All That and a Bag of Mail: Vince Young Coed Flag Football Edition

Published on: February 08, 2013 | Written by: Clay Travis

It's come to this for Vince Young, he can't find an NFL job so he's now playing coed flag football at the University of Texas. Think about this career trajectory for a moment. From posting the best performance in the history of college football in the BCS title game -- his final play in a Longhorn uniform was a 4th down scramble for an undefeated title in a BCS championship game -- to playing coed flag football while going back to school to get your degree because no one will let you play quarterback for them anymore.

And all of this happened in seven years.

That's a pretty extraordinary fall, isn't it? Especially if you toss in being the overall number three pick in the NFL draft and winning the 2006 rookie of the year award. 

Anyway, props to VY, he's actually a nice guy -- he agreed to play on our coed kickball team here in Nashville -- but his football career is over and he's still not even thirty years old. What's he going to do with the rest of his life? 

Our beaver pelt trader of the week is Tennessee's lingerie model Joy Riddle who announced the University of Tennessee's signing class. You can find her on Twitter here.

She's the best recruit in the Vol class.

By far.

Now on to the mailbag:

Graham R. writes:

"So I'm turing 30 this year and am not married. I live in NOLA, so being as we reside in the south, most of my friends are already married. My buddies are itching for another bachelor party to attend, but there are none on the calendar. Last week we decided that we should go to Vegas for my 30th and treat it as if it's a dry run for my eventual bachelor party.

Now, we were very reluctant to create a "practice bachelor party" because part of the fun of the event is that it is a one time thing. We didn't want it to become a thing that would devalue the real party. To avoid making it a common occurrence we came up with the rule that if you aren't married or have a serious girlfriend by the age of 30 then you can treat the 30th as an excuse to have ONE practice bachelor party.

You like the idea and rule? We came up with some pros and cons, but are interested in your opinion."

I think it's a great idea. Because here's the deal, the older you get the less likely that all of your friends can attend your bachelor party too. Thirty is a big tipping point age. Because it's close to 35, which is not that far from forty and at each of those ages you start to lose friends who can make the trip. The whole purpose of the bachelor party is to be able to hang out with guys without women around. Trust me, as you age that becomes almost impossible.

I love women, but do you know how many dinner parties you attend from the ages of 30-75? Your entire social life becomes one long tray of food. And none of those trays of food include bare boobs.  

So why should your bachelor party be disadvantaged because you haven't gotten married yet? That seems unfair.

For instance, I got married at 25. This August I will have been married for nine years. (I know, I know, my wife is a saint). When I got married everyone could come to my bachelor party because no one else was really married. Certainly no one had kids. Basically, no one had any actual adult obligations. This made my bachelor party really fun, but it was more of an extension of college and grad school than anything else. We had a great time, but we were used to having a great time. By the time you're thirty that's more rare. Contrast my bachelor party at 25 with my buddy Tardio's bachelor party from this past August when we were 33. (You really need to read these pieces if you haven't already).  We had an amazing time because we don't get to have an amazing time as frequently as we did when we were younger.

But the downside to a bachelor party at 33 was that some people couldn't make it out.

It's a balancing act, the older you are for the bachelor party the more money you have, but also the less freedom and free time you have.

Also, what happens if you never get married? Odds are you'll get married at some point, but what if you don't? Or what if you pull a Clooney and wait until you're like fifty and then marry someone twenty years younger which will infuriate all of your buddies wives? Not everyone looks like George Clooney at fifty. Hell, some of your friends might even be dead by then. Also, what are you going to do on your thirtieth birthday party without the practice bachelor party? I'm thinking you might be curled up in the fetal position with a bunch of empty bottles of Jack looking at Spring Break pictures from 2001. Thinking over and over again, "Man, look how hot Lauren was? Why didn't I marry her? I'm so stupid. And I could have married Jessica too. I wasted like 18 years of great boobs by not marrying her. Plus, she's a doctor now? What am I doing with my life? I made out with a 20 year old Cracker Barrel waitress last night."

This could get ugly in a real hurry.

So I think this is a brilliant idea. (One caveat, your buddies have to be married. You specified that you live in the South. Most Southern men are married by thirty. Hell, some are already divorced. Whereas lots of guys on the coasts aren't married at all by thirty. If all of your buddies are still single at thirty then you don't fit the exemption. Heck, you don't need the exemption. Just keep living.)

