A One-On-One With MSU AD Greg Byrne

After his meeting with the general media Friday afternoon, I sat down with Mississippi State athletic director Greg Byrne and talked one-on-one with him about certain things that he didn't expand on in the general meeting and a couple of other things that weren't talked about.

Why did you visit the specific schools that you visited? What was unique about each one of them?
"As we are embarking on our facility master plan to get ideas and thoughts that we think will work well here at Mississippi State, we were looking at schools that, for the most part, were similar in the budget area - although Nebraska and Arkansas are higher than ours - and had made some really good progress in some of their different venues."

What I'm referring to was there something specific about each school's facilities, maybe one had a special baseball stadium or something special about the football stadium, or possibly even the olympic sports' facilities?
"Some of them we had connections to. Scott Stricklin had worked at Baylor and we had been told that they had done a nice job. We knew Arkansas has a good (baseball) stadium and we wanted to find out what they like about it and what they didn't like about it. We also wanted to see their golf facility. Really, we spent a lot of time at many different areas there. Oregon and Oregon State, I knew had done a lot with their facilities. What we wanted to see at Oregon State was the east side of their football stadium. At Oregon, what we wanted to see was their football complex and their stadium. And they are building a new basketball arena, so we saw that. Their track is obviously one of the best in the world. We wanted to see Nebraska's baseball complex and their football complex, as well as their softball (facility)."

This was really a tour to come up with ideas to enhance your facilities, not build new ones, right?
"Yes, enhance what we already have and understand what our long-range goals and objectives should be for our facilities. And what we think will work well within the framework of Mississippi State.

"You always have to continue coming up with what is your next step with each venue, with each facility. Some of those things are ones you can definitely see and other things aren't. That's why you want to go and see things first-hand."

After visiting each of these schools and seeing their facilities, what are some facilities already at MSU that impresses you even more?
"We have a great academic center. Our football training facility is good and we will need to continue updating that. The playing area in the Hump is really good and we have a great atmosphere there. Dudy Noble is still one of the special places in college baseball.

"But we also need to look at all of those facilities and figure out what are our next steps with them. That's what the trip allowed us to do."

What were some things that you and John Cohen saw at other baseball facilities that gave you ideas on how to enhance the look of Dudy Noble?
"Really, it's our high-end seating such as skyboxes which would generate revenue and allow you to pay for other enhancements. Also, creating family areas, too. Nebraska had a big family play area in the corner of their outfield where the kids could play while the parents watched the game."

What were some other things you saw at the different venues that impressed you?
"Some of the schools have done a really nice job of using graphics similar to what we did at Dudy Noble (with the baseball banners in the concourse) but even expanding it further to where it has consistent themes that tells their message throughout their facilities. You can see that theme when you go from one facility to another one. Baylor and Nebraska did good jobs with that. (The themes) said we understand our mission and where we are going."

You mentioned in the meeting with the entire media that Oregon has made themselves very unique. You didn't really expand on that. What specially do you mean by that statement?
"Oregon has made themselves unique because of their uniforms. And they have been very active in using advancements in technology. They have been really great on the video side using a lot of emotions with that. It's something that their current student-athletes and recruits really get into. They have been aggressive with billboards throughout their state. Those are things we are going to work on."

To read the entire Q&A transcript of the meeting with the media earlier Friday afternoon, click here.

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on the Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing swindoll@genespage.com.

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