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Baylor AD Mack Rhoades Says Big 12 Needs to Focus on Football

mack rhoades

One of the most intriguing parts about Big 12 Commissioner Brett Yormark is the emphasis he places on basketball. Coming from an NBA executive background, Yormark is well-versed in the happenings on the court and how to maximize the value of one of America’s favorite sports.

Predating his arrival as the league’s commissioner, the Big 12 has been the best basketball conference, from top to bottom, for several years now. Despite a frustrating NCAA Tournament for the league this spring, there was no question that the depth in the Big 12 could go toe-to-toe with any other conference in the country. That will only be more true in 2024 and beyond, as the Arizona Wildcats–one of the most prestigious basketball programs ever–will join other superpowers like Kansas, Houston, and Baylor in the Big 12.

 

While basketball is certainly an important part of athletic departments at the collegiate level, it’s football that pays the bills. With the incredible media rights deals that have been made in recent years, being successful in football is what will separate the haves from the have-nots. In fact, it’s been that way for some time now, as the SEC and Big Ten continue to swell with cash and the Big 12 and ACC do their best to keep up.

Baylor Athletic Director Mack Rhoades, who’s been at the helm in Waco since 2016, acknowledges that while basketball is important, football should be the primary focus for the league.

“The Big 12, we’ve really gotta focus on football,” Rhoades told 365 Sports. “We need to find a way as a conference to elevate football.”

 

The Big 12 hasn’t claimed a national championship in football since 2005 when Vince Young and Texas beat USC in a Rose Bowl classic. Before that, it was Oklahoma in Bob Stoops’ second season in 2000. That’s two titles in 24 seasons; the SEC has won four of the last five and 13 of the last 17 titles.

The Big Ten won the 2023 title, and the ACC’s most recent title came in 2018. Do some quick math, and you will realize that the Big 12 is lagging behind in terms of national reputation-whether that’s fair or not.

The Big 12 has arguably been the most well-rounded league in football over the last several seasons and will be just that again in 2024. There are legitimately 10 teams that could win the league this year, but it’s arguable that not a single one of them is a legitimate national title contender.

Want to argue that? Tell me with a straight face that a team in the Big 12 can go through a 12-team playoff and beat teams like Ohio State, Oregon, and Georgia en route to a national title.

Things have got to improve on the gridiron for the Big 12 to be taken more seriously, and that’s not something that will happen right away. Unfortunately, with the new look conferences and revenue sharing, the gap between the Big Ten and the SEC and everyone else is only getting wider.

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