Longhorn Network might be dissolved along with the Big 12 Conference

Berry Tramel: In order to find a safe landing spot in an expanded Pac-16, Texas might have to destroy what it built.
by Berry Tramel Published: September 6, 2011

Let me get the story straight.

The Longhorn Network, as an idea, was created to save the Big 12 Conference. Instead, looks like BevoTV will destroy the Big 12 Conference.

But the plot gets richer. A dissolved Big 12 could mean the end of the Longhorn Network.

We've seen this story before. Frankenstein. The tortured scientist who created a monster that eventually destroyed its maker. Then the monster killed itself because of its crimes.

Does anyone else see the irony? Nebraska left the Big 12 in part because of the idea that became the Longhorn Network, and Texas A&M is leaving the Big 12 because of the Longhorn Network's excesses, and OU wants to leave the Big 12 because of the instability the network wrought.

And when those cards fall, Texas' best option might be dismantling The Longhorn Network so UT can join the Sooners in a Pac-16 Conference.

Follow along.

* Conceptual stage: The Longhorn Network exists because Big 12 members figured its possibility would keep Texas happy and at home.

Let league members establish their own television channels, and Texas (and OU, Nebraska and A&M) wouldn't look longingly at other conferences.

It seemed like a solid plan. And heck, that part of the plan worked — the Longhorns remain dedicated to the Big 12. No one loves the Big 12 like Texas.

But all the big boys at that time (four, five years ago) were intrigued by individual-school networks. The Big 12 even ran off a commissioner, Kevin Weiberg, who wanted to implement a conference television network.

Weiberg left for the Big Ten, where as associate commissioner he created what is now the affluent Big Ten Network. Then Weiberg went out West and helped Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott formulate that league's fledgling conference network.

* Implementation stage: Nebraska had a change of heart and came to believe that a conference network was the better way. Maybe the Big Ten Network's success changed Tom Osborne's mind. Maybe he got wind of the $300 million bonanza headed Texas' way. Maybe Osborne was just leery of all things Bevo.

Whatever the case, the Huskers fled, Colorado got skittish and the Big 12 settled in at 10 schools.

* Monster stage: Everything changed when ESPN became Texas' partner. Hello, Frankenstein's monster.


by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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THE LONGHORN NETWORK

Unveiled: April 3, 2011.

Launched: Aug. 26, 2011.

Major cable carriers: Verizon FIOS. Not yet available on Time Warner, Comcast, DirecTV and Dish Network.

Owner: ESPN

Manager: IMG College

Guarantees: $247.5 million to the University of Texas, over 20 years. IMG is guaranteed $52.5 million.

Programming:

* Longhorn Extra: weekday newscast cover UT sports;

* Rewind with Mack Brown: Monday night playback show featuring Brown's analysis;

* Texas All Access: weekly insider show, focusing on football;

* Game Plan with Mack Brown: Thursday night preview show;

* Texas GameDay: a Saturday two-hour pregame show, on location for home games and in studio for road games;

* Longhorn Legends: roundtable discussion program with Mack Brown and selected former players.

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