ESPN immediately began looking for ways to recoup that investment. Which is why it began politicking for a second football game on its channel and why it pushed for high school content, hoping to cash in on the recruiting-crazed crowd.
That's when A&M said “enough for us,” and called the Southeastern Conference. And when the Aggies made it clear they were gone, the Sooners wearied of the instability and called the Pac-12.
All of which leaves Texas in a corner, with no way out unless it sheds its beloved Longhorn Network.
Independence doesn't work on any level. The ACC would be a disaster; can you imagine the Longhorns trying to sell the ACC after their arch-rivals have just bolted for the SEC and the Pac-12?
Texas' only options would be cobbling together a weakened Big 12 (which could grow even weaker; anyone think Missouri isn't shopping around?) or swallowing its pride to compromise on the network.
The Pac-12 requires that each school have a broadcast partner. Tech, presumably, would have to get a share of BevoTV.
UT knows its best landing spot is the Pac-16, with OU, OSU and Texas Tech. That would keep some of the Texas politicians at bay, it would keep regional rivalries intact, it would create a solid eastern division of a really good conference.
Texas is like OU. For whatever reason, the Longhorns have always looked more West than South. UT has played series with Stanford and UCLA during the Mack Brown era and has signed a deal with Southern Cal.
And Texas president William Powers, a Cal-Berkeley graduate, is like OU president David Boren. Both are attracted to the academic allure of the Pac-12.
The only sticking point for Texas going West is politics and Frankenstein's monster. And now the 'Horns seem likely to slay the monster that did so much damage.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.
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.