As many of us know, the Texas Longhorns recently signed a contract with ESPN to begin the Longhorn Network. This new network will showcase Longhorn sports 24/7 but has stirred up quite a bit of response. The response has been one of excitement from the Longhorns and one of resentment from the opposition. So what's the big to-do and how much does this change to outcome of recruiting etc?
The network debuts on August 26th but Barry Tramel recalls a similar situation to which Texas is jumping into.
1) For all of those who are worried about the recruiting edge it will give to the Longhorns - The network is scheduled to showcase a single football game out of the year. The opponent will be one that no one really cares about or thinks is up to par but Texas will have most of its other games on major networks anyway. In football the network will give them no recruiting edge over any other school.
Remember the Seinfeld episode where George and Jerry were developing a TV show about nothing? Why would anyone watch, asked an NBC executive. "Because it's on television," George said.
Basketball will have the same scenario that the football program has with the network, a few games that should end in blowouts being televised (although I don't think the football team will be blowing anyone out this year).
Now that the "major sports of college" have been covered with the least coverage, the Longhorn network will fill the rest of the space with tennis, gymnastics, baseball, swimming, etc. All sports that do no draw in the biggest crowds. However, each one of these sports will benefit in the recruiting. If a kid knows that they will be seen on tv, they will be more inclined to sign as tv means more exposure. But, again, who really cares about these other sports on a national level?
2) For all those who are concerned about UT pulling in more money - Texas is supported by one of the largest alumi bodies in the country. This has already pegged them as the richest in conference school. They have always had the most money and nothing is going to change with the start of the Longhorn Network. I don't think Tramel could have said it any better than when he said
Many will buy. Few will watch.
Fact is that this is something unprecedented by any other university. Texas will be the first in a long line of many while the deals get sweeter. As they say, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.