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Tag:Longhorn Network
Posted on: August 26, 2011 7:00 pm
Edited on: August 26, 2011 7:05 pm

NCAA is watching The Longhorn Network. Closely.

Posted by Bryan Fischer

The controversal Longhorn Network launches Friday at 6 p.m. central time but before taking the air (to only a handful of minor cable operators) the NCAA wanted to deliver a message to ESPN and Texas about their joint venture before flipping the switch: We're watching you. Very, very closely.

The NCAA is monitoring content on the Longhorn Network and its news coverage of high school sports. With respect to NCAA bylaws as the Association has continued to review the issue, acceptable content is limited to scores, statistics, standings and news video used to report those details. 

We will continue to monitor the Longhorn Network to determine if the content is produced within those guidelines.

After being denied the chance to televise high school games, network executives later announced they would instead limit programming to highlights of selected games. This, ESPN has argued, is allowable because they are news and don't fall under the broad definition of high school programming. Seems like the NCAA is making sure all parties realize there are some limits to this however.

So for now the NCAA is sitting back in their recliners and watching an All-Access look into Mack Brown's program and the latest news about the Longhorn swim team, keeping an eye out for programming that goes beyond the lines.

Illustration by Tom Fornelli

Posted on: August 25, 2011 12:04 pm

The Longhorn Network has a home

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Two weeks ago we told you that the controversial Longhorn Network was yet to find a carrier even though it was set to launch on August 26th. It was a situation that wasn't all that odd for a new network as it negotiated with cable providers to find a home, and I said in the post that I would be shocked if the network hadn't worked out a deal somewhere before it launched.

Well, there's no need for me to be shocked. It was announced on Thursday that the Longhorn Network had struck a deal with Verizon FIOS.

“We know Texas Longhorn fans are among the most loyal and enthusiastic in college sports, so we’re pleased to add the Longhorn Network to our already robust sports lineup on FiOS TV,” said Terry Denson, vice president of content strategy and acquisition for Verizon in a release.

Now this doesn't mean that everybody in the state of Texas will now be able to see the network, as FIOS is only available in northern Texas at the moment. Still, its market in the state does include Dallas and Fort Worth, which is a pretty nice start. The problem is that even though the network officially launched on Friday August 26th, FIOS will not begin carrying it until September 1st, two days before Texas' season opener against Rice is to be shown on the station.

As for other cable providers and homes throughout the rest of Texas, odds are that new deals will be agreed upon in the coming days. Television negoatiations work a bit like a domino effect, and now that one provider has agreed to a deal and groundwork has been laid, others should follow suit in the coming days. 
Posted on: August 13, 2011 1:09 pm
Edited on: August 25, 2011 11:53 am

Longhorn Network still looking for a carrier

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Here's a bit of irony for you: the Longhorn Network, which may end up being the straw that broke the Big 12's back, is two weeks away from launching and it still hasn't even been picked up by any cable providers. So at this point it wouldn't matter how many high school games or conference games the network decided it wanted to televise, nobody could see them anyway.

According to the report in The Dallas Morning News, the Longhorn Network and its partner ESPN are "still in active discussions" with cable providers like Time Warner, AT&T, Comcast and Direct TV.

Of course, as the report also points out, this isn't exactly an uncommon practice when it comes to these types of negotiations. It wouldn't be the first time that a deal was struck at the last minute to get a network on the air, but it is still somewhat worrisome for the Longhorn Network that it hasn't reached an agreement with anybody just yet.

I can't help but believe that when the network does launch on August 26th somebody in the state of Texas will be able to watch it.
Posted on: August 11, 2011 12:04 pm
Edited on: August 11, 2011 8:30 pm

Reasons Aggies want to move to the SEC runs deep

Posted by Bryan Fischer

There's no place in the country like Texas A&M.

If you haven't had a chance to go to Midnight Yell or be in the stands at Kyle Field when they sway back and forth when the War Hymn is played, you should quickly add it to your bucket list.

The Aggies, excuse me, the Fightin' Texas Aggies, are a different kind of fan too. Really a different kind of person. Tradition is about more than dunking your ring upon graduation or saying 'Howdy,' it's part of the fabric of A&M fans' everyday lives.

Growing up in Dallas, I went to plenty of A&M, Texas and Oklahoma games. As much as the fans of the other two teams liked their schools, they never loved their team like the Aggies. Through thick and thin they were still the Fighting Farmers.

The demographics and culture in College Station have shifted over the past few years. Fewer kids from the country and more from the cities. Less of a focus on the agricultural and mechanical and more of a focus on the business school. But no matter what, they all believe in the school the same.

