Tennessee is no stranger to big time non-conference football games. In recent seasons, Tennessee has taken on Oklahoma, Oregon, UCLA and California. Going back even further to the 1990s, the Vols didn’t take too many breaks with cupcakes. Last year Tennessee took on Virginia Tech in the Battle at Bristol and this year they’ll get Georgia Tech at the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
They already have games lined up with West Virginia and Oklahoma for the future, but if you were the AD, who would you be calling to set a game up with in the future? There are several juicy options out there, here are my best five.
5. Penn State
Penn State is on this list for one reason: James Franklin. Wouldn’t it be fun to get another shot at that guy? Franklin has Penn State on the rise after a spectacular and surprising 2016 season. I’m not sure Butch Jones would want any of Penn State this year, but it would be interesting to see the Franklin vs. Tennessee dynamic play out once again — this time on a national stage.
So this one wouldn’t have the national buzz that others on this list would have, but there’s something to be said about geographical rivalries. Tennessee doesn’t have much to gain here, but Memphis is an improving program and it would be fun to see this game renewed. I like the idea of proving you’re the top dog in your own state. Plus added exposure in the Memphis area can only help recruiting.
This series was last played in 09-10 and 05-06 before that. Tennessee has shown that they have no problem going the home and home route with Memphis before. Tennessee is 22-1 all time against Memphis, but I think the two programs are as close as they’ve ever been right now. Let’s fire this one up again.
After the satellite camp fiasco of 2016, I think the entire SEC wants a piece of Jim Harbaugh. Butch and Harbaugh has their moment last year on Twitter, which didn’t turn out to be much of anything other than a talking point for a couple of days.
How cool would it be to play a home and home with Michigan? Two of the biggest, most iconic stadiums in the country playing host to two of the biggest programs in the land. SEC teams don’t typically travel up north. That’s a trend that I would like to kick if I were an SEC AD.
2. North Carolina
I’ve long clamored for this game to happen on a regular basis. Again, I’m big on geographical rivalries, so playing our neighboring state makes a ton of sense here. This series was a go just a few short years ago until Mike Hamilton backed out of it.
This could be a fun annual tradition for both sides. The two locations are accessible to each fanbase, so making the trip across the state line would make for a fun weekend getaway. Also, I’d love to avenge that stupid Music City Bowl loss.
I think a battle for the title of the real UT would be a fun series. The two schools haven’t played since 1969, which is actually pretty crazy considering all of the opportunities they’ve had to play in bowls against one another. Both programs are in similar spots, trying to get back to what they once were. Both programs are having a really hard time getting back to those glory days, too.
Not only would this put both schools on a national stage, it would allow Tennessee some exposure in the recruiting hotbed of Texas. That’s never a bad thing. Getting out of our southeastern comfort zone would be high on my list.
That’s my (pretty random) wishlist. What games would you try to add if you were John Currie?