Tuesday, July 26, 2011

All eyes on Texas: Longhorn Network hot topic on Day 1 of Big 12 media days

Texas linebacker Keenan Robinson answers questions during NCAA college football Big 12 Media Days, Monday, July 25, 2011, in Dallas.

Texas linebacker Keenan Robinson answers questions during NCAA college football Big 12 Media Days, Monday, July 25, 2011, in Dallas.


— Those who stepped to the podium before him did their best to bite their tongues. Missouri coach Gary Pinkel chose not to.

Responding to questions about what was easily the most talked-about topic at Day One of this year’s Big 12 media days at the Westin Galleria, Pinkel left no doubts about how he felt about the birth of The Longhorn Network and the desire of its creators to televise high school games along with University of Texas athletics.

“First of all, I have no control over that,” said Pinkel, beginning with a paraphrased version of what the rest of the league’s football coaches said throughout the day.

Then came the hammer.

“It’s a lack of common sense there to think that the network, the university network, can show high school games on their network,” Pinkel continued. “To me, there’s no common sense there.”

Right or wrong, Pinkel, who later in the day called the same thought “ludicrous,” was by far the most outspoken coach about the issue. Even Texas A&M;’s Mike Sherman, the head coach at the school that has made the most public fuss about the situation, pulled back the reins in his comments to reporters.

“I’ve got enough on my plate to get my team ready to play,” Sherman said. “There will be half a million Aggies watching it. Truthfully, I’m just focused on what I have to do. I’m focused on my job and winning the first ballgame. I’m sure you guys can sort that one out yourselves.”

Pressed to expand, Sherman went a little deeper, but not nearly to the level of Pinkel.

“I would hope the NCAA would look at it objectively and come to the conclusion that many have,” Sherman said. “That may be an enticement for a young man to attend a university.”

While The Longhorn Network’s plans and mere existence have ruffled a few feathers, the questions surrounding the new network — scheduled to launch Aug. 26 — only scratched the surface of topics at the first Big 12 media day in which the number of teams in the league did not match the number in the name.

Absent were Colorado and Nebraska, former members of the Big Eight, who bolted for the Pac-12 and Big Ten, respectively, this offseason. In their place were a group of universities that, just one year ago, seemed completely unified, and now is facing all-too-familiar questions about the future. Though many of the coaches in attendance Monday admitted to keeping one eye on what’s happening with The Longhorn Network, none seemed overly concerned about its impact on the conference’s well being.

“My antenna went up when I heard about that situation,” Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said. “But I have faith in the ADs in this league and in the Big 12. We’ll make the right decision on that.”

Added Baylor coach Art Briles: “Maybe I’m different on it. I don’t know. Do I worry about it? Not a bit.”

While the rest of the conference digs in to ensure that the already-powerful Longhorns don’t gain any unfair advantages, UT coach Mack Brown continues to applaud his university’s efforts.

“Number one, I think you have to give credit to the regents at Texas, to president Bill Powers, for pulling off a partnership with ESPN and college football. What an unbelievable thing they did,” Brown said. “It’s amazing to me, and I’m very proud of them. I think you gotta give them credit. It was available to everybody. And they pulled it off.”

In a more defensive tone, Brown continued: “I can tell by the work that we’ve put in in the first six months, it’s not going to be an easy partnership, because they’re paying us $300 million for access, and we gotta figure out how much access we can give them and not hurt our chance to have an edge to win the game. (ESPN) called me mid-summer and said, ‘We want to have your first scrimmage online. Everybody’s going to want to see it.’ And I said, ‘Yeah, Oklahoma, A&M;, Kansas, Texas Tech, they’re going to be sitting there grading our practice as we do it. We can’t do that.’”

One of Brown’s shortest soundbites on the topic may have best summed up the situation.

“In my opinion, it’s probably been a little bit overplayed,” he said.

Hours later, at a dinner reception in which Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe delivered a sort of state of the conference address, Brown’s calm demeanor was outdone only by the conference’s leader.

“We’re going to continue for a while to have to prove to our doubters that we’re here to stay, and we’re going to be a part of a tremendous landscape in intercollegiate athletics,” Beebe said. “We’re certainly going to have issues, like all conferences, but we’re a tight family that’s really come together from a marriage of convenience 15 years ago to a marriage of commitment.”