Now Texas A&M fans are unsure of the future and they're upset. They're mad at Texas. They're mad at commissioner Dan Beebe. They're mad at the Big 12. Frankly, they're mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.

The uneasy truce that was drawn up last summer after Larry Scott came looking to build his superconference is in shambles. The Longhorn Network is the straw that broke the camel's back but really it was the lack of stability in the Big 12 that is the driving force. Even if the NCAA denied the network of their ability to televise high school games, that wouldn't calm the uneasiness A&M has about Texas being in bed with ESPN and in a prime position to join the ranks of the independent.

The hard reality though, is that the University of Texas is the university of Texas. Texas A&M's entire athletic department budget in 2010 was $66.8 million. Texas' PROFIT from football alone was $68 million last year. The Aggies lost money in 2008 and 2009. The rumors of going to the SEC is not about high school games or money, it's about the gap between the two schools widening even further.

In the state of Texas - and in the eyes of most nationally - the Aggies are, and almost always have been, second class citizens in the state they love so dear. The move to the best conference in college football is their trump card. Their chance to shine and - at least in their minds - become peers and not Texas' little brother.

They better learn that they'll have to take their lumps with a move though. Prior to last season, the Aggies best record in the previous 11 years was 9-4. They were embarrassed by Oklahoma to the tune of 77-0 in 2003. Texas A&M has only won one bowl game since joining the Big 12 and has only one league title to their name.

Now they want tougher competition. By moving East they'll face conference opponents that have won 81 percent of their non-conference games of their games the past five years and, oh yeah, five straight national titles.

One fan tweeted me on Wednesday, "If you do understand than you would know this move is not for athletic success. Its bout the cash and the EQUALITY of the SEC."

First of all, if A&M goes to the SEC, they'll have to pay an exit fee of a good chunk of their television revenue in 2011 AND be phased into a full revenue share in their future league. Remember, this is an athletic department that was struggling to pay the bills (the school's endowment has plenty in the bank however). Second, you would not be equals in the mighty Southeastern Conference. You are the new kid on the block and you're closer to Ole Miss and Arkansas than Alabama and Florida. All conferences are not created equal.

Many will point to the fact that the program can get better recruits by selling the fact that they'll be able to play in the best conference. That will win over some.

"The conference really put them over the top," Van (Texas) linebacker Dalton Santos told as to why he picked Tennessee over Texas A&M. "Being able to do things in the SEC will show I can play anywhere."

What some fail to keep in mind however, is that the Longhorns will almost always have the pick of the litter in-state. Sure you can win over one or two elite players. Talent development is always been a strength in College Station and better players certainly never hurt but it's not going to shift the balance of power in the recruiting game as much as many think (or hope).

There is also the notion that grabbing Texas A&M is appealing to the SEC because it opens Texas to the league. That is obscuring the obvious: it's already open. Remember Alabama won a national championship with a quarterback from the Dallas area. When they failed to land the top in-state signal-caller Jameis Winston, they picked up a commitment from a Dallas area quarterback less than 48 hours later. If a head coach of an SEC school wants a player in Texas, they typically don't have many doors closed on them, if any.

It remains to be seen how it all will work but at the moment but it's clear there is mutual interest in making the move, should there be a shift in the college landscape. Beebe said he was taking the threat of the school leaving very seriously and Texas governor Rick Perry, an Aggie alum, confirmed to the Dallas Morning News that 'conversations are being had' on making the move.

“I’ll put it this way, I’m taking it very seriously," Beebe told The Austin-American Statesman. "I’ve been talking to a number of people. Obviously, there are a significant number of Aggie supporters who are interested in going in that (SEC) direction."

Sources told the Statesman and the Morning News that the Big 12 would continue to operate as a nine-team league if Texas A&M left. The school's offer to join the SEC has not been formally made however. As Mike Slive said at SEC Media Days a few weeks ago, he could expand the league to 16 teams "in 15 minutes." but it remains to be seen if he's willing to move on expansion at the moment. The league will add a member only if and when Slive and the SEC presidents want, the timetable is not up to the Aggies.

A source at Texas A&M said the school won't tap the breaks on the rumors until all options have been explored. The school is still mulling creating or partnering on their own network and it just so happens that the head of Fox Sports Southwest is an Aggie alum and booster. Yet many in the administration feel the stability the SEC offers is the biggest reason why the school is ultimately "forced" east.

Let's face it, it looks more likely to happen than not at this point. Culture-wise, they probably fit in well when you consider their other programs, such as baseball, and passionate fan base for all things Aggie.

