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The Deputy Position: Mississippi State’s Benko, Clemson’s Neff and Kentucky’s Peevy

Guest Jared Benko, Mississippi State; DeWayne Peevy, Kentucky; Graham Neff, Clemson; Parker Duffey, Tailgate Guys
28:35 min watch


Tailgate Guys Founder & CEO Parker Duffey hosts a trio of Deputy ADs – Mississippi State’s Jared Benko, Kentucky’s DeWayne Peevy, and Clemson’s Graham Neff – for an in-depth conversation about the Deputy AD role. The group discusses career paths and plans, managing up, addressing their weaknesses, and much more.


Click the timestamp below to jump to a specific question/topic. Scroll down to read the full transcript.

  • - What are some misconceptions about the Deputy AD position?
  • - How do you manage up and what is the importance of managing up as a Deputy AD?
  • - As a Deputy AD, what do you wish you knew more about?
  • - What are you doing to improve and work on your weaknesses?
  • - How specific was your career plan and how aligned has that been plan been with your career path?
  • - How do you balance your responsibilities and influence with being able to make things happen?
  • - How do you communicate across campus about major issues in college athletics and what your departments are doing about these issues?
  • - What are the characteristics of the perfect institution if and when you would step into the AD chair?


Full Transcript


Parker Duffy: I’m Parker Duffy with Tailgate Guys and I’m coming to you here with AthleticDirectorU. And I’ve got three guests here today all Deputy ADs: Jared Benko from Mississippi State; Dewayne Peevy from Kentucky; and Graham Neff from Clemson. Thank you guys.


Welcome to AthleticDirectorU. All right, so this is something that we talked about a good bit with, with the guys from ADU about the Deputy AD role is something that, you know, as Tailgate Guys, we tend to interact with the Deputy ADs a good bit. Obviously, we have a working relationship so we talk a good bit, too. But, it’s a position that, to me, I’ve been a little bit intrigued with. It’s something that, you know, I think I know it, I don’t know it, but at the same time, it’s one of the more understated roles probably in an athletic department. So Jared, I’m going to start with you on the end over here. What’s… explain to us what are some of the misconceptions that go on about what the deputy AD really does. And like I said, I think I know, but I don’t know. So what, what is it out there that we don’t know that you guys really, really have on your plate?


Jared Benko: Yeah, I think it’s easy to look at it from an internal and external constituent standpoint, I think an external constituent standpoint, sometimes people think we hire coaches and watch ball games and that consisted most of our job and that is true, some of it, but obviously, we have a lot more responsibilities. I think internally, I think one of the things that people don’t always know is the amount of decisions you have to make on a daily basis and how fast those decisions are coming to you on a daily basis. And so, it can, if you let it, it can, you know, it can snowball effect a little bit on you. But, yeah, I think just the amount of decisions and the influence you have on a day-to-day basis are really understated at times.


Dewayne Peevy: Yeah.


Graham Neff: I’ll jump on that, and not to, not to jump into Dewayne, but the… just on the decision-making side of things, you know, obviously, we work very closely with our athletic directors. But we don’t always agree, Dan and I don’t always agree on things. I mean, there are, like that healthy…


Just having a necessary relationship.


GN: Yeah, yeah. I mean, it’s important to be, you know, united front… just from a leadership team and a senior staff but like that healthy contrarian conversations, I think, are really important with us behind closed doors, and I think even to some extent when it’s a bigger group just to, you know, have some dialogue so that it’s not just always the voice of the AD, and now we’re executing, but that there’s really good conversation around a decision to be made.




DP: I think that’s… I agree with both of them on that as a big part of the rope. I think one of the misconceptions is that we’re really trying to get in that chair no matter where it is, in such a hurry. You know, that we’re constantly thinking about the next job. I mean we really can’t do our jobs well if we’re focusing on that. And I think that’s the biggest thing. We’re really there to help our department, help our athletic director in any way possible. Because the best scenario for us is if that goes well it takes care of itself.


How many years have you been deputy?


DP: Now, since 2013 so I guess this is my sixth year.


Six, seven years. Yeah.


DP: Yeah.


You’ve been?


GN: ‘15.


Fifteen years, since you were eight years old. Yeah.


GN: 2015. Yeah. I was really young, came out just like everybody.


