Templeton Discusses Football Scheduling

After weeks of speculation and months of work, Mississippi State was able to complete and present the 2008 Bulldog football schedule. Not only that, but the 2009 slate was included in the morning release. Thursday afternoon, director of athletics Larry Templeton met with media to discuss the slates, the process of finalizing them, and the challenges of scheduling football in the 12-game era.

The '08, and hence '09 schedule were delayed when Central Michigan dropped out of a multi-year deal to accept a larger offer from Georgia. Mississippi State was able to secure home-and-home dates with both Louisiana Tech and Middle Tennessee State, in alternating years, for the next two schedules. That completed each season's slate as MSU has a two-year deal with Georgia Tech for 2008-09; hosts Southeastern Louisiana this coming year in the only I-AA game lined up; and hosts Houston in 2009.

That means '09 will have seven games at Scott Field, but to Templeton that sort of home-friendly slate is going to be the exception for the forseeable future.

Q: Are you excited to have the 2008 schedule finished? "I don't know that I'd use the word excited, but I am very pleased that we have it together. And it's been as difficult a schedule that I've ever had to put together. The climate is just incredible. We had a SEC school Monday that had a team drop them for next year. It's just all over the map."

Q: How did these two schools come together? "Well, honestly one of them called me after the Central Michigan thing was in the paper. The other one, I had been talking to about something further down the road. Because both of them were Division I and both of them were close, and because both of them gave us an opportunity balance it so we could at least have six home games every year; and because we'd already bought the I-AA game (Southeastern Louisiana); I thought this was a good opportunity for us to balance everything out and give our fans an opportunity to go to every road game."

Q: Did you go in wanting home-and-home or a two-for-one? "We had some discussions, but I didn't want to take the chance of losing either one of them with a two-for-one. And in talking to some of my colleagues at other BCS schools across the country, they had already done this and done it with these two teams."

Q: Then is there a chance these contracts could be extended? "Yeah, I think there could be some more games. But both them and us were trying to zero-in. And quite frankly, we could have had both of them this year. But Coach and I talked, and the balance with Southeastern Louisiana here (in 2008) this would be the year to go on the road with one of those."

Q: Some of your fans would say you shouldn't be playing at places like Louisiana Tech and Middle Tennesse: "Well, until Mississippi State can sell Scott Field/Davis Wade Stadium out with season tickets at full-price, we're not going to be in the ballpark financially. And I don't think anybody else is. I think you will see in the immediate future conferences going to nine conference games, or you'll see some people playing each other twice in the same year."

Q: And schools like Virginia have played at MTSU, and Miami has played at La. Tech: "Louisiana Tech had to move a team that's going to a bowl game in a BCS conference in order to do this deal. I'd rather not name it, that's one reason that we've been holding up."

Q: They really wanted this series with State? "Yes."

Q: When did the Houston game move from Houston to Starkville: "About three years ago. We switched to help them balance something."

Q: Is there any chance to move these two games, because Louisville played Middle Tennessee in Nashville, and La. Tech will play some in Shreveport? "I think there is more likelihood that there will be some television from their conferences with these games, rather than the sites moving."

Q: So you could open on Thursday night (at La.Tech) next year? "Aaah, I just know that there's a possibility that they're going to come to back to us."

Q: Who are those league's network partner? "ESPN."

Q: Is the first time you have been able to announce two year's schedules at once? "Well, we've done it way back there, but the way we put this one together I just thought we'd go ahead and do it. We're actually in a position of almost being able to do the next five years. But who knows, the way the climate is changing?"

Q: Have you increased the penalty for breaking contracts? "Considerably."

Q: Doubled it? "Tripled it. In the $400-500,000 range."

Q: What are the guarantees involved with these games? "None. Well, it's a switch each year. Louisiana Tech is nothing, we keep ours (gate receipts) and they keep theirs. And that's what we're doing in the SEC now. Middle Tennessee is $200,000."

Q: What did Coach Croom say about the schedule? "Coach was tickled. The thing we both like, is it balances our home-and-away both years. Until we got into this deal we were going to have three road games in a row in 2009. So it keeps all that balanced out for us, and it's got the open dates. '09 is a tough year because you only have one open date."

Q: Why not play Southern Miss? "I think Southern Miss understands where Mississippi State is in scheduling ball games."

Q: What does that mean? "That's my quote! I've no other comment. But Richard (Giannini) and I did have a conversation. As we talk every three or four months. When Central Michigan dropped us I was telling him what was happening. And he's like the rest of us, he's trying to figure out this scheduling monster too."

Q: Once Central Michigan dropped how many schools did you talk to? "Seriously, about a dozen. We talked to probably about 20 but some serious dialogue about a dozen. We were close I think with about three or four other schools but we just couldn't get the dates and the home-and-away. And couldn't get one that would agree to do it."

Q: You said you're almost done on five years, will it be seven or six home games those years? "Our goal is going to be six-and-six, we'll see how it works out. Buying a I-AA game now is as expensive as buying a I-A game in the old days. But the I-A guys have found out their worth, and if you're going to strictly buy them you'd better get your checkbook out. If not you'd better be willing to go home-and-home with them. And the thing I like about these two is they're close and will be competitive games for us."

Q: Did Jacksonville State ever pay their penalty? "Yes. The week of the game they didn't show up."

Q: So basically seven home games is strictly a financial decision? "By all means. What we're going try to do is continue to play at least one I-AA game, and that's going to be a buy-game for us. Then we're going to try to balance the other Division I-A games as best we can. And occasionally you can get a chance to have seven, but the primary reason we have seven next year is the way the Houston game falls."

Q: Have any SEC TV partners approached State about an inter-conference game in the future? "Not really. They were involved in trying to put together a game for us this year, but it was a one-year deal and I told them I wasn't going to give up the '08 date to create a problem for '09."

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