By JOEL COLEMAN
Mississippi State athletic director Scott Stricklin may be leaving Starkville to take the same job at the University of Florida, but that won’t affect MSU’s plans for a renovated Dudy Noble Field Stricklin said in an exclusive interview with the Starkville Daily News on Friday.
“It shouldn’t impact the timeline at all,” Stricklin said. “We’ve still got those plans firmly in place.”
Mississippi State earlier this year announced its plans to break ground in June 2017 on the $55 million baseball stadium. MSU hopes to have enough construction in place by the spring of 2018 to host games.
The first phase of Dudy Noble Field’s renovation will be able to be seen this spring when the Bulldogs unveil the largest video board in college baseball. The 43.2-foot-tall, 60-foot-wide board will span a total of 2,592 feet and serve as the first step in putting Bulldog baseball in a new home.
“I look forward to it all being finished and coming back to see it as a Mississippi State fan,” Stricklin said.
Stricklin is slated to take over the reigns of the Florida athletic department on Nov. 1 after leading at MSU since 2010. Over the next month, Stricklin said he’ll largely remain in Starkville and continue with his responsibilities at State. He says he’ll help MSU President Mark Keenum however he can throughout the process of finding a new athletic director, and then help the new hire transition into the role should the individual be in place before Stricklin is in Gainesville on a full-time basis.
“Ideally, I think that’s how it should work,” Stricklin said.
Mississippi State’s next athletic director will have large shoes to fill. Stricklin has led MSU over the course of arguably the most successful athletic period in school history. From facility renovations and upgrades, to increased Bulldog Club memberships and donations, to postseason championship events for MSU teams, Stricklin oversaw it all.
Yet one of the things Stricklin said he was the proudest of was the atmosphere that MSU officials had with one another.
“At Mississippi State, we always say we’re family, but we really are,” Stricklin said. “The relationships we all have in those offices, they aren’t just working relationships. They carry over. I have no doubts that Dr. Keenum will find someone to continue that.”
Now, in a month’s time, Stricklin will be looking to foster a similar dynamic at Florida. At just 46 years of age, Stricklin will guide one of the most storied programs in all of college athletics.
“It’s easy to get excited about going to Gainesville,” Stricklin said. “It’s really tough to leave Starkville behind.”
Stricklin says he’ll take a piece of MSU with him to the Sunshine State. He said no Mississippi State fan is complete without a cowbell, and he’ll still have his.
“I don’t know if it’ll be in my office or at my home, but I’ll have one,” Stricklin said.
And if Stricklin’s time in Gainesville is successful, might that cowbell be headed somewhere else with its owner in the future, like perhaps to the Southeastern Conference’s main offices? Stricklin said he doesn’t think that far ahead. As a man rooted in his faith, Stricklin says he’ll let the Good Lord decide if there are any further steps to take in his career.
“There’s an old saying that if you want to hear God laugh, just tell him your plans,” Stricklin said. “I just want to be where I’m supposed to be.”