Not long after Mack Brown voiced his complaints about the Longhorn Network on Monday, the Texas Longhorns coach was whisked away to the network's studios to tape one of his three weekly shows.
Brown once praised the benefits of the Longhorn Network. Now, the coach is discovering some drawbacks from the network and says he "didn't ask for it."
"It's in Waco. Baylor sees every practice. It's not like it used to be, we're a little overexposed," Brown said. "It's a true advantage [for opponents]. They can watch our attitude, they can watch our coaches."
The Longhorn Network launched last August and is a 20-year partnership with ESPN that pays Texas $300 million. Brown estimates he spends six hours each week fulfilling his network obligations. That's time he could be using to rebuild a program that's 18-14 over the last two-plus seasons.
"We were given a deal that we had no input in and we've been trying to make it the best we can for both [sides]," Brown said. "I think at the end of the year everybody is going to have to sit down and see what we need to change and look at what they need to change. But there's got to be some give and take both ways."
Longhorn Network airs the first 30 minutes of each practice, along with some interaction between coaches and players. Brown is worried that opposing coaches can gain insight from watching segments of UT's workouts.
"We know that other schools are taping it and watching it," Brown said. "We know they have it for a fact. 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 that area. We know that for a fact, we've been told too many times."
Brown said he's been forced to alter his coaching style now that his every move is documented.
"It changes when you've got a microphone at every speech on the field and in every drill," Brown said. "You definitely think about what [Baylor coach] Art [Briles] is thinking while he's sitting there watching you talk and coach your team."
Still, some aspects of Texas practice are off limits to Longhorn Network. UT coaches told the network it can't air footage of injured players at practice.
"I think that's fair," Brown said. "And if he gets hurt while they're showing live practice, he gets hurt. That's just part of the deal."
The coaching staff also placed an embargo on footage that may give away information about game plans and schemes.
"Our rule has kind of been to keep it to individuals, keep it to the coach, keep it to the drills and not try to give scheme away, try not to hear a coach talking and teaching a player about the scheme because that's a key giveaway," Brown said. "It's a real fine line, and I don't get to watch it so I don't know what they're doing."
While Brown may find the network to be a distraction, his coordinators say they don't view it that way.
Defensive coordinator Manny Diaz worked at ESPN from 1995-97. Last year, he told the coaching staff to try and mentally block out the cameras and distractions associated with Longhorn Network.
"I felt like they would become wallflowers," Diaz said. "I think we all just sort of go about our business. I really don't pay attention to them."
Offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin said his commitments to Longhorn Network are simply "part of the deal."
"That doesn't really have any effect on how we prepare or what we do," Harsin said. "We're not going to do anything different because they're out there. It's something that is very positive for us in a lot of ways and I think it's just something we work with. I don't let it bother me. I'm only conscious of it if they're in a drill, if they're in the way or a guy might get hit."
Nevertheless, Brown made it clear he wants to see some changes with the network before next season.
"If there's things that I don't think are the best for our football team that are happening at the Longhorn Network, I'm going to bring it up because I'm about our football program," Brown said. "I don't work for Longhorn Network. I work for the University of Texas."
By Austin Laymance/Special to the Star-Telegram