As Kerry Page, Associate Director for Athletic Facilities and Sports Turf at the University of Mississippi watched on Saturday, Oct. 4 as thousands of rowdy fans stormed the field at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, he knew immediately what the Rebels dramatic 23-17 comeback win over Alabama meant: He’d be needing to get new goal posts in time for the next home game against Tennessee Oct. 18.
By Monday morning Oct. 6, not long after his goal posts had been climbed upon, torn down, paraded across campus and ultimately reduced to souvenir-sized pieces of metal, Page said his phone was already loaded with “messages galore” from sports equipment companies eager to sell him new goal posts. For Page, a Mississippi native who has built and supervised athletic fields and arenas throughout the state for 30-plus years, there was one call he felt he should take.
It was from Brian Jaeger, Southeast Regional Manager for Sportsfield Specialties Inc. (SSI), the country’s leading manufacturer of football goal posts. It was because Jaeger had made a proactive call to Page about his goal posts earlier in the year.
When Jaeger reached Page on Oct. 6, he told him that SSI could readily customize new posts and retrofit them into the old mounts in time for the game against Tennessee. Jaeger emphasized how SSI had expanded its goal post business in 2014—ultimately from three to twenty-three NFL stadiums—by successfully retrofitting its new posts into existing in-ground mounting systems.
It was a point well understood by Page, who was concerned about the age and the depth of the ground sleeves at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. To assure Page of a successful retrofit, Jaeger said he would make the five-hour drive from his home base in Atlanta to the campus in Oxford the next day to personally take all the key measurement for the customization and installation.
On Tuesday, Jaeger met Page at the stadium and did measurements for the ground sleeves, checking depth in the ground, length, circumference, positioning of the mounting notches, and distance behind the back line of the end zone, all as Page watched closely. How close? “We got on our hands and knees to get it right,” said Page. “We checked everything.”
Page was impressed. “I’m old fashioned and appreciate personalized service,” said Page. “Brian didn’t need to jump in his car and drive down here, but for my peace of mind he said ‘I’ll be there tomorrow.’ He showed he was determined to do everything he possibly could to make sure we got the results we needed.”
By Tuesday night, Jaeger had relayed all the key measurements to the SSI factory back in Delhi, NY and production of the new goal posts got underway. Special attention was given to the customization of the gooseneck sections which are inserted into the ground sleeves to support the crossbar and uprights.
On Monday, Oct. 13, the new Ole Miss goal posts were loaded on a truck in Delhi for delivery in Oxford on Wednesday, Oct. 15. (Note: Goal posts are shipped in sections, so the order for Ole Miss consisted of two goosenecks, two crossbars, four 30’ uprights, hardware necessary for installation, and four flags/streamers that are attached to the top of the uprights.)
The posts arrived as scheduled Wednesday afternoon Oct. 15 at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium where they were received by Page and his Ole Miss crew. In addition to Page, the crew consisted of a mechanic, an electrician, a plumber, two carpenters, two maintenance technicians, four student assistants, and the assistant director of sports turf. A TV crew from the SEC Network was also on hand to chronicle the installation.
Once the process got underway it was quickly apparent that Jaeger’s precise measurements were making things easier than expected for the novice installers. “Brian had measured everything perfectly,” said Page. “It was just like putting a puzzle together, everything fit. I went “wow” when we got the first post up, it was so easy. I even thought I might have left something out.”
So easy, in fact, that Page’s help wasn’t even needed with the second post. From start to finish the process of installing both posts took about two hours and forty-five minutes leaving plenty of time for several installers to do interviews with the SEC Network.
Looking back on the experience of working with SSI for the first time, Page already sounds like a repeat customer. “It’s important to know a company like Sportsfield Specialties that stands behind their products,” he said. “It’s not the price you’re going to pay; it’s the service you’re going to get.”