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MSU Already Thinking About Expanding Stadium To 80K

Dan Mullen has brought passion and energy to Starkville, Mississippi.  His football program is coming off a 9-4 season and a Gator Bowl romp over traditional power Michigan.  In just two years, Mississippi State’s new coach has the school pushing to expand Davis-Wade Stadium by 5,000 to 7,000 seats.

But he’s only been in town for two years.  It wasn’t so long ago that State was not the fan draw that it is today.  Not to rain on MSU’s parade, but what if Mullen leaves for a bigger stage after next season?  Will the next coach prosper?  Will he keep fans excited?

Despite the possibility of a sudden downturn — Bulldog fans can ask Georgia and Tennessee supporters how quickly things can change — AD Scott Stricklin is already looking toward a second possible expansion of State’s home stadium.

If phase one takes off in the next few years as expected, Scott Field will be surrounded by up to 62,000 fans (compared to the current 55,000).  But Stricklin has had his artists mock up what an 80,000-seat stadium would look like, too.

Now, if it seems like State’s AD has stars in his eyes, know that this second expansion project is targeted for “20-25 years” down the road, if it ever comes to be at all.

For now, however, the focus is on getting the first phase of expansion underway.  And that’s a good thing.  Because I don’t see any jet pack landing pads in the design for the 2031 stadium… and that will surely have to be fixed.

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MSU Starts Raising Funds For New Facilities

Mississippi State kicked off a fundraising drive for new athletic facilities with an online video last night.  Those facilities might include a stadium expansion project at Scott Field.

AD Scott Stricklin wrote a column to launch the school’s “Today.  Tomorrow.  Forever.” initiative.  You can find said column right here.

And you can watch the video right here, courtesy of The Jackson Clarion-Ledger.

The Bulldogs are “well ahead” of last year’s record-setting pace for season-ticket sales.  Consider that — and the new fundraising plan — to be Step One on the road to an enlarged football stadium in Starkville.

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SEC Headlines – 4/5/11 Part Two

1.  A man who was allegedly assaulted with a cowbell at the 2009 Egg Bowl — and I hope that means he was just hit with it — wants to add Mississippi State University as a defendant in his lawsuit against his attacker and the Southeastern Conference.

2.  MSU plans to create some type of “permanent honor” at Scott Field for its all-time greats.

3.  The much-discussed Rebel Black Bear mascot begins its tour of duty this week with a visit to a children’s hospital in Jackson.  (And anyone who wasted any energy arguing over a live-action stuffed animal should be ashamed of themselves.  I’m pretty sure mascots are aimed at folks 10 and under.)

4.  Defensive end Kentrell Lockett wept tears of joy when he got a sixth year of eligibility from the NCAA.

5.  Florida efensive tackle Dominique Easley is known for having an explosive first step.

6.  He was known last year for rumors that he might transfer.

7.  A rash of injuries has forced Will Muschamp to make Saturday’s spring game more of a scrimmage and less of an actual game.

8.  Georgia running back Caleb King is looking for a “breakout season.”

9.  This writer provides an update of five UGA players as the Dawgs rush toward the end of spring drills.

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Mississippi State An Easier Sell Post-Mullen

For a second, let’s play “Worst Case Scenario” with Mississippi State fans.  Let’s say that Florida (or Miami) does woo Dan Mullen away from the cacophony of cowbells in Starkville.

As bad as that news might be, there could be a sliver of positivity mixed in amongst the pain — The MSU job is a better job now because of Mullen.

Sylvester Croom was a good man.  He led the Bulldogs to an 8-win season and a Liberty Bowl berth.  But even at his height, Croom never connected with the fanbase as Mullen has.  Mullen has filled the stands around Scott Field.  His personality has earned him facetime and name recognition on ESPN.  As he has become a big name at State, State’s own name has improved as result.

Should Mullen leave, Scott Stricklin will now have a foundation to point to as he attempts to hook another coach for the Bulldogs:

* MSU is eyeing stadium expansion and facility upgrades

* An excited, ticket-buying, bell-ringing fanbase makes the former necessary… and new SEC television contracts make the latter and the former possible

* MSU can out-gun the state’s flagship school in back-to-back seasons on the football field

* A good recruiter can go head-to-head with that flagship school and ink Top 25 classes in February

Make no mistake, State would be much better off if Mullen simply put down roots and stayed in Starkville.  The school has some successes to sell at this point, but sustained success would make the sell that much easier.

But if Mullen does leave, Stricklin will have an easier time selling MSU to a new coach thanks to what Mullen has accomplished in his first two seasons.

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SEC Headlines – 10/28/10 Part One

1.  According to NCAA stats, Alabama has the toughest remaining schedule in the country.

2.  A sportswriter new to the Alabama beat gives his view of what life’s like covering the Tide.  (An interesting read.)

3.  Auburn’s O-line has made some big improvements in the run game.  It doesn’t hurt having Cam Newton toting the rock.

4.  Mario Fannin’s fumbles could cut into his playing time on The Plains.

5.  LSU is still trying to fix its offense.

6.  Russell Shepard would be the Tigers’ quarterback if anything happened to Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee… but he’s not getting any work in practice at that spot.

7.  Some coaches complain about cowbells, but this writer AND Kentucky’s Joker Phillips say you can’t even hear ‘em.  (I’ve been on the sideline at Scott Field and I could sure hear them.)

8.  Most coaches are steering clear of cowbell talk.

9.  MSU’s defense played one of its worst games against UAB last week.

10.  Ole Miss safety Damien Jackson is questionable for Saturday’s game with Auburn.  Jackson is the Rebels’ second-leading tackler.

11.  The Rebels are becoming a trendy pick to upset the Tigers.

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