First, go read this piece from Andy Hutchins on our own SB Nation national site. I'll wait.
I have more thoughts than time, but I wanted to open this up for discussion. I think it's worth pointing out that Andy is a Florida fan. He's a good guy, but, as we are all prone to do, we view everything through our own spectacles. The only reason I bring that up is that it seems that most of the criticism is coming from groups other than Tennessee and Virginia Tech fans.
Will all of that in mind, what do you think about his assertion that the Battle at Bristol could be bad for college football? Me? Love ya, Andy, but I think you're full of crap on this one.
Again, I wish I had more time to flesh this out, but my quick thoughts are these:
- I'm so tired of all of the "it's too big" stuff. If the question is whether BMS provides the best view of a football game, the answer is no. In fact, the answer to the question of where you can find the absolute best view of a football game is "in your living room in front of your big screen high definition television during a broadcast by professional broadcasters with multiple cameras and instant slow-motion replay." HD TVs are cutting in to attendance at games, no doubt, but there's still a boatload of people going to games. And you don't go to games for the view, you go to be part of the crowd. So enough of this nonsense. Until you can view that picture at 130 decibels generated by 150,000 people dressed in school colors, it doesn't mean anything.
- This is not an either-or game. There may be some who go to this game and only this game that season. There may be some who go to this game instead of a game or two at Neyland or Lane. But the raiding of home games is not inevitable except to some slight degree. This is primarily an add-on purchase for lifelong fans of both teams, much like a bowl game. And, you know, people go to those if they're worth going to. Which brings us to . . .
- . . . Attendance and interest at football games is impacted much, much more by the desire of the product being sold than by how many of them there are because there are only 12-14 of them each year no matter what. Basically, if the Vols and Hokies are good, an extra neutral site game, if it's a good one (and this is), is a good cross sell for both fan bases. If the teams are bad, this game provides a reason to go see them, and it will likely have little to no impact on whether the fan base goes to see the directional school home game on the schedule anyway.
- The article identifies this as the primary concern: "How in the world is any game at Neyland or Lane Stadium in 2016 going to measure up to the biggest game in college football history?" Oh, okay. Maybe we should forego any Top 10 matchups on the schedule because they make the rest of the schedule look bad. Seriously, that's the argument?