As the new Big 12 Conference figures itself out there are bound to be some awkward moments. One such moment came on Wednesday when it was revealed that Oklahoma and Texas A&M are serious about walking if the Longhorns continue to try and take a mile when given an inch.
Sure, everyone knew that Texas was going to pursue their own network when the Big 12 was saved from destruction at the last moment last summer. What was not known at the time was that the partnership with ESPN would supersede existing rights to broadcasting games on major networks by putting actual Big 12 games on the Longhorn Network and even more alarming was the plan to broadcast high school football games featuring Longhorn recruits.
My question is how is this a surprise to anyone. As far as I'm aware everyone saw this coming way back in June of 2010. Its like a train wreck that you know is about to happen but you fail to look away because you can't believe its actually going to happen. Did everyone really believe the Longhorns were going to act with integrity and not turn this into a recruiting tool? Come on!
The Longhorns actually may have already committed an NCAA violation because of the following comments by Longhorn Network director Dave Brown.
"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." - Source
This pretty much throws mud in the face of Deloss Dodds by pretty much going against what he had stated about Texas not having any influence on programming when it comes to high school games broadcast on their network. It wasn't just the NCAA that tool notice of Brown's comments. Apparently it did more than get the attention of the athletic departments at Oklahoma and Texas A&M, it stirred them to action.
The notion that the Longhorns own the Big 12 and can run roughshod over the conference with a license to do what they want, when they want, with a get out of jail free card came to an end on Wednesday. Oklahoma and A&M called their friends over at the SEC to inquire if they were still taking applications.
SEC commissioner Mike Slive said Wednesday that he will "continue to do what is in the best interest of the SEC."
"It is my job to make sure the SEC is the premier league," Slive said. "For me to exclude any action that would preclude that from happening would be inappropriate." - TSN
This prompted Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe to actually do something commissioner like.
"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. - DMN
So who blinked first? It doesn't really matter. What does matter is that the Longhorns have been put on hold by a supposed bluff from the Sooners and Aggies. Would they really bolt to the SEC? Who knows but apparently, for now, no one wants to find out because it would be Armageddon for the Big 12 and when push comes to shove it would be 9-1 against the Longhorns in terms of conference schools.