Reader Gary Billings sent an email the other day. He seemed quite addled.
“A travesty has occurred!” Gary wrote. “My cable system has pushed the Longhorn Network onto my sports package. It's likely a slight sliver of my monthly payment for my service is ending up in Austin, TX! Should I man the barricades?”
Man the barricades or stage a sit-in or shoot up your flat screen, I don't claim to know the proper antidote for such a breach of decorum. But I think the answer is, don't sweat it.
The Longhorn Network, which caused such angst in the Big 12 a year ago, now seems passe. Texas A&M fled for the Southeastern Conference, in large part because of Texas' television partnership with ESPN. Missouri joined the Aggies, for less specific reasons that could be traced to general uneasiness with a league that seemed divided into haves and have-nots.
But now, the Big 12 has a buffo television contract pending for all members and the Longhorn Network, despite little traction so far in the cable world, is as much of Big 12 life as September cream puffs and November winds.
Billings was ambushed because the Longhorn Network reached an agreement last week with AT&T's U-verse. Bevo TV still hasn't made it to the other top television providers in Texas. Time Warner Cable, Comcast, Charter Communications, DirecTV and Dish Network.
That will come, eventually. ESPN wields too much clout not to get Bevo distributed, and no one seems to care. At least no one outside of stunned anti-Texas fans.
“I think the Longhorn Network is a given,” Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said the other day. “We are going forward with that as a given and we are going forward with what other people are doing with their third-tier rights. Are they all painted with the same brush? No, not necessarily.”
Of course not. Texas will make tons more money than anyone else. And that is different how?
“As you recall, it never bothered me a bit,” Bob Stoops said. “I've said all along, they've always had more money than everybody. It never seemed to matter, as long as they don't get a recruiting advantage. And who cares if they get more money? We've got plenty to operate with. Heck, we had $7 million extra to give to academics. So we're not hurting.”