Truett Cathy has succeeded where Bruton Smith failed.
Years after Smith, the CEO of Bristol Motor Speedway, tried unsuccessfully to get the two schools to play a football game at a Nascar track, Virginia Tech and Tennessee will meet in the Peach Bowl (which is currently named after Cathy's chain of fast food restaurants that sells delicious sandwiches and waffle fries). And college football is better because of it.
These two teams should be rivals. The impression Hokie fans have of Tennessee is it's afraid to play us. The impression Vol fans probably have of Virginia Tech is it's a team that isn't on its level. But both are from BCS conferences and are separated by a mere 240 miles.
Since 1968, the Vols have played Memphis, which is about as far away from being on Tennessee's level as a football team can get, 21 times including 10 times in Memphis. The argument can be made that UT is trying to get in on Memphis' fertile recruiting fields, but it's still nearly 400 miles from Knoxville.
And you sure don't see Alabama playing the Tigers every other year, do you?
But at least these two teams will finally play again thanks to the Peach Bowl. It'll be the first meeting between the Hokies and Vols since 1994 when they met in the Swamp in Gainesville in the Gator Bowl (Jacksonville's Municipal Stadium was being renovated for the Jaguars at the time). It wasn't pretty for Tech, who watched Peyton Manning obliterate it to the tune of 45-23. That help further the notion Vol fans had that the Hokies weren't ready for prime time.
And that's one of the many, many reasons I want Tech to win this game. Because if we go out there and beat the Vols, maybe we can get these teams to meet in the regular season. I've said it before but now that the matchup is set I'll say it again. Let's lock Mike Hamilton and Jim Weaver in a room in Atlanta and not let them out until the Hokies and Vols schedule a home and home. Then we can thank Cathy and not have to see Smith pop up on ESPN every other year with delusions of grandeur about the teams playing in Bristol.