5-at-10: Mailbag on Mickelson and betting, and which country music star I’d punch in the face

Captain Phil Mickelson of HyFlyers GC seen on the 18th hole during the first round of LIV Golf Greenbrier at the The Old White at The Greenbrier on Friday, Aug. 4, 2023, in White Sulfur Springs, West Virginia. (Scott Taetsch/LIV Golf via AP)

Let's tend to business.

Rushmore of your favorite college football program. This one varies of course, but my alma mater's would likely be Bo, Cam, Shug Jordan and John Heisman. That's with apologies to Pat Sullivan and Pat Dye especially.

Rushmore of churches/cathedrals/chapels and such. Sistine Chapel, Westminster Abbey, Notre Dame in France (home of the hunchback and all). And of course Billy Chapel, the aged Tigers right-hander who was perfect in his final start because of his "(For) Love of the Game."

Rushmore of Dustin Hoffman. "Tootsie," "The Graduate," "All the President's Men." And there are a slew of others, and some that are personal favs for a lot of you, but edging "Midnight Cowboy" was the laugh riot that was "Kramer vs. Kramer."

Rushmore of best single-game World Series performances by a pitcher. Larsen's perfecto in '56. Jack Morris breaking the Braves hearts in '91 with a 10-inning 1-0 shutout. Koufax in Game 7 in '65 when he threw a shutout with 10 Ks on two days rest and with a visor tip to Intern Scott's favorite player, Tommy Glavine's gem to win Game 6 and give the Atlanta Braves their first World Series in 1995.

You know the rules. Here's Paschall with some UT football news.

Let's pull out the bag.

From a slew of you

Phil Mickelson ... go.


The stories and numbers were eye-popping when excerpts from renowned gambler Billy Walters' book claimed Mickelson has bet $1 billion on sports over the past three decades.

The details also included that Walters thinks Mickelson has lost $100 million in sports bets over that time.

OK, deep breaths for a second, because while nine- and 10-figure reports make our head spin, let's backtrack along the lilly pad for some context.

First, Walters would know. He's assuredly bet that much — or more — over his sports gambling Hall of Fame career. And yes, there is a sports gambling Hall of Fame. I feel like I am the Ted Simmons of that pursuit with an eye on Lloyd Christmas. So you're saying there's a chance.

Remember, Walters was involved with Mickelson on a stock deal (some call it insider trading) that got Walters jail time and Mickelson a slap on the wrist.

So I lean toward the validity of Walters' guesstimations, to be honest.

Now, to be fair, let's look at the numbers.

First, Mickelson looks like he was a break-even player. If you bet $100 and lose 10 bucks, you've pretty much just lost the juice. Those percentages and truths are still evident even when you multiple those numbers by, oh, 10 million.

Second, when you have nine figures in the bank in your late 20s and early 30s, the only way you feel the sports betting rush is to make a wager that could sting if you lose.

Do I think Mickelson routinely bet millions on anything from Super Bowls to ping-pong? You bet I do. (See what I did there Spy?)

Plus, Phil was clearly doing this for the juice. Walters and other sharps are doing it for a living. Mickelson's day job has always paid pretty well.

(Side note: No one has mentioned much about how this is the most telling insight into his swashbuckling style on the course. Plus, it has to help in terms of handling nerves. If you are chasing the juice with $5 million on a Bucs-Panthers preseason game, for example, standing over a 10-footer for par at the Greenbriar seems rather mundane. Heck, shots like the pinestraw 6-iron at 13 at Augusta may not only have been about golf. It could have been about Phil chasing the forever buzz gambling addicts crave.)

No, the biggest thing to come out of this is the detail that Walters refused to place a $400,000 bet on the 2012 Ryder Cup in which Mickelson was playing.

That's Pete Rose-level corruption there, and forget all the rivers of zeros after the numbers, Mickelson betting on golf — and buckets, right there with tennis, would there be any sport easier to fix than a golfer in a team event. And yes, Mickelson was betting on himself and Team USA, but still, that slope is so slippery, the ski jumper who famously crashed on the opening of the old-school "Wide World of Sports" thinks it's too dangerous.

Two big picture thoughts: First, here's betting Michael Jordan scoffed and said "$1 billion. That's chump change."

