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Baylor AD Mack Rhoades: Big 12 Must be Ready for ‘Movement’ if Pac-12 Collapses

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After another week without a Pac-12 media rights deal, it has seemed to become increasingly obvious that the conference might be in real trouble of collapsing.

Last week, Apple surfaced as a potential landing spot, which would give the streaming-only service exclusive rights to the Pac-12’s future inventory. However, reports of an offer from Apple have not come at this time.

Then, a few days following the Apple news, an entity called ION TV (Who?) emerged as a candidate for the Pac-12’s television rights, according to Action Sports’ Brett McMurphy.

 

Whether the reports about ION are true or not, we’ve reached a point in contract negotiations that would make its involvement believable, and that’s not a good look for the Pac-12. A deal with ION TV, or Apple TV+ for that matter, isn’t going to keep programs like Oregon and Washington around for long.

There’s an increasing likelihood that the Pac-12’s schools will start looking elsewhere for membership with each week that this drags out, and Baylor athletic director Mack Rhoades says that the Big 12 needs to be ready for movement if and when that happens.

“I am certainly not rooting for the demise of any particular conference, but I am also looking out for what is best for Baylor and what is best for Baylor is a really really strong Big 12, and one that secures its future but not over just the next six years but beyond,” Rhoades recently told 365 Sports. “There is a short gain but also a long gain for this. It is dependent on what happens among the Pac-12. There may be movement if whatever media deal they are able to strike is not satisfactory. We have to be prepared for that and I think we are if that was to happen. Again, looking out for the Big 12, how do we strengthen ourselves?”

 

Rhoades even went further with his comments about strengthening the Big 12, saying that there was room in the conversation for the Big 12 to join the same tier as the SEC and Big Ten, both of whom recently signed lucrative media rights deals. After all, Brett Yormark did just secure a deal with ESPN and FOX through 2031 that will pay an estimated $2.3 billion.

“There is so much about the SEC and the Big Ten, and there is no reason why the conversation can’t be about the SEC, Big Ten and the Big 12,” Rhoades added.

With the Pac-12 likely looking at a streaming service as its main way of distributing its product, members of the conference could see that as the final straw to look elsewhere for an opportunity. Rhoades said it would not be welcome news if he was approached with a deal that featured a streaming service as the primary television partner.

“It would be disappointing to be quite frank,” Rhoades told 365 Sports. “Where I go first is the brand of the conference, which means an impact on recruiting. Conversations with my head coaches, in terms of brand building and linear space — I know everyone talks about cord-cutting, but (TV) is still the way people follow college athletics. If you think about not just the event itself but the shows throughout the week and even on game day. With FOX, you think about game day and their shows. I think it would be a big disappointment for the athletic directors and their coaches.” 

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