This week’s Glass Half Empty podcast is with Clay Travis, the founder of OutKickTheCoverage.com, and a Fox Sports personality. Clay, as you’re presumably aware, can be quite polarizing. Here is what essentially amounts to a table of contents for the conversation:
- :45 – What’s the point of SEC Media Days? What does Clay hope to get out of it?
- 7:35 – If trades were allowed in college football, what type of bounties would Alabama or LSU be putting together for Braxton Miller?
- 12:50 – If looking to go to an SEC game this season, why Alabama-Georgia, Alabama-Auburn, and Tennessee vs. Arkansas or Georgia are some good choices.
- 15:00 – The story of when Clay’s grandfather, a former Tennessee player whose doctors forbade him from watching games except on tape delay after wins, violated the orders.
- 19:50 – “SEC football is such an important thing in this region. If you go to the games, you experience them and you grow up with teams. In my case, it’s the team that my grandfather literally played for. It defines the state that I’m from. It’s about something more than just a game itself. It’s about pride in your region, it’s about the experience of competing against other people who are also Southern, which is unique. The South is probably the last region of the country that really strongly feels like it has a connection with other parts of the country.
- 21:25 – Why haven’t Southern billionaires just tried to pay Nick Saban $25 million a year and become de facto owners of the programs?
- 24:25 – “[Florida State] is just a potent cocktail of misanthropy.”
- 30:00 – What does Clay’s new deal with Fox entail for TV and radio? Transition into how he got his start writing online.
- 37:00 – Talks about time at Deadspin. Did not get a long with A.J. Daulerio, but did learn “the dark arts of the web” from him.
- 48:00 – “You can love what you do, but when you have kids there’s a moment of realization where you sit back and think, ‘Boy, what exactly am I doing here? What is my endgame?’ Look, the reality is I had $70,000-80,000 in law school loans to pay off. Do we want to be living in a tiny little condo for the rest of our lives? My wife was working, too, so in the grand scheme of things we were not struggling by any stretch of the imagination. But suddenly, when AOL Fanhouse got shuttered, that was a sobering moment for me.”
- 57:55 – Is he ready for new Fox Sports 1 head Jamie Horowitz to unleash him as a television heel?
- 49:00 – “I just remember sitting around thinking: what in the world is going on? Ultimately, in a positive way for me, what led me to start Outkick, because I just had zero faith in media at that point. I hadn’t had a good experience at Deadspin. At CBS I never really made very much money. At Fanhouse I loved it and thought I was gonna be there — I’d still be there today because I was about to sign a deal for a long time — and it all just got pulled out from underneath me. I knew this business. I’d been at three of the biggest sites on the Internet. I wanted to have total control over my future.”
- 1:01:55 – On his piece on the Confederate flag, which in my opinion, had a good overarching premise that the flag was a red herring which distracted from the more significant issue of more stringent gun control. However, there were lines embedded that seemed specifically inserted to prod liberal web sports bloggers. “I think there’s a lot of left-leaning people on the Internet who need to be riled up,” Clay said. “Everybody who writes online about sports is a socially liberal white person between the ages of 25 and 38, and they all have the exact same opinions, and they all focus on them all the time.”
- “Unlike a lot of these other guys, who never actually worked in politics, I tried to help elect a Black guy to the Tennessee Senate,” he said. “You want to talk about a Sisyphean task — that’s a pretty difficult task. And so, I understand that there’s a lot of benefit in being intelligent enough to not always stay committed to one particular side. … I think context is often lost.
- “The Confederate flag piece is unique because I’m a huge Civil War history buff. I don’t know what the overlap is on people who write on the Internet about “sports” — I write a little bit of everything — but also have spent their youth reading every possible book there is about the Civil War. I majored in history and wrote my senior thesis on Lee’s campaign in Gettysburg in 1863, and whether it could’ve changed the outcome of the 1864 presidential election and more of a total war perspective had been adapted. I’m all in on this, I just finished a new book about Lee on my vacation. So, I think the extent to which the context became the Confederate flag is always racist is to me completely and totally artificial because it isn’t.”
- “I think in this day and age, the binaries oftentimes govern on the Internet. This can apply to me too. ‘I either love or I hate Clay Travis.’ Most of the people who hate me, I would contend, don’t actually read that much of what I write. They’re just kind of following the lead of two or three bloggers that they follow … Actual substance behind their criticism is nonexistent. … Oh, by the way, I’ve never voted for a Republican — that would blow everybody’s mind, but I can simultaneously be an Obama voter, and also a supporter of the Confederate flag not being stripped away entirely because of this strange reaction where somebody who’s psychotic killed nine people and the response becomes, ‘Oh we’ve gotta do something about this flag.'”
One final note: I should’ve brought this up during the conversation, but I disagree with Clay about the flag. While I won’t claim to have read primary documents or as much about the Civil War as he has, I’ll point to Ta-Nehisi Coates’ very well done piece as a rebuttal.