Tag Archives: University of Texas Longhorns

Tom Herman will be in Over His Head at Texas

Tom Herman is the new head football coach at the University of Texas. For most people, this is a match made in heaven. Campus Pressbox’s own Chase Holik is one of those people who is showering Texas with unapologetic praise for the hire.

I’m here to tell Chase and the rest of the Tom Herman fan club to slow down.

In hiring Herman, I feel like we’ve witnessed this kind of enthusiasm about a previous Texas head coaching hire. Remember when Charlie Strong was hired in 2014? I do. And Strong was the hot, unproven coaching commodity in 2014 just as Herman is now. Even though the perception is that Herman and Strong are nothing like, let’s compare the two at comparable points in their careers.

Prior to accepting the Texas job, Strong boasted an impressive resume. He spent time as an assistant coach at high profile schools like Florida and Notre Dame. He was a position coach for Lou Holtz at Notre Dame and was the defensive coordinator for Florida’s 2006 and 2008 national championship teams. He turned his success as an assistant coach into a head coaching opportunity at Louisville.

In 2010, Strong took over a Louisville program that had gone 15-21 under Steve Kragthorpe. Strong took that struggling program and, through recruiting players like Teddy Bridgewater, went 37-15. In his four seasons at Louisville, Strong turned the Cardinals back into winners. His tenure was highlighted by a Sugar Bowl victory over Florida. His reward for rebuilding Louisville was being tapped to do the same at Texas. Texas was coming off of an 8-5 season under Mack Brown. Times were tough in Austin when Strong took over.

The state of the Longhorn program is important to remember when assessing Strong’s record at Texas. He was having to rebuild the program both inside and out.

Herman and Strong’s rise to coaching prominence is similar. Herman’s claim to fame was the success Ohio State had during his time as offensive coordinator. He is credited with being the architect of the Buckeye offense that won the 2014 national championship. Herman used this accomplishment to gain his first head coaching job at Houston.

Herman then took over a Houston program that had fallen on hard times under head coach Tony Levine. Levine went 21-17 at Houston prior to Herman taking over. Like Strong did at Louisville, Herman brought Houston back to national prominence. Herman went 22-4 at Houston and the highlight was beating Florida State in the 2015 Peach Bowl.

The similarities between Herman and Strong not only include impressive resumes as assistant coaches but also includes success as mid-major head coaches. But the decision made by the Texas administration to hire Herman is based on the idea that Herman is completely different than Strong. Texas is wrong. Herman and Strong are more similar on the field than anyone at Texas cares to admit.

Herman knows football. There’s no question about that. When it comes right down to it, so does Strong. But there’s more to succeeding at Texas than just knowing football. Coaching at Texas also means living inside a vast political machine that includes overbearing boosters and a savage Austin sports media cabal. And that is what I doubt Herman is prepared to manage. Strong was over his head and my best guess is that Herman will also be in over his head.

Texas would have been better off hiring an experienced head coach. Sorry, but Herman’s two years at Houston just doesn’t cut it. Herman couldn’t handle a bit of friction with Nick Wright and John Lopez. Keep in mind that this happened while Herman was winning at Houston. What will he do if he falls on hard times at Texas and the Austin media rip into him? Wright and Lopez aren’t Kirk Bohls and Chip Brown. I’ll wish Herman good luck right now if he rubs either of those Austin sports media legends the wrong way.

Being the head coach at Louisville was different than being in charge of the Longhorns. And being in charge at Houston is different than being the head coach at Texas. It’s not so much about football knowledge as it is the ability to maneuver through a 24-hour labyrinth of media and booster scrutiny.

There will be no honeymoon period for Herman just as there wasn’t for Strong. Herman may have had the head coaching pedigree to handle a job as big as Texas down the road, but I don’t believe that day is today.

E-mail Seth at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @SethMerenbloom.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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It’s All About Texas

It’s all about Texas. It’s always been all about Texas in the Big 12. And this isn’t a good thing. This isn’t a good thing because it is to the detriment of the rest of the conference. When it comes right down to it, this is something that everyone, including the leadership at Texas, has always known.

