If you had any hope that Tennessee and Memphis would go the way of basketball and reinstate their rivalry on the gridiron, you’ll be disappointed to hear that such a game is not in the works — at least for the time being.
While speaking to a crowd as part of the annual Big Orange Caravan at Agricultural International in Memphis on Tuesday, first-year Athletic Director Phillip Fulmer indicated that there were no plans to put the Tigers back on the schedule at this time.
The Commercial Appeal confirmed as much on the Memphis side of things, stating that a spokesperson within the Tiger’s athletic department confirmed that no such discussions have taken place.
Still, if it is the game you really want to see on Tennessee’s schedule, Fulmer left the door wide open for potential future match ups.
“They’re a good team, a ranked team and playing well from what I saw,” Fulmer said, “They’ve done quite well and it makes sense to have the conversation.”
The Vols last played Memphis during the Derek Dooley era in 2010, winning that game 50-14 to improve to 22-1 all-time against the in-state Tigers.
Tennessee’s lone blemish in the series came in 1996 when Fulmer’s No. 6 Vols and Peyton Manning were victims of a massive 21-17 upset at the Liberty Bowl.
While the overall series has been dominated by Tennessee since these programs first played each other during the 1968 season, Memphis has had a successful run under Justin Fuente and current head coach Mike Norvell.
With so many in-state, out-of-conference rivalries in the SEC (i.e. Georgia/Georgia Tech, Florida/Florida State, Clemson/South Carolina), a potential Tennessee/Memphis rivalry in the future certainly brings a lot of intrigue — especially if the Tigers can keep up their recent success.
Who knows? Maybe these two programs going at each other on the hardwood in the next couple of years will go a long way in its reinstatement in football. But for now, it will have to wait.