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Griz, Vols set to open season in 2011
The University of Montana football team will potentially play in front of the largest crowd in school history next year when it opens its season against the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, Tenn., on Sept. 3, 2011.
The capacity at UT’s Neyland Stadium is 102,038. The largest crowd Montana has played in front of is 70,585 in its 41-7 season-opening loss at Iowa in 2006.
The agreement is a one-game deal. It will be the first meeting between the two schools in football.
The Volunteers play in 102,000-seat Neyland StadiumMontana Director of Athletics Jim O’Day welcomed the chance to have the Grizzlies participate in the intersectional contest.
“This will be one of the biggest games we’ve played in our history, not to mention that we will be playing in front of the biggest crowd ever to watch a Grizzly football team play,” O’Day said.
“Our student-athletes really enjoyed the opportunity to play Oregon (in 2005) and Iowa the past few years, and this is another chance to get them in front of a big crowd and give them a taste of big-time football.
“This is one of those situations that just made sense to play an opponent of this caliber,” O’Day continued. “We are going to be compensated well for it. Plus we have connections down there with our many FCS championship trips to Chattanooga, and our relationship with (head coach) Jeff Fisher and the Tennessee Titans.
“As most Griz fans know, Jeff’s son, Brandon, was an outstanding linebacker for us, plus (former UM All-American) Tim Hauck is on the Titans’ coaching staff, and (former Griz All-American) Marc Mariani is currently on their roster.”
Tennessee was previously scheduled to play North Texas in Knoxville to open its 2011 slate, but UNT is opening a new football stadium and wanted to begin the season at home in its Denton, Texas, facility.
“In recent weeks, North Texas has asked us to work with them to assist in their efforts to open the 2011 season with a home game in their new stadium,” said UT athletics director Mike Hamilton. “At the same time, they were willing to assist us with an opening we had on our schedule in a future year that we have had trouble filling.
“Our home opener will now be played against the University of Montana – a team that competes annually for the national championship in the FCS and has a history of traveling to the Volunteer State.”
Montana will receive a $500,000 guarantee, plus help with additional expenses from Tennessee. It will be the second largest guarantee in school history. UM received $650,000 for its game at Iowa in 2006.
Griz fans will have an opportunity to purchase tickets prior to the 2011 season. Montana’s 2011 schedule has not yet been completed at this time.