April 19, 2012 1:18:55 PM
STARKVILLE - Without further ado:
Item No. 1 - Conversation with Mississippi State University Director of Athletics Scott Stricklin -
The Dispatch MSU Sports Blog sat down with Mississippi State University Director of Athletics Scott Stricklin to talk about Super Bulldog Weekend and the men's basketball coaching search.
Dispatch: "What's the financial situation looking like as we prepare for Super Bulldog Weekend ticket numbers to come in? What's the goal that needs to be hit here?"
Stricklin: "Well...we'd like to sell between 20-25,000 (tickets) and everybody needs to understand that uncharted territory in the sense that we've never pre-sold spring game tickets before. It should be pointed out that we have sold spring game tickets in the past for something like $5 or $10, something like that. We've never had a concert in the stadium before so we had nothing to go off of. Concert promoters that we're working with tell us where we are and tell us that we'll hit that 20-25,000 mark for events like this. We've sold out all of our premium areas - our skyboxes, our clubs, our higher priced tickets so again, we're not doing this to make money (and) we'd love to break even. There's a certain number we go into this where we say if we fall short of breaking even it's a marketing expense because we want to create some energy and unique experience that we haven't had before."
Dispatch: "Would you do the spring game experience this way again or change some things? Specifically would you charge for tickets to the spring game because of a Sugarland concert again?
Stricklin: "I think it's too soon to tell. We'll sit back this weekend and the fact we're doing this gives us another opportunity like we do every Super Bulldog Weekend to take notes of things. One of the things I've noticed is everybody gets excited and shows up at the stadium and that's great but then about five to 10 minutes into the game, the excitement just seeping out of the balloon because it's a glorified practice or scrimmage. There's nothing wrong with that but some people when they realize this is all it is, it allows for an opportunity there to have something else along with it. It's attempt to keep that excitement and energy going. We don't want to be caught with the grass growing under our feet."
Dispatch: Would you be interested in doing a home-and-home deal like Clemson head coach Dabo Sweeney suggested with another Division 1 school that's not on the schedule in the future? Is that a bad idea?
Stricklin: "I don't know. I've seen some headlines and saw your Twitter posts about it. I think on the surface it's a great way to keep that energy going. One of the great things about the spring game though is everybody leaves feeling good about their football program. So...that would a concern to have four months to build back up over something that didn't really matter. However, I do think you'd sell a lot of tickets and be a lot of interest from numerous circles no doubt. From that standpoint, it's a pretty cool idea. It's an interesting concept to think about. I know the NCAA is going to deemphasizing non in-season events more and more. So we have soccer, softball and volleyball that do play out of season events in exhibitions so I think they're going to push to eliminate those."
Dispatch: "I feel like I asked you a question that you couldn't answer in a fair way. Now that you've had some time to think about it: what did you learn negatively and positively about the experience and process?"
Stricklin: "You do learn a lot about how your school is perceived and what your school's strengths and weaknesses. I just think that has a lot of intense conversations with a wide spectrum of people, you'll learn a lot. I feel every day that goes by, any time you change leadership, there's a new buzz that's been created. That's happening here or anywhere there's transition. Everybody likes and gets revitalized by new. I love the fact that Coach Ray was very decisive in putting a staff together and didn't waste a lot of time doing that. I haven't seen much of him because he's trying to get the roster where we need it to be and there's some good structure there academically with those folks."
Dispatch: "I guess I'm troubled by the fact that I still believe that you can stack wins on top of wins and build something there. Trying to actively go out and get somebody that has a personality you can market is a little one-sided in my view. How about trying to get the best basketball coach possible and then figuring our how to let the marketing people do their job in selling that person to the public? See what I mean?"
Stricklin: "I don't think they're mutually exclusive. Coach Mullen is a perfect example that you can win and sell at the same time. That's what we want. We wanted somebody that knows how to build a program and know there's substance to the program and it's being run in a way that everybody feels good about. At the same time, by doing that - you're going to win if all those things happen. I think when you settle for one or the other, you're selling our university short. You have to have somebody that can do it all. It wasn't hey, let's go hire somebody that can sell and not worry about the basketball. That's why when I throw out those traits - the intelligence piece is the most critical piece. Really smart people recognize very quickly that you need to be proficient in everything. You got have great coaches, great players, leadership skills and the ability to sell. Really smart people don't just focus on one thing - they have enough about them that they can cover one spectrum."
Dispatch: "What was the point to the message to the fans to stay patient throughout the process? It seemed like that created more panic with the fanbase."
Stricklin: "Just I'd been in a technically in a bunker for a while and felt the need to communicate with the fans about the process as much as I could. I guess I could've said be anxious but I chose the word 'patient' for whatever reason. Your options are one or the other. Really, the message was we want a coach that fit those qualities so don't forget this is what we're looking for. Just trying to communicate with the fans."
Dispatch: "You've made some significant hires in your department that have your footprint on MSU athletics now, your thoughts on if those hires are a reflection on your performance as AD?"
Stricklin: "I think all of us are judged on the totality of what we do. Coaches are judged on their recruiting but also on wins/losses, how his players do away from the court/field and the AD will be judged by how are people enjoying their experiences at MSU? Are they buying tickets, giving to the Bulldog Club, are you attracting quality staff members to push your programs further? I hope it's the totality of everything. Different people will focus on different things - just like a coach. I'm a process guy so if the structure is in place and the process in place and the plan is being executed then more often than not you'll be in a good spot."
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