Posted by Bryan Fischer
Wednesday’s announcement of a University of Texas deal with ESPN came as no surprise to anyone. It was, after all, one of the reasons why Texas decided to spurn Larry Scott’s advances to join a Pac-16 superconference last summer.
As my colleague Dennis Dodd wrote yesterday, “at its core this is about Texas controlling the market, the Big 12, the universe.”
It may not control the universe but the deal is impressive nevertheless. Worth $300 million over 20 years, it includes one football game broadcasted per year and will be home to coaches shows and hours of additional original programming dedicated to football. At the bottom of ESPN’s press release, it notes that a website will be created that will be dedicated to Texas high school sports.
So what does all of this mean? Texas’ recruiting advantage, in-state and nationally, will be unique. Who has their own network? We do. Want your own TV show, top recruit? Sure. Want to be an intern for ESPN? Done deal, son. (Of course I’m not implying this is Mack Brown’s recruiting pitch but it certainly could be behind closed doors.)
Most of Texas’ games are televised anyway so the recruiting advantage isn’t as great as the Big Ten Network’s to those schools. It’s very persuasive if you’re Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald or Purdue head coach Danny Hope to sell an out of state recruit on the ability to be seen every Saturday by all of his family. The Longhorns already get their pick of the best recruits from Texas anyway so while the selling point of a network doesn’t have the impact the Big Ten Network’s does, it still is a factor going forward.
Other schools, starting with Oklahoma, will likely try and emulate Texas’ model. While only a handful of schools, USC or some in the SEC for example, have the resources and fan bases to follow through, it will be tough to match the money doled out to the Longhorns.
In the end, everything’s bigger in Texas. Including, it seems, television networks and media dollars.