Four years ago, the Big Ten Network, in partnership with Fox Sports, launched promising 24/7 coverage of conference games, along with some of the academic goings-on at the member institutions. Those who doubted whether the venture would succeed were proven wrong, as the conference recently announced that each member school will receive $7.9 million in shared revenue from the network this year, up from $6.5 million in 2010.
Few schools in the country would pooh-pooh $7.9 million. One of them is the University of Texas, which launches its very own Longhorn Network later this month in partnership with ESPN. The arrangement is expected to deliver nearly $250 million to UT over the next 20 years.
Other members of the Big 12 are starting to squawk, not about the money as much as the Longhorn Network's plans to broadcast high school games, which they believe gives Texas an unfair recruiting advantage - possibly an illegal one. Missouri coach Gary Pinkel thinks allowing the network to move forward with its high school plans would demonstrate a "lack of common sense."
Common sense also indicates that the Big Ten will eventually have to deal with this problem when schools with large and feverish fan bases like Ohio State and Nebraska start to think about having networks of their own. After all, Texas was able to get the Big 12 to sign off on the network by simply threatening to leave the conference.
"We're building a new world," Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds told SI.com this week. "And we all need to learn to live in it in a different way."
The first "we" Dodds mentions is presumably Texas. The second is everybody else.