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October 22, 2012
When I asked Mack Brown about the Longhorn Network Monday and how it may be affecting the team, I had no idea where Brown's answer would go.
But Brown made it clear his team's relationship with ESPN's Longhorn Network is still very much a work in progress.
Brown maintains LHN can be great exposure for Texas players, assistant coaches and for the school itself and is an incredible product for fans.
But on Monday Brown expressed some concerns, such as the time commitment from him as well as if opponents may be gaining a competitive advantage from watching LHN.
Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds told reporters Monday any of Brown's concerns can be worked out at the end of the year.
Brown said he knows opponents are watching LHN content, which includes three shows featuring Brown breaking down Texas and opponents; an "All-Access" show on Wednesdays; as well as the first 8 periods of practices. Texas is in the second year of a 20-year, $300 million contract with ESPN to air LHN.
Texas has added two full-time staffers in the sports information department in the past year to help handle the production demands of LHN.
"We know they (opponents) have it for a fact," Brown said. "Lots of them do. And people are taping it across the country and sending it to the coach if they don't have it in their area. We know that for a fact. We've been told that too many times."
Brown even said if a player needs to have an ankle taped, the UT training staff will tape both ankles so anyone watching LHN won't know if a player is injured.
Brown said he's spending six hours a week minimum preparing, participating or traveling to the studio for shows that air on LHN.
"Art (Briles) and I were talking about it before the game," Brown said. "It's in Waco. Baylor sees every practice. So it's not like it used to be. We're a little overexposed.
"And I do have three shows over there that take you 20 minutes to get there and 20 minutes to get back and an hour to do them. So there's no question it takes away some of your time. And when you do a show, if your mind is somewhere else, you're screwing that up, too.
"So I don't think there's any question it's trial and error. And we'll sit down at the end of the year and look at what's best for them and what's best for us. It's sure new ground. And it is better on the wins than the losses."
Brown said he has no problem expressing any objections about LHN as it pertains to the football team.
"I'm the soldier," Brown said. "If they tell me to go work with Longhorn Network, I'm going to do it, and I'm going to do it to try to help our football team the best I can.
"If there's things that I don't think are best for our football that are happening at Longhorn Network, I'm going to bring it up, because I'm about our football program. That's what I'm about.
"I don't work for Longhorn Network. I work for the University of Texas, and that's DeLoss (Dodds) and Bill Powers and the regents."
Brown has called LHN his second, full-time job. But he said it hasn't affected his mood, enthusiasm or effectiveness as a coach.
"You have to try to avoid them and pretend they are not there and coach your team," Brown said.
Players on Monday were asked about the effect of LHN following their every move, and they didn't seem to have a problem with it.
"Everyone has a camera on their cell phone, so I don't look at LHN's cameras as any different," said junior offensive lineman Mason Walters.
But Texas senior safety Kenny Vaccaro brought up LHN when talking about the team sharpening its focus before a 56-50 victory over Baylor on Saturday.
"We just got back to getting physical and not so much worrying about the stuff that you get distracted with at Texas like the Longhorn Network, all the fans, all the glory, Nike and all that stuff and just got back to playing football," Vaccaro said.
"That's all that really matters, and I think a lot of schools that win across the country - that is all they focus on. They don't worry about all that other junk that's out there."
Brown said football spokesman John Bianco watches LHN to make sure ESPN isn't showing content that could be an advantage for opponents.
"It changes when you've got a microphone at every speech on the field and every drill," Brown said. "You definitely think about what Art (Briles) is thinking while he's sitting there, watching you talk and coach your team."
Brown added, "We were given a deal that we had no input in, and we're trying to make it the best we can for both. And at the end of the year, everyone's going to have to sit down and see what we need to change and what they need to change. But I think there needs to be some give and take both ways."
LHN will broadcast the Texas-Iowa State game on Nov. 10 in Austin. Kickoff for that game is TBA.