You’re a savant. How about you Jared?


JB: A little over two.




JB: And at Graham’s point too, I think the other piece that goes understated as well the is managing up piece. You know, you mentioned talking to Dan, I think that’s the piece where, you know, our ADs, and I can’t speak for everybody, I know, John Cohen is, I think, one of the best in the country. I mean, he has a lot on his plate.

And so, we have to filter out what’s, what’s important and what, what decisions do we feel comfortable making a decision on that he delegates to us versus, “Hey, this is a kind of, I need to bounce this off him and kind of get his thoughts.” And I think that’s the piece, too, that is kind of give and take filling out at least initially, so.


GN: And it’s really important too, like the managing up, and so, our guys, athletic directors need to know the decisions that we are… being made or even if they are delegated to us to, “Hey, Jared, Dewayne, go handle this project,” I think, gosh, Dan really emphasizes the horizontal communication as well. So yes, it’s important that we’re managing up and having those communication skills but the side to side, the rest of the senior staff, the rest of the staff, in terms of department maybe even external to the campus community, the fact that that communication circled needs to be well-maintained and well-circulated is, is, I think, a really important part of our communication element of our jobs.


I think this so you’re spot on with that, the managing up part of it and even, you know, I don’t have the responsibility on my plate that the guys that y’all work with do, that, you know, at that athletic director position but at the same time, my senior team, I look at them to manage up all the time. I look to them to guide me. So that’s, this is, that’s pretty consistent like you and I are talking about, it’s the same thing. There’s so many similarities between the private sector and what you guys do as essentially the COOs of you all’s athletics departments.


GN: Would you say your… a lot of your contacts are from an AD stand… like, how do you guys go about understanding who, to Jared’s point, decision makers are? And it’s different every place, but how do you get a sense of that? And not to flip it on you… flip it on you.


No, but it is completely different. And it’s, you make… it kind of, that person really steps forward in the conversations to where we all have working relationships, but, you know, in some way, shape or form, we’ve all had communication because you guys are the decision makers on, in, in our space. But at some places you might go, it might be a senior associate AD. And some places, the athletic director really is involved in, in what they want to accomplish with gameday experience. I mean, it’s changing completely. But most of the times, it really is the deputy though, because you are mostly… you are usually involved with business functions, you know, there’s so much, well, actually, you are all generalists. So you have to know a lot about a lot.


GN: Jack of all trades, master of none.


You do, exactly.


GN: For sure.


Hey, that’s a great segue actually. All right, so we just said, what we were just talking about is you guys being generalists and really having to know a lot about a lot. DeWayne, I’m going to start with you on this one. So, as the deputy, you do have to know a lot about a lot. You have to be that generalist. You have to be the COO. What is it out there that you just don’t know enough about right now?


DP: Well, I think the biggest thing that helped me is that, you know, I’ve been at Kentucky and a lot of different roles and coming from the media relations side, you get to work with so many departments. So by the time I got to my deputy role, I pretty much knew all the different, a little bit about a lot of things, you know, enough to be dangerous, so to speak. But I don’t think, I think, that’s anything. I think just like if you’re a student athlete, a coach or, I mean, an athletic director, you’re trying to get better at everything constantly. There’s nothing I shouldn’t be working on. Just like we tell our student athletes, they need to work on their craft. They need to work on their game.

I think as I got into this bigger leadership role, because you’re always a leader in some way, shape or form, I started thinking about more specifically learning to be a better leader. So I would look at just say the last three years, I mean, I’ve done an NCAA leadership program. I’ve done some executive coaching. I’m currently pursuing, pursuing my master’s, doing an executive MBA program. So obviously, I’m taking a lot bigger steps now just to, in total, be more complete for my current job. It’s not about the future, but it’s so much more that I can help with the staff or to help me think bigger picture with Mitch or envision myself if I’m him, what would I want my deputy AD to help me more with, you know, just to think that way. So it’s a lot of that.




