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Rebels on the Road

With the Rebels departing for this season's final away game in Baton Rouge, pause to consider the costs of taking to the road.

The University of Mississippi football team has played four away games this season, with one left, and some may not realize the amount of preparation needed to take the Rebels on the road.

Angela Robinson, assistant athletics director for finance, said that the whole travel process starts with scheduling.

“Once we have the schedule, we sit down and determine which trips are bus trips, which trips we charter and where we will stay on those trips,” Robinson said.

Robinson said that if it’s a night game, the cheerleaders, managers and trainers don’t leave until Saturday morning, but if it’s a day game, all of those groups spend the night Friday.

“It’s time-consuming because things are always changing,” she said. “Typically we’ll send a rooming list out two weeks before the game and make major changes the week of. The hotels are used to dealing with teams and how things change.”

John Miller, assistant athletics director for football operations, said that once the team departs for a game, it’s a very structured operation, and his office begins planning with other agencies weeks in advance.

“For the most part, we’ve been very lucky this year,” Miller said. “Everybody’s done a phenomenal job on the road.”

Miller said that the Saturdays before the game are even more structured, with the team getting into “business” mode.  

“Coach Freeze likes to arrive at the stadium about an hour and 45 minutes prior to game time,” Miller said. “We’ve got to get every player taped, dressed and ready to go in 30 minutes, so that’s pretty quick turnaround compared to what you’ll see throughout the country. Coach Freeze doesn’t like a lot of 'sitting around' time.”

Miller said they coordinate with a national catering company for the post-game meal and then try to get the players back home as soon as possible.

“Our athletic director, Ross Bjork, is all in favor of getting back and getting our players back in their normal routine as fast as you can, and that’s really what our goal is after a ballgame,” Miller said.

He said the cost of travel for an away game is around $35,000 to $40,000, with $10,000 spent on buses. 
Should the team need to charter a flight, costs rise to the range of $75,000 to $100,000.

The Ole Miss band generally has to make its own accommodations, although this year for the Tulane game, it also coordinated with the athletics department.

“We were invited to play at the Saints game the day following the Tulane game, so Athletics was excited for us to have that opportunity, and they played a huge role in allowing us to do that with the funds that they were able to provide,” assistant band director Randy Dale said.

Dale said the only away game the full band goes to is Mississippi State, and the band didn't go at all to Georgia, a game for which the football team had to charter a flight.

“Our ticket office purchases a block of tickets from the other university, and it’s just based on our fans purchasing tickets, is how much they give to us, and we’re able to decide how many people we take with us,” Dale said. “It’s typically 75-100 people."