Before Missouri faced the national spotlight during SEC Media Days, athletic director Mike Alden met with local reporters in a more intimate setting.
He offered his thoughts on an array of topics, including scheduling and the SEC Network:
Question: It’s a circus. Are you always taken aback by the atmosphere around this sort of event?
Alden: “The numbers are what are so incredible to me. What I understand is, outside of the Super Bowl, this is the most credentialed event of any sport in the U.S. — whether that has to do with the World Series or the NBA Finals or what have you.
“That certainly shows the respect that people have around the country for the SEC and it shows the interest. It’s amazing that you have an opportunity to talk about a great conference and great schools in front of so many people. It’s pretty impressive.”
Q: Where do things stand with trying to find a power conference opponent for the nonconference schedules in 2015 and 2016?
Alden: “We’re working hard on it. I wish I could give you even more insight on that. When we made that move to the SEC a couple years ago, it really blew up our schedules for 2012, 2013, ’14, ’15 and even ’16. It was something that we had to really try to scramble to find games. It’s been a challenge for us.
“(Executive associate athletic director) Bryan Maggard is the guy who oversees all of that for us, and he does a great job. We know that we’ll get that rectified in the not-too-distant future, but we’re still working on it.”
Q: There has been talk of moving next season’s Arkansas State game to St. Louis. How real is that possibility?
Alden: “I know the St. Louis Sports Commission … have done a terrific job with all of their events, and I know that they’ve approached Arkansas State. I’ve talked to Terry Mohajir, the athletic director of Arkansas State, saying certainly we’d be interested.
“If they wanted to move that game, it’s their home game. Our hope would be that’s something that would work for them. I know that Arkansas State has been working with St. Louis on that, and they haven’t made a decision yet. We’ll wait to see.”
Q: How close are you following the SEC Network negotiations, and is it troublesome that Comcast and Time Warner haven’t signed on yet?
Alden: “I don’t know if it’s troublesome. I think this is to be expected when you launch a new network. … These things take time and, while you want everything to fall into place right away, sometimes they don’t. It’s going to take time as far as those discussions are concerned.
“I think, right now, with Cox Communications being the most recent that signed up, we’re in approximately 27 million homes as of today. That’s really good. As you get closer to the launch date, sure, there’s some anxiety that goes through your fans, but we have a lot of faith in the network, have a lot of faith in ESPN and have a lot of faith in Justin (Connolly, ESPN senior vice president for college networks) and his team. We know it will take a little bit of time, but at the end of the day we know how successful the network is going to be for fans and for college athletics.”