Q&A with Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds
BY JOHN E. HOOVER World Sports Writer
Wednesday, October 05, 2011
10/05/11 at 8:31 AM
Related Story: Texas' DeLoss Dodds: "We're good people. And we do it the right way."
Original Print Headline: Up close with DeLoss Dodds
On Monday, Tulsa World sports writer John E. Hoover sat down for an exclusive Q&A with University of Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds.
When you set your goals for the Longhorn Network five years ago or whatever, is this kind of what you envisioned, or have the goals changed over the years?
"The goals didn't change, but it's changed. When we started, and I don't know what it was, 5 years, 6 years, we were looking at Fox and our second-tier stuff, and they had all our baseball, softball, volleyball, swimming, they had everything, and did nothing with it. They just warehoused it.
"So we talked about, 'We need to get that back. We need to put it on TV so that these kids can get some exposure. No sense in warehousing it. We ought to have it out there where parents can see it, where coaches can see it, high school coaches.' So that's where it started. We assumed we were probably going to have to pay for it. We were gonna have to hire people to do it or whatever. We assumed it was gonna cost us money.
"I called Bill Byrne over at A&M and said, 'You know, I don't think we've got enough money or inventory to put on a 24/7 channel, but are you interested in helping us be a part of it?' And he pretty much said no. So we just kept digging and digging and digging and Fox got a little interested and said they'd do it and that they'd pay us, and we said, 'Well, that's good stuff.' Then ESPN got interested and they said they'd do it and pay us more. So we are where we are."
With the Big 12 announcement (Monday) that equal revenue sharing is now affirmed for Tier 1 and Tier 2 television revenue, can you explain why Texas won't share any of its LHN money or Tier 3 money?
"It's never been shared before. There's never been any there. We've worked it. We've made something good out of it. Nobody else in the country shares it, except Big Ten and Pac-12 because they did conference stuff. They did conference networks. Florida doesn't share their third-tier."
A question I've gotten a lot is why the Big 12 presidents and chancellors can't ask for a vote on sharing Tier 3. Is it simply a case of not being on the table for a vote, or how does that work?
"It's never been on the table. It's just never been there."
If they wanted to, could they say, "Let's vote on this?"
"They could vote on it. But they might not get it. You know? It's just never been a part of the deal. It'd be like us going to Oklahoma State and saying, 'Hey, you got $160 million from Boone (Pickens). I think we ought to have a share of that.' They'd say, 'Well, that's not fair.' There are just some things that are done differently. We're not gonna share Oklahoma State's money, and they're not gonna share our Tier 3 stuff."
On the academic side of it, those (LHN) revenues will be distributed to various parts of the university. Is that why it's not up for negotiation?
"Yeah. Bill Powers, our president, and I talked about it. They're 10 percent of the network, and they're gonna get 50 percent of the revenue. Over a five-year period of time, that's $30 million. And we've done nothing on this campus that's been better for the relationship between academics and athletics than $30 million."
Are you happy the Red River Rivalry will be in the Cotton Bowl through 2015, and are you interested in keeping it there longer?
"I love having it there. I like the number of seats. It's in the 90s, and they can make it almost 100 if they want to. I like the weather that time of year, so being outdoors is good. I think having it where the state fair is is just over the top. There's no greater venue on a given day in America than that game on that day."
Do you ever see it going to campuses?
"Joe (Castiglione, athletic director at OU) and I have talked about that. Circumstances - you know, conference things - might dictate something different, but I don't see - I don't want to do it, and I know Joe doesn't want to do it. So it'd take some circumstances outside of our control to make that happen."
Did you ever get concerned during the last 18 months you might lose that game, especially with Bob Stoops' comments a couple weeks ago that it wasn't necessary and things change?
"It could have happened. But ... we would have gone down fighting to keep the game. It's just that important to Oklahoma and Texas. I don't mean the schools, I mean the states."
What about Texas A&M? Do you see a way that game can be saved?
"Well, they're out of the conference and we're scheduled up for 10 years. So I think it's different."
Isn't that game as important to Texas, too?
"That game - the rivalry game for us has always been Oklahoma. The A&M game's been a great game and all of that. And we may play 'em. But it's not something that we have to do. I think the Oklahoma game is something we have to do."
