Tag:Longhorn Network
Posted on: October 25, 2011 10:39 am

Notre Dame to Big 12 (in all but fb) makes sense

Notre Dame to the Big 12?

Don’t blow your Dome. We’re talking basketball and the second-tier sports, all the stuff that needs a home if the Big East blows up. Makes sense for ND. The Big East is unstable. The Big 12 is willing to try anything to solidify itself. In fact, Texas AD DeLoss Dodds offered a Notre Dame spot in the league to park its non-football sports. That was before the 2010 season and the tongue-in-cheek “offer” fizzled almost the moment it left Dodds’ mouth.

Now the stakes are higher. With the Big East’s future uncertain, the Irish may need a new home for non-football sports. There are rumblings that the Big 12-Notre Dame talk has started again. It has caught the attention of at least one Big 12 writer.

The detailed document regarding the SEC given to Missouri’s board of curators and obtained by the AP earlier this month included Notre Dame among future Big 12 expansion candidates.

It is known that the Irish desperately want to stay independent in football, but might face a decision with its other sports. Playing in the far-flung (for Notre Dame) Big 12 could be a logistical problem (the closest Big 12 school would be Iowa State), but there aren’t many options left. ACC commissioner John Swofford quashed any Notre Dame speculation recently when he said his league is an “all-in, revenue-sharing conference.”

Notre Dame definitely isn’t into revenue sharing. Its football contract with NBC nets the school a reported $15 million per year. It also wants to start a school-centric network similar to the Longhorn Network. But if the Big 12 can live (barely) with the LHN, what’s another dedicated network between friends?

The attraction for the Big 12 would be to have a relationship if and when the Irish decide to join a conference in football. The product on the field isn’t helping that solidify that independence. The Irish were all but eliminated from BCS consideration after Saturday’s lost to USC. In his two seasons at the school, Kelly is a mediocre 12-8.  Charlie Weis’ two BCS bowl seasons are starting to look pretty good.

The disadvantage would be flying over several states to play in Oklahoma and Texas. But, again, what options does Notre Dame have? A minor sports alliance with the Big Ten makes total sense but the NBC contract would almost certainly be a deal breaker. Like the ACC, the Big Ten shares its revenue equally and is just starting to realize the profitability of the Big Ten Network.



Category: NCAAF
Posted on: August 15, 2011 6:24 pm
Edited on: August 16, 2011 10:18 am

Breaking: NCAA head contacts CEOs on realignment

NCAA president Mark Emmert has contacted various conference commissioners and school CEOs on the subject of conference realignment, the NCAA told CBSSports.com Monday.

There were no specifics but observers were wondering if Emmert would get involved in the increasingly volatile Texas A&M-to-SEC situation. A&M president R. Bowen Loftin was giving permission to pursue conference affilation issues by the school's board of regents Monday. However, Loftin, in a sometimes confusing interview session, said there was still a chance the school could stay in the Big 12.

The NCAA released this statement first to CBSSports.com through a spokesman:

"President Emmert has had conversations with a number of presidents and commissioners related to recent conference realignment issues and these discussions mirror many of the topics raised last week during the [Division I] presidential meetings."

The presidents came away from that meeting promising radical reform in academics and in enforcement.

What was once thought to be a slam-dunk, done deal for A&M is now fraught with legal entanglements. The New York Times reported that the SEC is possibly leaving itself open for a tortious interference claim should it be perceived that the league is raiding the Big 12. Texas A&M may be looking at a buyout that approaches $30 million if it leaves the Big 12 only 14 months after the 10 remaining schools made a 10-year pledge to stay together.

It's clear that ESPN has a major stake in the issues being discussed. It could be upset that if the SEC gets Texas A&M that would allow the conference to renegotiate a new deal at a higher dollar value. The SEC is two years into a 20-year, $3 billion deal with ESPN and CBS. 

If A&M leaves, then that would put in jeopardy the future of the Big 12, which is due to go out to bid in an exclusive negotiating window with ESPN within the next two years. ESPN could also be concerned about the future of, and its investment in, the Longhorn Network at Texas. 

In essence, ESPN would be paying more for the SEC but potentially lose a property in the Big 12 if that league breaks up. The net result, potentially, would be less inventory for ESPN to telecast. That's the reason why ESPN and Fox combined to save the Big 12 last summer. If it had dissolved, ESPN would have lost the Big 12 and possibiltiy been shut out of the Pac-12 if that league had gone on the open market.

As it stands, ESPN combined with Fox to get the rights to the new Pac-12. 

Posted on: August 11, 2011 3:48 pm

High school games cannot be on school networks

The NCAA is not allowing the televising of high school games on school or conference networks, the association ruled on Thursday.

For the moment, that seems to relieve some of the pressure created by the Longhorn Network's intention to televise such games. That was considered a main reason why Texas A&M is reportedly looking to move to the SEC.

