Maybe, just maybe, Texas A&M is about to stop being the University of Texas-Austin's bitch.
On Thursday, the Texas A&M Board of Regents will meet in a closed-door, informational confab, according to a San Antonio Express-News report, to discuss the Longhorn Network, a 24-hour-a-day channel that will carry UT-centric programming. (The item is currently listed on the lengthy agenda under the "Big 12 Conference" bullet point. As of the time this post was published, Texas A&M had not returned Hair Balls' request for comment.)
In June, the University of Texas and IMG College inked a $300-million deal with ESPN to carry live Longhorn sports and educational episodes for the next 20 years. In the process, the future integrity of the Longhorn Network has been called into question as it prepares for its launch on August 26.
Though nothing is set in stone, the programming may include live telecasts of high-school football games, which could put UT at a recruiting advantage by swaying on-the-fence kids to commit to a Longhorn sports program. Needless to say, you can bet that A&M, as well as the other Big 12 schools, will be watching the station as its modus operandi evolves.
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A&M does have the option of leaving the Big 12. Because the proposed mega Pac-16 Conference fell through last summer, the next best option would be a move to the Southeastern Conference, which A&M flirted with during conference-expansion talks. The deadline for 2012 divisional migrations expired on July 1, so the soonest the Aggies -- or any other Big 12 university for that matter -- could bounce is 2013.
Regardless of how things shake out, hopes are higher in College Station than they are in Austin for a successful 2011 football season, as many college-football experts are picking A&M to post up right behind Oklahoma in the Big 12 pecking order.