March 26, 2011 11:09:00 PM
STARKVILLE -- The Mississippi State football team will jump at the opportunity to get more exposure.
That was the thinking behind MSU''s decision to accept the University of Memphis'' offer to move their season-opening game in Memphis from Sept. 3 to Sept. 1 (Thursday).
On Friday, MSU Director of Athletics Scott Stricklin confirmed he and Memphis Athletic Director R.C. Johnson had agreed to move the game to help the Tigers accommodate their agreement with Conference USA''s TV deal with Fox Sports.
The deal hasn''t been finalized, and a game time hasn''t been set.
The Memphis Commercial Appeal reported the story Friday morning.
While the move from Saturday to Thursday might dash MSU fans'' travel plans, the benefit for the program is tremendous.
The move allows MSU to begin fall camp two days earlier and to have two extra days to prepare for its Southeastern Conference opener at Auburn the following week.
Coming off the Auburn road trip, MSU will have its second Thursday night game in three weeks when it plays host to LSU at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 15 (ESPN).
"There''s times when something like this might be brought up but it doesn''t make sense," Stricklin said. "We felt like this being the first game, our classes start earlier than most schools, so even starting practice a day or two earlier, that''s another day or two you have to do two-a-days. It frees up a little bit more time on the front end of that schedule, and then the benefit of having that first game and then catching your breath a little bit."
Since the Memphis match is a road game, the move to Thursday ensures the Bulldogs'' opener will be on TV, as it''s not part of the Southeastern Conference''s TV deal with CBS/ESPN.
"The other thing is, when we have opportunities to play home games on Thursdays we''re always appreciative of those who accommodate us, so you''d like to accommodate the other school," Stricklin said.
Stricklin added the SEC wants its league to play a number of Thursday night games at home, though it is not part of the ESPN contract. The school doesn''t have as much say in it as the league.
Also of note with SEC teams'' home games, CBS must agree to sign off and not to carry the game for it to be moved to Thursday.
"There''s not a whole lot of schools that are willing to do it," Stricklin said. "Fortunately, our profile, because of the success we''ve had with Dan, is a little bit higher, and ESPN is a little more interested in us. Those two things combined make a good opportunity. There might be a time when it doesn''t make any sense."