UTC places Tennessee and Alabama on future non-conference schedule

photo A football with a UTC logo is shown near a line of more footballs on the sideline during practice at Finley Stadium.

Scheduling AheadUTC's nonconference football games are set for the next three seasons, and in-state OVC foes are lined up for four years beyond that:2012: South Florida, Jacksonville State, Presbyterian2013: UT-Martin, Georgia State, Austin Peay, Alabama2014: Tennessee, Georgia State, Austin Peay, UT-Martin2015: Austin Peay2016: Austin Peay2017: UT-Martin2018: UT-Martin

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The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football team's future Football Championship Subdivision nonconference games have a decidedly in-state feel.

Starting in 2013, the Mocs have scheduled four-game home-and-home series with Austin Peay and UT-Martin from the Ohio Valley Conference.

"For various reasons, this has been the first time I felt like we were in a position to [schedule] out five or so years, particularly with our FCS our-of-conference schedule," UTC athletic director Rick Hart said.

UTC also has scheduled two future games against bowl subdivision programs. The Mocs, who open the 2012 season at South Florida, will play Alabama in 2013 and Tennessee in 2014.

"It's something people have talked about since I've arrived," Hart said of playing the Volunteers, "and there was a genuine interest on UT's part. If they were going to play an FCS institution, they wanted to include UTC in that.

"I think there will be a lot of excitement about that trip, certainly for our fans. I'm anticipating a lot of them will want to attend."

The last time UTC played an in-state Division I team was in 2006, when it wrapped up a series with Tennessee Tech. The Mocs are 4-0 all-time against Austin Peay, though they haven't played since 1968. UTC's only games against UT-Martin came in 1991-93, and the Mocs won all three meetings.

In 2013 and '14 UTC will play 12-game schedules. The Mocs will play UT-Martin, Georgia State and Austin Peay each of those two seasons. The 2013 game against UT-Martin will be a Thursday night season opener at Finley Stadium.

UTC will play Austin Peay again in 2015 and '16 and UT-Martin in 2017 and '18.

Georgia State, which played its first season in 2010, suits UTC both because it's an easy two-hour drive and because the Mocs recruit heavily in the Atlanta area.

"Whether it's in-state or out of state, I want to play a Division I school like Martin, Austin Peay, Georgia State, that's an easy drive," Mocs coach Russ Huesman said. "Georgia State's ideal because we can go down the day of the game."

The Mocs will receive $450,000 from both Alabama and Tennessee. Nebraska is paying UTC $475,000 for this season's guarantee game, and South Florida will pay the Mocs $435,000 next season.

UTC hasn't faced the Volunteers since 1969; from 1904 through the '60s the teams played 38 times. Huesman said he'd like for UT to be on the schedule once every few years.

"I think it's great for our fans and our players," he said. "I know they're not going to play us every other year, but every three or four years would be great. We ought to try to do it."

Hart said there has been some discussion with UT about playing more often, but nothing has been decided. That may have to wait until the Vols have a new athletic director.

For the most part, Hart said, he doesn't want to schedule games against bowl subdivision teams too far in advance because the payout for those games can fluctuate.

"But if you can go ahead and lock in [Southeastern Conference] schools," he said, "you go ahead and do it."

The Mocs begin preseason practice on Aug. 4 and open the 2011 season on Sept. 3 at Nebraska.