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KNOXVILLE -- Add a day to countdown to the start of Tennessee's football season.
Tennessee announced this afternoon that its 2014 season opener against Utah State has been moved back a day to Sunday night, Aug. 31. The game will kick off at 7 p.m. and will be televised by the new SEC Network.
The game originally was slated for Saturday, but it will swap nights with "Boomsday," Knoxville's annual Labor Day weekend fireworks show.
"This will be a unique and exciting weekend for our city and our state," Volunteers second-year coach Butch Jones said in the program's release. "With Boomsday on Saturday and our season opener on Sunday, the atmosphere and the energy in Knoxville will be unrivaled.
"We're also excited about being one of the schools featured on the first weekend of SEC Network football telecasts, and we are looking forward to this tremendous opportunity."
The Vols pulled a similar switch in 2004, when Boomsday was on Saturday and Tennessee beat UNLV 42-17 in a Sunday night season opener.
The Vols opened the 2012 season on a Friday, when they beat North Carolina State in a Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic game in Atlanta's Georgia Dome.
It's another example of Jones and athletic director Dave Hart tweaking Tennessee's schedule to get the program more exposure.
The Vols announced a 2016 game with Virginia Tech at Bristol Motor Speedway last October and moved a game in 2015 against UAB to Nashville's LP Field. West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck told the Charleston (W.V.) Gazette last week the Vols and Mountaineers are finalizing a game in Charlotte for 2018.
Both Hart and Jones have been proponents of neutral-site games, and there's likely one or two more in the works for future seasons.
For the next one, though, the Vols simply moved the game back a day.
"We are thrilled to have the Tennessee Vols home opener on the SEC Network," ESPN senior vice president of college networks Justin Connolly said. "Tennessee has a rich tradition of passionate college football fans, and we look forward to providing exclusive coverage of a packed Neyland Stadium Labor Day weekend."
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 ...