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The Tennessee football program was previously scheduled to open the 2023 season with a trip to Provo, Utah to play BYU. But now, the Vols will be making the short trip down I-40 to Nashville, as they take on the Virginia Cavaliers.
The Vols were scheduled to complete the home-and-home series with BYU, coming off the crazy 2019 game where the Cougars stole it late thanks to Zach Wilson. The Cougars were already scheduled to play at Arkansas, giving them two SEC opponents on the schedule for the 2023 season.
Athletic Director Danny White released the following statement on the move.
“Pivoting to play a marquee non-conference opponent in Nashville made sense for multiple reasons,” Tennessee Vice Chancellor/Director of Athletics Danny White said. “This is a more accessible game for our fanbase. I expect that we will have a much larger contingent of fans in Nashville than would have been able to travel to Utah. Our fans also have heard me talk about the importance of finding new revenue to grow our operating budget, and playing Virginia at Nissan Stadium is an opportunity for a net-positive revenue game. I appreciate Virginia AD Carla Williams and the Nashville Sports Council for working with us to make this attractive matchup happen.”
Now, the Cougars will only have to play Arkansas and the Vols will get to host a game in Nashville to open the 2023 season. This move is big for Josh Heupel and his staff, as they will get to showcase their program to the mid-state once again. This game will also mark the first time Tennessee and Virginia have played since the 1990 Sugar Bowl, which the Vols won 23-22.
In the original contract, it called for either school to be penalized $2 Million if they were to cancel one of the games, in 2019 and 2023.
According to the contract, the first $2 Million in ticket sales will go to BYU in accordance to the buyout that Tennessee will be paying. The SEC will retain television rights to the game, according to the agreement. The next $500,000 will go to the Nashville Sports Council and then the next $3 Million will go to Tennessee and Virginia, split in half. Tennessee would receive an 80% cut of the remaining ticket sales.
It’s most certainly not the scenic backdrop of Provo, but Tennessee has found a way to not travel outside the state for the 2023 season opener.
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BYU is also supposed to begin Big 12 play in 2023, so perhaps that factored into the schedule change. Still, UVA is a bit of a step down from a pretty decent BYU program.
Translation: “BYU looked pretty good last year and Virginia is perennially awful, plus they hired a new coach, plus its a ‘neutral’ site game in Nashville, plus if we beat a ‘power 5 opponent’ some idiot is sure to rank us. Here’s $2 million to leave us alone, BYU.’
Chickens**t buyouts are becoming the norm at Big Orange…swapped out Army for Akron (“gutless” doesn’t even begin to describe how awful that one looked) now UVA for BYU…scared of future 2LTs, scared of Mormons…General Neyland would disown this bunch of cowards.
Spot on, Mad Max!
BYU will be a power 5 opponent in 2023. Tennessee just didn’t want to come to Provo to get its’ ass kicked.
And who cares about the power 5 label anyways? BYU was 5-0 against the almighty Pac 12 last season. And ask the Pac 12 champ Utes how they fared in Provo last season.