Tennessee vs. Virginia Tech at Bristol Motor Speedway Awesome for Both Programs

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Tennessee vs. Virginia Tech at Bristol Motor Speedway Awesome for Both Programs
Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

We've seen a rise in the existence of neutral-site games over the last few years.

The success of the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game—which bills itself as the "Daytona 500 of college football"—has created spinoff neutral-site showdowns in Houston, East Rutherford, N.J. and Arlington, Texas. But another neutral-site game is more likely to take over that Daytona 500 moniker in a few years.

Virginia Tech and Tennessee are planning a neutral-site game in 2016 at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tenn., according to CBSSports.com's Bruce Feldman.

As B/R's Tyler Conway notes, this event has been discussed before, even as far back as 2005.

It's finally happening, and it couldn't come at a better time for either program.

Just how big is this venue? The Neyland Stadium Twitter account provided some perspective, courtesy of satellite imagery. 

Yes, that's Neyland Stadium—with a capacity of 102,455—inside of Bristol Motor Speedway.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Tennessee head coach Butch Jones

The exposure generated from this game will be huge. This isn't your typical neutral-site game. This will be a made-for-TV spectacle designed not only to set the college football attendance record, but to generate as much interest for the sport due to the unique nature of the event.

It'll be the college football equivalent of college basketball games being played on aircraft carriers. 

On top of that though, it'll be a border war between two programs in a border town. The Virginia-Tennessee state line runs right through downtown Bristol, which brings another unique angle to the game.

It's hard to say where each program will be in 2016, but both will benefit tremendously from the exposure.

Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images
Bristol Motor Speedway

At 3-3, Tennessee is struggling this year. But first-year head coach Butch Jones is doing his best to turn things around in a hurry. The Vols have the nation's fourth-best class in the 247Sports.com 2014 recruiting rankings, and 13 of those players have four or more stars attached to their names in the 247Sports.com composite.

He was recruiting well without reports of this game. Now he gets to sell a Super Bowl atmosphere to players who will play in this game for the next three recruiting cycles, in addition to the other perks associated with playing at Tennessee like a shiny new $45 million training complex.

Agreeing to play in this game—whenever it becomes official—will be huge to Jones as he continues to build the program "brick-by-brick."

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

For Virginia Tech, it's another chance to step foot on the big stage. 

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The Hokies have established themselves as one of the top programs in the ACC, winning the conference three times since 2007 and posting double-digit win season in eight of the last nine. But let's be honest, being consistently dominant in the ACC is the college football equivalent of 14-year-old Danny Almonte dominating the 2001 Little League World Series.

Virginia Tech has made a point to play big national out-of-conference games in the past in strategic recruiting areas to keep the program visible. They lost to Alabama in the 2009 and 2013 Chick-fil-A Kickoff Games, played against Boise State (2010) and Cincinnati (2012) at FedEx Field in Landover, Md. and have a home-and-home series with Ohio State coming in 2014 and 2015, according to FBSchedules.com.

None of those games will compare to this.

As is the case with Tennessee, it's a chance to keep the program visible on the national stage at a venue that is right in the middle of a critical recruiting region for the Hokies.

Playing a game in the middle of a giant NASCAR track seems a little hokey—pun very much intended—but it'll be a benefit to both programs, and the game of college football.

It can't get here soon enough.

 

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