GN: I’ll jump off that. The… one thing I’ve really come to realize at certainly at Clemson but so much from an athletic director standpoint, the politics of a place, not from like a backroom standpoint, but just the nuance of campus leadership, the presidential decision makers are going on, board leadership, that is so frontal lobe, not guiding a decision, but just context for a decision and just kind of day to day. In Clemson it’s fantastic as it relates to just that leadership alignment. So there are certainly other places that I would imagine are more, more politicky in that regard. My point is like having that, that nuance or understanding of kind of a sense of what that looks like. It looks different at Clemson than it does in Lexington than it does in Starkville, of course. But I just think having that, I don’t know, understanding that nuance. I’m thinking of a better word, but to help add questions or perspectives to Dan as he’s going through a decision that’s going to have wide ranging scope as it’s rolled out perhaps.


JB: Yeah, and I’ll pivot off that. You think about, you know, Joe Castiglione earlier today was talking about being a continuous learner. And that’s something I think all of us would, would share. And I think that’s part of our responsibility to keep learning and part of that is industry trends and part of that is getting better ourselves. And coming up, we all came to the Power 5 route and part of that, those challenges, it’s easy to get silod off with the, you know, whether you come up in the communications or the business side like Graham and I did.

And so, when you become a deputy, you have a chance to kind of expand your purview and be on the external side and the fundraising piece. And so, I think you have to be really intentional with, with how to, you know, really self-assessment wise, I think we all are probably our hardest critics at times. And how do you how do you become more well-rounded? And ultimately, more importantly, how do you help a department? How do you help the university? And those can, those can run parallel with each other, so.


So, I, for example, then, like you have a few examples that, that, you know, of what you’re working on to really improve on this thing? Because I know that there, it’s very broad in a sense. But it makes sense. So if everybody is working on getting better as a leadership and, and, obviously, understanding the nuances on campus, that’s ever changing. I’m sure it is. Like there’s people coming in and coming out of the political scene on all your campuses out there. But what is it that you can really do to say out in front of it. I say that because, I’m sure there’s a lot of young guys out there that are going to be watching this. They’re going to be guys and girls, they’re going to be in you all’s position very soon.

JB: Well, I think part of it is having a humility to say, “I don’t have all the answers,” right? And so, I think that’s really important to listen and learn. But we can’t bring value. And I think, just recently, and obviously, I think a lot very highly of Clemson and Kentucky’s external team. We created a creative division, a creative strategy division. And we think that’s going to promote more crosspollination across our external team. And so having a hand in that really was a cool, cool experience. And the other piece too is we’re constantly, it’s an arms race, right, and these guys have a lot of great facilities at their institutions. And, you know, we’re getting ready to… we just did Dudy Noble, we think is the best baseball stadium in the country and we’re getting ready to start on the Humphrey Coliseum expansion. And so, with that, there’s a major gift component and we have, again, an incredible Bulldog Club fundraising team and working alongside them with mapping that out and having some ask out there and secure some, some major gifts. I mean, that’s an experience that is really hard as you’re climbing the ranks to, to break outside and in get that experience. And so, that’s been something that, get intentional on our end to do that, so.


GN: Dudy Noble is the best in the country from what I’ve seen. The… back to some of the campus climate maybe that I was talking on, you know, I think there’s typically opportunity for us to have exposure from a, again, a campus leadership standpoint. Dan allows me to join the president’s cabinet team when he’s maybe out of town for conferences. And again, you just get really good perspective from understanding the goings-ons with the other VPs on campus. You know, deans, certainly our board of trustees, of how those things are at play institutionally. And certainly, we talk a lot about athletics being front porch and those types of things. But we are just one auxiliary unit of a billion-plus dollar organization. And so, just that wherewithal of campus operations, and then therefore, how athletics can support or help or just operate within those context is really important. So that, that engagement from those campus leadership teams and where that finds itself is something that is worthwhile for us to seek for sure.


How much did you guys interact? I’m sorry, Dewayne, go ahead.


DP: Well, I was going to say, when I started out, my path, I was an accounting major that ended up being in media relations. It wasn’t the yellow brick road that’s supposed to lead to this. But when I look back, it probably gave me a little bit of an advantage. Because on our campus, like, you were talking about with just some of the campus constituents, with board of trustees and things of that nature, I’ve been so involved with them being in my old role, you know, as a head of our crisis management team and being on all the PR side, that when I got in this role now filling in from, from Mitch on, you know, president’s meetings and things of that nature, these are a bunch of people that I know I’ve already had relationships with that I never would have thought at that time if I was in another role that it will be important for me down the road. 