JJHawq 6 years, 10 months ago

no way should it be allowed. no way.

baldwinjhawk 6 years, 10 months ago


Ryan Shelton 6 years, 10 months ago

I hear you (minus your childish tantrum,) but you're missing the point. If I am the next Adrian Peterson and the UT Network was televising my h.s. game, I would be influenced to go to UT. That's a huge recruiting advantage. This doesn't apply as much to KU since we really don't have a shot at the same five-star kids, but it makes a huge difference to A&M, OU, OSU, and even Tech and Baylor. These are schools who do compete for these athletes and keep UT from cleaning house.

Let's not think for a second that UT is being benevolent by showing h.s. games!

Saguaro_Jayhawk 6 years, 10 months ago

kittens should up later today.

Schedule is Tx Tech, Kansas, ISU, KSU then OU.

Might get a good bite out of Stoops but then again I didn't expect Pinky to be so truthful about tLhN.

Jack Hoover 6 years, 10 months ago

(ESPN) called me mid-summer and said, ‘We want to have your first scrimmage online. Everybody’s going to want to see it.’ And I said, ‘Yeah, Oklahoma, A&M, Kansas, Texas Tech, they’re going to be sitting there grading our practice as we do it. We can’t do that.’”

Hey Mack, You never mentioned ISU. Oh, that's right, we don't need to sneek into your practices to watch you. We beat you last year straight up. all from a small University that financially couldn't make a pimple on your backside. Pump up those coffers Mack, get more people to watch you "BIG BOYS" in your burnt orange uniforms. But the Kansas', and ISU's of the world will get a piece of your fatty fannies from time to time and that is good enough for me.

jayhwkr77 6 years, 10 months ago

it's hard to say on whether it should be allowed or not in my opinion. most of the schools in this newly formed league NEED texas. obviously today, its all about the dollar signs and texas happens to be much better than anyone else at pulling in those. given that they're the member that is bringing in the money for the rest of the schools, it's hard for me to say that they don't deserve to have the right to show high school games.

i get the feeling that the "not so powerful" financial schools in this conference are running into a dead end. they can choose to continue appeasing each and every one of texas' requests, or they can go elsewhere. (unfortunately most likely the wac or mountain west)

we can all just only hope that if expansion talk starts up again in the next couple of years KU doesn't get left behind

Bear86 6 years, 10 months ago

Message to the new AD: "Get us out of this Texas ran conference"


ahpersecoachingexperience 6 years, 10 months ago

I could care less about high school games. What I'm afraid of is when the longhorn network starts to hire MTV/HBO producers to create shows staring ut athletes. That's where the recruiting aspect comes into play for me. Brown and Barnes telling recruits to play for the longhorns and star in the college version of hard knocks, live in this house with some teammates for ut's version of the real world, and even their girlfriends can star in a version of 16 and pregnant.

ku_foaf 6 years, 10 months ago

HS football in Texas is huge, extremely popular. Allowing UT to show games as they wish would be a huge recruiting tool, and obvious way to show how interested they are. It's true other schools would see more of the players too, but I'm sure Texas would make sure they knew who was giving them the attention. It would likely increase pressure for great players to stay in state, which is some advantage to Texas, though not exclusively.

David Atchley 6 years, 10 months ago

The squawk from other Big 12 coaches about high school games being on the Longhorn Network is simply a lot of whining by schools who regardless of the University of Texas' record, lose to them in the recruiting wars each year, regardless of a TV network. If you recall last year, Missouri was contemplating jumping to the Big 10...Texas A&M was and still rumored to be dabbling with the SEC..regardless of last year's record, The University of Texas has grabbed the nations's top running back in the country for the second straight year, finish nationally every year in the Top 5 of recruiting and they continue to have 1st pick of who they want in the State of Texas football recruits. They can only recruit 20-25 kids each year. If anything, out-state-schools that are whining how unfair "The Longhorn Network" may be will actually benefit with the ability to have more tape on the rest of the kids being shown on TV, save in travel for scouting/recruiting, etc. The Missouri/Iowa State/Kansas State's of the world were on the fast-track to the Mountain West Conference. All schools will be making more money from TV revenue because of the University of Oklahoma and the University of Texas holding their ground and remaining committed to the Conference. In the immortal words of Colonel Jessop from "A Few Good Men" (paraphrased) " I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a out of state university who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very revenue and national exposure the the Big 12 Conference that I provide and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather that you just said "thank you" and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you hire a better staff, do a better job of recruiting and stand the post. Either way, I don't give a DAMN what you think you're entitled to!"

Commenting has been disabled for this item.