KNOXVILLE — It's finally going to happen.
The football game at Bristol Motor Speedway between Tennessee and Virginia Tech has long been discussed and pondered, but the matchup never materialized.
Now it has.
ESPN's Joe Schad and CBS Sports' Bruce Feldman reported Wednesday evening the Hokies and Volunteers will meet at the 160,000-seat speedway in 2016, and though Tennessee officials had no official comment, a source confirmed the two reports.
Bristol Motor Speedway announced it had scheduled a Monday news conference to make a "major announcement."
Though Virginia Tech and Tennessee's campuses are less than 250 miles apart, the two programs have met just eight times in football, most recently the 2009 Chick-fil-a Bowl in Atlanta, a 37-14 win for the 12th-ranked Hokies. The Vols beat Virginia Tech 45-23 in the 1994 Gator Bowl in the programs' first meeting since 1937. Tennessee is 5-3 all-time against the Hokies.
The Vols already have agreements for two of their non-conference opponents for 2016, though those games could be moved up or back a year or two to accomodate for game that will try to break college football's record for largest attendance.
Tennessee and Nebraska set up a home-and-home series to be play in 2016 and 2017 back in 2006, and the Vols also agreed to a home-and-home set with Connecticut scheduled for 2015 and 2016 two years later. The Vols will visit Oklahoma next season before hosting the Sooners in 2015. Tennessee recently played home-and-home non-conference series against Oregon, UCLA, California and Notre Dame.
Barnett picks Vols
Tennessee landed another one of its top remaining recruiting targets on Wednesday night.
Brentwood Academy defensive end Derek Barnett announced on Twitter he had verbally committed to the Vols, who picked up a pledge from junior college offensive tackle Dontavius Blair on Tuesday night.
The 6-foot-3, 270-pound Barnett is rated a four-star prospect, the fourth-ranked player in Tennessee and the nation's No. 146 overall player, according to 247sports.com. His scholarship offer list includes Vanderbilt, Ohio State, Florida State, LSU, Nebraska, Texas A&M, Ole Miss, Washington and South Carolina, among others.
Barnett is the Vols' 26th commitment for the 2014 class, which includes two other defensive ends: Georgia Military College's DaVonte Lambert and Shaker Heights (Ohio) High School's Joe Henderson.
Patrick Brown has been the University of Tennessee beat writer since January 2011. A native of Memphis, Brown graduated from UT in May of 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism/Electronic Media and worked at the Knoxville News Sentinel for two years on the sports editorial staff and as a freelance contributor. If it’s the NBA, the NFL or SEC football and basketball, he’s probably reading about it or watching it on TV. Contact him ...