The ruling has to be considered a blow to the Longhorn Network which forged a partnership with ESPN, based in some small part on the belief that Texas would be able to telecast high school games. An Aug. 22 NCAA summit had been scheduled to discuss the issue. The summit remains scheduled, NCAA president Mark Emmert said.

Emmert added that NCAA staff had made the interpretation and board of directors had approved it. Texas A&M had lobbied the NCAA hard for such an interpretation. It's unclear whether this changes A&M's reported intentions.

TLN and ESPN officials said previously they would be comfortable with whatever the NCAA decided. But clearly ESPN/TLN had ambitious plans. TLN chief Dave Brown said in June that the network had planned to televise up to 18 games per season. He also said there were plans to fly to different states to televise the games of players who had committed to Texas.

This does not affect the televising of high school games on networks not affiliated with a conference or school. 
Category: NCAAF
Posted on: July 26, 2011 5:54 pm
Edited on: July 27, 2011 12:04 am

Big 12's Four Little Piggies should find shelter

DALLAS -- You'd think they would have learned by now, the Big 12's Four Little Piggies.

Excuse the analogy regarding what are really Tigers, Jayhawks, Wildcats and Cyclones, but the conference's North Division leftovers would -- like the nursery rhyme Three Little Piggies -- be wise to look for sturdier homes.

That lesson was driven home last summer when conference realignment came up on Iowa State, Missouri, Kansas and Kansas State and smacked them over the head with a lead pipe. Surprise didn't even begin to describe it when the league started falling apart.

Few knew that Nebraska had secretly begun talking to the Big Ten in January 2010. Texas was going to do what Texas was going to do. The Pac-10 came along and almost conducted a daring raid.

The 4LP came this close to being homeless. The four would have found a home somewhere but that's the point. Better to go house-shopping on your own rather than waiting until a hurricane ruins the neighborhood.

Four schools that had been joined together for parts of a century suddenly would have been scattered.

Missouri: It went from thinking rather foolishly that it was Big Ten bound (it wasn't) to being nowhere but the Big 12 when Nebraska left.

Kansas: The seriousness of conference realignment hit home when a school with a top-five basketball program would have been looking for a home.

Kansas State-Iowa State: Total wild cards. Their markets (small) wouldn't have taken them anywhere specific.

Most likely the four would have ended up in some combination of the Big East and/or Mountain West. Perhaps Conference USA would have been involved trying to make itself into a BCS-worthy league. The Big East was considering inviting all four Piggies if the Big 12 split according to sources. 

The lesson to be learned as conference upheaval once again strikes the Big 12 is for the Four Little Piggies to be proactive. If their administrators aren't maintaining back-channel communications with other leagues then they are foolish. However, the reaction of Jamie Pollard seems typical.

"We're married, I'm married," Iowa State's AD said. "I'm not going to be talking to someone else I’m going to be married to."

The Big 12 was a contentious union for its first 15 years. Thirteen months later, here we are again with Texas A&M upset with Texas' launching of The Longhorn Network.

"That issue [with Texas A&M] has been around that institution for a long time," said Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe. "Thankfully, the coaches and administrators and others are adamant about being in the Big 12."

Beebe has long preached the dangers of a school moving out of its natural "geographic proximity." For what is believed to be the first time on Tuesday, he basically tipped his hat and wished Colorado good luck for getting closer to its fan base.

"When you remove your institution from your orientation, your rivalries, I think it's really going to be problematic ...," Beebe said. "Colorado went to its orientation because they had 50,000 more alums that were located in the Pac-10 footprint than the Big 12 foot print."

Posted on: July 24, 2011 3:40 pm
Edited on: July 24, 2011 4:35 pm

Five things about the Big 12

Heading into the conference's media days in Dallas beginning Monday, here are five key issues.

1. Stability. The Big 12 was a shotgun marriage from the start. We're just seeing the latest manifestation of the cultural and geographical incongruity. Texas A&M and Oklahoma are upset at the way Texas has pushed the Longhorn Network on the conference. There was a vague idea that TLN was going to broadcast high school games, but that quickly became a deal-breaker when TLN head Dave Brown went on Austin radio on early June and went Manifest Destiny on the Big 12. Eighteen high school games? Broadcasting out-of-state high school games of 2012 Texas commits? All parties are working things out. The league should stay together -- this time. The point is, the league needs to calm down when level-minded observers point out the conference's instability. Note to the Big 12: The current lineup may last 50 years (doubt it) but quit getting upset every time someone points out Texas is the big dog and usually gets its way. That alone might be enough someday to break up this league. It won't be over this issue, but the Big 12 will continue to live in a constant state of flux.

2. Oklahoma rules. With Texas down and not looking to rebound anytime soon, Oklahoma looks like it is ready to run away and hide in the new Big 12. No surprise. The Sooners won seven of the 15 old Big 12 titles and are loaded again this year. While Bob Stoops hasn’t been able to follow up on that 2000 title, this would be only the second time in the BCS era the Sooners will have been picked as a preseason No. 1.

