August 29, 2014 11:26:50 AM
STARKVILLE -- Bill Martin has spent nearly 14 years working in media relations within the Southeastern Conference, spending most of that time at LSU.
But after being hired as Mississippi State assistant director for media relations and now serving as the school's sports information director for football, Martin will begin his first season in Starkville when MSU plays host to Southern Mississippi at 6:30 p.m. Saturday on the SEC Network. Sports writer Brandon Walker sat down with Martin on Thursday to discuss the new job, this season, and the MSU football program.
Dispatch: You are eight months into the job, what are your impressions so far?
Martin: Love it. It's a great place, a great staff. It's everything I thought it would be and more. When I came for my interview, I was attracted to the place because of the hospitality and southern feel to it, the family environment. The leadership of the athletic department as a whole was just fantastic. I knew a lot of people here before I took the job. When (Athletic Director Scott Stricklin) talks about the blue-collar mentality, the fits me. Work ethic, working hard is probably No. 1 on my list of important thing, and everybody does that here.
Dispatch: We are two days from game day in your first season at MSU. What has game week been like for you?
Martin: Hectic. It always will be because you're getting back into the flow of things. Once you get an established routine, you'll be fine. Also, there's not a SID in the country who hasn't had a hectic first week because you're getting back into a routine. All of the preseason checklists you have to go through makes you very busy. And I'm kind of like a control freak when it comes to making sure things run smoothly.
Dispatch: MSU probably has more individual hype than any team in recent memory. A lot of people want to talk to Dak Prescott, a lot of people want to talk to Dan Mullen. How has that affected your job this summer?
Martin: I expected that to happen. That only happens, not because of us, but it comes from having great players. What they've accomplished in the past has led them to this offseason hype. That's what makes our jobs fun. It's more work, but that's what we do, and that's what we want to do. We always want to promote players.
Dispatch: This is your first season here, so you don't have a point of reference, but to your knowledge, how much more attention from national and regional media has this team generated this summer?
Martin: Unprecedented. One, you have the establishment of the SEC Network, which not only do they gather info and footage for pieces that go on the Network, but since it's owned by ESPN, a lot of those pieces have been shown on College Football Live, SportsCenter. In addition to that, having a guy like Dak Prescott, what he's accomplished. He's a joy to work with.
Dispatch: Let's place Dak Prescott as the face of MSU's football program. As faces of the team go, how does he stack up to some of the guys you've worked with in the past?
Martin: One of the best I've ever worked with. His talent speaks for itself, but his leadership skills are second to none. The key word I like to use is charismatic. He's always engaging to fans. Doesn't matter who it is, he takes time to talk. He gets it.
Dispatch: What do you expect game day to be like Saturday?
Martin: Exciting. I've always said that the day I don't get excited for game day is the day I walk away from this job. That has never been the case in the 14 years I've done this. You get an adrenaline rush because this is what you love to do. This is what we prepare for all these months. You take pride in the fact you'll have hundreds of media members coming to your press box. You want to be hospitable to them. There will be bumps in the road because this is the first game, but the important thing is to stay calm and enjoy what you do.
Dispatch: Saturday will mark the unveiling of a $75 million expansion at Davis Wade Stadium. Does that add another level of excitement?
Martin: No question. We are going to have the largest crowd to ever see a football game here. We are doing a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 3:30 p.m. Just the overall fan-friendliness of it is awesome. For fans who have been true to the program for so long, for those fans to get to experience something like this ... It's special. It's exciting. We have an enclosed north end zone now. That's only going to make this place louder.
Follow Dispatch sports writer Brandon Walker on Twitter @BWonStateBeat