Brown not thrilled with Longhorn Network

Published Oct. 23, 2012 12:26 p.m. ET

Mack Brown got you, didn't he?

He got you talking about the Longhorn Network. He got you talking about practice reports and coaches' shows. He got you mad at ESPN. Mad at the suits. Mad at money.

He got you to stop talking about him for a day.

"It's a true advantage (for opponents)," Brown said of the LHN. "They can watch our attitude, they can watch our coaches."

I'll accept that this might be true. It might be that opponents are picking up little cues on the Longhorns just from watching the Network's practice reports and coaches' shows. Football coaches are obsessives. If you leave the door unlocked, opposing coaches will tear through your filing cabinet looking for something that might not even be there.

The LHN is that filing cabinet.

"It's in Waco. Baylor sees every practice," Brown said. "We're a little overexposed."

But something tells me Brown has been sitting on that chestnut for a while. I don't think it's a coincidence he brought all this up after a four-week stretch in which Texas was lucky to beat Oklahoma State, lost to West Virginia, got clubbed by Oklahoma and narrowly defeated Baylor – a stretch that has many Longhorns fans calling for Brown's $5-million job.

Nobody in college football needed a distraction this week more than Mack Brown, and regardless of his motive for doing so, he created one.

But that doesn't mean he isn't right.

The Longhorn Network is still an infant, so we have not yet seen its full effect. Maybe it will help Texas recruit (though we probably won't ever be able to tell). But in its second year, it seems to have been good for just about everybody except the Longhorns football team. Texas A&M sure is glad it exists. Because of it, the Aggies are now holding their own in the most prestigious football conference in America, and counting about $6 million extra per year for doing it. The other members of the SEC West – especially Arkansas and LSU – have a new and convenient little recruiting pitch to Texas kids now, too.

Even NFL fans have benefited.  I know some Aggies who live just outside College Station and subscribed to DirectTV, which wasn't carrying the Longhorn Network last year. They found out that if you called and said you were a big Texas fan who really wanted LHN, DirectTV would offer you a year of NFL Sunday Ticket for free in an attempt to keep you happy.

So my Aggie friends played UT fans for a few minutes on the phone, then hung up and cackled.

It would be disingenuous not to point out that Texas receives $15 million per year from ESPN as part of a 20-year partnership with the Longhorn Network. That's program-changing money if you're Kansas State, Kansas or Iowa State. But it isn't like dollars are hard to come by in Austin. UT athletics took in $150 million in 2010-11, which was almost $19 million more than any other school in the nation.  

The Longhorns have every possible advantage you can have in college athletics. They have the most money, they have the most fertile recruiting base and they have the most visibility.

And yet, as a direct and unintended consequence of all those advantages, UT's opponents have an advantage on the actual field on play on game day?

The irony is thicker crude oil.

Even if he's right, Mack Brown will lose this battle. You don't fight the almighty dollar and win. Sure, Brown and the LHN may find a way to change the programming in a way that alleviates Browns concerns.

But Brown is not going to defeat ESPN. And he knows it.

That's why I have a hard time believing this was about the Longhorn Network. If that's really all this was about, Brown could have handled it quietly, behind the scenes. But he didn't.

He said it at a press conference, for everybody to hear. And he got you, didn't he?