Tennessee State athletics director Teresa Phillips doesn’t want to put the cart before the horse, but she can’t help but plan ahead.
The Tigers entered last weekend 6-0 and on top of the Ohio Valley Conference standings with five games remaining — all league contests. The OVC champion receives one of 10 automatic berths into the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs. The 20-team field will be announced on Nov. 18, with the first round beginning the weekend of Thanksgiving.
If the Tigers indeed make the playoffs, they’ll have a shot at hosting a playoff game for just the second time. The deadline to submit a bid to do so is Nov. 12.
But this year TSU has two home venues. The Tigers have played two games at LP Field and are scheduled to play their third game on campus at Hale Stadium, which had sat vacant since 1998.
“My tendency would probably be to have it at LP Field,” Phillips said. “Both locations work, but there is a lot of quick turnover. From playing your last game to hosting that game is a real narrow time period. ... There are some definitives that we know there [at LP]. We don’t really have an infrastructure of folks who work at [Hale] Stadium like most schools really do. You’re talking about playing the game over Thanksgiving weekend, people on vacation. So there is a lot you have to look at.”
The biggest is generating revenue.
The NCAA wants to award home games to schools that are going to sell tickets. Hale Stadium, with a capacity of 18,000, has never hosted a playoff game. But the Tigers did play at LP Field the last time they were in the playoffs, in 1999, and drew a crowd of 10,736.
“I think that would be a great atmosphere for TSU to play a home playoff game,” coach Rod Reed said. “If we can get in the playoffs, we can go play it in the middle of the street.”