Athletic Directors Talk About MSU vs JSU Game

Athletic Directors Byrne and Braddy talk in a little more detail about the upcoming 2009 season game between MSU and JSU.

MSU AD Greg Byrne

I know you want to have seven home games each year if possible. And this will give you seven for 2009.
"Our goal is to have that. We aren't promising that, but that's our goal."

Do you have any other seventh game schedules set up as of right now?
"We are just working on all of our non-conference schedules right now. We are pretty much set through 2011, although we have one game open for both years. We will probably try to schedule I-AA for both those years."

With the additional ESPN contract money coming into your budget in the 2010 season, that should make it easier to buy a 7th home game.
"It helps, but you also have to look at what your gross receipts for a game is and how much of that you are willing to spend. We have so many needs facility-wise, salary-wise for some of our Olympic sports coaches, travel cost increases, tuition increases ... there are a lot of different areas that money is going to be spent on."

I understand that. But how I look at it is the more home games you have in football the more chances you have of having more wins, the more wins you have the more people who will come to games and the more people who buy tickets the more money you generate. Because of that, it seems like seven home games a season would be very beneficial financially and be a very high priority.
"We are going to do everything we can within our budget to have seven home games. But we aren't going to spend money blindly."

Why did you decide on Jackson State for that 7th home game? Because of their tradition?
"Because of their tradition and it worked for the schedule. You obviously have to find someone who has an open date that works for you."

They should also bring a good crowd as well, shouldn't they?
"We certainly anticipate that they will bring a good crowd, which makes sense for us economically compared to a lot of the other I-AA teams that are out there."

Will their fans get a discount or will they pay the regular price for tickets?
"They will pay the same rate."

So, their fans will help offset the $315,000 that you are paying Jackson State?
"Absolutely. We are planning on it."

Jackson State is just one of several D-IAA schools in Mississippi. Are you going to consider all the other schools for potential home games in the future?
"We are open to all possibilities. And obviously this (JSU) game is one game. We'll see how it goes for us. And if everything goes for us like we expect it to, we will certainly be open to other discussions down the road."

Have you had any actual conversations with any of the other I-AA schools in Mississippi?
"I've had a brief discussion with Alcorn. And they are very interested, but I have no idea if that would ever happen."

Have you talked to Bob Braddy about the possibility of continuing this game if it is successful for both parties?
"No, we have only had very brief conversations about future years. We want to see how it goes for both schools. And if it is a good experience for Jackson State and Mississippi State, then we certainly could explore that down the road."

You mentioned that you sat down in an airport and came up with this. But it didn't start then. So, how did it come about?
"Looking at our future football schedules, we wanted to find a way to ensure seven home games as often as possible. When we were in Ruston before the Louisiana Tech game started, I was talking to their football schedule person and asked him if they would be interested in moving to a different year for a follow up game. We went back and forth and found a mutual year that would work for us (2012). And we found them another opponent to play (next year)."

How many tickets are being reserved for Jackson State?
"They are getting 2,500 tickets."

Bob Braddy said Jackson State travels well, even up to 15,000 to 20,000 fans. What will you do if they need more than 2,500 tickets, put in temporary seats? (Mike Nemeth, who was standing beside Greg at the time, answered this question.)
Nemeth "We are going to have plenty of seats because next year we have Alabama and Ole Miss at home. And we provide them 10,000 (tickets) each."

JSU AD Bob Braddy

How will this game benefit Jackson State financially other than from the money that MSU will pay to Jackson State>
"Due to the fact that our season ticket holders will get first preference to buy tickets for the Mississippi State game is something that will benefit us from a season ticket perspective. It will also encourage others to buy season tickets. Because the tickets will probably be scarce, it will be an additional perk for those that purchase season tickets.

"But I think what this is going to do more than anything else is make our fans become even more supportive than they already are by buying season tickets in advance, by participating in the gameday experience. That's how it's going to help us."

What is the benefit to Jackson State on the field?
"When you think about the SEC, to me it's the best football conference in the country. To know that your players and coaches are going to have the opportunity to be exposed to the caliber of play in the SEC, it is unsurmountable to compare the things it's going to bring to us. We are going to see how the big boys live. I know that you may say that Mississippi State is not up there with the Floridas as far as revenue is concerned, but we consider Mississippi State at the top in a lot of categories."

Would you like to have a big-money game like this on your schedule every year?
"There is no doubt that we would like to have a big-money game on our schedule every year. I suppose it is going to boil down to how the fans respond to this game. Certainly if you have a sellout, I feel that Greg (Byrne) and the State fans would want to play it again, if for no other reason than the revenue."

Probably less so if they lose to Jackson State.
"Anything is a possibility. That's one thing about the game of sports, regardless of what the sport is. A blind squirrel finds an acorn once in awhile. I know that our players are going to play hard and our coaches are going to coach hard. And I'm sure that Coach Croom would be the first to tell you they aren't going to take us lightly because he knows that our guys are going to see this as that one opportunity for David to beat Goliath. And that will be a driving force. And our fans will see this as an opportunity to brag with their Mississippi State friends and buddies.

"Let's face it, Mississippi State probably has more to lose than us because we are expected to lose. But we are coming in with the intentions that we can compete and that we can put up a barometer on our program to see where we are in comparison to schools in Division-IA."

Do you see this game as a way to open up doors with other SEC schools?
"No doubt about it. I expect it to be a road map for other schools to give us an opportunity to play."

I know you have to be fair to your football coaches, but you also want to make as much money as you can as an athletic director. How many of these type games can you play a year and be fair to your coaches?
"I would think if you can get the right agreement and play one a year that would probably take us through our budget year and two most definitely would."

If this game is successful and it allows you to start scheduling SEC type teams in the future will it benefit Jackson State's future football recruiting?
"There is no doubt that it will help our football recruiting program. And it could spill over into other sports."

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the website, the source for Mississippi State sports on the sports network. You can contact him by emailing

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