Conference Realignment: Pickens blames Texas, does Texas have an out with LHN?

Couple of interesting articles came up on the Big 12 imploding...

T. Boone Pickens thinks the Longhorn Network is the primary culprit.

Pickens believes the Cowboys will end up in the Pac-12, with Oklahoma. He largely blames Texas' insistence on creating the Longhorn Network.

"The network could have been the straw that broke the camel's back," Pickens said.

Dodds "is a friend of mine," Pickens said. "But DeLoss had too many cards and he played every damn one of them. I think that's too bad. You get tired of saying ‘aaah' while you get something shoved down your throat."

Not knowing the particulars about the money disbursement with the LHN (are there any?), it certainly looks like there is a big disparity between the haves and the have-nots.

I have no problem if Texas wants to market its brand, but things started to unravel when an ESPN executive stated on the radio their intention air high school games...that was the game changer and aTm decided they had had enough of the charade.

I am sure we will find out in the coming days how it all ends up but it sure looks like the tables have turned on DeLoss Dodds after he turned Larry Scott down last year. He was in the catbird seat but allowed ESPN to over play HIS hand and we are now seeing the result. Also not getting the LHN on the big cable networks. No takers...

But...

If Texas wants out of the Big 12 it is not insurmountable either.

This piece breaks it down nicely what Texas can do with regards to the LHN.

I pulled out my copy of the Longhorn Network contract (obtained by Twitter user @spadilly via open records request and posted on Midnight Yell) and here’s what I found. First, the entire agreement is subject to the rules and regulations of any conference of which Texas is a member. Not surprisingly, there’s also a provision that covers Texas going independent or changing conferences. Here’s what it says in terms of Texas joining another conference:

…in the event that UT determines during the Term to become a member of an athletics conference other than the Big 12 Conference or not to participate in any athletics conference, UT agrees to continue to grant and provide (or cause IMG to continue to grant and provide) to ESPN the Television Rights set forth in this Agreement.

What exactly are these Television Rights? Let’s look at just football for the 2012 season and beyond:

With respect to the college football season commencing in 2012, and each season thereafter during the Term, UT will use its best efforts to provide ESPN all play-by-play and commentary rights for a minimum of one (1) regular season and/or post-season intercollegiate men’s varsity home football game and will provide ESPN all play-by-play and commentary rights for the Annual Spring Football Game.

The provision goes on to say the parties have a "mutual desire" that LHN televise no less than two home football games per season. For this discussion, that essentially means nothing.

What does the rest mean? Basically, it means Texas is only contractually obligated to allow LHN to air the Annual Spring Football Game. Texas has to use "best efforts" to supply LHN with one home football game. Essentially, however, if they can’t…well, they can’t. No harm, no foul.

For all other sports, the provision begins, "As permitted by Conference regulations and agreements…" And that means…you guessed it, no obligation.

When lawyers get involved anything can be worked out....as long as they get their billable hours.

The LHN is a regional network to begin with. One that is having issues getting picked up by the cable TV big boys. Folding it in with the Pac-12 regional networks will be easy. LHN will still make money for UT.

I am pretty sure this is going to happen...just a matter of when. There will be some kinks to work out, but there is always something.

ESPN will still get their money.

Change is coming...faster than we thought!

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