Houston esports company taps universities for partnerships

Houston-based Mainline has announced new partnerships with a few universities. Jamie McInall/Pexels

This article originally appeared on InnovationMap.

A Houston esports platform has announced that four universities — including one in town — have made moves to optimize the company's technology.

Texas A&M University, the University of Texas - Austin, Louisiana State University, and Houston's own University of St. Thomas have made a deal with Mainline. The company, which just closed a $9.8 million series A round, is a software and management platform for esports tournaments.

The four schools will use the software to host and grow their on-campus esports communities, according to a news release.

"These are top universities seeing the value of esports on-campus and making a choice to support their students' desires to play and compete — much like in traditional sports," says Chris Buckner, CEO at Mainline, in the release. "Adoption of Mainline is validation of the opportunity to engage students and the broader community with a compelling esports platform, as well as strengthen a school's brand, provide additional partnership opportunities and market their initiatives"

While UST has is still in the process of utilizing Mainline for its esports platform to grow its program and will use the software for its first tournament in 2020, A&M first used Mainline's software this past spring, but has doubled down on its commitment to esports.

"Texas A&M recognizes the significant esports presence on campus and the importance of supporting this thriving student community. Mainline allows us to maintain the brand continuity of the university, and to drive incremental inventory and value for sponsors," says Mike Wright, director of public relations and strategic communications at Texas A&M Athletics, in the release.

The platform provides its clients with an easy way to manage, monetize, and market their tournaments.

At UT, the school's administration, along with its Longhorn Gaming Club, is currently running two tournaments on Mainline: Rocket League and League of Legends.

"Texas has had a long established esports community on campus, and our partnership with Mainline will enable us to more closely work with Longhorn Gaming to better support this audience to benefit our students and partners," says Mike Buttersworth, director of the Center for Sports Communication and Media at UT, in the release.

Continue on InnovationMap to learn about the esports tournament that's running at LSU.

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The Texans can't consider options like Josh McCown again. Composite image by Brandon Strange.

The Houston Texans are once again looking for a new head coach, the third under the tenure of general manager Nick Caserio.

In what has become a far too familiar process for the Texans, this year’s head coach search will reveal a lot about where the team’s frame of mind is.

Houston CEO Cal McNair and Caserio both spoke to reporters on Monday afternoon just hours removed from their decision to move on from head coach Lovie Smith. They spoke about where the team is and what the frame of mind is going forward.

One thing was made evident in Monday’s news conference — both McNair and Caserio realize the team is at a potential turning point with the plethora of draft capital, an improving cap space and the young talent already on the roster.

“We feel like there is a strong list of potential head coach candidates, and we are excited to work with them,” McNair said. “We are going to pick the best coach to take this team into our next future with significant draft capital, salary cap space and [a] talented, young roster.”

It’s the Caserio and McNair show now. They are running it all. Both acknowledged the owner will be more hands on in this search, and Caserio also said this time around the process will involve more input from people within the organization.

The Texans will have the No. 2 overall pick in this year’s NFL Draft. In what will forever be the long-lasting impact of Smith’s tenure, leading Houston to a Week 18 victory over the Indianapolis Colts, which dropped the team out of holding the No. 1 pick. Caserio and whoever they bring in as the new head coach will be tasked with taking the cards they currently hold and turning it into a concrete foundation for years to come.

Regardless of what the Chicago Bears do with the No. 1 pick, the Texans are guaranteed the option to pick either Bryce Young or C.J. Stroud. They will also be in position to get almost any other player they want too if they opt to not take a quarterback.

2023 needs to be the year the Texans get their guy. The right guy.

“That is what we are fixated on doing,” Caserio said.

The clock is ticking. The general manager acknowledged it himself.

Caserio is entering year three with Houston. He inherited a debacle of a roster that was completely destroyed when Deshaun Watson said he wanted out.

Since then, Houston has fired David Culley and Smith after just one year at the helm. While neither were considered to be the long-term answers as the team’s leader, removing them after one year has only worsened the view of the team from the outside.

Caserio said the team constantly evaluates at the end of the season. There has not been enough progress made in multiple areas throughout the team, he added. Houston’s next leader will be tasked with prioritizing the players, creating a vision and being collaborative with all other departments around the organization, the general manager said.

The time for lame-duck coaches is over. How the Texans approach this search will say a lot about the team. With 11 total draft picks as of now, five of which are in the first three rounds, Houston’s ability to develop that young talent will be pivotal.

Houston cannot afford to have another Culley. The Texans cannot entertain a Josh McCown. It’s time to get the right guy.

If they do, the team might just turn a corner with a fan base that is desperate to have something, anything, to cheer for when it comes to its pro football team.

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