Stricklin Keeps the Ball Rolling

Scott Stricklin hasn’t been caught by surprise or overwhelmed during his first year as Mississippi State’s athletics director. As I wrote in Sunday’s Journal, the 41-year-old has carried on the vision set forth by his predecessor, Greg Byrne.

Byrne, who’s now at Arizona, was a tough act to follow. He’s the guy who hired Dan Mullen, and that’s shaping up to be possibly his greatest legacy. But Byrne had other big things go down on his watch, for example: the formation of plans for big-time improvements to Davis Wade Stadium; the building of the Mize Pavilion (basketball practice facility); a significant increase in private donations.

It’s a high standard for Stricklin to try and live up to, but he seems to have made a seamless transition from chief fundraiser to chief of the department.

“I think I understood the job,” he said. “I’d been in athletics and worked with enough ADs to know what went into it. It’s always a different perspective when you’re in that position as opposed to watching someone else be in it.”

Stricklin said it’s been a rewarding experience.

“If you’re an insurance agent, there’s probably not a lot of people lined up to criticize your work or compliment you. A lot of people have great livings doing that, but one of the neat things about what we do is people are so passionate about it, and people care and have such interest in the goings-on. It’s kind of neat waking up every day knowing that you’re in that kind of field.”

When I spoke with Stricklin for about a half-hour last Wednesday, we covered several topics, including private giving, about which I’ll be writing in the coming days.

Here’s what Stricklin had to say on some of those other matters.

• He said MSU will be meeting with architechts later this month to finalize planning of the football complex that’s going to be built. As for breaking ground, that depends on how quickly money is raised, but it’s coming in pretty steadily. “I’m hoping we’ll be in position to move forward soon,” Stricklin said.

• They haven’t yet moved furniture into Mize Pavilion, but that should happen very soon.

• Stricklin said the University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium gave MSU a lot of inspiration when dreaming up a new look for Davis Wade Stadium. Minnesota worked with Populous, the same group MSU is using.

• Stricklin said he’s heard nothing about fines for violations of the SEC’s cowbell rule, and might not hear anything until next month’s meetings in Destin, Fla.