The Longhorn Network and We All Claim Victory

So much has happened since yesterday, when we discussed the idea that Texas A&M was having a Board of Directors meeting to discuss the Big 12.  This meeting was supposed to happen today.  In any event, things escalated yesterday.  To back up a bit, Sports By Brooks transcribed an audio clip from the Longhorn Network Vice President, Dave Brown, who said this last week (and to give credit where credit is due, miketag from IAT12M found the audio first) about airing high school football games:

"We’re going to follow the great [high school] players in the state. Obviously a kid like [unsigned Texas verbal commit] Johnathan Gray. I know people [Longhorn Network subscribers] are going to want to see Johnathan Gray, I can’t wait to see Johnathan Gray.

"Feedback from our audience is they just want to see Johnathan Gray run whether it’s 45-0 or not, they want to see more Johnathan Gray. So we’re going to do our best to accomodate them [Longhorn Network subscribers] and follow the kids who are being recruited by a lot of the Division I schools. Certainly some of the kids Texas has recruited and is recruiting and everyone else the Big 12 is recruiting.

"One other thing, you may see us, I know there’s a kid [unsigned Texas verbal commit] Connor Brewer from Chapparal high school in Arizona. We may try to get on one or two of their games as well so people [Longhorn Network subscribers] can see an incoming quarterback that’ll be part of the scene in Austin."

I mentioned yesterday that although the Longhorn Network VP may not be an employee of the University of Texas, but it was a gray line as to whether or not a person associated with a university could even so much as mention the names of high school players that haven't signed a letter of intent. 

Yesterday Texas AD DeLoss Dodds had this to say about the Longhorn Network:

"We do not want to use it as a recruiting advantage. We don't want it tied to Texas," Dodds said. "ESPN knows we don't want to violate any NCAA rules and they don't want to."

Once folks started to put 2 + 2 together, i.e. if you commit to the University of Texas then we'll put your high school game on the Longhorn Network, then folks started to get  upset.  College Football Talk's John Taylor:

And, if the NCAA decides to continue sitting on its hands when it comes to the UT/ESPN/high school football relationship?  The Association needs to never again bring sanctions against any Div. 1-A football program for "recruiting violations".  Simply put, if televising potential in-state — and specifically targeted out-of-state — recruits on your own television network is not a violation, how could The Association ever again look any school in the eyes in the future and accuse them of doing something illicit in gaining an advantage in recruiting?

This led to a report from Sporting News' Matt Hayes who said that OU and TAMU may look at moving to the SEC:

A source told Sporting News on Wednesday that both Texas A&M and Oklahoma are so concerned about rival Texas gaining a recruiting advantage with the newly formed Longhorn Network, the two institutions could turn to the SEC if the problems can’t be figured out. The core issue: The Longhorn Network will televise live high school football games in the state of Texas, an obvious recruiting advantage for Texas.

I thought yesterday it would take the NCAA too much time to do anything about the Longhorn Network, but DMN's Chuck Carlton reported yesterday that the Longhorn Network airing high school football games is on old:

Commissioner Dan Beebe announced a temporary compromise Wednesday. Telecasts of high school football games on the Longhorn Network are now on hold, pending decisions by the NCAA and the Big 12 about how to handle school and conference networks. The Big 12 also delayed the possibility of a conference game on the Longhorn Network, announced earlier this month as part of a side deal with Fox.

"It’s not going to happen until and unless the conference can make it happen with benefit to all and detriment to none," Beebe said.

Meanwhile, what are the Big 12's conference brethren saying about the whole deal?  Rock M Nation is having fun in a roundtable where they briefly discuss the issue at hand.  Beergut IAT12M is claiming that UT needs TAMU and OU more than TAMU and OU need UT.  Peter Bean at BON writes that UT should bluff TAMU and OU's threat to move to the SEC and also writes that by making all of this public, resulting in Beebe making a statement yesterday was a well played move by OU and TAMUCACRM's ccmachine writes that the Sooners and Aggies flexed their muscles.

This is all well and good, but I think the key is, and I think it's what the NCAA is deciding isn't whether or not UT can have the Longhorn Network.  That's not the issue.  The issue is whether or not the LHN, or a VP from the LHN, can specifically mention players that are being recruited by UT and can air high school games, which, potentially, could turn into a commit for UT.   I still think that the best possible scenario for the other nine universities is to form their own television network that then forces UT fans to purchase the LHN and the Remaining Nine Network.  At the very least, it would at the very least create a situation that would force UT fans spend more money to watch their team.

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