So, it’s amazing, because we’re in such a people business, right, you get into it and, and I mean, you get out of it what you put into it. So, if you put more time into, you know, your staff or your peers or just other people and ways of life, we can all learn from each other. We do it amongst each other too. We call on each other about different things. Then it allows us, when we have those opportunities, all that experience comes in handy.




JB: I think one last thing too, I think the appreciation for what each of our director of athletics go through on a daily basis, I mean, the demands both time wise and just the, the constant attention that everything they do is, is looked at microscopically. And so, I think that appreciation, I think, seeing it day-to-day wise is something that you get a greater respect for, so.


What you just said really segued very well. You’re… it’s like you’re just teaming things for me. 


GN: You guys worked on that.


Yeah, we, yeah, that’s why we’re’ a little bit late.


DP: That’s called partnership. 


JB: I’m impressed.


Yeah. Exactly. That’s right. That’s what you get, you know.


JB: Dewayne is moonlighting the business off of you.


All right. So you talked about your path then. And so, the next thing I really want to ask is all of you guys have a really unique path of how you got here. But I want you to go back about 10 years and I want to know how specific you guys really were on your path. And you’re going to lead up with this one Graham, and really, how, how aligned that path has really been, your path has been with that plan and where it might have split?


GN: Yeah, that’s an interesting question. Yeah, think back 10 years, gosh, like, yeah, I had a plan, golly, mapped it out, whatever. For sure. You know, I would tell you that really probably slipped for me, not to get into all my background, but it was at Georgia Tech for a while and then Middle Tennessee. I went to my role at Middle Tennessee when I was young, I was 25. I worked for Chris Massaro, who is a mentor still to this day. Thought being so young for the decision maybe that I moved into, thought I’d be there for five-plus, seven-plus years. Just get settled. We love the area. My wife is from the area. So, just imagined being there for quite a while. Opportunity at Clemson came much sooner than maybe I was thinking and it was really important to me that the scales were balanced. Obviously, it was, it was an opportunity that made a bunch of sense and I had a relationship with Dan and so did Chris and it just… it was a great transition. My point in just that background is I don’t know, I think, sometimes timing, it’s important to have a plan for sure. But timing is fleeting, you know, and at some point, like, if you do put times or years, maybe if it comes too soon, and it’s a, awesome opportunity, or if you’re maybe behind schedule, whatever that may be, now you get anxious or antsy or frustrated. And in those type of things that I know we all have friends that are maybe… have that type of mindset. So, I don’t know, I think timing is, is maybe a thing that I would say that I’ve tried to remove from my planning. But I think responsibility, kind of future forecasting of just equipping myself with skill sets and things like that with your earlier questions, that’s probably what I think more along the lines of a path ahead versus, you know, mapping out years here, years there.


Well, just like your point, Dewayne, you made about being focused on the job at hand and not looking for that next step. And, you know, just really serving the school. You’re there. I mean, that’s, that’s the job right there. So…


DP: Right. We have enough challenges every day. We don’t need to make… frustrate ourselves. I mean, 10 years ago, I was sitting there thinking when you asked that question, I think we just had a new basketball coach, John Calipari at the time. I was creating a Twitter account. Yeah, so I was even so… I definitely wasn’t thinking about this job. But, I mean, think about just concentrating on doing your job well, right, focusing on that. That’s what I tell our young people all the time. They’ve got all these visions. They already want to map out where they go. It’s good to kind of have some goals.

But it’s not going to usually go the way you plan so you better be able to be adaptable. But I think the biggest thing is by concentrating on being really good at your job, that’s, that’s when people notice you. Because I never talked to Mitch one time about even wanting to go in athletic administration when I was in my role. Next thing you know, Rob Mullens goes to Oregon. Mark Coyle at the time goes to Boise State. And Mitch calls me in his office and said, “Hey, what do you think about being the men’s basketball administrator?” I mean, it happened like that.


That was the fork in the road for you.


DP: Yeah. I didn’t have the chance to see the vision. He saw it before I did.


That was… that’s when you knew you’re going in that. Yeah.


