LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - With the creation of the Longhorn Network the Texas Longhorns created a lot of buzz and a lot of enemies in the world of college athletics. One of the masterminds behind the entire idea is The University of Texas' athletic director Deloss Dodds. Friday afternoon Dodds visited East Texas at the Lufkin chamber of commerce luncheon.
Dodds addressed many issues, from the Longhorn Network to conference realignment. He shared stories from the early stages of developing the network, stressing that it was hard to pass up ESPN's offer of $15 million per year to show kids who may not always get television exposure.
"It's meant to help out our athletes and especially their parents," said Dodds. "When someone sends their kid to play softball or run track it's hard to always see their events on TV. The network helps that."
However starting up the network has been a bit of a struggle. Many distributors have yet to pick up the 24-hour Longhorn channel. But Dodds doesn't seem to stressed over the early struggles.
Other networks that have started take time and this is no different," said Dodds. "When it gets up it will be wonderful for kids."
Dodds says that right now the network reaches around one million homes, but through the efforts of ESPN they hope to soon get that number to well over ten million.
Recently a lot pressure has come to the Longhorn football program over head coach Mack Brown. A tweet from one radio host in Topeka, Kansas during the season said his sources were saying Mack Brown would retire at the end of the 2011 season. Sending the name "Mack Brown" to the top of all search lists within a 24-hour period.
Soon after the season, some say to put rumors of a firing or retiring to bed, Texas and Brown came to agreement on a contract extension through 2020. Dodds spoke about how social media did not effect his decision making.
"With social media things can start and not be true and it goes wild in seconds," said Dodds. "In Mack's case extending his contract is something we would have done anyway. He is the guy for the job. We love him at Texas and he can be there as long as he wants to be there."
Dodds also addressed the rivalry between Texas A&M being put on hold. With the Aggies leaving for the SEC, Texas told A&M that their football schedule is full through 2018, putting the annual Thanksgiving day rivalry on hold until further notice. But Dodds says he hopes that it will continue.
"I hope the rivalry is not dead," said Dodds. "It's good for both institutions, but we have to do what is best for Texas and they are doing what is best for A&M."
Dodds even explained Texas' stance on the future conference realignment in the Big 12. With just ten teams left in the conference expansion is something Dodds says he is open to, despite believing ten is a good operating number.
"If we were going to expand again I know that Louisville and BYU are two schools that the Big12 has had there eyes on," said Dodds. "I personally have tried to convince Notre Dame to also join in a way where they could remain independent in football."
For now the Big12 will participate with ten schools. As Missouri and A&M leave for the SEC, West Virginia and TCU will join beginning next fall. Meanwhile the Longhorns and the rest of the Big12 have agreed to begin sharing tier 1 and tier 2 revenue evenly. As for tier 3 (or Longhorn Network money), that was not discussed.