The odd numbered years always bring the chance to spend your money in Gainesville or Tuscaloosa, and with the Vols building their way back to national relevance you’ll have extra incentive to drop the cash on those games next year. The even numbered years typically provide less expensive options in Athens and Columbia, SC, shorter drives for East Tennesseans.
As usual, there have been plenty of scenic locations on the table for Tennessee fans in the last few years for those willing to drop a few dollars on a more unique road trip. But if you went to Oregon in 2013 or Oklahoma in 2014, you pretty much knew what you were in for.
The challenge from Virginia Tech won’t be as steep on paper; the Hokies shouldn’t enter the season ranked and are breaking in their first new coach in a generation. But the rarity of Tennessee and Virginia Tech getting together in the regular season despite being just 237 miles apart would make the September 10 date attractive for East Tennesseans even if it wasn’t at Bristol. Throw in the chance to be part of the largest crowd to ever watch a college football game at a unique venue, and you can see why tickets have been scarce. I have no idea what a good seat is at the Battle of Bristol, but I know there will be several to receive the opposite qualification. Yet the cheapest of the hundreds of seats currently available for the chance to be part of 150,000ish goes for $169 on StubHub.
Or, for the low low price of $120 per ticket plus your choice of a 15 hour drive or a plane ride, you can watch the Vols at Kyle Field for the first time ever.
The current nature of the SEC’s scheduling policy means if you don’t go to Texas A&M this October, you won’t get another chance until 2028. Honestly, isn’t there some reasonable chance the Vols are back at Bristol before then?
If you, like me, are the sort of fan that’s only going to spend the money for one of these trips this year, where do you go?
Or, because we’re all hoping this year is the year, do you hold out hope for secret option number three: save that money for the Georgia Dome in December...or beyond?