Fans of Tennessee and Appalachian State will not have to wait as long as they expected for their 2016 season opener. The Vols and Mountaineers have moved their season-opening date up two days to a Thursday night. The game, originally scheduled for Saturday, September 3, will now be played on Thursday, September 1 at 7:30 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on SEC Network.
“The conference approached me during our recent athletics director meetings in Jacksonville about a request they had received from ESPN to move our season-opening game to Thursday night on the SEC Network,” Tennessee Athletics Director Dave Hart said in a released statement. “I visited with Butch Jones about it upon my return to gauge his interest prior to my conversations with appropriate campus personnel. He was very interested in making the change.”
This will mark the first time since 1938 the Vols will host a Thursday football game. Tennessee defeated Kentucky in a Thanksgiving game that season. The last time Tennessee played a home opener on a Thursday was in 1896. You remember that one, right?
The decision to move the game to a Thursday night timeslot helps move Tennessee’s home game out of the shadows of what is going to be one massive Saturday of college football. The Labor Day weekend is jammed with great contests, and moving a game to a Thursday night helps get the Vols, one of the potentially trendy preseason picks, some extra exposure. The Thursday line-up is becoming more crowded though, with South Carolina facing Vanderbilt on ESPN that same night. It feels kind of strange seeing a move like this to put two games involving SEC teams up against one another on that Thursday night, but I’m not ESPN’s program director.