And so, I think that’s why you don’t know. And I think, but the biggest thing was just thinking about the challenges you have in front of you. I can’t imagine anybody at our, our schools that don’t have anything to do. So, I mean, it’s really big about how you make your current situation, your current department of people around you better and the rest will come.


GN: Mitch saw how good you were with that Twitter account man.


That’s what it was, the Twitter account. Locked it in.


JB: Yeah, similar to Graham, I think back, I was at the University of Georgia and had ambition and be able, too, to sit here and say, “Hey, take me to three other schools in the conference,” I think…


GN: The same conference. That’s right.


JB: The same conference. Yes. And but I’ll tell you, the cool thing about the experiences is each the place I’ve been at is I’ve been blessed with some of the great mentors. And there’s people that invested time in me, quite honestly, that they really… they probably could spend their time better elsewhere. You know, and I think that I’m a byproduct of people, one being blessed, but two, having people that invested time in me. And so, you know, we talk about talking to young people, I think one of the challenges sometimes is it’s very… we’re in such a competitive space that we think about, it’s easy to benchmark ourselves against our peers indirectly at times. And what I tell our young people all the time that have ambition to be ADs and say, “Hey, when you retire at 55, 60, 65, you’re not going to look back and say, “Man, when I was 26 or 27, I should have stayed at school A or B you know, a year less or a year more.”

And I just think you have to look in totality, and I think that, you know, talking about, a lot of times you’re talking about bloom where you’re planted and stuff like that, and I think you’ve got to, you’ve got to excel at your job and be the best at your, at your profession, because whether you’re in, you know, communications or the business office or fundraising, and so you become the best of that sector, it’s going to be hard to become an AD.


GN: Dewayne, you let off in the first portion of the conversation on there’s the idea or the notion that like, oh, gosh, like we’re all akin or ready or next and, you know, I know Jared gets it all the time and Starkville but every, you know, “Oh, Jared, you can’t, you’re not going to be here long like you’re going to be an AD next,” and we all get it and that’s nice and flattery, but it’s just like, gosh, like, no, we love Clemson, you know. Like, I want to be here at Clemson. I want to do my job here at Clemson.


Yeah. I do think you have some of the best jobs in the country, really, I think the deputy AD role, like when I started, I said it’s understated and it’s, just like I said, I’m intrigued by it because you guys are… you have so much influence and such, such responsibility on your plates, but at the same time that pressure and scrutiny of the AD, like, they sit up there and you are able to really keep your head down and really make things happen.


JB: And one last thing too is I say my advice to young people, because I know it seems, it seems a bit overstated, but it’s really important who you work for, and really aligning yourself with good people, because they’re going to have a big influence on all your development, but also your future. And so, I think that I know each of us work for some of the best ADs in the country. And I think that you’re talking about enjoying our job so much and that’s who you work with and who you work for.


DP: Yeah, I think, I mean, look, I talked about that focus part. And even in our roles now, we’ve got to stay focused on what our job is at hand. I remember I was up at a UCF job, first AD interview I have ever done. It was 2015. And I didn’t get the job. So I was right at the end, you don’t get it. And for about a month there, I was a little lost because I was so… I knew what my job was. I knew what my focus was and that kind of threw me off a little bit for a minute there. I… do I go on another interview? But as soon as I got right back to what my core values were and what my focus was, all that went away.

And then you realize what helped you get to that interview spot in the first place. And so, I’ve never got to that point again. But it took that lesson, too, because I was wondering why I was so frustrated. And then I was, wasn’t motivated. But then I realized, okay, that’s what happened. Like I got away from my focus.


Yeah, that’s probably a good lesson though.


DP: Yeah. Definitely.


JB: Well, a chance also to get back and be a positive change agent for our student athletes. I mean, ultimately, that’s the great thing is being, being in a position where you can have influence on our student athletes and staff. I mean, you can make that impact as soon as you get back to campus.


You just, you just teed me the next question for me now, too. So let’s talk about student athletes for a second and just all that’s going on in college sports. There’s a lot of big changes that we’re seeing on the horizon right now. And a lot of, a lot of steps that you guys are having to take in your shoes to, to really stabilize and prepare for what’s coming with the, you know, the name, you know, the name and likeness and the FBI, you know, all these things that are going on. And you spoke to this earlier about the campus relationships. So there’s so much… I want to know how much you guys interact with your peers and other departments. Jared, we’ll start with you. We’ll just keep you going on this cycle right here. How much do you guys get inbound questions from your peers in campus… on campus departments about what’s going on with sports with the naming, the likeness, the FBI stuff? What’s going on right now? And how do you communicate across the board what you guys are doing to take steps about this now?


