Scott Field, Stadium Mostly Uscathed By Storm

Mississippi State has a few facility issues to report in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. "Minor damage," as athletic director Larry Templeton described it. "We had some windows broken in the baseball press box, we lost some signs around different fields, some ventilator hoods were off at the (Humphrey) Coliseum. And a few trees like everybody else did.

"But we've assessed the damage and we were fortunate. The football stadium is in really good shape."

That's the best news out of Bulldog Country, as Monday's storm really did have minor effects on the state of State's athletic plant. Obviously with football season kicking off this Saturday evening at 6:00, the status of Scott Field and Davis Wade Stadium was first on everyone's concern list. Templeton did say that a Tuesday morning test of the lighting showed a couple of banks on the east towers were out. "But that was mostly because of moisture," he said, so all the lights should be operating by gameday.

"Other than that, we were very fortunate," Templeton said. As for the weekend's game with Murray State, "We may not have everything as tidy as we'd like to have it, but we'll be ready to play."

"We've talked to Murray State and told them everything is on go for Saturday evening."

If the facilities should be ‘go' there still are some matters of concern for Mississippi State University and the City of Starkville about the coming weekend. For that matter the Bulldog administration was still trying to keep a sense of perspective about the larger situation confronting this state. For that reason Coach Sylvester Croom's standard Tuesday press conference was cancelled, by decision of the A.D.

"There are much bigger concerns in this today than whether we're going to play a football game or not, particularly with the tragic deaths on the Coast," Templeton said. "We're all Mississippians and I just didn't think we wanted to be talking about football. We're still trying to make sure all our kids have been able to get in touch with their families." Along that line, he said State coaches have been in touch with their student-athletes.

Templeton also reported that the University wants to recognize the tragedy of this week at the game. "There will be some kind of expression, what that is we haven't determined."

Meanwhile there are other aspects of game operations on MSU minds this week. For one very good example, the normal contingent of 30-to-40 Highway Patrol troopers assigned to assist with traffic flow around MSU and Starkville will almost certainly not be entirely available. "I'm sure some of these guys will get deployed, and we understand that," Templeton said. "We're going to have to modify how we do traffic and things of that nature because we won't have as many state troopers available."

It is now obviously fortunate Mississippi State turned down a Fox Sports request to move the game to the afternoon, as the 6:00 kickoff will allow fans more time to get to campus. Still MSU is urging everyone to arrive as early as possible and allow for inconveniences in getting to parking places.

"We'll have to do the best we can," Templeton said, "we encourage our fans to come early and be patient. And Mississippi people will be. Our thoughts right now are not about a football game but our citizens, especially those on the Gulf Coast. And we have a lot of season ticket holders south of I-20."

There are also some longtime fans who will be parking in new places, as ongoing campus bookstore construction has taken over the large grass lot behind the west grandstand and the infamous ‘Five Points' is now just two roads. Templeton said three parking lots had to be relocated, and traffic flow is very different now because two whole streets have been lost permanently. Still he insists "There is no one in a priority lot that is more than ¼ of a mile from the stadium.

"This was for the traffic plan of the University, to try to keep traffic off the center of the campus. This is a two-year plan, there will be some more changes this coming summer." He also said that on gameday the Bulldogs will still bus to the Amphitheatre and walk to Turman Field House just as they did last year.

While all MSU attention is on matters at home, events in New Orleans have put the September 17 game with Tulane in the Superdome very much in question. At this point nobody can legitimately claim to know what is going to happen—rescheduling, moving, or outright cancellation. Templeton has not been able to discuss the subject with his counterpart at Tulane. "No, I've had conversations with Murray State, I have not had any conversations with Tulane. I don't think paying a football game is on the agenda of the people at Tulane right now from what we've seen on TV."

Tulane's football team and much of the administration is currently staying at Jackson State in Mississippi, and they have thought as far ahead as the coming weekend with the Sunday game at Southern Mississippi now postponed. But obviously the Green Wave staff is just coming to grips with their catastrophic campus and city situation.

"I have not talked with Rick Dixon," Templeton said, "I figure there are much bigger issues than three weeks down the road. When it's time to talk we'll talk. Tulane has got to evaluate where they are going carry this team, where they're going to train, how they're going to get school started. There are no quick answers. Well have to let Tulane evaluate their position, and hopefully we'll assist them any way we can."

One assist Bulldog fans would quickly offer is to play the game at Scott Field. That is a possibility, Templeton acknowledged, though it is not as simple a matter for either team as changing the ‘at' on the schedule. The A.D. discounted the suggestion of playing the game in Jackson. As home team for this game, Tulane would seem to have the final say in the game site on the scheduled day, so while Mississippi State can suggest alternatives it cannot dictate anything.

"I think we'll be flexible as best we can," said Templeton. "The other problem they've got is they have ten other opponents that you hope are able to get going. I don't envy them, I wish them the best. Their A.D. and coaches live a close distance to the campus, so playing a football game is not on their agenda right now."

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