Jacksonville State is back on the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football team's schedule.
UTC athletic director David Blackburn told the Times Free Press on Wednesday that four games have been scheduled, beginning next fall at Finley Stadium. The 2014 game, which will replace the canceled meeting with Georgia State, will be the Mocs' home opener.
"It makes sense, and it beefed up our home schedule significantly," Blackburn said. "We were worried about that."
The Mocs will have five home games in their 12-game schedule. They had been in contact with a Division II school about replacing the Georgia State game, but then the Gamecocks called.
"It's a tremendous opportunity to have a good home opener," senior associate athletic director Matt Pope said.
Blackburn also announced that the Mocs, who wrap up their regular season against Alabama on Nov. 23, will return to Tuscaloosa to face the Crimson Tide in 2016. UTC will receive $500,000 for the game, $50,000 more than it is getting this year.
UTC and Jacksonville State played eight times from 2004 through 2012, before the Mocs ended the series in order to open up its non-conference schedule to include other teams, such as UT-Martin, Tennessee Tech and Austin Peay. Then came the Southern Conference shuffle, with Appalachian State, Georgia Southern and Elon leaving the league. Mercer and VMI will join the league next year, but East Tennessee State won't begin league play in football until 2016.
The Mocs would have hosted all three departing SoCon schools next season, so their exits put a big dent in the home schedule. Jacksonville State's visit to Finley should help make up for some of that attendance loss. A crowd of 12,185 attended the Gamecocks' last visit to Chattanooga, in 2011.
"I was honest when I said I wanted to play other people," Mocs coach Russ Huesman said. "If you can get Tennessee Tech and Martin and Austin Peay, then you should do things like that. ... Now we've got Jacksonville State for a four-game deal, and I think it all worked out really well."
Jacksonville State will return to Chattanooga in 2015 and then the Mocs will visit JSU in 2017 and '19.
Contact John Frierson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6268. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/MocsBeat.