JB: Well, I think both these guys kind of touched on earlier, one, thinking about what our ADs do and relationships they have, and then obviously, respecting those, understanding. It’s better to be proactive than reactive. And I think that’s really important. And also, too, Dewayne touched on just those relationships across campus. If you have those relationships across campus, it’s just that… it’s kind of a different topic. And so, part of it is, it’s not, “Hey, we’re coming to you. And here, here is kind of a proactive education.” That was your… that continuing dialogue. And so, I think back, a couple years ago, we had the whole training table change and the implications of that and sometimes its financial implications. Sometimes it’s procedural application. So I think it… I think holistically, it goes back to says relationships on campus are critical across, across the aisle, not just in athletics but, obviously, you know, student affairs, financial affairs, you get on a list, you know, Title IX and, and you can get a list of offices. And so, I think if you have those relationships, you can be pretty nimble in the space to say, “Here’s something we’re hearing, and hey, this is something you need to think about.” And this is how it could impact a, b, and c. I think those are just… those are just kind of really important relationships to have ultimately for stuff like this.


Are you all getting those questions right now from people across campus?


DP: I think we’re spoiled a little bit because we have such good presidents and chancellors and athletic directors that have relationships because at Kentucky, you know, we don’t have those silos. So we’re talking all the time to not be surprised on each side. I mean, they’re letting us in on things that they’re dealing with that, you know, we don’t want to be… usually, by the time we hear about it, we already have discussed some of those things. And so, I think that’s the biggest thing is that, you know, Dr. Capilouto and Mitch Barnhart, they’ve kind of let both of their departments, so, from a campus-wide thing, we have a collaborative effort. We, we talk all the time. We share a lot of insight. So none of this is really new.

We’ve been kind of discussing these things because they’re getting feedback from things that we might not touch. And so, it allows us, like you said, whether it’s the training table changes or what, everybody is doing a student athlete experience, you know, well, they’ve been dealing with those problems on campus of not just graduation rates, but what other, you know, what the other kids on campus are doing. So I think that’s part of it. It’s just really communicating, over communicating, and just, you know, there’s no taboo topic to talk about.


Right, right.


GN: I have to, I have to catch myself sometimes in, in remembering that from an outside perspective, from a campus perspective, kind of, I think your question, we’re the experts, not like from a deputy role, we work in the athletic department where as much as an expert maybe as, you know, our director of ticketing. You know, so the fact that we work in an athletic department, there is the expectation maybe or at least the, “Hey, Graham, Jared, Dewayne is going to know something. What’s going on with name, image, likeness?”

My point is, so much of that is as you said, nimble, changing every day. Gene Smith and Val Ackerman’s committee, we just heard from Bob Bowlsby like it’s, gosh, there’s so much that we’re not in the room for, we’re not necessarily in the league wide AD meetings or the Lead1 meetings that just happened. And so, I think the, the importance of the communication that Dan, at least for me, you know, has me… we talk about those things all the time. So I do feel equipped and up to date to the extent that he is, to the extent that I’m able to, to understand of some of those landscape changes in our world just because, again, we are the experts.

And then I think there is some sort of a perception, rightfully so, we’re just talking about the business of athletics directors that, “Oh, gosh, you know, Dan is not available, he’s too busy or he’s out of town and a lot of it legitimately,” and so, a lot of times, yeah, those, those questions or, “Hey, what’s going on?” kind of things do funnel to our seats. And so, there is the need for us to be… speak from a chair of understanding and yeah we’re perceived expert but we need to really understand to the extent we’re able… what is going on. And so that we can educate and equip our, our institution, our campus leadership of the changes in our world that are going to have those types of… those type of rollouts to, to campus world.


Right. Right. Oh, alright y’all want an easy one?


JB: Yeah.