This Texas-centric attitude was on full display as the conference decided not to expand. As the news broke about the Big 12 remaining at 10 teams, Oklahoma’s David Boren took the lead as he spouted the contrived rhetoric that is considered to be the conference’s most up-to-date position. But make no mistake, this is about what’s best for Texas. It’s always been about what’s best for Texas.

If there is any doubt about the role that Texas has played in all of this, please read what Gabe DeArmond wrote at Power Mizzou. DeArmond takes us on a journey that can best be described as Back To The Future. Texas was, is and will always be the bully.

Roy Thrilliams wrote a stunning article of his own at Burnt Orange Nation. In his article, Thrilliams attempts to make the case for Texas and Oklahoma leaving the Big 12 in favor of the SEC. Thrilliams clearly states that the Big 12 is dying and Texas must get out while it can. 

I have news for Thrilliams. Texas is not a casualty of the unstable conference. The Longhorns are the reason for the unstable conference and I’m sure the SEC is well aware of that fact.

As DeArmond reported in his article, Missouri athletics director Mike Alden considered the Big 12 doomed from the start.

Added Alden: “The structure of the Big 12, the way it was originated, in my opinion, that league was set up to fail. I do believe that if it would have been set up differently, it could have been one of the greatest leagues ever. When you set it up and you had favoritism toward one institution and then everybody else, it’s not going to work.”

The “one institution” that Alden was referring to is Texas.

Missouri has always been blamed for the Big 12 collapsing, but a factual look at the history of the conference tells an entirely different story. Nobody trusted Texas from day one so when the Big Ten expressed interest in expansion, Missouri listened.

And if we’re talking about which schools were the first to have a wandering eye, again, look no further than Texas. The Pac-12 was prepared to add Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech. R. Bowen Loftin, who was at Texas A&M at the time, questioned Larry Scott about the terms of the invitation to join the Pac-12. Loftin didn’t believe that the terms would be agreeable to Texas. But to his credit, Scott said that was how it would have to be. Texas could take it or leave it. We all know how that ended.

Texas was the source of the unstable conference, but Longhorn athletics director Deloss Dodds continued to paint other schools as the bad guy. Dodds knew that he was shopping Texas to the Pac-12 and had at least one foot out the door, but that didn’t stop him from cussing out the Missouri leadership during a Big 12 meeting.

When all this was going on, there was one athletic director in particular, I can’t remember what school it was, but it’s in Austin. Anyhow, I heard a guy in that chair, he just started flipping out—flipping out is probably too strong a term, but he got pretty agitated, this person—and started dropping expletives about this and firing them kind of at us, at Mizzou, because Mizzou was rumored maybe the Big Ten is looking. And I was trying to be very professional.

Texas is Texas. I get it. But no other conference wants to touch it because the Longhorn program considers itself above every other program. And one of the things that DeArmond proved in his expose was that Texas is a phony, backstabbing program.

Yes, geographically Texas makes sense for the SEC. But Texas is a toxic program even with all of its financial clout. The SEC has 14 members that all get along so why would that conference risk that stability all for Texas? I don’t see it happening.

I am of the opinion that every school not named Texas should be looking for an exit strategy from the Big 12. Yes, there is a Grant Of Rights clause that forces the Big 12 to remain intact until 2025, but schools can make their intentions known before the GOR expires.

Based on what we’ve witnessed from the Big 12 and from Texas, I find it highly unlikely that schools like Kansas, Kansas State and Iowa State aren’t actively shopping for another conference. Here’s how I view the Big 12 – Texas has to live with its ex-wife until she finds someplace else to live. 

But Thrilliams still considers Texas to be too good for any conference, including the SEC, to pass up. Nevermind that the Pac-12 already told Texas, “Thanks, but no thanks.” And I’ve got more news for Thrilliams, it’s not ignorant to think that the SEC would turn its back on Texas.