3. How the North was lost. The remaining members of the division formerly known as the North in the Big 12 face a distinct competitive disadvantage in the new 10-team league. Notably, there will be no more scheduling holes that allowed Kansas to win 12 games in 2007 without having to play Oklahoma or Texas. That's one example. There are more. Point is, the new round-robin Big 12 schedule is going to make it extremely difficult for Missouri, Kansas, Kansas State or Iowa State to make a serious run at a title in the 10-team league. Those schools will be playing Texas, Texas A&M and Oklahoma each season. Since 2005, the remaining North schools have lost 75 percent of their games to those three. Add to that the reality that every other year, teams will be playing five of nine conference games on the road. Not only is there a competitive disadvantage -- only Kansas State among the four has won a Big 12 title -- there will be a physical toll as well. With a round-robin schedule, there will be fewer breathers.

4. Mack Brown's future. Texas' coach did what any veteran would do when the program slides off the edge of the cliff. He changed his coordinators. Much of the Horns' ability to turn around immediately from a 5-7 disaster will be on the shoulders of co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin and defensive coordinator Manny Diaz. Harsin is credited for making Boise State a huge offensive force in recent years. Diaz's career has soared since he began as an intern at ESPN. If Texas doesn't rebound quickly and begin competing for the conference title again, will this be Mack's final year?

5. Bring the kids, spread out a blanket and watch the fireworks. For whatever reason, the Big 12 has become the most entertaining league in the country. This is a conference that produced Vince Young, Chase Daniel and Jason White. The conference has made its on-field rep with great offenses and great offensive players. Three of the top six players in total offense came from the Big 12 last year. The top two receivers in the country (Justin Blackmon, Ryan Broyles) were also from the Big 12. Oregon's LaMichael James led the country in scoring. No. 2? Lou Groza Award winner Dan Bailey of Oklahoma State. The Cowboys and Sooners were 2-3 in passing. With Baylor maturing and Oklahoma and Oklahoma State at the top of their offensive games, there are going to be plenty of opportunities to "hang half a hundred on 'em," as Barry Switzer used to say.
Posted on: July 21, 2011 8:26 pm

Big 12 in uproar over Longhorn Network

At one point Thursday afternoon, I Tweeted "Big 12 making WAC look stable."

One Big 12 loyalist immediately shot back: "u know something we don't?"

Apparently. Start with the new, 13-month old league looking a lot like the 15-year old previous version of the Big 12 that almost disintegrated last year. It looks just as shaky and twice as disparate. Texas is starting a network on its terms. Everyone else in the Big 12 is having problems with those terms. They include televising high school games and as well as one conference game.

Several issues: Texas A&M, among others, isn't happy with Texas essentially having its own televised recruiting service. That, and conference rivals helping drive ratings and subscribers by playing Texas on its own network.

Commissioner Dan Beebe seemingly had calmed the waters by issuing a Thursday statement saying the issue needed "clarification" and that the league would "manage the interplay". Beebe concluded by saying the pause button had been it on TLN. It could show no more than one game (the opener against Rice) and no high school games until things were sorted out.

I thought these types of conflicts would be avoided for at least a few years. But who knew Texas and ESPN would launch a network without getting these issues resolved with the rest of the Big 12? Or maybe it doesn't matter. It's the other members -- particularly Missouri, Iowa State, Kansas and Kansas State -- who are just happy to be in a BCS conference at this point.

As one executive intimated to me this week: These schools DO understand why the conference stayed together, right?

Answer: Texas.

That kind of gives you a picture of where things stand at the moment. Texas has all the power, as usual. And most of the rest have to take it except for Texas A&M, and perhaps Oklahoma. A&M made it clear to me Wednesday that the administration is upset with comments made by TLN network chief Dave Brown, a long-time power broker in college football for ESPN. 

A&M and OU have some leverage, which translates into jumping to the SEC if pushed too far on this issue. Read this scathing statement from Aggies' AD Bill Byrne.

“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.”

There it is. A&M ain't standing for it and -- best guess -- the SEC would take an Aggie-Sooner package in a heartbeat. That would likely set off a chain reaction of new conference realignment that could lead to the era of super conferences.

What's likely to happen? ESPN isn't going to risk the disintegration of the Big 12 (a partner) to show high school games on TLN (a different, new partner). ESPN made a financial commitment to the Big 12 last year to keep Texas in the fold, if for no other reason than the Horns having a launching pad for that network. Essentially, we're talking about Big 12 game inventory (a lot) being worth more than TLN's (a little) to ESPN.

If the NCAA doesn't rule that the high school games are an unfair recruiting advantage, Texas/ESPN will simply back down and not show them. It's worth it to keep everyone happy. Sources here at the SEC media days told me that the high school programming isn't a huge deal. It would be nice to have on the TLN but its absence is not going to wreck it.

Guess that means more re-runs of the Mack Brown Show. I'm sure A&M will be happy with that.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com