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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Sore Winner

Recently I've been researching the antitrust and communications law issues posed by various league sports' broadcast contracts (that's broadcast with a little "b" for you telecom wonks (and you know I say that with affection)).  One of the more interesting developments in the arena is the birth of the  University of Texas' Longhorn Network (LHN).  LHN provides hook 'em viewers total access to all things Longhorn, including team practices and interviews with coaches. 

LHN is managed and delivered to distributors by ESPN.  In exchange for content, ESPN will pay UT $300 million over twenty years.  Now since the academy may just be the last place where that's still considered real money; it was with a bit of disbelief that I read an article in which Longhorn coach, Mack Brown, listed some "first world problems" LHN was causing him.  Here are some brief excerpts:

[Problem 1, the opponents]:  "We know they (opponents) have it for a fact," Brown said.  "Lots of them do. And people are taping it across the country and sending it to the coach if they don't have it in their area. . . . "It's in Waco.  Baylor sees every practice.  So it's not like it used to be.  We're a little overexposed." [ed. note - the LH's only transmit the exercise portion of their practices, not the actual plays].

[Problem 2, the time commitment]:  Brown said he's spending six hours a week minimum preparing, participating or traveling to the studio for shows that air on LHN.  [As Brown says] ,"And I do have three shows over there that take you 20 minutes to get there and 20 minutes to get back and an hour to do them.  So there's no question it takes away some of your time."

At first I thought Mack sounded a bit like a whining 1L but I quickly abandoned that analogy as being unfair to 1Ls -- after all 1Ls pay us, Mack is paid millions.  If Mack feels he (or his staff) is now personally obligated to do more under the new regime I have just two words of advice: "contract modification."  But then again, I'm not a Longhorn follower--and I don't watch LHN--so I may be missing the wellspring of fear that the network will reveal team secrets and strategies so important $300 million is simply inadequate compensation.  If I am missing such a point, I have a strange suspicion you just may tell me about it.

Posted by Babette Boliek on October 24, 2012 at 05:00 PM in Current Affairs, Sports | Permalink

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Mack's gripe may suggest he's not being paid directly for this extra work. Football coaches at big-time schools typically earn some money on the side for doing TV and radio shows, much like professors earn money from books or inventions. In effect, UT is taking some or all of that money for itself.

Posted by: Anon | Oct 24, 2012 11:24:54 PM

As someone who keeps an eye on UT football as a major rival of my own undergraduate institution, I've noticed that Mack Brown has a penchant for excuse-making whenever his team doesn't perform to expectations. This is just more of the same.

Posted by: Mike Rich | Oct 26, 2012 11:23:37 AM

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