October 9, 2013
Vols-Hokies tilt to be announced Monday
A contest perhaps rumored as long as the past 20 years is on the books --- and will be formally announced during a Monday morning press conference.
Tennessee and Virginia Tech have agreed to play early in their 2016 football season on the infield at Bristol Motor Speedway, an internationally renowned race track with a maximum capacity of 160,000. It is right now the only contest scheduled between the two teams at BMS.
The two programs have long bandied about the idea of playing a "neutral site" contest at the track, with Smith Motorsports Inc. founder and CEO Bruton Smith long rumored to be a key figure in the negotiations for the contest.
Opened in 1961, BMS is most known as "the world's fastest half-mile" and the host site of two annual NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races, as well as numerous other races on various levels.
The Hokies are scheduled to open their 2016 season with the nearby Liberty Flames, and they have a late-season date scheduled with Notre Dame --- which now is contractually obligated to play five ACC teams annually since the Irish reached a pact with the ACC within the past year.
Tennessee had been set to open its 2016 season at home against Connecticut and then travel the following week to Nebraska, but no less than six sources familiar with proceedings but unable to speak publicly because of Monday's impending press conference said that the Vols are reassessing all options.
Additionally, both Tennessee and Virginia Tech do not have their respective SEC and ACC conference schedules yet established for the '16 season. In fact, the SEC has not set its league slates beyond the '14 season --- and is openly exploring the potential of a nine-game conference schedule beginning perhaps as soon as the '15 season.
Tennessee coach Butch Jones, who typically has a Monday press conference inside the Neyland Stadium media center on game weeks, and director of athletics/vice chancellor Dave Hart will be present along with Virginia Tech and BMS officials for the morning press conference. Jones' appearance there will be in lieu of his regularly scheduled press conference in Knoxville.
While BMS officials long have expressed a desire to host a football contest between the two border-state programs, sources indicated both Hart and Jones were critical driving forces in the finalization of this pact.
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