The SEC operates without a GOR, because, well, it’s the SEC. And by operating without a GOR, the SEC has told its members that it trusts them. If Texas was brought in, that trust among the schools would evaporate. I mean think about it. Who in their right mind would expect Missouri or Texas A&M to give Texas a glowing recommendation? Nobody. That’s who.

It’s also important to remember that Texas has to be the center of attention. Does anyone honestly believe that the SEC football programs are going to take a step back at the negotiation table for Texas? Again, there’s no way that happens.

The SEC is king of the college football world. And as magnificent as Texas believes its football heritage to be, it pales in comparison to Alabama’s. Alabama wouldn’t lick Texas’ boots and shouldn’t be expected to. That submissive role in the SEC is not something the Texas ego could stomach.

Thrilliams and everyone else who bows before Bevo needs a reality check. Texas isn’t the innocent conference bride that its made itself out to be. The Pac-12 realized that early on and there’s no way that the SEC will fall for Texas’ act of innocence.


E-mail Seth at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @SethMerenbloom.

Photo: Wikipedia

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The good, the Bad, and the Ugly for Notre Dame Football

Well, that’s not how I hoped my Sunday night would go. In what has become a hallmark of Notre Dame Football, the Irish took fans for a rollercoaster ride of emotions in their 50-47 double overtime loss to the Texas Longhorns. After going down 31-14, and effectively shutting down the “this is the year for Notre Dame” bandwagon that only gets stronger after every disappointing season, the Irish scored 21 straight points to come back and take the lead.

Texas scored to take the lead, 37-35, with 3:29 to go in the game. As I and thousands of Irish fans worldwide braced ourselves for a late-game drive that would surely end in Notre Dame scoring too early and Texas winning it on the other end of the field, something happened. I still can’t tell if it was a good thing or a bad thing, but regardless, it happened. Notre Dame blocked the PAT and Shaun Crawford, the same guy who picked off Shane Buechele’s pass to set up a touchdown earlier in the game, returned it all the way for a defensive PAT. All of a sudden it was tied at 37 and it would remain that way until overtime.

The Irish shone brightly at some points during their opening game. They also looked like they were a high school football teams at other points. Let’s look at the good, the bad, and the ugly from Week 1 of Notre Dame football.

The Good: Coach Kelly, you have a quarterback

The good news is: DeShone Kizer should be the quarterback. He had a phenomenal game, 15/24 for 215 yards and 5 TD compared to Malik Zaire’s 2/5 for 23 yards. Kizer was almost exclusively the QB in the second half, and his performance earned that. So, surely Kelly is ready to name a quarterback. Right? Coach? Kizer stepped up and led an Irish team that was on the ropes, down 17 on the road to Texas. He led them back and almost won them the game.

The Bad: Coach Kelly, you don’t have wide receivers

Last week I talked about how Torii Hunter Jr. was going to have to be the guy for Notre Dame this year. Well, he’s now concussed on what should have been called targeting and he’ll likely not be a factor next week against Nevada. So now what, er now who? Equanimeous St. Brown had a great game, and he showed a lot of promise. C.J. Sanders made some good catches, and Josh Adams did well out of the backfield. But Brian Kelly’s solution was to run the ball more than he passed it, so that the lack of depth at wide receiver didn’t show. That’s all fine and good, but no one running the ball really had a stellar game. Tarean Folston led all rushers with 88 yards on 18 carries, but 54 of those yards came on one run on the first drive. With no dominant running back and a lack of depth at wide receiver, someone better decide to step up, fast.

