It’s an idea that’s been bantered about for a few years now. After all, the Tennessee Volunteers and the Virginia Tech Hokies are separated by a roughly three and a half hour drive. However, on Wednesday night, Bruce Feldman announced that a deal is in the works and the Tennessee Vols will take on the Hokies in a neutral site game played at Bristol Motor Speedway in front of what should be a record crowd.
— Bruce Feldman (@BFeldmanCBS) October 9, 2013
This isn’t just another non-conference matchup between two proud programs hoping to bolster their strength of schedule in hopes of impressing the coming selection committee that will select the national semifinal participants. This is going to be a massive event that has, thus far been unrivaled in college football history.
Several times, we’ve seen marquee early season matchups in professional stadiums (like Cowboys Stadium and the Georgia Dome), but this will be an incredible undertaking on a half-mile race track that could attract upwards of 150,000 fans. A number that will far exceed the record for a collegiate football game.
And while Tennessee is currently rebuilding and Virginia Tech appears to potentially be in the twilight years of Frank Beamer’s astounding career, these two teams make perfect sense for an event of this magnitude. Both programs have large followings and passionate fanbases.
By 2016 Tennessee figures to field a much more competitive squad given the energy that Butch Jones has created surrounding the program and the way he’s attacked the recruiting trail. Meanwhile, Virginia Tech certainly figures to still be one of the best programs in the ACC in a few years, regardless of whether Frank Beamer is still coaching or not.
But most importantly, Bristol serves as a virtual halfway point between Blacksburg and Knoxville, and it should draw a relatively impartial crowd–though the Tennessee Vols fanbase is a little bit larger and is known to travel well.
I’d expect there to be about a 60-40 or a 65-35 split between Tennessee Vols fans and Virginia Tech Hokies fans. But, regardless of how it shakes out, it should be a premier college football event the likes of which have never been seen.
And a lot of folks have been waiting a LONG time for this matchup to come to fruition, and the atmosphere at Bristol Motor Speedway figures to be electric.
I know I’m excited to see how it will play out.