Saturday, August 27, 2011

Flash! UT-Austin fans LOVE TLN.

The Few, the Proud, the Longhorn Network viewers: A critique from someone who actually saw it, Kevin Benz, CultureMap Houston

The headline is a little misleading. This wasn't a "critique" it was gushing by a UT-Austin fan who's so anxious to see this fledgling network not bomb objectivity was thrown to the side. As a regional network with a small viewership I think TLN has a chance. As a "game-changing force" or something that other universities will want to copy? No.

Contrary to the writer UT-Austin are not the "Joneses" of College sports, they're a top-tier program to be sure, but trust me when I tell you that the Big X (XII) and the SEC are not shaking in their boots because Samantha Steele will be bringing her blonde tresses to Austin. Neither will Notre Dame, who has NBC for all of their games, or the PAC X (XII) who will soon roll out their own network. Hell, even BYU had a network in place before UT-Austin. If anything the Mormon's in Utah are the Joneses that UT-Austin desperately wants to be.

As for TLN being a recruiting tool? Right now it can be viewed by around 5,000 people, which means that the Rice game will be viewed on TLN by slightly more people than regularly attend a Rice home game. In contrast, LSU and Oregon are going to get the National ESPN slot, the SEC game of the week will be covered by CBS and each will draw audiences in the hundreds of thousands. As long as they're not allowed to broadcast HS football games (and I expect that the NCAA will put the kibosh on that for good soon) then I would argue having some of your home games on closed-circuit TV is detriment to recruiting.

Which leads us to the programming, which is mainly going to consist of the Rice game, the Mack Brown Show and Women's volleyball for the first few weeks. While this may appeal to the dyed-orange-in-the-wool UT-Austin T-shirt fan, for most of us it's drier than cracker juice. It's telling that the most effusive praise Mr. Benz could offer was that they showed Mack Brown acting "Like a coach" (which, unless I'm wrong, is still his current job title right?) And this is leading up to the season. Even the Big X (XII) Network has problems filling time during the off-season, and they have 12 teams to cover. Once the newness has worn off I predict UT-Austin fans will migrate back to ESPN and the Networks, except during games. God help them if UT-Austin goes 5-7 again. There's nothing worse than a coaches show when things have gone terribly wrong. Except for a coaches show when things have gone wrong for the second year running.

Now, granted, I don't consider CultureMap Houston to be a serious news provider. In truth they're a bunch of Houston Chronicle "star" section cast-offs who are trying desperately to punch out controversial material to drive readership. But when they branch out into sports or political reporting the results are quite often a train-wreck.

This story was no different. As a letter from a fan it was humorous and very revealing of the delusion experienced by most UT-Austin fans. As a critique of the station it was a complete, unmitigated disaster.

Much like all of the other CultureMap sports "reporting".

Friday, August 26, 2011

Pre-Season (College and NFL) Thoughts...

It's the most...wonderful time...of the year.....

1. OU is a worthy pre-season number one, but the rest of the AP Top 25 is based more on reputation than what's probably going to happen.

2. Houston Texans: 8-8 'Nuff said.

3. The Eagles will NOT win the Super Bowl. Repeat: The Philadelphia Eagles will NOT win the Super Bowl.

4. The New England Patriots are going to be pretty good this year.

5. ....the Carolina Panther's aren't.

6. The SEC is STILL the best conference in the land. It's not even close.

7. 4-team super-conferences are right around the corner. There will be 5. Everyone else is out. (Are you listening UH?)

8. Speaking of UH, for the first time in a few years I haven't followed them AT ALL in the off-season.

9. If a Longhorn Network turns on in the woods, and no one can see it, does Mack Brown still call interviewers by their first name?

10. Two words: Brady Hoke. Michigan is now OK.

Let's play some football.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Listen up Coogs

THIS is why the Big XII(X) should be a non-starter for you. It's a conference on the outs, ran by a school (Texas) that doesn't have any concern for the conference as a whole.

Stay away from UT-Austin, far away. What seems like a good idea really isn't. Face it, with lesser facilities and budget you won't be able to compete with the OU and UT-Austin's of the world. Sure, maybe in the 70's and 80's you could, but this is a different football landscape in a different world for College sports. A move to the Big XII(X) is not athletic Nirvana, it's athletic suicide.

What to do now?

Start having conversations with the Big East. Not only are those school's budgets and facilities much more in line with yours, but you also have a travel partner (and instant rival) in TCU that will ease the costs.

Leave the Big XII(X) disintegration to UT-Austin, let them own it and have fund doing it.

Go East young people, and prosper out there.