After analyzing the situation in depth, a meeting between the two would likely happen later in the season, rather than earlier.
?They need to hold (the game) later in the year, after the (fall) race,? said Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton. ?It needs to be a November (game).?
The reason for holding the game in November is that the speedway?s infield would need to be leveled and a playing surface brought in following the fall Nextel Cup Race held annually in Bristol.
But scheduling a game in November during the middle of conference play is not easy, particularly with schedules set long in advance; it isn?t as simple as two schools deciding to play next fall for a large paycheck.
Tennessee?s schedule is likely set in stone through 2007 (Marshall University may drop off UT?s schedule next season, but it would likely have no effect on the possibility of a game).
?I think we?re looking at 2008 or 2009 before I could even see a scenario where we could change something around,? Hamilton said.
Tech has non-conference opponents scheduled as far in advance as the 2013 season. But it is possible the Hokies will have to add a team to the schedule each of the next four seasons as the University of Wisconsin and University of Ohio each want to be taken off of Tech?s schedule.
Despite the lack of scheduling progress made thus far, Tennessee is still interested in playing the game.
?We?d play Tech,? Tennessee head coach Philip Fulmer said. ?If they could work out $20 million to play in Bristol, anybody would.?
And it?s not just the coaching staff that wouldn?t mind competing against Tech. Volunteer wide receiver C.J. Fayton would like to compete against a school from his home state.
?I would love to play against them,? Fayton, a Virginia Beach native, said. ?That?s something they need to look at ? two top-10 teams in the nation. That?d be a great game to watch.?
One reason Fayton would like to play the Hokies is to compete against players he used to see in high school, where he was a teammate of Tech running back Cedric Humes.
?Yeah, I?ve played against all those guys,? Fayton said. ?I?d love to get to play those guys again, and it?ll be a real big game.?
Even though Fayton is a senior, and will graduate long before any prospective game, he sees himself present.
?Oh I?d have to (attend the game),? Fayton said. ?Some of the guys I played with back in Virginia Beach, we?ll all get back there and have a little bragging rights game.?
The Volunteers also have linebacker Jerod Mayo on their roster. Mayo, from Hampton, Va. is just a redshirt freshman and chose Tennessee over Tech when he was recruited by both teams.
The proposed game would have more than financial implications at stake; prospective recruits would certainly watch and take note.
?Certainly, we?d like to recruit in Tidewater,? Fulmer said.
Even Fayton can acknowledge the recruiting possibilities.
?That?d definitely help (recruiting for) Tennessee, to get people out of the Hampton Roads area,? Fayton said. ?I think Tennessee is a national team, and a lot of kids coming out of the Tidewater area look at Tennessee, but Tech is the home favorite and it?s hard to get players out of Virginia.?
Even Tennessee fans have interest in playing the Hokies. Much of the land covering the distance between Blacksburg and Knoxville is split with fans who pledge their loyalty to Tech or Tennessee.
?I?m sure (the game) would be something that would be appealing to (the fans),? Hamilton said.
Despite interest in the game by fans, players, coaches and administrative officials of both schools, one integral piece of the puzzle is missing: the offer.
?We don?t have a formal proposal,? Hamilton said. ?I?m sure if he wanted to do it, he could do it given his financial capabilities. The ball is clearly in (Bristol and Smith?s) court. It?s really speculative to talk about anything until we have some kind of proposal.?
Most likely, a Hokies versus Volunteers match up would take the form of a single game at a neutral site, not a home and home series.
?There?s not a spot to do a home and home series,? Hamilton said. ?There would be a spot to maybe do a neutral site series at some point.?
This leaves everyone in Blacksburg, Knoxville and everywhere in between holding out hope for a move from Bruton Smith.