KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — The potential Tennessee-West Virginia football game at Charlotte in 2018 that was reportedly close to being “finalized” four weeks ago has yet to be announced.
Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart declined to comment on the report or the potential game in an interview this week with the News Sentinel’s Ben Frederickson.
Any future neutral site game, Hart said, would be announced when the contract is completed.
Regardless, the Vols-Mountaineers matchup — if it takes place — would fit the profile of games that Hart is seeking.
But the recent decision by the SEC presidents to maintain the current schedule format should have little impact on UT’s scheduling goals. Tennessee, like most SEC schools, already schedules one high-profile non-conference game each year. That “high-profile” game will essentially become a league mandate in 2016, when every SEC team will be required to schedule one game against a team from the Big Ten, Big 12, Pac 12 or ACC.
“For us, that’s how we’ve been doing business. And for most people in our league. Not everybody,” Hart said. “For the high majority of people in the SEC, that has been the standard. Now it will be required that everyone do that.”
Hart, who has favored a nine-game conference schedule, didn’t win that battle. But he was pleased that the league “reaffirmed” its commitment to traditional cross-divisional rivalries like Tennessee-Alabama and Georgia-Auburn.
“In our case we will maintain one of the most historic rivalries in the history, throughout all of college football, with Tennessee-Alabama,” he said. “I have been an outspoken proponent for every bit of two years on playing nine league games. But the vote was not there. So we are moving in unison with everyone else toward the 6-1-1 (format) and staying with eight league games.”