Getting in bed with the Longhorn Network

This piece about how the powers that be at Texas A&M are beginning to get stirred up over the steps the WWL is taking to ensure the success of its new broadcasting joint venture with Texas seems to have drawn more attention over its TAMU-to-the-SEC speculation (and the hint that there are NCAA troubles coming down the pike sooner rather than later for a number of SEC schools) than what is to me the truly troubling aspect of what ESPN is up to as it seemingly goes balls out to promote all things Texas.

Stewart Mandel is one of the few so far who gets that.

… And that’s the part that should really be troubling not just to Big 12 fans, but to college football fans everywhere. From the moment this 20-year, $300 million deal was announced, it’s been astounding just how deeply the company is getting into bed with one of the schools it covers journalistically. Granted, conflicts of interest are unavoidable in sports media these days. This website is owned by a company (Time Warner) that holds the rights to NBA, PGA and NASCAR programming. But ESPN isn’t just testing the separation between church and state with Texas; there isn’t one. Case in point: The ever-popular GameDay crew (Chris Fowler and Co.) will be appearing live from Austin for the channel’s Aug. 26 debut. ESPN and Texas are now one and the same, and you can’t tell me it won’t affect the way GameDay, SportsCenter, Outside the Lines, et. al., cover Mack Brown’s program. In a sport where many fans already live in a constant state of paranoia that the media is propping up someone else at their expense … well, ESPN is flat-out doing it. It should make for some interesting signs the first time GameDay goes to Norman.

Perhaps the best way to look at the Longhorn Network is as if it’s akin to a nuclear reactor planted on a creaky fault line – in this case, the junction of ESPN in its varied roles as journalist, entertainment source and facilitator.  You figure that something’s gotta give at some point in time.  Maybe it’ll take having a direct hand in blowing up a BCS conference for that to happen.  In the meantime, expect to hear a lot of disgruntlement.  Justifiably so.


Filed under Big 12 Football, ESPN Is The Devil

6 responses to “Getting in bed with the Longhorn Network

  1. TennesseeDawg

    If you are looking to ESPN for journalistic integrity then you need to keep looking. They are purely infotainment. They did little early on in the Ohio State mess and have done nothing in regards to Auburn. Better look to Yahoo sports or independent bloggers for unbiased views.


  2. Scorpio Jones, III

    I am sure the folks at the World Wide Order of Weasels find it humorous when journalism and ESPN are in the same sentence.

    I know I do.

    Good thing, or too bad, depending on your perspective, the former News of the World does not cover SEC football.


  3. HK

    I keep hoping somebody will start a competing sports network but it seems like that ship has sailed; ESPN owns the rights to just about everything at this point, and most of those contracts are extremely long term. I have to hand it to ESPN’s management; I don’t like them or their version of “sports”, but they sure do have the market on lock down. Not only do we as viewers have no choice but to watch 90% of our sports on ESPN, but when we watch that 10% on other networks, it usually still sucks because most of the announcers are acting like tools hoping they’ll eventually get hired by ESPN.


    • Biggus Rickus

      They’re very good at broadcasting sports (though you’re right about most of their announcers). It’s their supplementary programming like Sportscenter, Baseball Tonight, even Gameday that suck.


  4. Dog in Fla

    At least this Sooner isn’t taking it nearly as seriously as the Aggies are