How big is your office? "I can't imagine it's going to be any bigger than mine! My office is not the most important thing, y'all have been in my office and (seen) the set psychology of why my office is the way it is! My office in the new building will be very similar to my office in this building, except for the fact I'll be able to walk out the doors, take ten steps and be in the locker room where I can get contact with the players immediately and not have to try to find them somewhere else. I'll be right there with them at all times."
No bubble on the practice fields? You really do like practicing outdoors. "We'll practice outside. But also if you look it's beneficial for us that we have the Palmeiro Center that we can practice in. Now, what this also does is this puts us right next door to the Palmeiro Center so it allows us to utilize one of the facilities that has already been built on campus here for us that is almost inaccessible for us right now. I mean we can get there, but it's certainly not convenient."
Will this include technological upgrades as well? "Everything in the building will be current state-of-the-art. One of our visions of this facility is, I think college football has that twenty-year cycle. That our vision is to make sure we have a facility that we're looking twenty years in the future, that we're still facility-wise competitive with everybody else in the Southeastern Conference in trying to stay near the top. And that's what our design with this is. The technology within the building will change I guess on a day to day basis."
How will this impact recruiting with what you can showcase? "I think it's fantastic. We have a young man who comes on campus and sees a state-of-the-art facility, a beautiful building, walks in the front door and sees a trophy showcase. And within one building has the opportunity to see our practice field, see our weightroom, see our training room, locker room. Meet with our coaches in their offices, walk out the door and cross a short parking lot and be in our indoor practice facility. To me, that really allows us to really centralize all the facilities that we use."
It seems you and Scott are always looking for the next thing, your eye is down the road? "Well, it is. This project is not our eye-down-the-road for what we need for next year; this is a project that keeps our eye on a vision of where we are going to be five years, ten years, twenty years now, to make sure that we are always trying to stay ahead of the curve."
Will you take these drawings on recruiting trips? "We've had some things drawn-up that we've used and shown to recruits. So we've had some of these drawings up. You know, anybody can talk about ‘we're going to build a facility'. When you actually announce we're going to get the shovels in the ground--hopefully we get that done in the near future—they know that you're serious about it."
Is this something you had at Florida, then you came here and said you wanted? "No, believe it or not there are two campuses—here and the University of Georgia—I never played a game at in the SEC. Now, I'd been to their campus and seen their facility. But I didn't know what we had here. But I also knew that when we got here there were some things I liked, some things I didn't like, we had a vision for how to change it but I had to see what our campus community was like, our student body, the state of Mississippi, the players we recruit in our program, and find something that best fits our program. And, not be a hurry, get right in from day-one screaming that we need a new facility; without the vision. We want to make sure we have the vision set for what we want before we rush into anything."
You keep stressing patience, how important is it to show fans the stadium doesn't have to be expanded right away; or is that something you want? "I've been a big proponent of it. I know people are excited about stadium expansion. But I'm a big proponent of fan base dictates stadium expansion. I'll be honest with you, I guarantee if we have 55,000 here on Saturday, it's standing room only, we're going to increase stadium expansion. If our waiting list on season tickets gets to 10,000, we're going to increase the speed of the stadium expansion. So as I view it that way, I think everybody would be like, oh, that would be great. For us, the vision we have of what our stadium expansion will be is unbelievable."
"Now, we need to make sure we have the backing to do that. Not just the financial backing, but we have the fans' backing; that they are going to fill up the stadium once we expand it."
"We're at ten-consecutive sellouts; and at the end of next year hopefully you're at 16, at the end of the next year you're at 23 consecutive sellouts; there's a long waiting list for season tickets; that's a very easy sell to make to everybody involved in the University that we need to expand the stadium."
Now a winning season and New Years Day bowl, do you feel you have more backing? "Yeah. I've been through it. I just think the people that have been around our program now, hopefully they see that the vision we have has the opportunity to be successful. So I think more and more people are getting behind that right now. It doesn't mean we're going to be a national championship team every single year. But I think they see the long-term vision of this program and a lot of people are ready to get behind us and support us."
Will you take these drawings and this news on the road to fans later this spring, saying here's what we want to do? "Well, and to keep the excitement for everybody, and with stadium expansion. And here's the great thing, I can promise you this: if we hit the 10,000 mark on the waiting list for season tickets, we're going to start expanding the stadium. I'll start pounding the fist to get that done! So I guess that's really on our fan base at that point."
"Our discussions aren't about stadium expansion, it's about renovation and expansion."