My wife and I decided to drive a few hours from our house this week, and we wound up in Chico, California. I’d never been there, but it was a great trip and a much-needed break from the monotony of quarantine life.

Even with being responsible and socially distant, we were able to try out a couple of new breweries (and also the Sierra Nevada brewery, which began in Chico), get some great hiking in, and also see the hometown of my favorite NFL quarterback (Aaron Rodgers).

I mean, just check out this video of my dog, Moneypenny, swimming in a river for the first time. She abandoned her pursuit of the tennis ball pretty quickly, so I had to go fetch it for her:

Anyway, if you can, it’s always worth taking a little trip to get back into nature for a bit. Just do it responsibly and stay safe, please!

Now, let’s take a look at your questions for this week’s Mailbag:


The NBA is (potentially) returning next month, with players quarantining in Orlando at Disney. The UFC has a “Fight Island” setup for some upcoming events. If football were to have a similar bubble, where would make the most sense?

I don’t think a bubble would work for football, as football rosters are much bigger than basketball rosters. When you have to have all those players, coaches and equipment and medical staffers, it gets to be a huge mess.

However, for purposes of this question, the answer is definitely Dallas. You could use the Cowboys’ massive stadium for big games. Then, the Cowboys’ impressive practice facility has something like 5 full-sized fields. Then there are schools like SMU and TCU. The Cotton Bowl is also in play, as are numerous high school stadiums that put many college stadiums to shame.

Texas isn’t opposed to dropping more than $50 million on high school stadiums, so the quality of those surfaces would certainly work for high-level college football and NFL games. Imagine how much Texans would love having thousands of elite football games being played in such a concentrated area for a full season!


Who is the most underrated player in the SEC heading into the 2020 season?

I’d normally use this as an opportunity to talk up Mizzou LB Nick Bolton, but it does seem like national analysts are giving him more credit these days. I’ve seen him listed as a potential first-round pick in a few early 2021 NFL Mock Drafts and I’ve also seen him earn first-team All-SEC preseason honors in a couple of publications.

Instead, I’ll give you 2 names for guys I think aren’t getting the love they deserve — Arkansas RB Rakeem Boyd and Auburn WR Seth Williams. When it comes to Williams, being overlooked is a bit understandable. After all, the SEC does boast the returning Biletnikoff Award winner in LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase. Alabama WRs DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle are also big names.

Still, Williams deserves more attention. Last year, he had 59 catches for 830 yards and 8 touchdowns while working with a true freshman quarterback in Bo Nix. That Nix-to-Williams connection won the Tigers their Week 1 game against Oregon and those 2 should be even more in sync this fall.

With Boyd, he’s been overlooked because Arkansas has gone a combined 4-20 the past 2 seasons. In 2018, he ran for 734 yards and 2 touchdowns. He followed that up with 1,133 yards and 8 scores last season.

If new OC Kendal Briles and new QB Feleipe Franks can help the Arkansas offense improve, Boyd could have an even bigger 2020 season.


What do you call it — a barbecue, a cookout, grilling, or something else?

I used to call summer get-togethers barbecues, but ever since I’ve started ingraining myself into the southern culture via the SEC, I now know the correct way to refer to it is “cookout.” Barbecue refers to the style of cooking the meat, not the event itself.

As someone who is a stickler for grammar/word usage, it would be disingenuous of me to continue using “barbecue” to refer to a summer cookout. It also makes sense to call it a cookout, since not every cookout involves barbecued meat.

Now you’ve got me all hungry. Let’s hope we can have cookouts for Labor Day weekend to celebrate the start of the 2020 college football season!


When considering preseason strength, why does everyone seem to value offensive skill position players so much more highly than defense?

I’d take issue with your “so much more highly” phrasing, but I see your point. And, when you look at the way the game has evolved, it’s understandable why offense seems to be valued more than defense.

The evolution of spread offenses has made it much more difficult for defenders to get stops, as have recent rule changes that limit physical play by defensive backs and big hits. It’s tough to be a defender in today’s game, and that shows on scoreboards across the country (and particularly in the Big 12).

There are still some elite defenses out there (Georgia, San Diego State, Clemson, Ohio State and Iowa all allowed 14 points per game or fewer in 2019), but there are fewer of them than there once were. So, when evaluating things for preseason rankings, magazines, etc., it’s easier and safer to overvalue offenses.

Have a question for next week’s Mailbag? Tweet at us using #SDSMailbag or email me at

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