Longhorn Network has become a scourge

Texas athletics has hit the skids since the network launched less than two years ago. It's not just football. It's men's basketball. It's women's basketball. It's baseball.
by Jenni Carlson Published: January 19, 2013
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photo - REACTION: Texas coach Mack Brown reacts during the Red River Rivalry college football game between the University of Oklahoma (OU) and the University of Texas (UT) at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Saturday, Oct. 13, 2012. Oklahoma won 63-21. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman
REACTION: Texas coach Mack Brown reacts during the Red River Rivalry college football game between the University of Oklahoma (OU) and the University of Texas (UT) at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Saturday, Oct. 13, 2012. Oklahoma won 63-21. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman

Remember when the Longhorn Network was the envy of everyone in college athletics? When it was seen as such a game changer that it threatened to dismantle a conference? When it was considered such a competitive advantage for Texas that other schools wanted to rewrite the rule books?

That was less than two years ago.

Now, you'd have trouble finding anyone in Austin who likes it.

The network has become a scourge.

Texas athletics has hit the skids since the network launched less than two years ago. It's not just football. It's men's basketball. It's women's basketball. It's baseball.

That network is weighing down the Longhorns like a hundred-pound chunk of concrete around Bevo's neck.

And here we thought there was no way this groundbreaking deal would be anything but good for the Longhorns. Surely, there was no way a $300 million, 20-year deal with ESPN could go wrong.

Um, about that ...

When the Longhorn Network launched, the football team was coming off its worst season in years. The Longhorns only won five games a season after playing for the national championship.

There was no way to go but up.

And the Longhorns have improved — but barely. They won eight games two seasons ago and nine games this past season.

Still, did ESPN agree to pay an average of $15 million a year for an eight- or nine-win football team?

Here's guessing the World Wide Leader could've found a 10- or 12-win team for cheaper.

I mean, I'm sure it's riveting television to watch Mack Brown breaking down film from a four-point win over Kansas ...

Then again, who would know?

After all, the Longhorn Network still has an extremely limited audience. Last month, it added Cox Communications and Charter Communications, but it still lacks three of the biggest paid TV providers.

No Time Warner.

No Dish Network.

No DirectTV.

Maybe it's for the best. Who would want to watch what the Longhorn Network has to offer?

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by Jenni Carlson
Columnist
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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