Those waiting to hear the kickoff time for Tennessee's season opener got an extra surprise today:
The Vols will now open the 2016 season on Thursday, September 1 against an 11-win Appalachian State squad. The season will begin at 7:30 PM ET on the SEC Network.
In the past few years the Vols have come off Saturday for their season opener a few times, playing Utah State on Sunday in
2013 2014, NC State in Atlanta on Friday in 2012, and at UCLA on Labor Day in 2008. But this is the first time the Vols will help open the college football season on Thursday since they helped ESPN begin their Thursday night football tradition at Louisville in 1991.
The FBS season technically kicks off a week earlier this year thanks to Cal and Hawaii playing on August 27 in Sydney, Australia. But Tennessee will be part of the now customary Thursday night feast, which includes South Carolina at Vanderbilt. This move also gets Tennessee away from a gigantic opening Saturday for SEC teams.
Appalachian State played fairly gigantic football themselves in the Group of Five last season; the additional spotlight for Thursday night should help both teams focus, and it also gives Tennessee a couple of extra days to prepare for an even bigger spectacle the following week at Bristol Motor Speedway.
I'm excited about the move, if for no other reason than football time in Tennessee is now 48 hours closer.