College Football’s First Nuke: Burnt-Orange Glow

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.

Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe: Father Of College Football Recruiting's Nuclear Age

(Big 12 Boss Dan Beebe: Father Of ESPN-Led Nuclear Recruiting Age)

Last month ESPN Programming VP Dave Brown, who oversees the Longhorn Network, said during an interview with ESPN Austin affiliate KZNX-FM that ESPN will broadcast high school football games inside and outside the state.

On July 14, the HOUSTON CHRONICLE reported that Longhorn Network partner ESPN will, according to Texas Athletic Director DeLoss Dodds, “select the games based on what they [Longhorn Network management] feel is best.”

ESPN Longhorn Network VP Brown to KZNX on what those “best” high school football games - to be aired nationally on the Longhorn Network - will be:

“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 accomodate 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.

ESPN’s move to nationally televise high school football games of unsigned, prospective University of Texas student-athletes - and prospects who are still up for grabs - gives the Longhorns the equivalent of college football recruiting’s nuclear bomb, with UT free to use it while vying for recruits against Big 12 opponents and beyond.

Indeed, Texas AD Dodds sounded downright Oppenheimer-ish to the HOUSTON CHRONICLE as he awaited delivery of UT’s first ESPN-made recruiting game changer:

“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.” 

Welcome to the NCAA’s brave new world! (Pay no mind to that unnatural burnt-orange glow Baylor fans, it’s perfectly safe to touch and taste.)

Brooks is on Twitter and Facebook

Big Ten President May Be Backing Down On BCS?

Couple weeks back I published a piece about ESPN forcing the NCAA into a football playoff when the TV net wrests the BCS bowl games away from Fox in 2011. Coincidentally, today Tuffy had a piece on SbB that featured ESPN VP of Programming Dave Brown exclaiming that the BCS bowl system is here to stay.

Big 10 President Jim Delany As Pontius Pilate

(Legacy-minded Jim Delany as Pontius Pilate: “I am not the face of the BCS”)


“The next four-year cycle is done, so a playoff is not a consideration at this point,” Brown said. “I wouldn’t want to see the bowls changed because I don’t want to create meaningless games during the regular season. I don’t think that would be good for college football.”

Besides, Brown said, this bowl season has been one of the most successful ever, even if some people complain that 34 games is a few more than necessary.

“This season’s bowl results have been great for us,” Brown said. “Our ratings on ESPN and ESPN2 have been up, so business continues to be very good.”

So ESPN corporate now has its talking points when it comes to defending the indefensible:

I wouldn’t want to see the bowls changed because I don’t want to create meaningless games during the regular season.”

Now there’s a newsbreaker, there are no meaningless games during the regular season! Hear that, Baylor fans? The ratings might be up for the minor bowls televised by ESPN, but it’s painfully obvious that interest in the non-BCS Championship Game bowls is in decline. Significant decline. TV ratings for the games continue to recede, and even attendance, in some cases, is becoming an issue.

After I scored tickets to the Rose Bowl game and I asked four people to go. All of them, who live in Los Angeles and support USC, balked. They cited lack of interest in the game, parking hassles and New Year’s Eve hangover. I also spied some empty seats at the OSU-UT Fiesta Bowl and it goes without saying there were some at the Orange Bowl.

But if those same bowls were part of a playoff, do you think apathy would be an issue? Of course not. And it appears that one of the BCS’ most staunch proponents, Big 10 President Jim Delany, may be starting to realize that as well.  Read more…