KNOXVILLE -- The University of Tennessee football program formally accepted a Sunday night invitation to play North Carolina in the Dec. 30 Music City Bowl at Nashville's LP Field.
UT administrators have thought for weeks that the Music City would be its most likely postseason destination, but a series of weekend events nearly put the Vols in Jacksonville for the Jan. 1 Gator Bowl. That was a potentially problematic possibility, because thousands of UT fans already had purchased tickets and reserved hotel rooms in Nashville.
"We kind of had to play a little bit of a waiting game, which is not unusual in other years," Music City Bowl President and CEO Scott Ramsey said. "It was maybe a little bit more nerve-racking this year."
UT (6-6, 3-5 Southeastern Conference) and UNC (7-5, 4-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) were scheduled to play next season in Chapel Hill, N.C., but the Vols bought out the home-and-home series after their request to delay it was declined.
First-year UT head coach Derek Dooley said he'd been "kicking back and relaxing" the past few days, because it's not his job to work out bowl game deals. Men's athletic director Mike Hamilton "gets paid the dollars to do that deal," Dooley added with a chuckle.
"Going into this week, all of our momentum has been focused on the distinct possibility that we were going to be in Nashville, and we've been excited about that all along," Hamilton said. "There was a little bit of a curve ball that kind of came up this week. That being said, we're very excited about the way it ended up, because this is kind of what we've focused on over the last two or three weeks."
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