Fourteen months in, how's the Longhorn Network doing? The University of Texas's 20-year, $300 million partnership with ESPN nearly destroyed the Big 12 before it even launched, and while it is helping UT make up for state-funding shortfalls in academic departments, it still has a rather sizable distribution problem: Verizon FiOS is still the only major national provider to carry it, and the regional AT&T U-Verse just picked the network up early last month.
But surely the Longhorn Network has provided all sorts of unique benefits for the UT football program? Well, not exactly. Longhorns coach Mack Brown, who (coincidentally!) signed an extension after last season that provides him with one of the best contracts in college football, had nothing but unkind words for the network during his weekly press conference today. "We're a little overexposed," Brown said at one point. Among his complaints: that opponents might be gaining an advantage by being able to watch portions of practices, and that the numerous shows on which Brown is obligated to appear are taking up too much of his time. As a result, Brown is becoming paranoid.
Brown even said if a player needs to have an ankle taped, the UT medical staff will tape both ankles so anyone watching LHN won't know if a player is injured.
Brown said football spokesman John Bianco watches LHN to make sure ESPN isn't showing content that could be an advantage for opponents.
"But I've got a microphone on every time I talk to the team," Brown said. "So I'm sure other coaches are sitting there watching me coach our team."
Brown added, "I didn't ask for it. We were given a deal we had no input in."
Brown said he would meet with university officials after the season to try to work out changes. At this point, it may not matter. ESPN ruins everything.