According to athletics director Scott Stricklin, this is a case of athletic and academic calendars intersecting to mutual advantage. “We appreciate the University administration assisting us with this national television appearance,” Stricklin said Tuesday in an official statement. “The University has already scheduled the campus fall break for Thursday and Friday of that week, ensuring this opportunity does not interrupt classes and the academic mission of the University.”
From the purely practical standpoint of Coach Dan Mullen, having an open date exactly half-way into the season and a bonus shorter break in advance of the South Carolina road trip is a double-advantage. And of course, the chance for some welcome and uncontested advertising in the popular Thursday TV slot.
“The ESPN Thursday night package is yet another opportunity for us to show off Mississippi State to a large audience,” Mullen said. Also, “With us have an off-week prior to the Kentucky game, it was a move that made a lot of sense.”
The coincidental timing with fall break also avoids the sort of campus conflicts, particularly with school-day traffic and arriving fan and motorhome parking, which complicates most weeknight games. Thus regular gameday tailgating and traffic policies are maintained this time. Mississippi State certainly has its share of experience with these games, too.
Since the 1992 season Scott Field has been on the Thursday night lights eleven times, most recently in 2011, with a 4-7 record. In all Bulldog teams have played 14 times in regular-season Thursdays. One of those was the 1999 thriller with the Wildcats, won on a last chance field goal 23-22 by the Bulldogs.
Mississippi State had already worked with the league office and network partners in agreeing to a season-opening contest with Oklahoma State in Houston’s Reliant Stadium on Labor Day weekend. Despite accommodating those parties, State still has six home-game Saturdays at Davis Wade Stadium. The venue is now undergoing an extensive addition to the north end and renovation of the west side, with a scheduled completion of August 2014.
Changes to parking forced by the project, as well as closing of one street and re-routing of others, will be published in time for the season.
2013 BULLDOG FOOTBALL SCHEDULE: Aug 31 Oklahoma State (Houston, TX); Sep 7 Alcorn State; Sep 14 at Auburn; Sep 21 Troy; Oct 5 Louisiana State; Oct 12 Bowling Green; Oct 24 Kentucky; Nov 2 at South Carolina; Nov 9 at Texas A&M; Nov 16 Alabama; Nov 23 Arkansas (Little Rock); Nov 30 Ole Miss.