Brown: ‘I didn’t ask’ for Longhorn Network
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas coach Mack Brown once welcomed the Longhorn Network. Now he sounds as though it’s become a headache and a window for opposing coaches to get an unfair peek into his program.
“I didn’t ask for it,” Brown said Monday, noting he’s worried that the six hours a week he spends taping three television shows and the network’s access to the first 30 minutes of daily practice may tip opposing coaches to player injuries, tendencies and schemes.
Brown said he and Baylor coach Art Briles discussed it before Texas (5-2) beat Baylor 56-50 on Saturday.
“It’s in Waco. Baylor sees every practice,” Brown said. “We’re a little overexposed.”
Brown talked about the Longhorn Network for several minutes before a media relations assistant stepped in to limit questions: Brown had to get to a network show taping.
“I’m a soldier,” Brown said. “They tell me to go work with the Longhorn Network, I’ll go do it.”
It’s not the first time Brown has expressed frustration about living with the cameras and crews that come with the school’s 20-year, $300 million partnership with ESPN. But his comments at his weekly news conference were the harshest yet.
Texas and ESPN unveiled the contract for the Longhorn Network in January 2011, promising fans unparalleled reporting with behind-the-scenes coverage of one of the wealthiest and most prominent athletic programs in the country.
The move created a flashpoint of controversy within the Big 12 and was one of the reasons the league nearly split apart. Rivals Texas A&M and Missouri saw the network as creating an unfair recruiting advantage and financial boost that couldn’t be matched.
Texas A&M and Missouri ultimately left the Big 12 for the Southeastern Conference and the split with the Aggies ended one of the longest rivalries in college football.
The network has since struggled to find broad distribution from most major cable and satellite providers. In August, AT&T Inc. agreed to carry the network on its U-verse TV service.
Brown says he knows opposing coaches watch it for any details they can get on the Longhorns. Texas school officials negotiated the network contract and the network’s access to his program without asking his advice.
“We were given a deal that we had no input in,” Brown said.
Brown tapes three shows a week. Practice footage usually includes stretching and some position drills.
The programming tries to avoid unveiling schemes or game plans but opponents can still pick up valuable tidbits, Brown said. A member of the media relations staff watches every day to monitor what may be revealed.
“It’s a true advantage (for opponents). They can watch our attitude, they can watch our coaches,” Brown said.
Brown said he wants to meet with school president Bill Powers, athletic director DeLoss Dodds and network officials after the season to work out changes that he did not detail.
“There has to be some give and take,” Brown said. “It is what it is. It’s part of my job because DeLoss and Bill Powers have told me it is.”
Dodds said school officials talk with the network every week.
“If there are issues we feel are necessary to talk about we will. It’s a great thing for Texas. We are pioneers in this. Mack’s issues will absolutely be addressed by me and Mack and the Longhorn Network,” Dodds said.
ESPN released a statement saying the network was created to serve the school’s passionate fan base.
“A network of this kind has never been done at this level and it continues to evolve,” ESPN said.
Texas offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin seemed unfazed by the network’s presence.
“They don’t have any effect on what we do or how we prepare,” Harsin said.