Burnt Orange Empire
*As seen in Plano West Blueprint*
I’m not sure if you got the memo, but it’s a new year, a new team, and a brand new network for the University of Texas Longhorns. Already one of the most illustrious schools in the nation, the Austin based powerhouse is adding their own personal network to its repertoire, thanks to ESPN.
Longhorn Network is a creation from the worldwide leader in sports, and if their coverage of UT is anything like the in-your-face promotions that have been running for the past few months, then fans of the school – or college sports in general – are in for a treat.
Early reviews are reminiscent of the expectations that the network provides.
Former Plano West student and UT freshman Drew Thompson is one of many that can’t wait for Longhorn Network.
“As a UT student and journalism major, the network probably excites me more than anyone,” Thompson told me. “The potential growth of the school through the network is immeasurable.”
Obviously students on campus are ecstatic. Constant, intense, behind-the-scenes coverage of your school’s athletic personnel, what’s not to like?
Well, I’m glad you asked. With all the positive energy and anticipatory hype surrounding the burnt orange supporters, there are fans all over the country – specifically UT’s competition – (OU, A&M) that are beyond irritated with the launching of the network.
Oklahoma Sooners Head Coach is one of many annoyed with the potential benefits that the Longhorns could reap from having their own national network. Among issues he expressed displeasure with, he singled out the possible recruiting advantage that the program provides. College football is built around recruiting, and any edge for any team in this department would irk a competitive coach.
When Longhorn Network announced plans to broadcast high school football games, featuring sought after recruits that UT and other schools were pursuing, Oklahoma Head Coach Bob Stoops drew a line in the sand.
"To me, the lifeblood of every program is recruiting," Stoops said. "So we either all recruit by the same rules, or we don't.”
Texas A&M took it a step farther, using the launch of the UT-dedicated network as the “final straw” in their quest to depart from the Big 12 Conference.
The Aggies saw it the same way the Sooners did. A&M is skeptical of the network and the connection that may develop between high school athletes, the network, and UT.
Lifelong UT fan but reality check expert Tommy Garber sees it both ways.
“(The network) is definitely controversial because of the high school recruiting aspect,” Garber said. “Now UT is directly linked to ESPN, which shows big high school football games regularly.”
Garber also confirms that the Big 12 Conference has banned Longhorn Network from broadcasting High School football games. But the issue remains that the network is still going to be a recruiting tool and will obtain new-found benefits for the school, as well as scores of popularity that the network would (and will) bring.
How does UT respond to the controversy they stirred themselves? Stick to the plan.
The $300 million dollar network made its debut August 26 as planned. The plan is to run for at least 20 years, and feature the Longhorns’ collection of athletic clubs with constant behind-the-scenes coverage, live games, all the Mack Brown press conferences you could possibly want, and 24/7 updated news on the University of Texas Longhorns.