If you’re having a rough week at work, just take a deep breath and remember that football season is almost here. Yes indeed, it’s just one more week until college football makes its long awaited return.
For Texas Longhorn fans out there with the —ahem— right cable provider, the Longhorn Network is back. LHN revealed to CultureMap and a handful of other outlets just what viewers can expect for the upcoming fall season.
“I will say in terms of as we start our third year — and some may not agree with me — but I would say that we actually feel like we’re a pretty good spot here in Austin and with the Longhorn Network," says Justin Connolly, ESPN’s senior vice president of programming for college networks. "Between last year and this year, we’ve added two more top-10 distributors to the mix.”
Charter Communications and Cox Communications are the latest providers to pick up the LHN for broadcasting, bringing with them viewers in Dallas and Fort Worth as well as rival territoy Oklahoma and Louisiana. Connolly also addressed that pesky Comcast and Time Warner situation saying only that they are working out deals with the providers.
So what can viewers expect from LHN this season?
The fall programming fans can expect this year not only includes the Longhorns of 2013 but some of the Longhorn legends from the past. LHN also has exclusive broadcasting rights for three games this year including:
- New Mexico State on August 31(season opener)
- Ole Miss on September 14
- Kansas on November 2
In addition to those LHN exclusive broadcasts, the network will air a simulcast of the BYU game on September 7, serving as a Texas-centric supplement to the official telecast on ESPN2.
LHN will be introducing a mosaic of six camera angles, making it seem like you're watching football in the Matrix.
“Last year we focused with just one camera, this year we’re going to matrix the screen a little bit,” says Stephanie Druley, vice president of production. After recieving mixed reviews after last season’s game against Ole Miss at the Alamo Bowl, Druley hopes the third time's the charm. “It’s really a second screen. It’s not meant to be your primary view of the game, although you’re welcome to do it that way.”
The network will be celebrating Longhorn history with retrospective looks at two of the greatest moments in UT football history. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the first Texas national championship, and the documentary 1963 will examine the season and the players who became legends. The hour-long program features interviews with 15 former players, including the legendary Tommy Nobis and 1963 MVP Duke Carlisle.
This year also marks 15 years since Ricky Williams became the second Longhorn to receive the Heisman Trophy. The LHN has crafted an original documentary on his historic season entitled The Season: Ricky’s Heisman.
RICKY WILLIAMS JOINS LHN
Viewers won't just be seeing Ricky Williams in old footage this season. The former running back will join LHN analysts Lowell Galindo and Ahmad Brooks for pre-game, halftime and post-game coverage of all Longhorn football games. Williams is increasing his presence from five games last year to a full season in 2013, and on top of the television duties, Williams begins his first year of coaching as an assistant running back coach at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio.
A certified yoga instructor, Williams is a triple-threat talent. “I thought that when I retired, I wouldn’t do anything to do with football for the rest of my life, but it hasn’t turned out that way," says Williams. "I’m enjoying coaching and I’ve enjoyed doing the show last year way more than I though I would.”
Also joining the LHN crew this season is former University of Georgia quarterback David Greene, who helped the Bulldogs earn two SEC Eastern Division titles and the SEC championship in 2002. Greene is expected to provide a quarterback’s view of the game along with some film study. As an SEC guy, Greene will hopefully bring a much needed outsider's take on Texas football.
With additional new programming coming this season, LHN is trying to make the case for more cable provider partners. As Connolly says, “a combination of hard work and patience [will help us] get there on the distribution side over the course of the next year and years to come.”