BLACKSBURG — After what will be a 79-year gap in regular-season meetings, and at least one failed attempt by racetrack mogul Bruton Smith to make it happen, Virginia Tech and Tennessee finally are slated to meet again in a regular-season football game.
A source at Tech said Wednesday evening Tech and Tennessee will meet in 2016 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway — which is roughly the halfway point between the two schools.
A date has not been established for the game, but a news conference to announce the game has been slated for 11 a.m. Monday at the racetrack.
Tech athletic director Jim Weaver didn't officially confirm or deny the existence of the game on Tech's future schedule, but he did reveal his Monday travel plans involve a trip to Bristol.
"I'm going to be in Bristol on Monday from 11-1," Weaver said Wednesday night.
If the game sells out 160,000-seat Bristol Motor Speedway, it would be the largest crowd ever to attend a college football game. The current record is 115,109, set Sept. 7 at Michigan Stadium in Michigan's 41-30 win against Notre Dame.
Tech last played Tennessee in the 2009 Chick-fil-A Bowl, with Tech claiming a 37-14 victory. The teams also met in the 1994 Gator Bowl, which Tennessee won, 45-23. A regular-season meeting hasn't taken place since 1937, when Tennessee won 27-0 in Knoxville.
In 2005, Smith, the chairman and CEO of Speedway Motorsports, Inc., tried to offer both schools $20 million each to play the game at Bristol Motor Speedway. The deal never went through. It was the most publicized attempt to make the game happen in more than 10 years of failed efforts.
It will be the first college football game played at a NASCAR track. Bristol hosted an NFL exhibition game between the Redskins and the Eagles in 1961.
Under the parameters of his current contract, the Tech-Tennessee game in '16 would take place during Tech coach Frank Beamer's final season in Blacksburg. Of course, Beamer has not announced plans to retire.
In the '16 season, Tech already is scheduled to play non-conference home games Sept. 3 against Liberty and Sept. 17 against East Carolina, plus a non-conference game Nov. 19 at Notre Dame.
A previously scheduled non-conference home game against Wisconsin set for the '16 season as part of a home-and-home matchup was moved when the series was rescheduled for the '19 and '20 seasons, thus creating an opening on the '16 slate.
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