Every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, a different show airs on the Longhorn Network featuring Texas football head coach Mack Brown.
And every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, he loses time he can’t get back to prepare for his team’s next game. Not just that, but virtually every day of the week, footage from Longhorns practice is aired on LHN. Brown has to love the millions of dollars being funneled into the already lucrative athletic program his football team spearheads, but he can’t like the competitive disadvantage it can produce.
“We’re a little overexposed,” Brown said. “It changes when you’ve got a microphone at every speech on the field and in every drill. You definitely think about what [Baylor head coach] Art [Briles] is thinking when he’s sitting there watching you talk and coach your team.”
Brown has good reason to be upset. Every coach spends time fielding questions from the media. But when you have a round-the-clock LHN monster to feed, lines can be and have been crossed. No other college football program is feeding a monster that hungry, although a pair of Brown’s assistants downplayed the effects of the network.
“We’re not going to prepare any different because they’re out there,” co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin said. “I sure don’t let it bother me. You know they’re there. I’m only conscious of it if they’re in a drill, if they’re in the way or a guy might get hit. If we’re going to throw an out route and the camera guy’s standing right there, I might tell him to move. Other than that, they’re on their own.”
If anyone would be qualified to offer insight on what the relationship between LHN and Texas should be, it would be defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, a former ESPN production assistant.
“I felt like they would sort of become wildflowers,” Diaz said. “There’s just cameras around. The fact that our cameras aren’t just going to the dot-com, they’re going to an ESPN broadcast partner — you can go on to anyone’s website in America and watch their practice.”
Including the drive there and back, Brown estimates that an hour and a half of his day is consumed by LHN on days he tapes shows at its studios. Practice is closed to all media outlets other than LHN, although the longtime Longhorns head coach asks them to focus on individuals, rather than groups, where schemes and game plans are discussed.
But make no mistake, Brown wants to change this arrangement. And he should.
“We were given a deal that we had no input in,” Brown said. “We’ve been trying to make it the best for both, and at the end of the year, everybody’s going to have to sit down and see what we need to change and look at what they need to change, but there needs to be some give and take both ways.”
Some have joked the $300 million deal Texas made with ESPN to create the Longhorn Network was a curse of sorts. Since the contract was signed last January, the football team went 8-5 last season, neither Longhorns basketball squad won an NCAA tournament game and the baseball team failed to play in the postseason for the first time since 1998.
As Brown said, the negative effects LHN is having on Texas’ athletic program may be more tangible than we thought.
Printed on Tuesday, October 23, 2012 as: LHN causing Texas problems