When I called my father last night, an A&M alum himself, he was mostly upset over the Longhorn Network's unfair advantage. My mother, having lived through the Southwest Conference until the end, thought the whole move was a crazy reaction however.

"They're cutting off their nose to spite their face," she said.

Just like any motherly advice, she was right.

A&M thinks they've got a trump card for their rival. They better be careful what they're wishing for or the Aggies might be the ones being trumped.

Posted on: August 8, 2011 12:00 pm
Edited on: August 8, 2011 12:01 pm

Longhorn Network contract emerges

Posted by Tom Fornelli

The Longhorn Network has caused a lot of problems within the Big 12 since its inception in January. Sure, the Big 12 secured a pretty good television deal for itself, but since the members of the conference have seen what Texas plans to do with its network, the relationship amongst the Big 12 schools has been tenuous at best.

The one sticking point that seemed to cause the most attention was the Longhorn Network's plan to televise high school games, a plan that has been tabled for a year, but has been anything but resolved. Well, thanks to The Midnight Yell, the full contract between Texas and ESPN has emerged, and there's a bit more in the deal that could be problematic for the Big 12.

Here are some highlights of the deal:

- ESPN has exclusive negotiating rights with Texas should the school no longer be a member of the Big 12. "In the event that UT determines not to participate in any athletics conference in one or more sports, UT agrees to provide ESPN a right of first negotiation of 60 days with respect to its television telecast rights.." ESPN also has 48 hours to match any offer Texas may get from somewhere else.

In other words, if the Big 12 does dissolve, Texas can still have its own network as an independent. It's also possible that Texas can just go independent in football and remain in the Big 12 for other sports.

- Texas will get about $11,000,000 a year from the network. And that number will increase by 3% annually until ESPN gets its money back from the original investment, at which point Texas' revenues from the network will rise significantly.

- If the Big 12 created its own network, Texas couldn't be a part of it.  "Neither IMG nor UT will during the Term and within the Territory i. participate in or permit the development of another "Longhorns Network" or similar network enterprise (regardless of name) related to UT" The terms of the deal are for 20 years, and the territory referred to his Texas. So if the Big 12 wants its own network and would want to feature Texas games, it's going to have to wait until 2031 to do so.

- ESPN will try to get rights to Texas high school state championship games. Obviously, this is part of the high school games deal that the Big 12 has decided to ignore for a year, but the contract states that ESPN agrees to try and get the rights for these games. Whether it will ever be allowed by the NCAA remains to be seen, but it's obvious that the Longhorn Network would love to televise these games.

Now, if you go over the contract in its entirety, a lot of what Texas wants to do makes sense. These are good business decisions for the school, and Texas has always been a school that knows how to get money out of its athletic department. Still, when going over the deal and looking at it from the perspective of another Big 12 school, it's easy to see why schools like Texas A&M aren't exactly thrilled with it.

It's essentially a lot of words and numbers that can be paraphrased with "We're Texas, and we're more important than the rest of you."
Posted on: August 4, 2011 4:30 pm
Edited on: August 4, 2011 4:31 pm

Future programs of the Longhorn Network

Posted by Tom Fornelli

On Thursday the new and controversial Longhorn Network announced a slate of programming that it will begin airing in the coming weeks. On the whole there's nothing all that groundbreaking in the lineup. There will be a show in which Mack Brown talks with Vince Young, Ricky Williams and Colt McCoy. There's also a look back at the 2005 national championship season, and your standard greatest games fare.

Being the visionary that I am, however, I decided to take a peak into my crystal ball to get a glimpse at what the Longhorn Network will be showing a little over a year from now. Let me tell you, there's going to be some must-see television going on.

High School Football - It's just like Friday Night Lights, except without a script, Connie Britton and every game ending on an unrealistic, last-second touchdown. What it will have, though, is plenty of Texas recruits.

The Departure - A five-part documentary series highlighting all the comings and goings in College Station as Texas A&M packs its bags and moves to the SEC.  You won't want to miss the episode where DeLoss Dodds and Bill Byrne run into each other at a local grocery store and let the expletives and produce fly.

Crying All Night with Don Beebe - A late night talk show that is shown every weeknight in which Don Beebe sits behind a desk and cries as his conference dissolves around him. His co-host DeLoss Dodds then consoles him while interviewing special guests!

Mack Daddy - Have you ever seen some of the lovely co-eds who call beautiful Austin, Texas home? Well now you have the chance to date them! Join Texas head coach Mack Brown as he hosts a game show that is a cross between The Match Game and Flavor of Love!