But if you're still single at 30 and most of your buddies are already married, you can have one practice bachelor party.

Cain writes:

"As an Alabama season ticket holder who sat through the Dubose, Fran and Shula eras, I am seriously considering retirement as a fan, sort of like Jerry Seinfeld, going out on top.

It can't get any better than this for Alabama fans and the only place to go is down from here. Three championships in four years, everyone knows the numbers, but to dominate and see your biggest rivals, Auburn and Tennessee be the as bad as they've ever been, coupled with Indiana Jones type rip your heart out wins over LSU and UGa. Throw in a stomping of Notre Dame, this is the best it's ever been!

Your thoughts on this idea?"

It's counterintuitive, but potentially brilliant. My only concern is this: what do Alabama fans do with their lives when they aren't Alabama fans? I'm not kidding about this. What other hobbies do they have? Would you remain a college football fan and just not have a favorite team anymore? Or would you suddenly start running marathons and painting pictures of dolphins at sunset? Basically, I'm concerned about how you'd fill your time.

Notwithstanding those concerns, there's no doubting that you're at the absolute apex of Alabama football and that Auburn and Tennessee are at their nadirs. Your team won the BCS title this year for the third time in four years and your top two rivals went a a combined 1-15 in the SEC. I mean, that's pretty damn unbelievable. If you retired now, you'd be like Jordan walking away right after he drained the jumper over Bryon Russell. 

But here's the problem, don't you think you'd be sucked back in somehow? And then remember what happened to Jordan, he had a great deal of success after the first unretirement -- so long as you came back while Saban was still there I think you'd be fine -- but what if you came back to Bama at the Crimson Tide's own equivalent to Jordan's Washington Wizards years? Because while Bama fans find it impossible to believe, there will certainly be another Mike Shula. 

That would be a disaster, right?

So my two thoughts here are: 1. what are your hobbies? and 2. how do you ensure that you're not coming back?

I need to know both of these things before I can give a ruling on a fan retirement.

John M. writes:

"Clay - We all do the "wink wink" on college recruiting that these high school kids are getting serious cash to attend these colleges, more so obviously when it's NOT our team getting the recruits like Ole Miss did. That being said, my questions:
1. Besides the stuff I think is normal in college recruiting (cute girl showing you around and acting interested, free drinks and food on your visits) what do you think REALLY changes hands in order to line up a top notch recruit?
2. With all these 18 year old kids who aren't rocket scientists why hasn't there been a solid story showing how it's done? I would have thought there would be more leakage of recruits letting out stories of how X school offered them X money.
3. How do I persuade UT's boosters to be as dirty as Ole Miss? We need a Cam Newton right now and let's face it he was worth the money."
 
The easy answer here is that most recruits don't get that much money. The reason is because if you're poor a few thousand dollars that gets sent to you every six months or so makes a big difference in your life. Look at what the NCAA is catching these kids for, most of the actual benefits are tiny. No one is getting popped for hundreds of thousands of dollars in benefits. (Except Cam, who got them and got away with it). I don't think most players get money, but I definitely think all top players do. Especially once it becomes clear that these guys have pro futures. Agents are passing along cash pretty regularly as a way to build up bona fides. And no agent is ever admitting to it while being an agent because that ensures they'll never get another client.
 
The second part of your question, why doesn't more of this get out, is because these are generally cash transactions. And the players aren't going to snitch because snitches get stitches. It's a loyalty thing, most of them recognize that what they're doing is "wrong" under the NCAA code -- I don't consider it to be wrong at all, it's just a free market -- and keep their lips sealed. When it's a cash transaction it's almost impossible to get caught. The agents/boosters aren't talking because they'd be screwed if it got out just as badly as the players would.  
 
With that in mind, I've always wondered what a completely free market in college football recruiting would actually look like. That is, let's pretend that Robert Nkemdiche could have sold his services to the highest bidder out there. What would the highest bidder actually bid in a completely free market for the top player in college football? And how many players would get big money?
 
In other words, if you could just buy a player without violating NCAA rules, what would you have to pay to get a top recruit on campus?
 
I tend to think that initially top players would get way overpaid. But then you have to keep in mind that many top-rated five-star players are busts. Imagine how a Tennessee booster who bought Bryce Brown when he was Rivals #1 overall player would have reacted when Brown left campus after a year and went awol. Most big boosters didn't get rich by overpaying the market. So would the market adjust down as the bust factor became more of an issue? I think it would.
 
