The Oregon Ducks come flying into Knoxville for this week's entry into the history of intersectional Vol games. It brings a lot of memories, for we have faced our share of formidable programs from outside the South: Notre Dame, Southern Cal, UCLA, Cal, Iowa, Pitt, and many more. I have special memories of the two games the Vols played against Penn State in the early 1970s. Those were classic games, and important as college football was beginning to become a dominant sport for national television. [and important in the lore of Southern football: Paterno didn't like the idea of coming South to play football because it was too hot - so we had lights installed at Neyland Stadium!]
There are a ton of interconference rivalries; the South is full of them (Ga-Ga Tech; Fla-Fla State; etc). But there aren't any true intersectional rivalries other than Southern Cal - Notre Dame. They have been going at it annually (except for three years during WWII) since 1926 when the wives of prominent figures from both schools decided a home-and-home series would be a good idea. It is a special part of the annual college football calendar.
As a college football fan, I love intersectional games. As well as winning national and conference championships, I think they are important to the maintenance of a program's visibility/marketability. And, they give your squad and coaching staff a special challenge in preparation, especially when your school goes across country for the game (think Eugene in 2011).
But what would you think about taking it a step further...
If you had the power to wave your wand and click your heels, would you favor Tennessee playing the same intersectional foe every season, to create an intersectional rivalry?
And if so, what school would be your top choice?