What are the duties of the Transportation Services Department during a regional?
"When we first find out that we are hosting a regional and we first find out what teams are coming, then we write each one of them and tell them we are Transportation Services (at Mississippi State) and if they are flying in to either Birmingham, Memphis or Jackson and maybe even the Golden Triangle airport (in Columbus, MS), then we are offering our services for local ground transportation for each school.
"It just so happens this year that all of the schools that were invited were close enough to bus from their locations. While we aren't hauling any of the teams per se, we are meeting them all when they come in and offering our services. We have written them all a letter and told them if they get up one morning and their bus won't crank they can call us and we will get them to the park. We want them to know that we can help them with bus repairs if they need that. We want those drivers to know that we are a phone call away from helping them get their team to the park.
"We also offer little things you don't even think about unless you are a driver. There are restrooms on the buses. And they have to be cleaned. So, we offer to have them dumped and have fresh chemicals put in. And there are other little things like that that we can do.
"And we offer those things as complimentary things as hospitality from Mississippi State."
You've helped with a lot of regionals while working at Mississippi State. Is there any one regional that stands out to you above all the others?
"The 1985 team. That was early in my career when I first started driving the baseball team. The '85 team was the Dream Team of Mississippi State baseball. They were a bus driver's dream. You would pull up to the ballpark, say we have come to kick your rear, then they would proceed to do it."
None of this year's teams are using your services. Let's say a team would need to use them. What all would you offer to them?
"Our duties would be to become their bus operations team. That means we would meet them at an airport and that driver would stay with them the entire time they are here. We would transport them to the hotel, transport them to eat, transport them anywhere they would need to go. If the coaches need to be transported to a press conference we can grab a car and take them to that. Also, another advantage to them is we know the university, know the area, so if they need suggestions on where to eat or where to do something else, we will know. We can also escort them around and show them the Left Field (Lounge), show them the hospitality (of the University). We can also show them all the ins and outs of our regional, which is very unique in the NCAA world."
In a way, when they would leave here they will have formed their impressions of Mississippi State and Starkville partly based on how your drivers treat them.
"Exactly. They are going to know Starkville and Mississippi State from us. So, we can act as an extension of the hospitality and tourist industry here in Starkville. We want everyone to understand that this is the place to go and where it happens."
Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.