As has been written before, the new Texas Longhorn Network is a lightning rod. Almost funded entirely by ESPN, the Longhorn network seems to be getting very seething commentaries from rival coaches in the Big 12 and elsewhere.
Take Texas A & M coach Mike Sherman. Sherman is one at the Big 12 media days that is biting his tongue over the new network.
“I’m sure people will watch that, We’ll have half a million Aggies watching it and we’ll have the Big 12 watching it, and the advantage and disadvantage thereof.”
As was brought up over a month ago on this site, imagine those advantages Sherman is talking about. The tremendous recruiting advantage Texas has with this network. It appears high school games will also be shown on the Longhorn Network, something that beforehand was denied.
Reports arose last week that Texas might show one of its conference games as well as prep football games on its subscription-based network. This came as a surprise to Aggies athletic director Bill Byrne, who issued a statement that “our concerns were heightened further” and that questions remain.
This is because Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe has often said that there would be no high school content on the network until conference members have a chance to consider all the issues. That conversation has not happened.
Byrne has had concerns about the Longhorn Network and said Monday that athletic directors and Big 12 staff will be meeting in the next few weeks. Byrne said he has been advised that he should be a good guy and not say much right now. He said he would do that for the time being.
Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds has said Longhorns officials were aware of the concerns among Texas rivals that the 20-year, $300 million network deal struck with ESPN earlier this year gives them a recruiting advantage and too much power over the rest of the league.
Texas basically held the conference hostage to get the approval to start its own network, which was a key factor in the school remaining in the Big 12 last summer after Colorado and Nebraska left.
Now coaches feel they’ve been lied to. Not only by the Big 12 conference but the NCAA. They have been promised a “sit down” meeting with NCAA president Mark Emmert next month in Indianapolis. But as everyone knows, Emmert goes where the money leads him. It’s doubtful anything different will come from those meetings.
Texas coach Mack Brown sees the Longhorn network as a curse and blessing. Brown doesn’t think showing high school games would help recruiting for Texas. He said most of the high school players the Longhorns sign commit before their junior seasons.
Brown believes instead that televising games provides exposure to high schools and gives players the chance to be seen by other programs. This is after Texas has picked over the best.
Brown also stated the network wanted to show Texas’s first scrimmage but he wouldn’t allow it. Brown thinks all the Big 12 schools would be watching the scrimmage and grade it out, thus providing a disadvantage for the school.
The network is scheduled to launch Aug. 26, a week before the Longhorns’ season opener against Rice that will be shown on the channel.