Article Comment 

USM, MSU expected to renew football rivalry


Danny P Smith



STARKVILLE -- A press conference to announce details of a football series between Mississippi State and Southern Miss was scheduled for noon today at the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum in Jackson  


MSU President Dr. Mark Keenum and Athletic Director Greg Byrne were expected to be joined by USM President Martha Saunders and Athletic Director Richard Giannini. 


The Bulldogs and Golden Eagles haven''t played each other since 1990. Southern Miss leads the series 14-12-1. 


There has been speculation for months about the schools renewing the rivalry. Home-and-home matchups between the Bulldogs and Golden Eagles could take place within two years. 


On Tuesday, Byrne didn''t confirm a deal with Southern Miss had been completed, but he was keeping his scheduling options open. 


"Scheduling has changed dramatically and the non-BCS (Bowl Championship Series) schools have been real unified in saying they need $1 million for a guaranteed game," Byrne said. "There are some schools we have talked to about playing a home-and-home with that quite frankly don''t want to play us.. We had some interest in playing them." 


Byrne has a "good relationship" with Giannini and knows USM football coach Larry Fedora. 


"(Fedora''s) dad is a barber in College Station, Tex., where my parents live," Byrne said. 


n Dealing with the crowds: Byrne doesn''t mind having large crowds at home football games. 


Although managing an attendance of 54,000 people or greater is a challenge, Byrne is determined to make game days a more pleasant experience. 


Another huge crowd is expected Saturday for MSU''s 11:21 a.m. kickoff against No. 7 LSU at Davis-Wade Stadium. 


A crowd of 54,232, the third-largest in MSU history, watched MSU beat Jackson State 45-7 on Sept. 5. 


Byrne said athletic department officials have met with law enforcement agencies on how to better manage traffic flow on and off of campus. The university''s Game Day Committee has made recommendations that will be implemented this week. 


A training session with gate workers and scanners will be Friday to finalize last-minute details. 


"We are encouraging people to arrive and get inside the stadium earlier," Byrne said. "When you have 54,000 people, it''s hard trying to get a crowd in the last 20-30 minutes before kickoff." 


Byrne released some numbers that showed more than half the crowd for the Jackson State game entered the stadium 30 minutes before kickoff. 


Just 21 percent of the stadium crowd (not counting students) arrived an hour or more prior to kickoff. 


Byrne said game-management officials plan to do their best to help the process along, but the fans have a responsibility too. 


"We need to spread everything out the best we can," Byrne said. 


Gate 3 has become a fan-only gate, and a separate gate has been created for parents and players adjacent to Gate 3. 


Byrne said dealing with large crowds is a good problem and that his department is serious about meeting the demand. 


"We want to make sure the experience for the fans is as good as possible," Byrne said. 




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Reader Comments

Article Comment Leeroy Jenkins commented at 9/24/2009 2:09:00 PM:

Southern didn't actually WIN 14 games. State had to forfeit 2 wins due to some shady acquisition of clothing.,7222476

MSU has beaten USM 14 times.


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