The new Longhorn Network — a partnership between ESPN and the University of Texas — will create a $300 million windfall for the Texas athletic department over the next 20 years. You’d think that would be the worst of it for Texas’ Big 12 rivals.
You would be wrong.
When the deal for the network was announced, one small part of the press release caught the attention of the people at Texas A&M. It seems the Longhorn Network plans to carry some high school games in addition to all those many hours of Texas’ football, basketball, baseball, tic-tac-toe, badminton, and cross-country ballroom dancing.
Texas A&M athletic director Bill Byrne — no doubt speaking for every other person attached to a Big 12 school not located in Austin — believes the NCAA might want to take a look into those plans.
“I can’t speak for the NCAA, but I would imagine the governing body will look into the use of a collegiate television network airing games of prospective student-athletes,” Byrne said. “I understand networks such as FSN and ESPN airing high school sports, but whether or not employees under contract with a university that may have additional contact would seem to be an issue.”
Yes. A huge issue.
Let’s say Mack Brown spots a high school running back out of College Station that he likes. He tells the folks with the Longhorn Network of his interest. All of a sudden, said prospect’s high school games are picked up and aired by the official University of Texas sports channel. A recruiting advantage for Texas? You bet.
No one in the Big 12 trusts one another after the backdoor dealings, backstabs, and attempted double-crosses of last summer. So launching Texas’ new network is akin to pouring gasoline on a fire. Sooner or later — probably sooner — the Big 12 is going to go up in flames.
When it does, expect A&M and possibly Oklahoma to call Mike Slive in hopes of finding new living arrangements.