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The Longhorn Network Is Nuclear Armageddon

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Got the kids fed, hosed off and in bed, fixed a Herradura Anejo Margarita and sat back down for some more work. As always, I first check Twitter just to get the pulse of the sports world...

Holy shit, apparently The Longhorn Network is already dispatching vans across the land, far and wide, with emissaries carrying LOIs and promises of television stardom to any top flight recruit willing to join up with the Horns. Thank God, we've had so much trouble with recruiting lately.

Earlier I'd read Peter's story about the insular and embattled mindset of some of the Aggies we encounter, most recently precipitated by worry over the Longhorn Network but apparently that was just the amuse-bouche for the latest Twitter in a teacup episode.

Earlier tonight noted weblog Sports By Brooks put out a story saying that Texas has College Football's first nuke.

August 26 ESPN and the University of Texas will unleash an inconceivable college football recruiting beast on, at the very least, the Big 12 opponents of the Longhorns.

Whoa.

Programming HMFIC Dave Brown was on the radio in Austin back in very early June talking about the LHN. Why this has created such twitter Feldmania nearly a month and a half later is a curious McLuhan-esque commentary but there you have it.

Mr Brown's quotes (which you can hear here):

“We’re going to follow the great [high school] players in the state. Obviously a kid like [unsigned Texas verbal commit] Johnathan Gray. I know people [Longhorn Network subscribers] are going to want to see Johnathan Gray, I can’t wait to see Johnathan Gray.

“Feedback from our audience is they just want to see Johnathan Gray run whether it’s 45-0 or not, they want to see more Johnathan Gray. So we’re going to do our best to accommodate them [Longhorn Network subscribers] and follow the kids who are being recruited by a lot of the Division I schools. Certainly some of the kids Texas has recruited and is recruiting and everyone else the Big 12 is recruiting.

“One other thing, you may see us, I know there’s a kid [unsigned Texas verbal commit] Connor Brewer from Chapparal high school in Arizona. We may try to get on one or two of their games as well so people [Longhorn Network subscribers] can see an incoming quarterback that’ll be part of the scene in Austin.“

Frankly, this story unleashed an amusing wave of pussy rubbing like I haven't seen in quite some time. For me it is best encapsulated by this guy:

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Big 12 = Texas Bloc. Get out, Aggies. RT @dday247: @wesrucker247 A&M needs to join the SEC and get out of the Longhorn's shadow.less than a minute ago via TweetDeck Favorite Retweet Reply

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Network in Texas, named after college in Texas, doing HS games with Horns recruits outside Texas. And some suggest this is OK? Insane.less than a minute ago via TweetDeck Favorite Retweet Reply

And then, finally...

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I almost admire sneaky cheating. It's clever & tough to uncover. Longhorn Network is a spoiled rich kid laughing in our faces. I'm insulted.less than a minute ago via TweetDeck Favorite Retweet Reply

The last message really cuts to the heart of the matter. There was so much outrage about how totally unfair this is and about how it violates NCAA rules but let's be careful to not conflate these two items.

Unfair can kiss my ass. This isn't a commune. This is capitalism. This is competition. Texas has every right and should use every weapon it has to gain a competitive advantage. Lord knows, given some of our coaching, we've needed these benefits at times.

As for being against the rules, if it is, Texas won't do it. Pretty simple, really.

At the close of the SBB story Brooks described this quote by DeLoss Dodds as sounding "Oppenheimer-ish":

“We understand that this is a new world and that we’re leading the way in an area that is new to us and new to the NCAA and new to ESPN. Like everything else, we will do it in a first-class way, in the light of day.”

I would say that approach is pretty clearly antithetical to sneaky, so this is clearly why we get none of Wes' admiration. In between these many recent episodes investigating schools that seem to have a hard time with the rule book, the NCAA may decide that this is a no - go. If so, Texas won't do it and will figure something else out but the idea of an SEC guy lecturing anybody on ethics and regulations is amusing.

It's also not clear to me what sort of success the Longhorn Network will be for ESPN. It is already an assured success for Texas. If it causes this conference to blow apart, all the better. Clearly the Big 12-2 exists solely because Texas wanted to figure this brave new world of media out. As Oppenheimer said, "When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and you argue about what to do about it only after you have had your technical success."

I'm going to make another margarita and read something other than Twitter.