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South Alabama series meets MSU football's needs


Danny P Smith



Mississippi State considers the new three-game contract to play South Alabama in football a win-win situation for both parties. 


Considering the economics and benefits for the Bulldogs, the deal was too good for the school to pass up. 


Scott Strickland, MSU''s associate athletic director for scheduling, said putting together a 12-game schedule with at least seven home games per year is a goal, and getting South Alabama helps accomplish that goal. 


"The SEC schedule is challenging and we want to be in a position to be in a bowl game every year, so we want to put together a compatible schedule in non-conference games in such a way that we know the chance is there," Strickland said. "From a competitive standpoint, it made a lot of sense to get a two for one with South Alabama." 


MSU will play host to the Jaguars on Sept. 22, 2012, and on Sept. 10, 2016. It will travel to Mobile, Ala., on Sept. 13, 2014. 


The Bulldogs will pay out $350,000 for the first home game, then the other games the home team pays the other team $150,000. 


Stickland said economically it makes sense because MSU will get two home games against a team that will count as a Division I. 


Considering Georgia has to play out $925,000 for one home game against New Mexico State in two years, MSU believes going the two for one route makes for the best situation. 


"There are a lot of challenges because of the guarantees people are asking for these days," Strickland said. "Georgia probably makes $3 or 4 million for every home game and they can afford that. We make about $1 million for every home game. To avoid that, two for one works really well in trying to get a seven-game home schedule as much as possible." 


Les Koenning, who spent one year as South Alabama''s offensive coordinator before joining Dan Mullen''s staff in the same capacity, agrees the deal helps both schools.  


"The administration (at South Alabama) is behind football," Koenning said. "It''s a very exciting time in Mobile. Mobile is a great area and coach (Joey) Jones does such a great job." 


Strickland said an opportunity for MSU to visit a city like Mobile, Ala., and cater to its fanbase there was attractive.  


"We have a lot of fans and alumni down there," Strickland said. "It''s also valuable for recruiting because there is a lot of talent down there." 


Strickland said MSU Athletic Director Greg Byrne and Mullen, who were both traveling and didn''t return phone messages seeking comment, agreed the situation helps MSU reach its objectives in football scheduling. 


From South Alabama''s perspective, athletic director Joe Gottfried said the ability to schedule teams like MSU and other Southeastern Conference schools says the program is committed to football. 


"It will be a great plus for our program as we build for the future," Gottfried said. 


The 2013 season will be South Alabama''s first as an NCAA Division I-A (Football Bowl Subdivision) school, and the first fall the Jaguars will compete in the Sun Belt Conference and will be eligible for a bowl game. 


South Alabama previously announced it will play Tennessee in Knoxville, Tenn., in 2013, a three-game contract with North Carolina State, which includes a 2015 contest in Mobile, Ala., and a four-game, home-and-home series with Navy that will begin in Annapolis in 2013. 


Koenning has great respect for Gottfried and believes he has the Jaguars moving in a positive direction. 


"They''ve got that new $10 million building going up and it''s a gorgeous place," Koenning said. "The situation to move to Mississippi State was a good situation for myself and my family, but I really enjoyed Mobile and I enjoyed coach Jones, the administration, and the staff there." 




Football makes grade 


For the first time since the NCAA began releasing its Academic Progress Rate data, MSU''s football program had a mark of more than 925. 


Football had a 933 score and anything below the 925 mark subjects a school to penalties. 


That won''t be the case with the Bulldogs as all teams'' APRs were better than last year. 




Well-rounded Farlow 


Senior men''s tennis player Ryan Farlow has impacted MSU with his game, his academics, and his service. 


Last week, Farlow was chosen second-team All-SEC and was given one of 22 Spirit of State Awards for his contributions to campus life, including involvement in student organizations, services to other within the university community and actions that promote the spirit and tradition of MSU. 


Academically, Farlow was recognized with the Newsom Award for being the student-athlete with the highest grade-point average and was named an ITA Scholar Athlete. 


"I''ve always tried to be diversified," Farlow said. "If you are just an athlete and you don''t participate in the community and you are not here for academics, then you are not very diversified." 


When he came to college, Farlow wanted to be a well-rounded student and to put academics first, tennis second and community service third. 


"In winning these awards, I''ve accomplished even more than I thought I would," Farlow said. 




In compliance 


Q: What are the hourly and weekly limits on countable athletically related activities? 


A: During the academic year when the sport is in-season, the limits on countable activities are no more than four hours per day, 20 hours per week with one day off during that week. Out-of-season limits are eight hours per week with two days off for that week. 




Schedule addition 


The MSU baseball team will play the University of Mississippi in Oxford at 6:30 p.m. Friday, 3 p.m. Saturday, and 1:30 p.m. Sunday. 


The MSU softball team will play Mississippi Valley State at 3 p.m. Friday in a home doubleheader.



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