Websider Q&A with Bill Byrne

Aggie Websider's Dallas Shipp sits down with Texas A&M Director of Athletics and asks questions straight from AW premium subscribers. See what he had to say.

AW: Your biggest impact so far on fans has been the coaches that you've brought in. Sometimes you bring in a proven coach like Gary Blair or Pat Henry and then other times you've hired an assistant like Rob Childress. What is your philosophy on hiring coaches?
Byrne: I want someone who fits our culture, who is driven to be successful, someone who gets us and not everyone can do that. I work really hard at making sure they have the same values we do, that they have the same level of success, that they treat their athletes right, that they'll treat their assistants right and that they'll interact with our fans. There are certain people that this just isn't the right place for them. I think every coach we've brought here has fit. They just get it.

Turgeon just got his second recruit out of Florida. When you first got here, you were really big on recruiting Texas, but have we reached the next stage now and are ready to recruit nationally?
Byrne: Yeah. We've stepped up from a regional recruiting base to a national recruiting base and Mark has brought that with him. We're going to continue to recruit Texas hard, that's our no. 1 objective, but if we cant get the kids in Texas that we think would be good for our program, we'll go elsewhere.

Do you see ticket prices continuing to rise?
Byrne: I think ticket prices will continue to rise as long as gasoline continues to go up, tuition and fees continue to go up, the price of utilities continue to go up. We have to continue to pay our bills and ticket prices are the biggest area.

How big of a percentage of revenue are from tickets?
Byrne: Probably 40-50 percent and if you combine that with contributions from the 12th Man Foundation, then you're talking about big numbers.

What is your scheduling philosophy for football?
Byrne: Schedule strategically. With the BCS where only winning matters, you don't try to schedule yourself out of the national championship. That's why you're not seeing the great match ups on TV. You're also finding out with the parity that everyone has players. Ask Michigan. Louisiana Monroe could have beaten Clemson. They've got about five guys on their team who are NFL type players.

Would you ever consider reducing student tickets in order to lower the price of tickets around the stadium?
Byrne: No. The 12th Man is what makes Texas A&M. That's our culture, that's our history. We can't change that.

Where would you like to be as far as revenue in football.
Byrne: I haven't thought of a number. We need to pay our bills and we need to generate revenue and get a reserve fund set up. We need to sell out Kyle Field. We had 20,000 left to sell for season tickets. We are not even close to selling out. We had about 36,000 season tickets and 30,000 student tickets. That's only 66,000 tickets in a 90,000 seat arena.

Do you think Aggies' expectations are too high right now or are they about right?
Byrne: Aggies are like every other fan base. They love to win, they hate to tie and even worse to lose. WE're like everybody else. I know we like to tell ourselves we're better but the facts are if you get blown out you hate that, and if you get blown out too often, you're not going to come back. That was very evident with our basketball program. When we lost to Oklahoma 77-0, people ran from us. They couldn't get away from us fast enough and now that we've started coming back and people are starting to come back.

What's the latest on moving the Tech game to Dallas
Byrne: I don't think that's going to happen.

Are there any other teams that you'd like to play there?
Byrne: There's a lot, but right now they're not interested in playing us.

Is there any way to get rid of the bats at Kyle Field?
Byrne: They're a protected species so we can't kill them. We're trying to seal every crack, but when we saw varsity's horns off the stadium moves and opens up those cracks. Now the positives are, we don't have any mosquitoes to speak of. The bats eat the mosquitoes and we're all for that. Now if we can just find a way to bag up all the fertilizer they leave behind and sell it.

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