The Morning Stake

The Morning Stake: More on Big 12 Expansion and the LHN

One ESPN writer thinks that Big 12 expansion is not a matter of if, but when, and we discuss the success or failure of the Longhorn Network.


Photo via Charles Henry @ Flickr.

Baseball

Officially Official. I’m guessing that the celebration from the night before got in the way of seeing anything when I got up, which is good because it is a celebration as the official site has more on the induction of Texas Tech head coach Larry Hays into the College Baseball Hall of Fame. Hays, who also coached at Lubbock Christian, has over 1,500 wins and is only one of eight coaches to get that mark.

“To get to coach at Texas Tech and Lubbock Christian, who wouldn’t be blessed to get to do that?” Hays said. “I’m so thankful for that and I want to thank those two universities for that opportunity. I want to thank my wife Nell for putting up with that all these years.”

Football

Magelssen Moving on Up. Congrats to DMN’s Tommy Magelssen is moving onward and upward at the DMN, while Mike DuPont II, previously of Double-T 104.3, is the going to be filing in for Magelssen.

Ranking Marches On. DMN’s Tommy Magelssen continues his top 25 player count-down with players 20 through 16 and inlcudes guys like Ian Sadler, Nigel Bethel, Justin Stockton, Keland McElrath and J.J. Gaines.

Miscellaneous. The Student Section, a Bloguin blog, is ranking the top 50 football team and they have Kansas State at #44 . . .

Big 12 Expansion

Not If, But When. ESPN’s Jake Trotter wrote yesterday, it’s not a matter of if the Big 12 will expand, but when the Big 12 will expand:

Boren rightfully is frustrated with the trajectory of the league. But he holds the trump card to force the expansion issue. The Oklahoma brand will always have a home in another conference. Not everyone else in the league can claim the same.

Several Big 12 leaders have pushed back on expansion in the past. But the dissenters will come to realize what Boren already does: the Big 12’s survival eventually will hinge on expansion. A 10-team conference isn’t just psychologically disadvantaged or competitively disadvantaged, it’s sustainably disadvantaged, too.

Addressing the LHN. Awful Announcing’s Andrew Bucholtz wonders if the Longhorn Network is a success. It’s a good read and I think this is an important part of the whole Big 12 expansion discussion. I agree with Bucholtz in that the Longhorn Network is a success to the Texas athletic department because they make a lot of money, but it is not a success in terms of programming. It’s an obvious failure on that front. The other part, that we don’t consider, is whether this is a success for ESPN, and right now, that answer is trending towards “no”.  Most Texas fans that I see tend to have the attitude of “LOL, you don’t have the LHN, we’re making lots of money, so it’s not a problem.”  And yeah, that is true. I think most Texas fans tend to have a dismissive attitude of whether or not the LHN has ripped up the conference as we knew it (including Nebraska, Colorado, TAMU and Missouri) and simply give that shoulder shrug and say, “Welp.”  It’s not their problem Having a channel that pretty much no one watches isn’t a success, but they’re 4 years into a 20 year deal, so there’s a long ways to go. Here’s Bucholtz summarizing:

The biggest problem with the Longhorn Network may be what it means for the rest of the Big 12. It gives Texas a different playing field than the rest of the conference (a huge part of what led to Texas A&M and Missouri defecting for the SEC), and it minimizes the value of third-tier rights for the other schools in the league. It also adds to rumors about the conference’s potential instability, and it makes it difficult for them to pursue expansion (as Boren wants), making it so they can only really target schools not currently in power conferences. If the Big 12 is able to remain stable or perhaps even expand, LHN may not be a huge issue, but if there is further conference realignment, LHN may be a deciding factor in that.

For now, though, it appears LHN isn’t the unmitigated disaster it may have seemed to be initially. It’s far from a success for anyone other than Texas so far, and it certainly carries potential problems for ESPN and the rest of the Big 12. Still, the long-term nature of the deal and the progress on distribution and subscribers means that it may still work out financially for the Worldwide Leader. What it will mean for the Big 12 remains to be seen.

Doomsday Scenarios. FOX Sports’ David Ubben writes about some of the doomsday scenarios that could happen if the Big 12 just falls apart, which I think is the other option. I know, there there are plenty of people that don’t think that the Big 12 is disadvantaged, but I suppose there are scenarios where the Big 12 could eventually get picked off if they remain stagnant, but there are also scenarios where the Big 12 could be just fine at 10.

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