There’s something about the new Longhorn Network and ESPN affiliation that strikes me just a little too close to pimping. Maybe, I’m just not understanding the situation but it seems like just another college football team skirting the edges of the rules.
This fall the Longhorn Network, an entity used to show and promote Texas athletics, will be shown as an affiliate of ESPN. According to Texas AD DeLoss Dodds everything will be above board and done the right way. ESPN VP of Programming Dave Brown said in a radio interview that the new network would target high school games featuring high profile Longhorn commitments.
I realize this is a network for Texas, but the high school commitment pimping is feeling just a little south of shady. Other schools have raised concerns about what possible NCAA violations and a competitive advantage that Texas could gain. Texas and the NCAA are in talks to understand better what the school and the network’s plans are and what bylaws might come into play.
According to Brown of ESPN, the network intends to follow players like Texas commit running back Jonathan Gray. He said that’s what he wants to see and what the fans want to see.
The collaboration between Texas and ESPN and the high school teams they will feature is a win/win for everyone involved – everyone associated with Texas anyone. Other schools, those without Texas recruits or wannabe recruits, will not be as fortunate. The high schools get the high visibility of an ESPN telecast plus a nice payday for their television rights. Texas gets a recruit and more content for their proposed 24-hour a day coverage. ESPN becomes akin to a street broker making a deal between the recruit and Texas. Mack Brown will look like a recruiting genius.
Of course, there is the other side of this argument that says it is after all the Longhorn Network and focusing on players who have committed or who MIGHT commit to Texas in high school games is an accepted bit of television and violates no rules. This may be true. But doesn’t it all just look a bit too shady…..just skirting the issues of brokers and competitive advantage.
The NCAA continues to ask questions. ESPN continues to rave about their upcoming commitment games and Texas sits back and collects the money and the recruits. Nice work if you can get it. Other schools need not apply.