All right. So all right. We talked about this. And we’re going to kind of pivot a little bit. So y’all have all said that, you know, focusing on the job, focusing on the chair that you’re right now, but I want to shift a little bit and all of you all’s names have surfaced. We’ve all read about the jobs that have been opened and y’all have all been in those, those conversations at some point. And so, Dewayne, I want to start with you on this one. If you could describe like the perfect institution and what those characteristics really are for if and when you step into that, the AD chair, what are some of those characteristics?


DP: Oh, I thought this was the easy one.


That is easy.


DP: Well, I mean.


GN: Just start with zip code.


Let’s talk about school colors.


GN: Are they Tailgate Guys partners yet or not?


Yeah, exactly. What are we going to do?


DP: Yeah, we think about those things all the time. Campus that already has Tailgate Guys relationship.


No, we need to go one which we are not so we can do a new deal together, you know.


DP: I think the biggest is really having a president or chancellor that you can partner with, you know, that you can… you have, you know, somebody that, I mean, it’s a two-way street from a recruiting standpoint. And you want some place that you’re a good fit, but also they are as well. But I think someone that you can be aligned with on what your values are. And I think for me, it’s, you know, I want to place where I know, honesty and integrity is valued. Obviously, being involved in the community is important to me, and so, some place that want to be able to do that, but also have leadership on campus that can see… have a vision and see the big picture, because I’m used to being able to have the wherewithal to be able to think a little bigger than the current situation. And I’m not talking about from a monetary standpoint, but not be settled on this is just the way it’s going to be and don’t want to change. I mean, that’s probably not a good fit for me.




GN: Ditto. President, absolutely, for sure. That’s a… that’s an easy one. You know, we talked timing earlier and career progression. You know, we have kids like where can you be for a decade, you know, where can…?


Yeah, exactly. Y’all are family men. You have to think about that stuff.


GN: My kids are three and, you know, one… two, not one, where can they graduate high school? You know, like, it’s a little, I think you have to have that type of horizon maybe just because, gosh, you don’t know, like, you know, what, what career paths look like, what, you know, bloom where you’re planted and don’t mess with happiness, so I think all those things of just like the, the local community piece is huge. I think a lot about trajectory just from a, an institutional standpoint, you know, a community area and then, therefore, how does, how can athletics be part of that trajectory? Or what’s the trajectory like existing for athletics?

Or, where can you maybe impact some change to change that, that line? So there’s so much that goes into that, of course. And, you know, so we have these type of, gosh, it’s got to be a right fit, and, you know, being very picky. And with that, the other notion of like, hard jobs to get, right? I mean, there’s 120 something in the FBS and, you know, so that’s just always a balance that I think we have to reconcile for sure.


JB: Yeah, I think sometimes our fit is predicated on our experiences, right. And so, I think at Mississippi State, again, very blessed. I mean, I think Dr. Keenum is one of the best presidents in the country. And so, that embracement of the competitive excellence, both academically and athletically is really important as well. So the… both of, agree both of those guys, but I think going to a place where you can excel as a student athlete in the classroom, obviously, on the playing field and the playing courts, and also, too, more obviously preparing those individuals for, for life after sports. And to me that, that, those, it sounds, it sounds great, but I think trying to find those fits especially when you’re in the Power Five, and yes, it’s really competitive in our conferences. And so, I think it’s trying to find that fit that addresses both of those needs. And so, and last thing, too, you think about the number of fit, I think you also have to think about the family dynamic, where are you willing to move, and if you’re in a good spot, which we all three are, you’re going to be a little more picky, right? Because you don’t have to jump.


I think you all have done a good job doing that too.


JB: You don’t have to jump at the first offer. So I think, too, being in a great spot, you’re going to make a better decision than just hastily going through the process.


Yeah, yeah.


GN: Here’s the question that everyone wants to know from Jared. Jared, will you work at a school not in the Southeastern Conference? No, I’m just kidding.


JB: Yeah, I’m going to the west right now. Yeah.


Well, I hear you. Well, this is great. I enjoyed this. You all are sharp, sharp guys.


JB: Yeah, I appreciate it.


DP: You can have on the end of that, you know, you got to have a Tailgate Guys relationship.


JB: Yes.


Yeah, exactly, exactly, man. Exactly. Well, I appreciate you all’s time.


GN: Thanks, Parker.


DP: Thank you.


JB: Thank you.


All right, thank you all.