Just as Dan Mullen reflects on his season-opening win over Jackson State and looks for things to correct, Mississippi State’s athletic director Scott Stricklin reviews the school’s first game, figuring out what went well and what could’ve been better.
Mullen and his coaches meet in the film room. Stricklin and his staff meet in the conference room.
The goal for both is simple: review, critique, learn and get better.
Everyone from media relations and marketing to parking and game operations, as well as the Bulldog Club and ticket office, met with Stricklin on Monday morning. Ironically appropriate that on Labor Day, MSU reviewed a weekend full of work.
Although, while there were a baker’s dozen in the room sitting around the long table, the input of those from all over made it into the meeting of MSU’s higher-ups.
Whether through email, via Twitter mentions to @hailstate or by simple word of mouth, game-goers and Bulldog fans had their comments – both positive and negative – read aloud for the room to hear.
The most common remarks?
Several wrote in to express their delight at the cleanliness of the stadium and campus when they got to town. A surprisingly many more exclaimed their pleasure with the friendliness of game workers.
But, perhaps even more surprising than that, the most common complaint was about … hot dogs?
Yep. Turns out the fans of this agriculturally-strong school were not pleased with the pork.
The rebuttal, however, was about as strong as it can get, this coming from near the head of the table:
“I ate one. It was great.”
But yes, hot dogs – and concessions as a whole – were discussed at length. The room at large expressed the need to monitor the quality of all bun-encased meats, peanuts, nachos and even cups.
As for impartial concerns, several tweets and emails expressed an issue with audio coming from the jumbotron and even the referees on the field. The complaint was not that it was too loud or too quiet, but rather, it was distorted and unclear.
This particular topic was both serious and heavily-discussed, as the staff put plans in place to, first, figure out the problem, and second, of course, fix it.
Several other thoughts came up, such as the need for more drink vendors walking the aisles of the stadium (noted), the disappointment of a few locked port-a-pottys on campus (it turns out they were the property of a construction company), a disconnected debit card machine in one of the concession lines (easy fix there), and even a suggestion to mic up the Famous Maroon Band so they can be heard more clearly throughout the stadium (a thought that was considered on a future and possibly more permanent basis when Davis Wade Stadium is expanded). Naturally, a complaint or two about drinks being thrown in the student section came up, where security is already beefed up, but more officers may be added.
Of course, as you can imagine, one of the longest discussions was parking. Though as you might not imagine, there were surprisingly few complaints or problems.
As one member of the staff put it, “It was a pretty banner day,” considering parking services didn’t get their final plan until 9:30 Saturday morning because of the rain. The water falling from the sky certainly complicated things, with some grass lots unavailable, but the staff made do and did so seemingly well.
Most of the hiccups came from smaller details, ones which are certainly easy to overlook on the first go-round.
A few people had confusion with how to get on campus or find their way around once they were there. Confusion arose with a few members of the media, as they were split into two lots, with the usual parking area sitting under a couple inches of water. The post-game routine for the coaches’ wives getting to their cars had changed and they were a little surprised. Those issues are [relatively] easily fixed.
Much of the conversation, however, focused on the next game. Auburn comes to town on Saturday for an 11 a.m. kick, nationally-televised on ESPN. Traffic and parking, obviously, will be intense. For Jackson State, the traffic was spread out, both before and after, as it was an evening kickoff and a game that was in-hand fairly early.
This Saturday, MSU expects everyone to be arriving on campus around the same time. And you can bet your maroon tailgating tent there won’t be streams of fans exiting the stands early against Auburn.
Should they change the times for road-closings on campus? Should officers stand guard and wave traffic through at stop signs on the way off of campus? What can MSU do to emphasize to fans the need to arrive early?
All are questions asked and discussed, some with easy answers and some with heavy debate.
The biggest takeaway: get to campus early.
Oh, and we got to the bottom of the pile-up in the smoke as MSU players took the field. It turns out a photographer was on the edge of visibility, hoping for what probably would’ve been a cool shot, when a fully-padded, heavy-cleated lineman burst through the fog and happened to be a little closer than the picture-taker expected.
Also, if you play or coach for Auburn, don’t worry: the leaky toilet in the vistor’s locker room has been fixed.