In early June of 2007 I was just getting back from our 6-week family vacation to Hershey, Pennsylvania (as detailed in Chapter 15) and was in the process of developing a series of 3rd & long running plays with my Offensive Coordinator and best good friend, Woody McCorvey. But something exciting was going on in Starkville that week - the baseball team was going to be hosting a Super Regional vs. Clemson.
I remember seeing a stressed out Larry Templeton the Friday before the baseball team started their Regional in Tallahassee, Florida. I axed him what the problem was, he said "we are in the red by $55,764.00!".
This made a lot of sense because Mr. Templeton told me I couldn't have a raise despite me beating Alabama the previous fall. I knew my 9-25 record and 35 players kicked off the team through my first three seasons had proven what I set out to do: turn Mississippi State around. So of course, Mr. Templeton told me he would renew my contract for another four years, I just couldn't get a raise due to the financial situation MSU was currently in.
I bring all that up because of the miracle that occurred during that Super Regional.
You see, Mr. Templeton was a great man. He didn't care about winning, about making money - just hiring me and staying in the black (irony, hehe). What a great man. There is nothing greater than being mediocre as long as you do it with character and don't lose money. That's what I always tell my kids: go to the all you can eat buffet (and be nice to those in line) because you can eat all the mediocre food you want and still know how much you will pay!
I digress, but the point is this: Mr. Templeton had been the greatest athletic director because he was able to keep lowly Mississippi State athletics in the black since 1988. Amazing. But he was in jeopardy this year (the basketball team not winning the NIT was to blame but don't tell Meo Stansbury I said that). So the fact that MSU was hosting a Super Regional came out of nowhere, and could put a dent in that debt!
Well, on Friday afternoon of the Super Regional 12,620 people showed up to the baseball stadium! This was great news because it decreased our debt to just under $40K. But Mr. Templeton was still nervous when I came to campus for my Saturday morning doughnut breakfast with Bracky Brett. So I axed him, "what the matter, boss?"
He said something I'll never forget: "I think I've got a plan but I'll need your help".
I still get chills thinking about it. He called it 'Threat Level Midnight'. His code name would be 'Agent Loury Temps' and mine would be 'Giant Walrus Butt'. Bracky's was 'Barney Fife 2.0'. Our walkie talkies were black, but it didn't matter, the only color that mattered was green (as in money, hehe).
The first thing I did was throw my weight around (literally of course) to gal #3 at the ticket window. I gave her the autographed tan M-State hat I wore in our
gift to game vs. Maine in 2004 to not put any tickets sold in the computer database...but to take the money like she normally would. When she axed me why I wanted her to do this I gave her the code name 'ticket lady number three' and she got so excited she didn't care any more.
At the end of the day none of the fans in the stadium could move there was so many people. In fact, they had to put people in the Hump there was so much demand. But guess what? Only 13,715 people were recorded in attendance and we were able to pocket the full cost of the remaining 3,157's tickets. (The NCAA hated Coach Ron Polk so much they took double their portion of the proceeds). That put us so far in the black the entire 'Threat Level Midnight' team was able to enjoy a full compliment of dinner entree's at Barnhill's Country Buffett! Yummmmmmmmy.
That was such a great memory. I will always remember my time under Mr. Templeton with fond memories. Unlike the evil Greg Byrne, who is such a butt sniffer.