Ask folks around the Nebraska, Texas A&M and Missouri football programs, and (off the record) they’ll be glad to tell you that a big reason why each left the Big XII in recent years was because of the emergence of the Longhorn Network.
The TV station which debuted in August 2011 gives Texas an absurd financial advantage that virtually no one in college football can compete with ($300 million over 20 years, to be exact) and at times, a recruiting advantage as well. Many believe that the final straw that eventually drove Texas A&M to the SEC was when the Longhorn Network executives made it clear they intended to broadcast high school football games, games that prominently featured players both programs happened to be recruiting. And while the practice has since been forbidden by the NCAA, it’s safe to say the Longhorn Network has a whole created a lot of unhappy campers in the Big XII.
Well, now in its second year, there is now one more person who is sick and tired of the Longhorn Network. Surprisingly, that man is Mack Brown himself. With his team struggling (they’ve lost two of three and had to hold on for dear life on Saturday against Baylor), Brown spoke for the first time publicly on Monday about how the Longhorn has turned into as much disadvantage as advantage.
Here are some of Brown’s thoughts via an Associated Press report:
"I didn't ask for it," Brown said Monday, noting he's worried that the six hours a week he spends taping three television shows and the network's access to the first 30 minutes of daily practice may tip opposing coaches to player injuries, tendencies and schemes.
Brown said he and Baylor coach Art Briles discussed it before Texas (5-2) beat Baylor 56-50 on Saturday.
"It's in Waco. Baylor sees every practice," Brown said. "We're a little overexposed."
Interestingly, it was only after one a media directions assistant stopped him that Brown finally wrapped up his comments on the network. And the only reason the assistant stopped him was… (Are you ready for this?)… Because it was time for Brown to go tape a show for the network.
You can’t make this stuff.
You could also cut the irony with a butter knife.
Regardless, there are so many interesting angles to take here.
First let me defend Brown, and say that in an abstract way, I guess you can sympathize with his complaints here. We all know that college football coaches are control freaks, meaning that any little advantage (perceived or real), is going to get under their skin and cause red flags to pop up in their heads. Well, if the network really does provide access to Texas that no other program has to deal with (which on some level, some do) then Brown has the right to complain…
At the same time, we don’t have to listen either. And to be blunt, I’m sorry Mack, but nobody is feeling sorry for you.
The simple truth is that for whatever disadvantages the Longhorn Network provides, it provides oh so many advantages too. You know, like that $15 million a year which we mentioned before, straight cash that only a handful of programs in college football (and none of Texas’ direct competition in the Big XII) can compete with.
Besides the obvious, that cash helps Brown stay atop any list of highest paid coaches (he and Nick Saban each make $5.2 million, which is tops in the country) and pay assistants like coordinators Manny Diaz and Bryan Harsin $625,000 as well. It also allows Texas (and in turn Brown) to have any bell or whistle any college football program could ever want, from facilities, to charter travel to accommodations for their players. Safe to say, the Longhorns aren’t exactly traveling on busses to away games and eating peanut butter sandwiches for their pregame meal.
Not to mention, there are a few other variables as well. You know, like the fact that while the Longhorn Network may be prevalent in Texas, it’s not exactly an accommodation that every household across the country can get. I doubt that many (if any) coaches at West Virginia or the Oklahoma schools see much of the Longhorn Network. Yet, if memory serves me correct, none of these teams seemed to have much trouble putting up points on the Longhorns.
Which brings us to the last point: If people really were stealing info from Brown, how the heck is his offense averaging 44 points a game (ranking them sixth nationally)? Is it possible that while the offense may be way better than anyone could’ve anticipated, the defense is just that bad?
Also, there’s this: With Brown’s name now beginning to surface on “hot seat” lists across the internet, is it possible Brown might be making an excuse or two for himself? Or that he’s trying to dissuade other candidates (and their agents) from inquiring about his job?
Whatever the case, it’s safe to say that Brown has plenty more to worry about than just a couple extra TV cameras.
For all his insight, analysis and articles on college football, be sure to follow Aaron on Twitter @Aaron_Torres.