Starkville, MS (AP*) - Heading into halftime of last weekend's homecoming game, Mississippi State head football coach Dan Mullen found his team squarely in the middle of a dog fight. After jumping out to an early 14-3 lead, the Bulldogs would let the visiting Bowling Green Falcons come clawing back into the game, as they closed the MSU lead to just eight points at the half in a 21-13 ballgame. Even though the game was close, what coach Mullen wouldn't find as he headed back out from the locker room after for the third quarter was a full student section.
As the first half came to a close, Bulldog students filed out by the hundreds, heading back out to the famed Junction tailgating area to prematurely begin the celebration for what surely would be an MSU win. Even though the game did result in a Bulldog victory, it would be one too close for comfort, and one that was noticeably sparsely attended by students.
As the game came to a close and Saturday turned into Sunday and then another week, talk around Starkville, the state of Mississippi, and the associated social media outlets was about the lack of student participation in the second half. Older fans wanted to know why; why the college maroon and white contingent couldn't be bothered to stay in the stadium and cheer on the football team. Ever the innovator though, MSU AD Scott Stricklin spent less time wondering why, and more time working on a solution to entice the students to stay.
"What we're going to do here next Thursday, I think is going to be something you'll start seeing in stadiums around the country soon after we reveal it," Stricklin told the media in a closed door session early Wednesday. "We've considered nearly two dozens options, and this is the one that we feel gives us the best chance at keeping the students in their seats, in the stadium, and most importantly, into the game."
What Stricklin would reveal to the media was his plan to set up beer carts, as well as host a rap concert in the student section. This plan was made possible by some legislation passed fairly quietly earlier in the week that grants portions of Davis Wade Stadium resort status. This legislation would overrule previously rules in place that did not allow the sale of alcohol on collegiate campuses at sporting events. With that legislation paving the way, Stricklin sprang into action.
"What we'll have is four beer carts -- spaced from the western end of the north endzone all the way over to under the student section on the east side. There will be arcade games as well set up in the endzone, and during halftime, we'll have a talented young man by the name of Pitbull perform under the north endzone where the gridiron club will be next season. I really think this is going to be something you see more and more in college football from here on out."
Stricklin says he's called in additional security to work the game for the initial run of the program, as well as a team of expert ID checkers, who "totally won't let girls drink underage, no matter how hard they flirt."
Whether his idea works or not, you have to commend Mississippi State's AD for his willingness to fight the issue head on, with a head of beer.