network as a nationwide offering that should be available in 75 million homes, the same number of homes as ESPNU.

It also proves that Dish Network, the nation's third largest cable or satellite distributor after Comcast and DirecTV, believes the SEC Network will be much more in demand than the Big Ten or Pac 12's Network. In fact, Dish is so confident in the SEC's appeal that it plans to role out a specific marketing campaign encouraging SEC fans to switch cable or satellite providers to ensure they have the SEC Network by launch.  

By Cippy Wallace

Sup brown bears, for the hometown dates and fantasy nights, ABC decided we all haven’t been tortured enough and felt it was necessary to give us FOUR HOURS over TWO DAYS of “It’s AMAZING, it’s GREAT, I’m opening up my heart, WATER and Ess-Ohhkay.”

(We also got to spend some quality time talking with Jason Fox and his partner in crime Finch Machine working on JF’s Bachelor campaign. Ladies, to give you an idea of how great they are think of them as a hybrid of Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, George Clooney and Brad Pitt, but better. After the finale next week, which we will be watching together in Fort Worth, we are going to introduce you them in all of their glory. Seriously, it’s easily going to make up for this terrible season.) 

John Calipari Finally Sinking Under Big Blue Sea

Written by: Clay Travis

John Calipari is the only SEC basketball coach that any of you care about. I'm not sure that this says more about Coach Cal or more about how boring the rest of the SEC basketball coaches are. I mean, Billy Donovan is great, maybe the most underrated coach in college basketball, but does anyone in the conference actually dislike him? Nope. This, by the way, tells you all you need to know about SEC basketball, a guy can have two national titles, be undefeated in the conference this season, and I don't think a single SEC fan even dislikes Billy Donovan. Can you ever imagine this happening in SEC football?

The same indifference applies to every other SEC basketball coach. Heck. most of you can't even name every SEC basketball coach. And I'll be honest with you, neither can I. I just ran through every coach -- confession, I don't know LSU's coach's first name -- until I got to Mississippi State. I have no idea who Mississippi State's basketball coach is. Chances are, neither do you. (It's not Rick Stansbury, FYI.)

All of this helps to explain why SEC basketball is so bad, the good players don't stay very long, the coaches are incredibly boring and relatively undistinguished, and fans don't demand better. It's why every fan base in the SEC except for Kentucky and Florida would trade their head coach right now for former-Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl. The coaches aren't very good at their jobs and they're boring. In this day and age, that's a horrible combination. 

Which brings us back to Coach Cal, the SEC's only lightning rod, the only basketball coach that most of you have any opinion about at all. You either love Coach Cal, in which case you are a Kentucky basketball fan, or you hate him, in which case you are the rest of SEC fans.

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