The Longhorn Network isn't really a big deal. Seriously. Unless of course you're a Big 12 school not named Texas that has to play a football game on it. Then it's a really big deal.
Red Raider Sports reported Thursday night there is the possibility that Texas Tech's game on September 8th at Texas State could be broadcast on the Longhorn Network and it doesn't sound as if the brass at Texas Tech is all too thrilled about the possibility.
Tech is even going as far as to consider canceling the game entirely and playing only an 11 game schedule if the news comes to fruition.
Tech learned of this possibility several days ago, and according to the source, is "adamantly opposed to playing on the Longhorn Network" and is "putting serious consideration into canceling the game and playing an 11 game schedule" this fall.
So how did we get to this point? Well, Texas State is a member of the WAC for the 2012 season and the conference owns the rights to the game and is able to determine who will broadcast it.
Back on June 7th, ESPN announced an additional 68 games that will be broadcast on its tier of networks. Tech's game with Texas State was listed on that announcement with a "TBD" listed under the network column (that was one of only two games listed as"to be determined", the other being Texas State's game with Nevada).
Since ESPN operates the Longhorn Network, it's apparently within their (and the WAC's) rights to broadcast the game on whatever channel they choose.
It's probably not tough to guess why Tech doesn't want to appear on one of their biggest conference rivals branded TV network. ESPN also approached Texas Tech last season about the possibility of their game with Texas being broadcast on the LHN. Tech said thanks, but no thanks.
From the Amarillo Globe News:
Tech chancellor Kent Hance nixed any deal, reportedly saying, "I don't want a Tech fan to have to give one dime to the Longhorn Network." President Guy Bailey and athletic director Kirby Hocutt agreed with Hance's stance (then again, who's going to go against their boss on something like this).
ESPN ended up enticing Kansas to appear on the network instead. As part of that agreement, Kansas was allowed to produce its own broadcast which was shown throughout the state on the Jayhawk Television Network.
It's going to be more than a little interesting to see how this plays out over the coming days. Would they truly cancel the game (and pay a stiff buyout penalty to do it) if ESPN indeeds puts the game on the LHN?
It certainly wouldn't help their football team that can use all the tune-ups they can get as they get ready for Big 12 play.
Another factor that has to be taken into consideration is their bowl eligibility. The Red Raiders streak of 11 straight bowl games ended last season and they appear to be a team heading into 2012 that could use any win it can get in order to get to the necessary six wins. Considering this will be Texas State's first year as an FBS team, this is likely one rather easy win Tech would be taking off the board (Tech beat them last year 50-10).
Is that a price worth paying not to appear on Texas' network? What do you say?
UPDATE: June 22. It sounds like the crisis may be averted. Reports are coming out the LHN will not televise the game with Texas Tech.