MORGANTOWN -West Virginia University's season-opening football game against Alabama on Aug. 30 in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic at the Georgia Dome won't be the only time the Mountaineers open the season against a Southeastern Conference opponent at a neutral site.
On Tuesday, the Charlotte Sports Foundation announced West Virginia will meet Tennessee on Sept. 1, 2018, at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C., the home of the Carolina Panthers of the National Football League.
The announcement drew rave reviews from officials at both of the participating schools, who will be meeting on the gridiron for the first time.
"This matchup against Tennessee is very attractive, featuring a quality opponent from a highly visible conference at a National Football League stadium,'' said WVU Director of Athletics Oliver Luck. "We have a lot of fans and alumni living in the Charlotte area, and this is an outstanding game in close proximity that our fans can travel to easily. We have never played Tennessee before in football and both states are similar in makeup, so it's time for us to meet on the football field.''
The Volunteers are coached by former WVU assistant Butch Jones, who virtually echoed Luck's comments.
"The game in Charlotte presents a tremendous opportunity for our football program to play against a quality opponent in West Virginia in a first-class NFL venue,'' said Jones, who served as WVU wide receivers coach in 2005 and 2006 under Rich Rodriguez, before landing his first head coaching job in 2007 at Central Michigan. Jones did a pair of three-year stints at CMU and Cincinnati, before taking over the Tennessee program last year, finishing 5-7 in his debut season.
Charlotte is attempting to schedule high-profile college football games at Bank of America Stadium. The Charlotte Sports Foundation previously announced that North Carolina and South Carolina will meet there in September 2015.
The foundation is a non-profit organization that runs the Belk Bowl and also serves as the local organizing committee for the Atlantic Coast Conference championship.
West Virginia has participated in a pair of bowl games in Charlotte, losing to Virginia in the 2002 Continental Tire Bowl and beating North Carolina in the 2008 Meineke Car Care Bowl, one of four bowl victories in which Pat White was WVU's starting quarterback.