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Why Doesn't Fox, CBS, Turner or NBC Buy the WWE?

Written by: Clay Travis

Last week, as it is virtually every week, the WWE's "Monday Night Raw" was one of the most watched television shows on cable, posting the second, third and fourth most watched hours on cable television. The only cable hour that had more viewers was HBO's "Game of Thrones." The WWE beat every NBA playoff game on cable by nearly a million viewers. Look at the ratings and it's readily apparent, the WWE brings big time viewers. Interestingly enough the WWE is also in the midst of negotiating new television rights deals, aiming for in the neighborhood of $200 million a year, a big increase over the $139.5 million a year which the WWE currently receives from its broadcast partners.

Why the big increase?

Because sports on television means big ratings. (Yes, I'm counting the WWE as a sport). Ninety percent of the WWE's viewers watch live. Right now the WWE's television package, in addition to Monday Night's "Raw," includes Syfy’s “Friday Night SmackDown,” “Main Event” on ION Television, the CW’s “Saturday Morning Slam” and the reality show “Total Divas” on E! That's a lot of programming. I've been paying a lot of attention to the WWE recently and, full disclosure, I am a shareholder in the company. (There's nothing like telling your wife that you've invested part of your retirement savings in the WWE). With the launch of their new over-the-top network. I wrote about the WWE network extensively a couple of weeks ago.  

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Sixteen months ago Auburn's football coach was Gene Chizik and its basketball coach was Tony Barbee.

This was the worst combo of head coaches in the SEC, and one of the worst tandems in the entire nation.

Fast forward 16 months and everything has changed -- Auburn now has Gus Malzahn installed in football and today they added Bruce Pearl in basketball. In just sixteen months Auburn has gone from having two of the worst head coaches in college athletics to having the best. Think about what a wild transition this is for an athletic program. Jay Jacobs has gone from being booed after hiring Gene Chizik to putting together the best coaching tandem in college athletics.

If athletic directors could win the Heisman trophy for a year's performance, Jay Jacobs would be the unanimous selection this year.

What a total whirlwind, from one of the worst coaching combos in the country to the best in just sixteen months.    

Last night we made television history on FS1. Thanks to the good work of our staff and crew we were able to pull off a really fun show from the LVH Superbook here in Las Vegas. Never before had any national sports program been willing to head to Vegas for an entire week's broadcasts. Viewer response was nearly 100% positive and we're here all week, daily on FSLive. Thanks to the guys at Fox for buying in to a new idea when Todd and I started pressing them to do this back in October. 

It's only going to get better from here. 

If you happen to find yourself in Las Vegas, come by and say hi on Thursday and Friday evening around 8 when we'll be doing live hits as the games are taking place behind us. If you're really lucky I've even promised to do the show without pants if Todd Furhman's NC Central to the Sweet 16 prediction comes true. The LVH Superbook should be a total zoo during the games, filled with antic reactions to the wins and losses and pure bedlam.

Without further ado, here are my Final Four picks and our opening segment from Vegas. Thanks to Charissa Thompson and Todd Fuhrman and all our crew for making this happen. 

Here's our break down of the South region, aka, the Florida Gator's Final Four bracket. 

I don't know that SEC basketball has ever been summed up better. "The conference sucks. Florida is good."

Vegas Guide to March Madness (Part 1)

Written by: Todd Fuhrman

March Madness in Vegas can only be described as one thing; a circus.  Having called Sin City home for 8+ years, I’ve learned a few things about approaching the chaos associated with the opening weekend of the tournament like a seasoned veteran.  Only OKTC will give you everything you need to know in this 2 part article from bets and books to the booze, bites, and babes that make these 4 days in March a must on every fan's bucket list.

2014 Opening NCAA Tournament Odds

Written by: Clay Travis

The LVH Sportsbook, where I'll be with FoxSports1 all week, has already released its NCAA tournament odds based on the just released brackets.  

My Final Four picks are Florida, Creighton, Michigan State and Louisville. 

We'll spend quite a bit of time breaking down the odds tonight on Fox Sports Live. 

Check us out on FS1 at 11 eastern, 10 central, 8 pacific. 

Come hang out as we make television history. 

Outkick the Podcast With Author David Epstein

Written by: Clay Travis

"The Sports Gene," by David Epstein is one of the two best sports books I read in 2003. (The other was "League of Denial.") As an author I know how hard it can be to cut through all the noise and have your book noticed. So occasionally I'm going to use the podcast to help publicize books that I've really enjoyed.

If you've ever wondered how much of athleticism is genetic and how much is related to practice, Epstein's book is for you. It's completely fascinating. Breaking down the body types and genetics of great athletes and examining what makes them excel. Why does Jamaica produce so many great sprinters? Why can't baseball players hit softball pitchers? What makes Kenyan distance runners so successful? What about the particular body type that makes swimmers able to set world records? How about the guy who had never attempted the high jump until college and then became the world record holder?

You are going to love this book. (In my best Levar Burton voice). Go buy it.  

I'm putting the podcasts up on Soundcloud here, but most of you are already signing up for the podcast downloads.

Hopefully they're helping to make your workouts or drives past a bit faster.  

Okay, it's mailbag time, you slackers. I know you were all looking for reasons not to work, now you have one.  

Our beaver pelt trader of the week is this Kentucky fan, who was so convinced the Cats would win the national title in 2014 that he went ahead and got the tattoo.

Smart play.

Oh, and Johnny Manziel is still training in San Diego.

Guy can't even go get ice cream without being accosted by girls in bikinis who want to get their picture taken with him.

It's a rough life.  

Starting Sunday I will be live from Las Vegas for an entire week of the NCAA Tournament. Todd Furhman and I will be at the LVH sportsbook for nightly hits. I believe this will be the first time that any network has ever spent a week with live coverage from a sports book. So we'll be making history.

