Texas Football: Are Longhorns' Closed Spring Practices Due to New ESPN Network?

Kris HughesCorrespondent IMarch 5, 2011

Bevo's Watching You, ESPN.
Bevo's Watching You, ESPN.Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

With the establishment of the Longhorn Network, the University of Texas will enjoy something which few other universities do: a 24-hour dedicated promotional vehicle.

The Longhorn Network will not only extensively cover Texas sports, but also other cultural and academic events which are tied to the university and Austin community.

ESPN has recently stirred up additional drama around the Forty Acres due to their request to take over a part of the communications building on the UT campus for office space, currently used by the university's School of Communications and local public radio affiliate, KUT.

If it comes to be that ESPN's employees have offices in the communications building, the network will have unparalleled access to the inner workings of the Texas athletic department, good or bad.

Mack Brown surely feels this increased scrutiny.

Entering spring practice, following one of the Longhorns' most disappointing seasons in recent history, Brown has made the decision to close all practices to the public for the first time in his coaching tenure at Texas.

In the past, at least a few spring practices were open to the public.

These practices were typically somewhat more guarded in terms of the types of drills and sets which were run so as to not give away too much. As we all know, spying among rival football programs is as old as the game itself.

It is possible that Mack Brown and his staff have closed practices to keep the prying eyes of ESPN on the outside looking in while they still have the control and autonomy to do so? 

It certainly appears that this is the case.

When the ESPN Mothership lands in your town its only a matter of time until things are done their way.

Especially when you make the decision to enter into a long-term, binding agreement like the one created with the new Longhorn Network.

The Texas Longhorns should enjoy the privacy of closed practices while they can.

For ESPN, all-access means all-access.