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Mack Rhoades talks the Pac-12, ACC, and Staying Ready

March 1, 2023

Mack Rhoades was unaware his recent comments about the Pac-12 had made national headlines. Still, he was unbothered by the attention and unequivocal in reiterating the Big 12's current stance on conference expansion this week with 365 Sports. 

"You asked me a question and I answered it truthfully," Rhoades said matter of factly. 

Those comments revolved around the Pac-12's current and public struggle with rights negotiations. A week later, a deal remains unfinished. Since then, Clemson and Florida State reps have popped off about unequal revenue sharing in the ACC, only adding more fuel to the conference realignment fire ongoing in college athletics. 


In case it was unclear before the Pac's TV troubles, the Big 12 is open for business, just as commissioner Brett Yormark stated last summer and as Rhoades has stated multiple times on 365 Sports. Being so honest about seizing and creating opportunities shocks some, but it's the reality of this current landscape. 

"I don't think any of us are trying to dismantle the Pac-12. If there's opportunity, and whenever their TV media deal comes to fruition, and if those institutions decide that it's not good for them, then the Big 12 will be ready. And, that's probably as simple as I can say it," Rhoades said. 

"And it doesn't surprise me that it spread because people like news, plus everybody knows you guys, and everybody listens to you all. So no surprise," he said, with a line I'd be remiss not to include on this website.  

The Big 12's latest exodus led to this approach, their addition of four schools, Bob Bowlsby stepping down, Yormark's hire, and then getting an early jump on a future TV deal with FOX and ESPN in a bold but calculated move that appears genius in hindsight. The league negotiated Oklahoma and Texas' official exit plan and buyout, bringing some finality to questions about the end and beginning of the conference's latest saga. 

The league has also reportedly entertained the idea of adding Gonzaga as a basketball member, for example. And the idea of adding Pac members has been a consistent point of speculation, too, ever since that league suffered its own exodus straight out of Los Angeles.

"I would just say most of our conversations are about the 14 [schools] for one year and then the 12 [schools]. So it's primarily, I would say, about conference operations and particularly marketing and being partners with both ESPN and Fox," he said.

As for the recent headlines about the conference's open approach or any opinions they're playing the role of a predator on a poor Pac-12? 

"Are there times when there's conversation about conference membership? Yeah, and it shouldn't be a surprise to anybody. Commissioner Yormark has talked about it publicly and in a variety of different ways," Rhoades stated clearly. "Those that want to believe that we're trying to dismantle the Pac-12, they can believe that, but that's not what we're trying to do. But we're also going to be ready, and shame on us, we wouldn't be doing our jobs if we weren't ready if there's an opportunity."


There's been plenty of fuel to light up expansion and realignment talk outside the Big 12. Despite rumors of their demise, the Pac-12 has reportedly courted SMU and San Diego State, but again, that depends on their upcoming rights deal. 

And then, kaboom. Florida State and Clemson's ADs made separate but similar comments about an uncertain future in the ACC, barring measures like unequal revenue sharing to close the financial gap and feel their worth. Of course, after brands like OU, Texas, USC, and UCLA made moves to maximize their value, it's no surprise the ACC's top dogs would start barking about the same at some point. But the public nature and timing were still surprising. 

"Certainly, there have been murmurs about it. I didn't expect it to become public like it did. And again, let me just be really clear this time around as well. Not wanting the ACC, to explode or not exist. These are hard problems … they're complicated problems," Rhoades said. 

"The ACC TV media deal has been well documented. And, what's interesting, the annual amount of that deal is pretty healthy. It's just the number of schools you're dividing it among, but they also have a network, as well."

The ACC is also no stranger to expansion and realignment issues. What all that means for their immediate and long-term future is up for further speculation, but the pattern is clear nationally. Such is life in today's college athletics. 

"You know, Commissioner Phillips, I've known him. We kind of grew up somewhat in this business, and I've got great respect for him. He's got a really hard job, but I think and I just know that he will absolutely handle it to the very best of his ability. And, certainly wish the ACC and those member schools the best in terms of how they navigate their future."

The ACC's response moving forward will be fascinating, but contractually, is there a rush? 


In a post-OU and Texas Big 12, the brands all seem on equal footing, so it's hard to foresee unequal revenue sharing becoming a demand or issue. But what about potential new schools? Never say never, but don't bank on it, either. And who could even command such a demand?

"My gut reaction is absolutely not. And, I would probably want to spend a little bit more time maybe thinking about it. Is there a circumstance or two, where it would be accepted by other members?," Rhoades pondered on-air with 365 Sports. "I think it would have to be really unique and probably dire circumstances, for that, but I think that's really hard. And, as I look to the future, the Big 12, and the 12 member institutions, I just don't see a scenario where that can happen, and nor should it happen."

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Mack Rhoades talks the Pac-12, ACC, and Staying Ready

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