July 26, 2010
Tennessee and Montana announced Monday a one-game deal to open the 2011 football season in Knoxville.
The contest is scheduled for Sept. 3 at Neyland Stadium and marks the first gridiron matchup between the two schools.
Montana of the Big Sky Conference won the then-Division I-AA crown in 1995 and again in 2001, the latter title coming in Chattanooga. The Grizzlies also are a five-time runner-up in what is now known as the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS), including each of the last two seasons.
The Vols previously were scheduled to play North Texas in Knoxville to begin the 2011 slate, but North Texas 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 FCS and has a history of traveling to the Volunteer State."
Montana athletics director Jim O'Day welcomed the chance to have his team participate in this intersectional matchup.
"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 (2005) and Iowa (2006) 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.
"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-America) Tim Hauck is on the Titans' coaching staff, and Marc Mariani is currently on their roster."
The date for the rescheduled game against North Texas has not be finalized, nor has the remainder of Tennessee's 2011 schedule.
The Vols open their 2010 season against UT Martin on Sept. 4 at Neyland Stadium. To order season tickets or individual game tickets, visit UTTix.com.