A Farewell to the Big 12 Network (1996-2014)

Posted by Nate Kotisso on January 2nd, 2015

Early 2003.

The Big 12 Network syndicated slate of conference games ended its broadcasts in March 2014.

The Big 12’s slate of syndicated conference games, known as the Big 12 Network, ended its over-the-air broadcasts in March 2014.

I was eight years old then which, by rule, meant I was in a time of life where most kids began sampling the world around them, figuring out what they do and do not like. Mostly, I liked eating and running my mouth in school. But on one lazy Saturday afternoon, while waiting for something to grab my attention as I flipped through the channels, something finally did. Growing up without cable TV, finding something even mildly amusing was rare on a Saturday. This was a basketball game, of some kind. I knew that for sure. One of the teams playing was from Texas. In fact, it was Texas and they were blowing out another Big 12 team. My first impressions of them: Wow, they look like they’re pretty good. And hey, I’m from Houston. It felt like a natural fit to become a Texas Longhorns fan. So I did.

I wasn’t able to catch the Longhorns on TV every Saturday but when I did, I began to learn most of the names on that Texas team. The first was T.J. Ford, the point guard who I heard the announcers talk about almost all the time. Then Brandon Mouton who I remember wearing a beard. James Thomas, their big man in dreds. Royal Ivey because how are you gonna forget a name like that, and so on. The more they played, the more they won and the happier I got. But I also got used to watching other teams too through the years like Kansas’ reign atop the Big 12 from Hinrich to Wiggins, the death and resurgence of Iowa State and the birth of a second basketball power in the state of Texas.

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Big 12 Morning Five: 10.27.11 Edition

Posted by dnspewak on October 27th, 2011

  1. Hold the phone — West Virginia may not join the Big 12 after all. According to reports from The New York Times just yesterday, the Mountaineers were all but guaranteed a spot in the Big 12. Sources had said the league wanted WVU regardless of whether Missouri bolted for the SEC, and it seemed like a done deal. So what happened?
  2. Louisville happened. It appears that the delay in WVU’s acceptance is all due to a sparked interest in acquiring the Cardinals. One Big 12 school administrator said it’s a direct battle between West Virginia and Louisville, and it may take days to sort out the situation. It doesn’t look like West Virginia is out of the running at all, but it’s interesting to hear that this same official said the league’s schools are also divided on the issue. Texas is rumored to have more interest in WVU, while Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Iowa State and Baylor all want Louisville. From a basketball standpoint, although West Virginia is obviously no slouch, it doesn’t have the sort of history and hoops fan base that UL does. So if your primary interest is hoops, you’ve got to be rooting for the Cardinals to edge West Virginia here.
  3. For all you political junkies, one aspect of the delay with West Virginia may have to do with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), a Louisville alumnus who’d have an obvious agenda to block a WVU invitation to the Big 12. This is major speculation, of course, and it’s always dangerous to get into the political game. Still, if McConnell really were trying to vouch for his alma mater, that may make for a heck of an E:60 series.
  4. The current debate may be between Louisville and West Virginia, but CBS Sports columnist Gary Parrish has a nice breakdown of the Missouri vs. West Virginia comparison. MU’s dominance of the Big Eight in the ’80s and ’90s under coach Norm Stewart may give the impression that it has more history than the Mountaineers, but remember, the Tigers never actually made a Final Four. In fact, Stewart only made two Elite Eights during that time period. And as far as the past decade goes, Parrish shows that WVU beats MU in almost every category. Replacing Missouri with the Mountaineers might not boost the Big 12’s profile in basketball considerably, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt anything.
  5. Sticking with off-the-court news — since that’s pretty much all we have right now — Oklahoma has responded to a proposal for a Big 12 television network. It looks like the Sooners aren’t too happy with the news; or, at the very least, they’re just very confused as to how it would work. The Sooners already want to form their own TV network, and it’s a well-known fact that Texas already has the Longhorn Network in place. OU officials say they’re still planning to create their own network despite the Big 12’s proposal. The Big 12 Network sort of exists already, but it’s only an extension of ESPN on local affiliates. Sure, there’s a nice studio show each Saturday, but every game on the Big 12 Network looks like it was filmed in the 1970s. Any Doug Bell fans in the house? Didn’t think so.
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This Week’s Sunflower Showdown: Not Nationally Televised

Posted by rtmsf on March 1st, 2010

In doing a little research for this week’s games of interest, we came across a peculiarity in the schedule that is a little hard to believe.  In the only matchup of two top-5 teams this week (and merely the second such game of the entire season), good luck finding #5 Kansas State’s visit to #2 Kansas in Lawrence on your television Wednesday night.  That’s right, even with a potential NCAA Tournament #1 seed on the line, the only way for a national audience to see the biggest Sunflower Showdown since Wilt Chamberlain was on campus is to hope that you get the Big 12 Network or have a subscription to ESPN Full Court or access to ESPN360 on your computer.  Otherwise, you’re out of luck.  (note: the Big 12 Network only reaches eight of the top fifty US markets for this particular game)

Biggest Sunflower Showdown in Decades Will Be Hard to Find on TV

Kansas of course comes into the game having been at or near the top of the polls all season long, and even after dropping a game at Oklahoma State on Saturday, the Jayhawks are still sitting at 27-2 (13-1 Big 12) and at #2 in the polls.  Their dramatic overtime win in Manhattan last month was stuff for the ages, but Frank Martin’s Wildcats didn’t pout after that loss.  Instead, his team (24-4, 11-3 Big 12) rebounded nicely, feasting on a relatively soft schedule in running off seven straight wins to slowly inch their way up the polls into the top five. 

Your national viewing options on this night include such treats as:

  • UConn @ Notre Dame – 7 pm (ESPN)
  • Wake Forest @ Florida State – 7 pm (ESPN2)
  • Alabama @ South Carolina – 7 pm (ESPNU)
  • #4 Duke @ #22 Maryland – 9 pm (ESPN)
  • Oklahoma State @ #23 Texas A&M – 9 pm (ESPN2)
  • Virginia @ Boston College – 9 pm (ESPNU)

It’s not a bad lineup with some 7 pm bubblicious activity and the ACC showdown in College Park later, although the ESPNU games are a complete disaster.  A little piece of us dies inside, though, when we see that ESPN2 is already showing a Big 12 game that night — it’s just the wrong one.  Still, the key takeaway from all this is that there needs to be more flexibility with the scheduling and airing of these games late in the season.  It’s the same complaint we had when ESPN did Gameday two Saturdays ago at Washington, a school going nowhere fast, playing UCLA, a school already there.  With more flexible scheduling through their existing contracts, we won’t have situations where Virginia and Boston bleeping College are getting seen by more eyeballs nationally than a game involving two top five teams are.   

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