So where would the market settle for a five star player?
 
I'd just be fascinated to see what the market would really look like.
 
If you really want to get your mind blown, what if Nkemdiche could start his own website and allow rival schools to bid for him? You could log in every day and see how each school's fanbase was doing going head-to-head for top players. Can you imagine if Auburn and Alabama are both bidding for Reuben Foster and you can see the dollars arriving in real time? A smart recruit would narrow down his finalists to all hated rivals because he'd know that fans would drive up his cost as much as possible not just to get his services but to keep his rival from getting him. As the clock ticked toward signing day, you'd have strategic bidding, trying to drive up the cost of one player so you could steal another one. 
 
This would be awesome.   
 
Would Nkemdiche make millions? I think there's a good chance of that. But the money would be incredibly slanted at the top of the rankings. By the time you got down to a random three star, he'd probably only get $30k or so.
 
Hell, if there wasn't a salary cap, would top college players make more getting money directly from college fans than they do in their first NFL contract?
 
Maybe.

Tony W. writes:

"Clay:

With guys like Andrew Sullivan moving away from the advertiser model, what are your thoughts on OKTC's future?

What would compel you to go behind a paywall (like the New York Times), or a "meter model" like Andrew Sullivan (Sullivan recently went to a model where you get a certain number of articles free, but after that you're blocked and then he charges $19.99 a year for complete access).

Or do you view OKTC as driving your potential revenue in other areas (your radio, book, TV appearances), so keeping the advertiser model makes most sense for your strategy?"

This is something I actually think about a great deal, what's the future of online writing given that the advertising rates continue to plummet to nothing?

Let's just run the math on a plan like Sullivan's. We get a minimum of 600,000 unique visitors a month to OKTC. (And we've been as high as over a million uniques in a month). How many of those visitors would be willing to pay $19.99 a year for our content? (Sullivan actually requested $19.99, but also said he'd be happy to take as much as you were willing to pay. So would people actually pay more?) The easy answer is I have no idea. But I do know that several hundred thousand people were willing to pay around that average amount for my three books. And how many people that read Outkick are paying $10 a month for Rivals or 247 Sports subscriptions? Probably quite a bit, right? That's $99 a year for a full subscription to a team site. In comparison to that Outkick would seem really cheap. I mean $19.99 is just .38 cents a week; I'm not even sure what else you can buy for .38 cents a week. 

Also, would people actually feel like they're contributing to the site then, like they can take an ownership stake in the content? Again, I have no idea.   

Given that I write much more on Outkick in a year than I do in one book, I'd like to think that lots of you would pay. But what's lots? And how many people would pay more than $19.99 to help subsidize the cheap asses among you? The math is pretty simple. If I could get 10,000 people to pay that yearly amount, I'd be at $200,000 in revenue a year. If I could get 20,0000 people, I'm at $400,000 and so on and so forth.

I tend to think I could get at least 20,000 people to pay $19.99 based on book sales, but I have no idea for sure. 

And here's the rub, does that conflict with the social nature of the web? In other words, how many articles do I give away for free? And do people start getting pissed when they click on my links and they hit a paywall after a certain amount? I think the social nature of this site's success fundamentally conflicts with a paywall of any sort. But on the other hand don't lots of people acknowledge that content and labor shouldn't be free? For instance, I experiment on here with ad models. I tried video autoplay ads for a while, but lots of you were furious with those. So I took them off. But video ads are very lucrative. My guess is the same people who were furious with video ads would be furious with charging for content. But why? I mean, you don't expect your morning coffee to be free or your cable to be free, right?

Outkick, at it's bottom line, is a business. And businesses exist to make money.

So far we're doing pretty well with an ad-sponsored model thanks to spectacular partners like Bud Light -- I believe that companies are going to sponsor content more and more in the future because I think it's the only way for them to stand out from the noise and grab audience attention online -- but what about in the future?

It's a great question without an easy answer. 

Especially since you hit on another aspect of Outkick's growth -- OKTC is a great platform to promote radio, television, and future books. The radio is flourishing and television is coming down the road in the not too distant future. How do I assess a "brand" value for my career growth that is based on Outkick being free and available for all? Think about this from Howard Stern's perspective, he makes much more money on satellite, but not eveyone can hear him now. Has that diminished his media cachet? I think so. But he's also filthy rich now. So what's the balancing act? Finally, you have to assign an enterprise value to Outkick itself. Is OKTC more valuable to a large media entity producing less revenue but a larger audience? Or is it more valuable producing more revenue but less of an audience. I don't want to sell Outkick, but I tend to think that the bigger audience is more valuable even if there's less revenue being produced from it.

