Texas Coach Identifies Problem: TV Network

The Longhorn Network may not have much of an audience, but some of its viewers might be the most engaged in all of TV. Not to mention upscale. An ad sales department couldn’t ask for a better combination.

These glued viewers apparently aren’t just checking out the live feed. They’re burning out some DVRs by watching over and over again, breaking things down frame by frame.

Some of them are surely millionaires. Others probably make enough that President Obama wants to close the deficit by raising their taxes.

Several times a week the Longhorn Network (LHN), owned by ESPN with IMG handling ad sales, airs a small part of the University of Texas’ football practices. Seems like a nice way to attract viewers, even if it’s just some wind sprints or a little pitch and catch. But no!

To listen to Coach Mack Brown on Monday, one might think he’s trying to drive ratings by offering a taste of UT’s defensive strategy for its upcoming game and even showing off some planned trick plays.

Brown blasted LHN for giving opponents a “true advantage.” He said the opposing coaches – some with salaries probably equal to much of the chemistry faculty – are tuning in rapt for the reality TV.

Apparently, that was the case in advance of Saturday’s game against Baylor when Texas held on for a 56-50 win.

“Baylor sees every practice,” Brown told the AP. “We’re a little overexposed.”

Speaking generally about opponents’ scouting opportunities, he said: “They can watch our attitude, they can watch our coaches.”

Such secrets! It would seem easy enough for Brown to tell his players to act downtrodden and unmotivated in order to deceive an opponent, but maybe he’s too honest for that?

Brown said the University of Texas agreed to let LHN carry the practices without his input. That could be the only time during his tenure at UT, where a decision was made affecting him without his thoughts sought out. Football coaches don't hold any sway in big-time athletics at all anymore.

It seems funny that LHN, which focuses on UT 24/7 and has struggled to gain distribution, once was supposed to give UT such an advantage in recruiting that rival Texas A&M was angry enough that it bolted the Big 12.

Besides giving away game plans, LHN has also apparently worn Brown down since he does three shows a week that air on the network. Never mind that he might get paid extra for that or the load of cash ESPN pays UT each year might just help pay Brown’s $5 million salary, there are only so many hours in a day.

The Longhorns used to be dominant, near the top of the college football world each year. Last year – the first with LHN – the team finished an uninspiring 8-5 (after a losing season). This year, the team is a ho-hum 5-2.

Brown is feeling some heat from UT fans. His LHN hatchet job wouldn’t have anything to do with that, would it?

Tags: television
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