I've been excited about the Carolina-Tennessee home-and-home games of 2011 and 2012 since they were first announced. This is the kind of rivalry we should be looking for, two flagship schools from states that share a border. It wasn't that long ago the Vols were after Butch Davis; sure with both teams looking to rebuild in 2011 it might not have been the best game, but it was a good start.
The operative word there is "was." Tennessee has looked at its schedule and decided it's better to fork over some cash rather than visit Chapel Hill. The upside is that UNC will probaby get a check in the range of a million dollars for the inconvenience of being replaced by Buffalo on the Volunteers' schedule. The downside is they'll be spending a bit of that themselves finding a twelfth game, and the replacement won't make for good football. A 1-AA team is probably the safest bet. And since the rest of the non-conference schedule consists of James Madison, Tennessee and East Carolina, well, look to see a repeat of last year's boring slate of games, actually.
On the plus side, Tennessee fans seem pretty annoyed about this, as they should be. Tennessee looks even weaker than they would have in a in-no-way-gauarnteed loss, especially since this game was set to follow a bye week. And frankly, Davis will probably be able to add something to his recruiting spiel like this tweet:
Butch Davis to recruit: "Sure, sure, you could go to UT, but they paid a million bucks not to play us. They're scared." Repeat x 1000.
Still, it's a bummer to the Carolina fans and players who were looking forward to this game. Although come to think of it, Southern Cal was recently trying to score a 2011 opponent – are they still available. Come to think of it, the 2011 Chick-Fil-A Kickoff game remains unscheduled, and the group obviously doesn't have a problem scheduling teams back-to-back. Do the Heels have the fan base draw to play in Atlanta two years in a row? What's the best case scenario for UNC here?