So yesterday evening, RRS.com's Chris Level and Aaron Dickens reported that the WAC, which has the television rights, is considering placing the Texas Tech vs. Texas St. game on the Longhorn Network. Level and Dickens have reported that Texas Tech would cancel the game rather than the game be played on the LHN. Here's the sources words and tell me if you don't think these are the words of Athletic Director Kirby Hocutt:
Tech learned of this possibility several days ago, and according to the source, is "adamantly opposed to playing on the Longhorn Network" and is "putting serious consideration into canceling the game and playing an 11 game schedule" this fall.
"We are extremely disappointed," the source told RRS. "Our hope is that the Texas State game will be played on a primary ESPN platform."
There are a handful of things to consider here (and probably more, just drop them in the comments):
1. If Texas Tech did cancel the game, Texas Tech would be risking taking away a game that could make the Red Raiders bowl eligible and apparently, Texas Tech and Athletic Director Kirby Hocutt would be fine with that decision. I have no problem with Hocutt being obstinate if this is how he really feels, even if it would be to the detriment to the football program. At the very least, you know you have an athletic director that has a belief system and will not waver from it. I admire that.
2. Texas St. is selling the hell out of this game, they've made rivalry t-shirts for Pete's sake. T-shirts! Anyway, Texas St. is selling this game as their premier game on their schedule and this game is opening up their stadium. I think this game is important to Texas St. and that it be played and it is not necessarily important that it be played on the Longhorn Network.
3. The WAC has the contractual rights to determine what channel the game is going to be played, if at all. The WAC will not be a conference that will be in existence next year, but I would bet that if Texas St. has any pull at all, they'll tell the WAC to back off. Texas St. wants this game played with or without television.
4. If you wanted an athletic director with a little backbone, then Hocutt is your guy. If the game is to be played on the LHN this would mean that there would be more subscriptions for the LHN, which doesn't necessarily mean that UT is making any more or less money, UT gets paid no matter what. But long-term, Texas Tech has no interest in "selling" UT's network. And don't forget that last year, UT threatened to put the Texas Tech vs. Texas game on the LHN and Texas Tech balked.
More after the jump.
5. There is a reason why this was being leaked as a source. I would bet a lot of money that the words blockquoted above are from Hocutt, but Texas Tech wanted public opinion on their side and perhaps the WAC was not listening to Texas Tech's requests. The only people that are in favor of or care about the LHN are UT fans. That's it and in the grand scheme of things, make up a small portion of fans of college athletics. I would guess that a majority of the rest of the country wants to see the LHN fail. If UT fans want to say that everyone else is jealous, then okay, fine. Personally, I'm not jealous, ESPN approached UT, so I understand the idea of taking the money, but the LHN is trying so hard to sell subscriptions they are making enemies quickly. Whether it is attempting to air high school games, or attempting to air the TTU vs. UT game and now this, that the LHN is making themselves look even worse. ESPN is awful at public perception and I don't know if the brass at UT have any pull, but they should have pulled the plug on this.
6. This makes me wonder who really runs the LHN. If Hocutt did call UT Athletic Director DeLoss Dodds and express the thought that Texas Tech did not want this game on the LHN, did Dodds just tell Hocutt that he doesn't have any control over the situation and this was between the LHN and the WAC? Contractually, that makes sense, that Dodds and UT don't have that type of control, but I also cannot imagine a scenario where Dodds does not wield enough power that he very well could have told the LHN executives to back the eff up and not do this. Dodds understands public perception better than most AD's and maybe Hocutt told him that he would go public with this issue and maybe Dodds wanted to call Hocutt's bluff. To give up a full game seems like an extreme remedy, but with Hocutt, like I said above, Texas Tech has an athletic director that that has a belief system.