The Ugly: Coach Kelly, and also Brian VanGorder, you definitely don’t have a defense

A freshman quarterback and a gaggle of inexperienced receivers made a Notre Dame defense with high expectations look like a squad of peewee players. The Irish spent most of the night incapable of getting pressure on Buechele, which left their extremely weak secondary vulnerable to big plays, like the 72-yard touchdown pass that almost put the Irish away for good. Aside from poor pass defense, no one could tackle. A defensive line that wreaked havoc on opposing offenses last year were flailing bodies as Tyrone Swoops and D’Onta Foreman bulldozed through the Irish defense for score after score. Brian VanGorder’s defense looked vulnerable at just about every position on Sunday night, something that must be fixed this weekend ahead of a showdown with currently eighth-ranked Michigan State on September 17.

The reality of it is: you lost. You’re 0-1 and out of the top 10. It’s not ideal, but it’s workable. But now Notre Dame must win out. If the Irish want any hope of making the playoff, they cannot lose again. That means they must beat Michigan State, Stanford, USC in the mausoleum in California, NC State on the road, and Navy in Jacksonville. Win and you’re in, right?

Contact John Horlander on Twitter: @John_Horlander or by email: [email protected]

Photo: Daniel Hartwig – Flickr

Welcome back, old friend!

These are the dog days.  The weather is overbearing in a way that makes us simply want to wave the white flag.

But, college football doesn’t allow for that.  It doesn’t allow us to give int.  College football offers hope at the end of this hot, desolate wasteland that we know as the “offseason.”

As the calendar flipped to August, I was reminded of one of my favorite football movies, “The Best of Times,” starring the late Robin Williams.  You should put this on your list if only for the poetic diatribes and quotable lines.  When describing the anticipation of the annual rebirth of football, Williams encapsulates the anticipation, the hope of a new season.

“It’s that time of year again…when the first leaf of autumn falls forlornly to the barren ground below.”

The hope he speaks of is found in an ideal unique to college football.

Tradition. A three-syllable word that defines the phenomena that is the sport we love. It’s more than just what happens between the lines. Coaches and players come and go, and the sport encompasses more than Xs and Os.

It is tradition.

It’s the Vol Navy sterngating in the shadows of Rocky Top. It’s the Sea of Red releasing balloons when their Huskers score for the first time. It’s Army and Navy desperately trying to “sing second.” It’s doing the Hokey Pokey at halftime in Blacksburg. It’s dotting the ‘i’, screaming “Bear Down,” “Boiler Up,” and striking the Heisman pose.

It’s the sight of beloved mascots like Ralphie, Tusk, Cam the Ram and Mike the Tiger. It’s the smells filling the State Fair on Oklahoma-Texas weekend, permeating from Dreamland on Friday afternoon, and wafting across The Grove on Saturday morning. It’s the deafening cheers in The Swamp, The Horseshoe, The Doak, “between the hedges” and down on The Farm. It’s the driving melodies of Texas Fight, Fight Tiger, Tiger Rag and Ragtime Cowboy Joe.

The autumn spectacle makes this sport special. It has survived world wars, financial recessions, and national tragedies.

The passion and traditions are cultural – inherited at a young age, carried through tenure as a co-ed, embraced as a seasoned alum, and then taught to the next generation.

No other sport offers the color and pageantry quite like college football. Lucky for us, it’s that time of year again…

The Sooner Schooner serves as the live mascot for the University of Oklahoma and it rumbles across the field after Sooner scores. Photo taken from a message board and used by permission by the unnamed photographer.
The Sooner Schooner serves as the live mascot for the University of Oklahoma and it rumbles across the field after Sooner scores. Photo taken from a message board and used by permission by the unnamed photographer.

Top Five Big 12 Non-Conference Games to Watch

Now that basketball is almost over it means it is getting closer to football season. I can’t wait. Not that I am wanting to rush through baseball season and especially not summer, but you can’t beat a nice Saturday watching football all day. I am really looking forward to this season to see how the Big 12 can perform with other conferences and against itself. Hopefully it is as exciting as the Big 12 basketball season was.

The top five Big 12 non conference games that you should make sure to watch are: Ohio State at Oklahoma, Arkansas at TCU, Houston vs. Oklahoma, Notre Dame at Texas and Kansas State at Stanford.