Put simply, in such a competitive media environment it's just hard for me to turn any readers away for any reason. Even if, interestingly enough, I might be able to make even more money by turning some readers away.

Anyway, I'll go ahead and tell y'all some news, I'm building out several businesses this spring that will be advertised on Outkick and will stand alone as independent entities. I'll own these businesses outright and the plan is to have vertical businesses that can grow alongside the ad sponsored model on Outkick. I'm hopeful that you guys will support these new businesses as a tacit way to support Outkick as well. Only instead of paying directly for content you'll be getting products for the money you spend. And they'll be products that you'll like.   

Those details will come in the next couple of months. In the meantime, I would encourage anyone who wants to make a living as a writer to be thinking about issues like these. Increasingly, all online writers will have to become businessmen to make a living off our content. 

Outkick has been a great and fun experiment thus far, the most fun I've had doing anything. But it's hard to know what's coming next in the media universe.

Ed R. writes:

Clay,

"I'm thinking about converting to a Gay Muslim. What process to I have to go to to convert? Do I get a toaster? Do you get commission or recruitment points if I sign up?"

The gay muslim community will be happy to welcome you. The only thing you have to do is announce on Twitter that "your gay."

Then watch Homeland.

We're a pretty welcoming crew.

Nathan M. writes:

"Since the college football season ended and there hasn't been games on every night of the week, my wife and I started watching "Friday Night Lights." We are about 13 episodes into the 2nd season at this point. (On a side note: How in the hell did Landry and Tyra get away with murder and disposing of a body in a river purely on self defense? Is this possible in the real world? Not to mention they weren't even tried in court.) Anyway, back to my original thoughts. Last night, my wife and were discussing how all of the female's boobs are always hanging out of their shirts, no matter their age, which led us to looking up the ages of the characters in the show. For the record, my vote for hottest character, based solely on looks, goes to Lyla. My wife is taking Riggins. I think she'd leave me for him if he got a haircut. So, after looking up the "real life" ages of these characters we saw they are all in their late 20's to early 30's (our age) which made us feel better about ourselves for thinking these supposed high school kids were hot. So, my question is, is it okay to have a "thing" for these characters that are playing high school students? At first I felt weird but now that I know they're all of age, I don't feel as bad. What are your thoughts?"
 
First, my wife would totally leave me for Tim Riggins. But I would totally leave my wife for Tim Riggins too, so we're even there.  
 
Second, this is a great question. I've never even thought about this before because I've always assumed the actors are older than the characters they're playing. But what if you had a thing for a hot high school character and that hot high school character was actually underage? Is that wrong? The first examples who come to mind here are Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears. Remember how it became a huge media joke as everyone counted down how many days until they were actually 18?
 
How many of the guys reading this had sex fantasies about Lohan or Spears before they were 18? (I'm praying at least one of the women reading this did too. Because if you did I love you). Lots of you did, don't worry.  
 
Both these girls were sex objects way before they were technically legal. (Although, age of consent varies by state. If you were really troubled by your impure thoughts, you could have gone on Wikipedia and pulled up an age of consent map -- yes, this really exists -- and seen that the age of consent in Texas, where "Friday Night Lights," is set is 17. Much of North America is 16. Including all of Canada, eh, eh! In fact, Tennessee, Florida, and Virginia are the only Southern states with 18 as the age of consent. And it appears that Mexico and the rest of those countries don't even really have a legit age of consent.)
 
So now that I've given you a legal analysis of age of consent, I don't think you can ever feel bad about thinking that someone on a television show is hot when that person is on the television show because they're hot. It's not like Minka Kelly's hotness escaped the casting agents for "Friday Night Lights." She's there for a reason. Further, I think most of the time you're seeing Tyra's boobs on Friday Night Lights and being attracted to her boobs because she has great boobs, not because she's in high school and has great boobs. The high school part is just incidental to the greatness of the boobs.
 
Having said all of this, were women even bothered by this when it came to Riggins? He slept with a mom on the show. And he appeared to start drinking when he was 15.
 
I love Tim Riggins.