So A&M could yet be saved?
"You know coaches. You talk to coach (Bob) Stoops all the time. You know that when they're looking at nonconference football games, they're trying to figure out how to best build their season off their nonconference. So you don't want to play, you know, Ohio State, USC and Notre Dame in nonconference. If you've got young kids, you've got to grow 'em up, they've got to have confidence, you've got to build it for the season and for the conference things. So coaches are very concerned about who they play in nonconference."
On the Big 12 board's decision (Monday) to implement equal revenue sharing, are you pleased with that?
"Absolutely. We made the motion."
But did you see it coming? Was this something that was going to happen to the Big 12 eventually regardless?
"The thing that tipped me, our network helped. The other thing that changed my mind about it was the formula we had, if we kept that formula with the new TV contract we had with Fox and then we're obviously gonna get a new one with ABC/ESPN or somebody (in 2016) for the Tier 1 stuff, the money would have been so big. The division of monies between the institutions in the conference would be almost grotesque. So everybody's gonna get a big bump. We're getting a big bump with the Fox thing. And I think we're going from $13 million to $17 million. So it's a good thing."
Whether the criticism is coming from Texas A&M or Nebraska or the college football world at large, the perception is that Texas is being painted as the bad guy, the evil empire or whatever. Longhorn Network probably helps perpetuate that. Does that concern you as the man in charge here, that the Texas brand is taking a PR hit?
"We're good people. And we do it the right way. And we've got 550 kids that we love, and we treat them the way they're supposed to be treated. And we're in it for kids. We didn't do the Pac-12 (because of) the kids. It wasn't money, it wasn't anything else. We don't want to put our kids in airplanes and have them in airplanes half their life going back and forth.
"We've worked hard to save the Big 12 twice now. We happen to have a network which, we did, we told everybody for five years that, 'We're gonna do it, we're gonna do it, you ought to do it, too' - you know, we told 'em. Any time TV came up in a room, we said, 'We're gonna do our own third-tier network.' We've been open about it. And today they're looking for reasons, or somebody to blame. A&M's looking for a reason, and they've made their reason that we've got a second game on the network. You know? Nebraska had three last year. I've not heard one word about that.
"But it's an issue this year. And I've been a bad guy before, and I'm at an age where it doesn't bother me. We're doing the right thing. Every decision we're making, we're doing the right thing. We're doing the right thing for the conference, we're doing the right thing for the kids. If somebody wants to paint us as some awful people, then let 'em paint us."
Someone at the Big 12 office told me it was "laughable" that Texas A&M is leaving because of financial reasons; that they're leaving to get out of the shadow of Texas.
"I don't know. I can't answer that."
You don't want to address A&M leaving to get out of Texas' shadow?
"They've made their decision and we wish them well. That's about all I can say."
It's got to be disappointing to lose them.
"Yeah, it's disappointing. Our conference is a great conference. It's gonna be a great conference. But they made it better."
Do you like the expansion committee and the work that's being done so far?
"I'm on it."
I know, but do you like what's being done?
"What's that's kid's name, Joe Castiglione, from Oklahoma? Ha ha. No, we're having fun. I love Joe, by the way. He's really good. And Mike Holder. I love Mike Holder."
It's got to be hard work.
"No, it's fun."
Is it exciting to think you might be reshaping the conference for the next 20, 50, 100 years?
"You know what? I'm 74. I'm kind of past being excited. I'm just for getting the job done so I can get back to being in this department and working with kids and doing what I love."
That's still the most rewarding part for you?
"Oh yeah. That's what we're about. That's what we do."
But building up the Texas brand ...
"That's part of my responsibility. And we do it pretty well. Really well. Just, you know, we're doing a good job. I think we're doing a good job. And I think we're being rewarded for that. And therefore, people don't like us very much. So we can live with that. We just keep doing the right thing for kids.
"And Oklahoma's doing that. Oklahoma's doing a great job. And the relationships between the two athletics departments is really good. (But) the relationship on Saturday is gonna be really bad. We don't like 'em on Saturday."
University of Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds, 74, may be the man most responsible for saving the Big 12 Conference. HARRY CABLUCK / Associated Press file