Longhorn Network bad for football fans
In 2007, a contract was signed for a huge Big 12/SEC match up pitting the Rebels of Ole Miss vs. the Longhorns of Texas.
The SEC was beginning to take the title of the elite conference, while Texas was.. well... Texas.
The game was destined to draw viewers from across the country.
Fast forward five years into the future to September 15, 2012.
The Grove was absolutely packed as the Longhorn fans flooded Oxford.
Both teams were undefeated and Texas was the number 14 ranked team in the nation.
Though the Rebels scored 31 points, they could not stop Texas. They gave up a whopping 66 points and 676 yards of total offense. The Texas game was the first true test for a young team that got much better as the year went on.
Texas QB David Ash looked to be the next Colt McCoy with his career-high 326 yards and four touchdowns.
However, the Ole Miss game ended up easily being the Longhorn’s best game of the season, and Ash’s starting spot was in jeopardy throughout the rest of the season.
With both teams coming off bowl games and returning a ton of starters, it looked to be one of the premier non-conference games of the year.
The Rebels were coming to Austin for revenge, and Texas wanted to rise back up to their former supremacy.
On June 4, however, ESPN crushed the hope for a high exposure rematch. They announced that the anticipated rematch of the Texas Longhorns and the Ole Miss Rebels would be televised solely on the struggling Longhorn Network.
This decision seems to be pushed by ESPN, who is the provider for the LHN. They are using the big non-conference game to try and draw interest in their failing product.
They are actually doing just the opposite. No big name team will want to play the Longhorns under these conditions.
They have successfully distanced themselves from every other BCS school.
The Big 12 began to collapse around the power hungry school. Texas A&M and Missouri fled to the more balanced SEC. Nebraska went north to the Big 10.
West Virginia filled the void in the Big 12, but how long will the conference as a whole continue to be treated as a second fiddle to the all-powerful Texas?
What is next for the LHN? Will the Red River Shootout be displayed solely on the LHN? I think not. No self-respecting team will sign a contract under these circumstances.
This mess was unavoidable. Ole Miss signed a normal home-and-home contract that gives the home team TV rights. How could Pete Boone, Ole Miss Athletic Director at the time, have forseen this debacle? The LHN had never even been heard of back then.
The only reason Ole Miss would schedule a home-and-home with a traditional power like Texas to go along with the usual, brutal SEC slate is national exposure, and that was taken off the table at the last possible second.
They announced this insanity in June. What could Ole Miss do? Pay a buyout and schedule a D2 team? That would be throwing money away and decimating the strength of schedule, which grows more important to post-season play every year.
Though the situation is improving slightly due to the fact that Ole Miss and ESPN are working on “accommodations” so that fans in Mississippi will be able to see the game, it still doesn’t make up for the fact that Texas used shady dealings to further push their product at the expense of another BCS school.
All that new Ole Miss Athletic Director Ross Bjork can do is try to make accommodations for Rebel fans and shun the University of Texas from all future athletic endeavors.