HOOVER, Ala. -- Once you get past the shock of an SEC athletic director leaving for Baylor in the middle of SEC Media Days -- a mere 52 days before the start of the SEC football season -- it begins to make sense.

Mack Rhoades indeed did depart his post as Mizzou's AD on Wednesday for Baylor, 15 months after he arrived in Columbia, Missouri. Others aside from Barry Odom were blindsided as the first-year Tigers coach made the media days rounds here.

"It was a gut punch," one conference official said.

Athletic directors move all the time, but they usually move up. Rhoades took a lesser job at a smaller school in a lesser league at a university embroiled in an epic moral scandal.

And in some weird way, it made sense. Rhoades' move said more about the job he left behind than the one he took.

There's a better future at Baylor for an upwardly mobile administrator known for his fundraising prowess. That's a borderline outrageous statement considering the recent moral failings in Waco, Texas.

Baylor has problems, but they are more clearly defined. Rhoades is the beginning of a renovation following a house-cleaning during the sexual assault scandal. The Bears can't hire a permanent coach without a permanent AD.

If that sounds insensitive to the victims, perhaps it should. But Missouri has its own issues, some of which haven't been repaired.

Since Rhoades took the Mizzou job in April 2015, the coach he inherited (Gary Pinkel) retired due to a cancer diagnosis. A student protest evolving from perceived racial injustice became a national story.

The protest took at least some inspiration from the Ferguson, Missouri "Black Lives Matter" unrest in 2014. A student went on a hunger strike. Some members of the football team said they would not play until president Tim Wolfe left his job or was fired. Wolfe eventually resigned, and the Tigers played.

There remains a gaping hole at the university. The basketball program is under NCAA investigation. Coach Kim Anderson's job security became more of an issue after the worst four-year stretch in the program's history since World War II. Rhoades was reportedly considering terminating the softball coach, too. He leaves with both an interim president and interim chancellor as his bosses.

"Do we even have any leadership at this school?" Missouri linebacker Michael Scherer said with a smile. "We have interim guys."

Donations at Mizzou have declined by 25 percent, according to one report. Enrollment is down. When he took the job, Rhoades said he needed to build a new football facility costing $50 million-$75 million. Those plans have not left the drawing board.

At Houston (his former job), Rhoades had at least 10 donors that gave $1 million annually. At Mizzou, he had two. Baylor, with half the enrollment of Missouri, has a larger athletic budget, $100 million compared to $91 million.

You can see how Baylor might look more attractive. One administrator told me that exact thing on Wednesday: Incredibly, that person would trade Baylor's set of problems for those facing Missouri.

In some small way, Baylor is digging out. Missouri still has that hole. Odom was a fine choice to replace Pinkel. The former Mizzou linebacker bleeds black and gold. He knows the landscape.

But one source said Houston coach Tom Herman wasn't going to consider Missouri because of all the uncertainty on campus.

Odom's first recruiting class finished 13th in the 14-team SEC, according to the 247Sports Composite Rankings. His 2017 class is rated last in the league with only five commitments. Tennessee, in contrast, has 18.

"It was a long, long night," said Odom, who only found out Tuesday evening that the AD who elevated him seven months ago was leaving. "In college athletics, it's very seldom you get to work with a guy for a number of years."

Tell that to Missouri's new baseball coach. Steve Bieser has been on the job all of 12 days.