The recent announcement that the struggling Texas Longhorn Network wanted to add college and high school football games to its lineup has caused a lot of unrest with the other remaining members of the Big 12. Rumors that Texas A&M is once again considering a move to the SEC could start the dominoes falling once again.
The Aggies and other Big 10 members feel that the inclusion of Texas High School football games on the the Longhorn Network will give Texas an unfair recruiting advantage. If ESPN and Texas continue down this route the conference is in danger of splintering in a number of directions.
But broadening the customer base and building a national brand is in direct conflict to a conference affiliation and the other members of the conference. While Texas A&M, OU, OSU, Baylor, ISU, KSU, Missouri, Texas Tech, and Kansas are working toward building the brand of the Big 12, Texas and ESPN are off building the Longhorn brand. So there will always be some problematic issue or concern that divides the two parties.
My opinion has always been that the Longhorn Network (single entity) would never work within the confines of a conference. It might not even work for a national independent like Notre Dame. That is one reason why Pac 12 commissioner Larry Scott told an Austin newspaper last week that a potential Texas move to the Pac 12 in the future was all but dead because of the entanglements of the Longhorn Network.
I love the new Pac 12 setup where you have six regional channels shared by two schools each and one national network which serves all. Every school in the conference gets an equal slice and equal exposure. Even more importantly each school realizes (even USC) that they are stronger as a whole rather than being on an island alone.
The Longhorns may look into the rear view mirror in the not too distant future and realize that total control was not the way to go. A smarter venture would have been a partnership with either A&M, Baylor, or TCU in a model that mirrors or is similar to the Pac 12 model.
Texas may end up on that island a lot sooner than they ever expected. They may have to start making concessions to other conference members as soon as next Monday if they want what is left of the Big 12 survive past 2011. A&M and Oklahoma have serious options. The Pac 12 and the SEC would welcome either school if it ends up coming down to that.
Practices open to the public
This is a list of practices that will be open to the public this month so if you want to get out to Montlake to get a first hand look at what this team will look like these are your chances.
"Fans are welcome to attend afternoon and evening practices during fall camp Morning practices during two-a-days are closed. Additionally, upon the conclusion of the fall camp period, the practice policies will revert to the regular, in-season policies, meaning practices Monday through Thursday are open to the media, former UW players, family of players and members of the Tyee Club.''
Everything kicks off on Monday morning when Sark holds his first press conference to officially open camp. Expect the first question asked by the media to include the names of Jake Locker and Keith Price.
Monday, August 8 - 3:15 p.m. practice
Tuesday, August 9 - 3:15 p.m. practice
Wednesday, August 10 - 3:15 p.m. practice
Thursday, August 11 - 3:15 p.m. practice
Friday, August 12 - 3:15 p.m. practice
Saturday, August 13 - 7:00 p.m. practice
Sunday, August 14 - off day
Monday, August 15 - 7:00 p.m. practice
Tuesday, August 16 - 3:15 p.m. practice
Wednesday, August 17 - 7:00 p.m. practice
Thursday, August 18 - 3:15 p.m. practice
Friday, August 19 - 7:00 p.m. practice
Saturday, August 20 - 3:15 p.m. practice
Sunday, August 21 - 11:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m. Picture Day
Monday, August 22 - 3:15 p.m. practice
Tuesday, August 23 - 7:00 p.m. practice
Wednesday, August 24 - 3:15 p.m. practice
Thursday, August 25 - 4:15 p.m. practice