Columnist: UT athletics' performance to blame for demise of Longhorn Network

Since ESPN's '11 deal to own and operate LHN, UT's football team has gone 79-65 with five losing seasonsGetty Images

As the Longhorn Network nears it "ignominious demise" as the Univ. of Texas prepares to join the SEC by '25, it is clear the net "was doomed from the beginning," according to Mike Finger of the SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS. ESPN promised to pay UT and IMG Colleges $300M over 20 years for the right to own and operate LHN, but ever since its inception in '11, it has "become known more for regular reruns of Vince Young's heroics at the 2006 Rose Bowl than just about anything else." If the focus of LHN's programming "tilted toward history," it only was because the Longhorns "gave producers so few compelling options in the present." Since the ESPN deal for LHN, UT's football team has gone 79-65 with five losing seasons, and the basketball team "hasn't made the Sweet 16 even once." LHN employed "some of the best professionals in the business," but "no amount of fancy production could mask the fact that the network's supposed star -- UT athletics itself -- was a no-show." Finger: "Through no fault of its own LHN became a punchline, even to those whose own shortcomings gave it no chance." Finger: "LHN didn’t fail UT. UT failed LHN." UT's teams lost, so "ratings were abysmal." Finger: "Because ratings were abysmal, LHN stopped replacing reporters. And because LHN stopped replacing reporters, it was left with, well, history." Once UT joins the SEC, LHN "will be shuttered," which has left those still working there "trying to figure out their futures even while making sure their well-received baseball and softball broadcasts go off without a hitch" (SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, 5/13).

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