Ohio State at Oklahoma

Oklahoma will play Ohio State on Saturday September 17 in Norman, Oklahoma. The Ohio State Buckeyes are losing a lot of underclassmen, which will dramatically affect the way they play in the 2016 season. Running back Ezekiel Elliot is one of the players that declared for the draft early. Jalin Marshall and Michael Thomas also declared early and they led the team in receiving yards. Oklahoma returns a lot of its best players from last season and according to the media Baker Mayfield is going to have a really good season for the Sooners. It would be really good for Oklahoma and for the Big 12 if the Sooners won this game.


Arkansas at TCU

The Arkansas Razorbacks will play the TCU Horned Frogs on Saturday September 10 in Fort Worth, Texas. The TCU game highlights the Arkansas Razorbacks non-conference schedule. This game is the first of two trips to the Dallas- Fort Worth Metroplex. This will be the first time these two schools will play each other since they were both members of the Southwest Conference in 1991. This will be a tough battle between two good teams. TCU is ranked #5 in the preseason poll, so I think TCU will win this game.


Houston at Oklahoma

The Oklahoma Sooners will travel to Houston to play the Houston Cougars on Saturday September 3The game is going to be played at NRG Stadium (where the Texans play). The Cougars will play in Norman in 2019. The Sooners played the Cougars in 2004 and won the game 63-13. This is a different Houston team and it will be a really good game if Houston plays the way it did last year. It will be interesting to see how both teams prepare for this game since it is both teams’ first game of the season.


Notre Dame at Texas

Notre Dame will play Texas in Austin on Saturday September 3. This game is going to be a rematch from last year. Texas will be looking for revenge from last season that’s for sure. Charlie Strong will have his team ready for a rematch. No one really knows how Texas will be this season but this is a great first game of the season test for the Longhorns. I could see them winning this match especially since they are in Austin.


Kansas Sate at Stanford

The Kansas State Wildcats will travel to Palo Alto, California to play the Stanford Cardinal on Friday September 2. This is a part of a two game series. Stanford will play in Manhattan, Kansas in 2021. The Cardinal are coming off of a great season and McCaffrey is returning. The way the Wildcats defense played last year it will be very hard to stop him. The Wildcats haven’t played very well in their first games of the season ever since I can remember, and that has been against “easy” teams. I see the Wildcats putting up a fight, but I don’t see them beating Stanford.


The Big 12 Tournament Review

The Big 12 Tournament did not disappoint. There were many exciting games this week and I wasn’t surprised by any results of the games. It will be interesting to see how the Big 12 is represented come tournament time.

The tournament kicked off Wednesday night with what ended up being two close games. Kansas State played like they knew there was no pressure on them. They started out the game with great defense and some solid shooting. They led the first half 40-23. Freshman Dean Wade put on a solid showing and had his career best 20 points. Oklahoma State, which lost its twentieth game for the first time since 1971-72, now has other things to worry about, like if they are going to have the same head coach next year. The Cowboys attempted to make a comeback in the game, but fell short and lost 75-71 to the Wildcats.

The game that surprised most people during the tournament was TCU beating Texas Tech. TCU has been in most of their games this season, but came up short in the closing minutes. They were used this experience to their advantage on Wednesday night. The Horned Frogs had numerous players step up in this game. TCU lost seven straight going into the game on Wednesday night. Texas Tech was fighting for an NCAA bid so this loss may mean they don’t get into the NCAA Tournament. TCU beat Texas Tech 67-62.

Three out of four of the games on Thursday weren’t that close, but that was to be expected. Baylor was playing well entering the tournament, but kept coming up short during those close games. Taurean Price had a solid game for the Bears and had 24 points and 13 rebounds. Texas was kept at bay by the Bears defense and lost their fourth straight game to Baylor in the Big 12 Tournament 61-75.

