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In one of the greatest blunders in recent college football history, the Texas Longhorns and ESPN jointly launched The Longhorn Network this season.
Before anyone instantaneously jumps to the comments section, hold on a tick. We didn't say whose blunder it was.
In reality, there were three perpetrators—Texas, ESPN and the Big 12—and three victims—Texas, ESPN and the Big 12.
First, let's look at the Big 12. Their blunder was not creating a conference network soon enough to satisfy the big boys in the conference.
Then, there's Texas. They were blinded by dollar signs and the prospect of luring top Texas recruits to the program in Austin by airing “select” Texas high school games—probably games in which top UT targets were playing.
Then, there's ESPN. Like most everything else the “Worldwide Leader” does, it was all about the bottom line. The Longhorns are a big draw, and exclusive rights to a UT-branded network would mean big money.
Now, the victimization.
First, the Big 12. That's pretty obvious. The lack of money flowing to other programs created discontent. Nebraska left, in part, because they could earn some money with the Big Ten Network. The Big 12 waited too long, and now it wasn't possible to create a Big 12 Network. Without Texas, the network would likely fail.
Now Texas. Their jump into TLN sealed the fate of the Big 12 by scaring away the other big draws in the conference—Oklahoma and Nebraska. It looks like Texas could be left holding the worthless Big 12 bag.
Finally, ESPN. It's hard to feel bad for a network that makes so much money, but when this deal goes south, it's going to hit someone's stock options pretty hard.