Major's Malfunctions - A refreshing family sitcom starring Texas co-offensive coordinator Major Applewhite. While Major has his problems with Garrett Gilbert at work, the trouble doesn't really start until he returns home to his sassy wife and two small children!

Aggie Rehab - Hosted by Dr. Drew, former Texas A&M fans move into a house where together they all try and overcome their love of Texas A&M and turn their lives around. Incredibly moving, sad and uplifting all at the same time.

Call your cable operators now!
Posted on: July 21, 2011 8:35 pm
Edited on: July 21, 2011 10:55 pm

Texas A&M AD releases Longhorn Network statement

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Concerns about the Longhorn Network were made official today, what with Dan Beebe addressing them in a statement earlier Thursday. The Longhorn Network was set to air two Texas football games -- including a conference game -- and had made plans to televise high school football games involving Texas recruits, even before the NCAA could make a ruling on its permissibility one way or the other. Fortunately for the rest of the conference, Beebe put the kibosh on that idea Thursday.

Still, that wasn't in time to stop a meeting by the Texas A&M Regents on the issue, and now Texas A&M athletic director Bill Byrne has become the first administrator to make his thoughts on the network public, in the somewhat ominous statement issued Thursday. The statement is reprinted in full below.

I have continued to have concerns about the Longhorn Network since the original announcement by ESPN and Texas. Since last summer, the Big 12 member institutions have committed to work together in a spirit of unity and equality. Recent news reports concerning this network; however, have created a considerable amount of uncertainty.

We had an agreement in place that Big 12 members would have the right to one non-conference football game and four to six basketball games for third tier, or institutional rights. The concept of the Longhorn Network broadcasting two live football games—with one of these being a conference game—had not been discussed among the Big 12 athletic directors.

Our concerns were heightened further when news reports surfaced that the Longhorn Network would be broadcasting high school football games featuring Texas high school recruits, including recruits living outside the state of Texas. Knowing how restrictive NCAA rules are regarding any collegiate representative contacting prospects, we contacted the NCAA for an interpretation. We are still waiting for the NCAA’s response.

I have continued to communicate our concerns to the conference office and my fellow athletic directors. We are pleased that the Commissioner has started to address these concerns, but many questions remain. These are significant issues for all of collegiate athletics as they relate to broadcast rights, revenue distribution and the recruitment of student-athletes.

Obviously, there's more than a little lingering dissatisfaction here, and if Texas and its new network don't address them to Texas A&M's satisfaction -- which might be asking a lot, considering we're talking about rivals with a very divergent set of opinions on what constitutes an optimal deal -- that could spell disaster for the conference's already teetering stability.

Still, it's also unfair to say that Beebe has merely "started to address" these things. He has already said that, until further notice, Texas can't show high school games on the Longhorn Network or televise more than one game on it, and those rules will go for any other school's network if/when they start up. That is as fully addressed as those concerns can be at this point, is it not?

And still, Texas A&M may continue to claim uncertainty, since Beebe left the door open for those things (but only with the other conference members' approval, and that ain't exactly happening anytime soon). And in these types of situations, "uncertainty" is really just an acceptable way of saying "political cover for acting more selfishly." So this is all music to the SEC's ears, if they want the Aggies or anybody else feeling a little more disloyal to the Big 12 these days.

Posted on: July 21, 2011 7:18 pm
Edited on: July 21, 2011 7:29 pm

Beebe issues statement on Longhorn Network

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

This isn't exactly news, per se; you could have read in this space first thing this morning that Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe had put a temporary hold on the Longhorn Network's plans to air Texas high school games and one Longhorn conference matchup. But with rumors about Texas A&M and Oklahoma's levels of discontent with the promised network continuing to swirl, Beebe issued an official league statement Thursday afternoon regarding the joint venture between Texas and ESPN.

The statement reads:
The Conference members are committed to working together to address issues in a manner that benefits all members. There are elements of our new television agreement, which take effect in 2012, that need clarification and the members will be working together to develop a process that will work to the benefit of the entire Conference. Until the members have a chance to consider all the issues and come to conclusion about how the Conference will manage the interplay between the Conference television package and institutional networks, no more than one live football game will be televised on any institutional network and no high school content will be televised on a branded member’s network.
In other words: High school games and the promised Big 12 game aren't totally ruled out yet ... but until the Aggies and Sooners are satisfied that the Longhorn Network's policies are truly "benfitting all members" of the Big 12, don't expect them to get the OK any time soon.

But at the same time, that the Longhorns (and their television partners) appear to be willing to reach some kind of compromise might indicate that the rumored A&M/Oklahoma-to-the-SEC split might not be in the immediate future, either.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or