The good defense and shooting didn’t last long for the Wildcats. The top ranked Jayhawks were “on” on Thursday afternoon. Perry Ellis had 21 points and Kansas led at half by 15 and never looked back. Kansas State has played KU nine times in the Big 12 Tournament and has never beaten them, Kansas beat Kansas State 85-63.

West Virginia won their first game in the Big 12 Tournament on Thursday night. Devin Williams led the Mountaineers with 18 points and 11 rebounds. West Virginia never trailed TCU, but the Horned Frogs didn’t go down without a fight. TCU did a good job breaking West Virginia’s press, which they are known for. But it wasn’t enough and TCU lost 66-86. The way West Virginia played on Thursday night a deep March run seems very possible for the Mountaineers.

Thursday night was a solid showing by (in my opinion) the best player in college basketball this year, Buddy Hield. He scored 39 points, which was the second most in Big 12 Tournament history. While Niang tried to keep up and had 31 for Iowa State. The game was back and forth as to be expected and could have easily come out either way. Oklahoma came out on the winning end of it and won 79-76 crushing Iowa States dream of winning the Tournament three years in a row.

Friday night started off with a tough battle against Kansas and Baylor. KU almost gave up the game in the final minutes of the second half, but held on and won 70-66. Kansas was led by Perry Ellis, who had 20 points. The Jayhawks avenged for their tournament loss last year. This win was the thirteenth straight for the Jayhawks.

A fraction of a second…that’s all that came between Oklahoma beating West Virginia to go to the Big 12 Tournament championship game. Buddy Hield got the ball in his hands, took a couple of dribbles, crossed half court and heaved up a shot at the buzzer. The ball banked through the basket. Hield and everyone else at the Sprint Center thought the basket was good. The Mountaineers did a good job of keeping Hield to six points. The Mountaineers had a solid lead in the second half, but the Sooners came back and made it a game. Since that last shot didn’t count the Mountaineers beat the Sooners 69-67 to play Kansas in the Big 12 Tournament Championship game.

Saturday night’s Championship game did not disappoint. The Mountaineers made sure they kept themselves in the game against Kansas. Devin Williams for West Virginia finished with a career-best 31 points and 10 rebounds, but the junior forward was forced to carry the load by himself. Jevon Carter was held to four points after scoring 26 in a semifinal win over No. 6 Oklahoma, and leading scorer Jaysean Paige managed just six points while committing four turnovers. Kansas knew exactly who to cover. Devonte Graham matched a career-high with 27 points Saturday night, Wayne Selden Jr. added 21, and the top-ranked Jayhawks won their 10th Big 12 Tournament trophy by beating the West Virginia Mountaineers 81-71.

Texas Athletics and Steve Patterson; Who is the Villain?

Steve Patterson was handed his pink slip this week and is now the former athletic director of the University of Texas. His inability to get along with his staff, coaches and boosters were known prior to the news breaking about his dismissal. What I find interesting is the position some in the media have chosen to take for his ultimate undoing in Austin.

Take for instance ESPN Senior Writer, Dana O’Neil’s article titled, Steve Patterson’s Fall Shows College ADs Can’t Be All Business. While other media personalities chose to highlight Patterson’s inability to play well with others as the source of his demise, O’Neil chose to approach his firing from the perspective of big business. Yes, that’s right; the evils of capitalism were the attributes that made Patterson public enemy number 1 at Texas.

O’Neil tells the reader that:

From a purely business standpoint, it wasn’t a bad decision.

And that, in effect, was Patterson’s undoing. College athletics may be a big business, but they still can’t be treated that way.

And that, in effect, was Patterson’s undoing. College athletics may be a big business, but they still can’t be treated that way.

Let’s be honest, college athletics is a big business and there isn’t a thing wrong with that reality. Part of the reason Steve Patterson was hired in the first place was due to the business nature of college athletics. Just look at his resume and you will see that his specialty is as a sports executive. To put it bluntly, the University of Texas knew what they were getting when they hired Patterson.

