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Headlines & Insights From Inside The Big 12

The all-new Texas Longhorn Network gets it first day in court with Big 12 athletic directors, Baylor's Brittney Griner is among those trying out for the U.S. women's basketball Olympic team, and Oklahoma gives ESPN all-access for a series of August football specials.

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Big 12 Conference
Big 12 Conference

Conference ADs Take On The Texas Network Controversy, Tackling The Issue By The Horns

There will be no high school football games broadcast this season as part of the soon-to-be-launched (University of Texas) Longhorn Network.

In a unanimous vote of Big 12 athletic directors on Monday, the conference placed a one-year hold on high school football games and made a recommendation to the NCAA that a national moratorium be established on broadcasting such games on school-sponsored networks until the issue could be studied more thoroughly to ensure competitive fairness.

One of the major points of controversy facing the new ten-team Big 12 Conference is the deleterious impact or competitive disadvantage that dedicated sports networks like the one being introduced this fall at Texas would have on the rest of the conference schools. Some critics have gone so far as to contend that this issue could lead to the ultimate breakup of the conference, which experienced great turmoil this time last summer when Nebraska and Colorado announced their decisions to leave the Big 12.

Texas' Lone Star State rival Texas A&M has taken exception to The Longhorn Network from the time the idea was first advanced. A&M president R. Bowden Loftin believes it would create "uncertainty" in the Big 12.  Head coaches Bob Stoops of Oklahoma and Missouri's Gary Pinkel both were outspoken last week at Big 12 Media Days about Texas' programming plans on its network. Both coaches expressed serious concern that broadcasting high school football games would give Texas an unfair recruiting advantage in the talent-laden state of Texas.

Kansas athletic director Sheahon Zenger said he felt good about the discussion he and his Big 12 colleagues had on this topic. "I'm leaving here pleased with the work that we did and look forward to a strong conference as we continue to move forward," Zenger told Blair Kerkhoff of The Kansas City Star. 

The Longhorn Network is the first such venture of its kind dedicated to one school on a major network. Texas is in partnership with ESPN to produce and distribute the network programming.  Oklahoma and Texas A&M are exploring the feasibility of beginning their own dedicated sports networks.

Baylor Hoops Star Brittney Griner In Consideration For National Women's Team

Baylor women's basketball star, junior Brittney Griner, has been added to the national pool from which the 2012 U.S. women's basketball Olympic team will be selected. The 6-foot-8 Griner is the only college player in the 26-player candidate pool, which is  predominantly made up of stars from the WNBA.

"It's something I always wanted to do and be a part of growing up," Griner said. "Now to have a shot at playing on the Olympic team it was the best feeling I ever had.

Griner led the Big 12 in scoring and blocked shots in her sophomore season and was a big reason the Lady Bears advanced to the regional finals in the NCAA Tournament last season, and to the Final Four the year before. Griner was invited to train with the national team last year, but she declined the opportunity because she didn't feel she was ready.

Oklahoma Will Be Featured In ESPN College Football Preseason Special Series

The Oklahoma Sooners are the subject of an all-access special series on ESPN in August in preparation for the upcoming college football season.

This is the second year for the series in which ESPN follows a major college football program as it prepares for the coming season. Last year, the team in the ESPN spotlight was the Alabama Crimson Tide.

A one-hour special broadcast, "College Football Special: Oklahoma All Access," will take an up-close look at the team many experts believe is one of the top two teams in the country coming into the 2011 season. The one-hour special will air on Aug. 23. An inside look at Sooners' practices, team meetings and other preseason training activities also will be packaged as part of a five-part series to be shown Aug. 15-19 on ESPN's "College Football Live," "SportsCenter" and other network shows.