I'll also be betting $100 on all 48 first and second round games on Thursday-Sunday. Yep, every game. Todd will probably bet the opposite way because he's an ass. Either way it's going to be a lot of fun and if you guys or gals will be in Vegas I hope you'll swing by and say hi.

And for those of you who are watching from home and want to get some betting tips, we'll be live from the LVH every night on FoxSportsLive.

The big question here is, will I survive an entire week in Vegas during the NCAA tournament.

It's iffy.

On Sunday we'll also have Charissa Thompson live from the casino with us.

Here's the promo.

UPDATE: Auburn has hired Bruce Pearl. 

Auburn AD Jay Jacobs fired basketball coach Tony Barbee last night and speculation immediately centered on the possibility of Bruce Pearl to Auburn. As Kevin Scarbinsky at the Birmingham News notes, Auburn currently employs two top officials from the NCAA, including the lead investigator on Pearl's case. If that former NCAA investigator is okay with Auburn hiring Pearl, how could anyone have an issue with it at all? He knows the entirety of the case better than anyone in the country.

If Auburn can get Pearl, it would be a coaching outkick of epic proportions. Because let's be honest, where does Auburn rank right now among the best basketball jobs in the conference? Pearl himself told me recently that the top six jobs in the SEC were 1. Kentucky 2. Tennessee 3. Florida 4. Arkansas 5. Vanderbilt and 6. Missouri. I agree with those six -- we can debate the order, although I do agree that Tennessee is the second best basketball job in the conference. Look at the facilities and fan support at UT. (The Vols are top five in basketball attendance. Hell, they even drew big crowds when the program was awful. Florida doesn't sell out the O-Dome even with the number one team in the country). Not to mention the recruiting base is very solid. Unlike in football where everyone cares, you can be a top basketball job in the SEC just by your fans caring.

So how would I rank the rest of the SEC basketball jobs?

Like this: 7. Georgia 8. LSU 9. Alabama 10. Ole Miss 11. Texas A&M 12. South Carolina 13. Mississippi State 14. Auburn  

While upon first blush it makes no sense that Auburn, the worst job in the SEC, could snag Bruce Pearl, look at how weak the SEC presently is. The right coach can make a program soar up these rankings. Pearl would immediately be the third best coach in the SEC behind Florida's Billy Donovan and Kentucky's John Calipari. (And you can make an argument, which I would, that Pearl is a better coach than Cal.) Remember that Pearl had tremendous success recruiting the city of Atlanta. And Auburn's just 108 miles from Atlanta. If Pearl could reopen that pipeline and snag a few players a year from Atlanta, he'd have the Tigers back in the NCAA tournament in a hurry.   

So former Kentucky basketball player Rex Chapman has a Kentucky basketball fan stalker.

You absolutely have to read this story. 

Over twenty years ago Rex Chapman's mom ended up becoming pen pals with three of the biggest Rex Chapman fans alive. They were 15 years old at the time and the three boys called themselves "The 'Nators," as in the dominators. Yes, this is the perfect 15 year old boy self-group nickname. Well, Rex ended stopping by the Nators' house to meet with them when he was 21, after his second year in the NBA. Why did he do this? Because his mom promised the Nators he'd stop by. (If this isn't the most mom thing ever). While there Rex and his two friends ended up playing a three-on-three basketball game against the trio of 15 year olds on the appropriately named "Nator Court."

Which is where the story would end for most of us.

Except that a few years ago Rex ran into one of the 'Nators and, in a moment of weakness, gave him his cell number and told him to call if he was ever in Phoenix.

That was a big mistake.

Because the Nator is now stalking Rex Chapman.  

Bret Bielema Is the new Lane Kiffin

Written by: Clay Travis

Bret Bielema at Arkansas is like Lane Kiffin at Tennessee, except without the wins.

Bielema's a disaster, the latest Lane Kiffin to join the SEC. You remember Kiffin's short-lived tenure at Tennessee, right? How he blew into town from a different geographic region convinced that he was going to dominate the SEC. With his hot blonde wife in tow, Kiffin embarked on a series of ill-fated public comments, brought the NCAA to Knoxville for an investigation that somehow ended up costing Bruce Pearl his job, stumbled through to a 7-6 first season record, and then blew out of town for the job at USC just a couple of weeks before signing day.

Along the way it became clear that Kiffin had no idea about Tennessee or its job, basing most of his decision to accept the job on recruiting questionnaires he had sent out that revealed Tennessee to be one of the best known programs in the country. Upon his arrival in Knoxville Kiffin found out that -- sakes alive -- Vol fans actually wanted to meet the head coach when he went out to dinner and that it was cold in the winter, two things that he'd had no idea about prior to accepting the job. He was like a tourist from California who showed up at the Smoky Mountains and couldn't leave. Boy, they really like country music here, huh?

The best story that sums up Lane Kiffin's tenure at Tennessee? He got lost on a gameday jog in Knoxville.

Now let's compare Kiffin with Bret Bielema, who blew into Fayetteville with a hot blonde wife and immediately compared his Big Ten coaching record, in a favorable manner, to Nick Saban's. Then he proceeded to go 0-8 in the SEC, putting him just two losses away from Nick Saban's total SEC losses in seven years. After running off three straight wins his wife Tweeted #karma and Bielema's Razorback team has not won since. While every other first year SEC coach racked up sterling recruiting classes, Bielema signed the SEC's 11th best class. Then, not content with a winless fall and an awful recruiting class in the nation's most competitive conference, Bielema embarked on a tour de force performance in stupidity by arguing that he opposed hurry up no huddle offenses because of "death certificates," and "sickle cell disease."

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