The University of Texas athletic department is run the right way. By right way, I mean that they fund themselves. Based on a 2013 report, the Longhorn athletic department is a self-funded entity that does not rely on subsidies to create the illusion that they are making a profit. They make a true profit.

Their ability to operate as a self-funded entity makes them a true producer in my mind. Wow, what a novel idea in this day and age. This is interesting to me when looking at one of Dana O’Neil’s criticisms of Patterson.

Parsing through the University of Texas athletics budget, Steve Patterson spied $250,000 dedicated to the school’s band. A quarter of a million dollars for a band seemed rather excessive, so as part of a budget fat-trimming spree, Patterson slashed the money dedicated to the Longhorn Band.

One of Patterson’s primary responsibilities as head of the athletic department was to maximize profits. His predecessors were capable of doing this and it is only logical to have placed the same expectation on Patterson. To truly run deficit free requires hard decisions to be made. Making the hard decisions are why Patterson had a multi-million dollar salary.

Even as a former band geek, I have no problem with Patterson wanting to take $250,000 away from the marching band. In addition to this, he also instituted a policy that all visiting bands would be required to purchase tickets. This procedural change in how visiting bands would be treated received attention when the Texas Tech Red Raiders beat writer sent a disparaging tweet about the topic. Truth be told, many athletic departments charge the visiting band for tickets and it has been this way for at least the past 25 years. In the specific case of the Big 12, there was a recent change in the conference agreement. Texas has defended itself on this matter by saying, in part:

Texas did not initiate the discussions on this policy. We are merely following the practice approved by the Big 12 member institutions.

Patterson’s athletic department was living subsidy free so why should he feel obligated to subsidize another department’s organization? This is all based on a simple question; are you a producer or a parasite?

It seems that ESPN’s Dana O’Neil considers Patterson the parasite in all of this simply because he’s “all business.” Being “all business” is not a bad thing and, again, is ultimately why he was hired. And if we’re being honest with ourselves, it is not why Patterson was fired. He was fired because he couldn’t play well with others and rubbed certain boosters the wrong way.

While ESPN is going after the former CEO of Texas athletics, they are also in the middle of their Longhorn Network contract with the university. So while attacking Patterson, Texas and all of college sports for being big business with their left hand, they are offering Texas a right handed hand shake that is potentially loaded with cash. Just how hypocritical can ESPN be in all of this?

The Longhorn Network has been met with scrutiny pretty much since day 1 and, from a financial standpoint, it becomes even more interesting. While Texas athletics runs at a true profit, The Longhorn Network has had its share of financial growing pains. As the linked article stated, the network has been a success for Texas, but not necessarily for ESPN.

At the outset of the network, the subscriber numbers were not as healthy as the projections forecasted. Clay Travis calculated that $25.8 million were made off of subscriber fees. In and of itself, that dollar amount looks great. However, when factoring in the cost of operating the network and the guaranteed $15 million average royalty that ESPN promised Texas, the numbers begin to look shaky.

I’m sure you remember the initial criticism that Dana O’Neil lobbed at Patterson; having to make cuts to the band budget in order to maximize profit margin. Guess what? ESPN’s parent company, Disney, has been asking ESPN to make cuts of their own in order to maximize their bottom line. If ESPN expects to make a profit, why should they have an issue with other businesses making a profit?

The network deal ESPN and Texas agreed to will be just fine provided that the network becomes profitable. If it doesn’t, ESPN will basically be subsidizing a portion of The Longhorn Network. And, since these television rights are about 1 team only, a case could be made that this is crony capitalism. I would contend that ESPN will do whatever it takes to ensure that the network does not go belly up before the contract runs out. Because if the network does start bleeding money, Disney may require ESPN to make even more difficult decisions than what Patterson was having to make at Texas.

So while Texas is doing business the right way, ESPN is yelling about the evils of capitalism in an effort to take them down. I would have more respect for ESPN and O’Neil’s article if they weren’t engaged in a network deal that seemingly requires them to be crony capitalists. And crony capitalists are who give true capitalists a bad name.