Second, with the exception of serious violent criminals — looking at you O.J. — has anyone had a De Niro-style-baseball bat in Untouchables" to an all-time legacy more than Mickelson over the last 18 months?

Here's betting he'd love a mulligan.


From J-Mac

Hey Jay,

Being the betting guru for the TFP and a former bookie that gave up your practice after some things happened, (remember I have read every column except for the first 8-10) what kind of advice can you give Iowa and Iowa St. and many other schools that we haven't heard about concerning student athletes betting? Was your bookie time more for your fraternity or everyone? Ever have an athlete want to place a bet? With ESPN and most major sports now promoting gambling, I think gambling among college players and pros will be hard for some to avoid. I know it is legal for the pros to gamble away from their facilities but not on football. Maybe teams need a position to deal with this. Comments?


Fair question, and as a reminder or as a primer for the relative newcomers around these parts, I dabbled as a sports betting host on Auburn's campus more than 30 years ago. Or about the time Mickelson started to really go hot and heavy.

No, Mickelson never called my number.

Well, when I was doing it — and it was illegal, which made my control more autonomous, because if you didn't like my rules, go find somewhere else — the options were limited. At least trustworthy options. Pretty sure the statue of limitations has lapsed. Some of our attorney friends who read, could please confirm. (And if those limitations have not lapsed, uh, I'm making all this up. Deal? Deal.)

I became a host for my fraternity and several others, and it got pretty large there for a while. I would pay folks $100-plus to sit and answer my phones.

To my knowledge, I never had an athlete want to bet, but I also had a hard and fast rule that no bets could be made or would be taken on Auburn football or men's basketball.

I did not take bets on the non-revenue sports, but the current legal sports operators do, and that's where the truly dangerous "fix" possibilities lie.

If you are an Iowa State women's basketball player, struggling to get through school and no NIL money in sight. And someone says, "Hey, here's $10,000 for every bit of meaningful intel you can share," that's hard to say no to.

That's what makes the stories of the NFL players and Mickelson so strange and potentially damaging for billion-dollar operations. Those folks are not desperate for the money; they are either degenerates or stupid.

I think you are going to see more and more states looking at ways to stop betting partners from hosting wagers on in-state colleges and universities. But that's far from a slam dunk because take our state for example.

Is there one team in Tennessee that attracts more interest — and likely more bets — than the Vols football program?

From Drew

I miss your random music updates. In fact, you have become too big-time, but I still read your drivel.

I started listening to Zach Bryan after you linked that song and I wanted to know if you could punch one country music star in the face without repercussion, who is it?


Thanks ... I guess. And I am the farthest thing from big-time I know, to be honest.

I'm just me.

Zach Bryan is a boss. Morgan Wallen is an all-timer. Hardy is a great song-writer.

I'll also say this as someone who worships at the altar of Willie and Waylon in terms of country music:

— Garth Brooks can go take a long walk off a short pier.

— Kenny Chesney has grown on me.

As for landing a right, let's count down the top 3 in reverse order:

3) Rascal Flatts. Career achievement award for the moaning, whiny, BS "harmony" that is nothing like country music. Charlie Daniels Band would like to see you guys in the parking lot.

2) Blake Shelton. Dear Lord, where do we start? We'll start here: How do you split with Miranda Lambert for that plastic Gwen Whoseherboots? Then, we'll continue here: Writing country lyrics and being a faux celebrity who got famous on a talent show and reached big level of famous by hosting a talent show is about as much about country music as Achy Breaky Heart.

1) Luke Bryan. If you know, you know. Dear Lord, what a clown.

And amazingly, think of the goofs that didn't even get a nod. All the Cole, Collin, Davis, et al. first name wannabes. And sweet buckets of big right hands, Florida Georgia Line is a Hall of Fame contender for this conversation.

From a slew of you

What happened to Chas?


I wish I knew. I did not know Chas. There are some regulars on the chat that I have known for a long time.

But Chas' absence has been noticed by a lot of you, and that's a testament to the a) his thoughtful — even if antagonistic — responses and b) how much the comments add to this daily outpost.

I emailed Chas and did not hear back, so let's say a collective prayer that he's OK, and let's try to make this forum a landing spot for intelligent back-and-forth for the foreseeable future.

Deal? Deal.

Have a great weekend, friends.