Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Tennessee coach Butch Jones, a former WVU assistant, enters his second season in Knoxville. His Vols are slated to face the Mountaineers in 2018 in Charlotte, N.C.


CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Continuing its quest for high-profile neutral-site games, West Virginia has agreed to face Tennessee in 2018 at the home of the NFL’s Carolina Panthers.

The matchup, in the works for months, was confirmed Tuesday morning by ESPN’s Brett McMurphy, and Belk Bowl officials subsequently slated the game for the opening weekend of Sept. 1, 2018.

The game would mark the Mountaineers’ fifth neutral-site game in seven years—three of those at FedExField in Landover, Md. (vs. James Madison in 2012, BYU in 2016 and Virginia Tech in  2017). The Mountaineers are less than six weeks away from opening the 2014 season against Alabama in Atlanta.

“Our players enjoy playing in NFL Stadiums and this a great matchup for our program,” said West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen. “We recruit the state of North Carolina and Charlotte is a strong football area. Our fans have always supported us strongly in previous games in Charlotte and I think this is a matchup that they will really enjoy.”

Organizers of neutral-site games typically offer each participating school a chance to earn more revenue than they would from a home date, provided ticket sales meet minimum benchmarks. These games also tend to garner premium television slots.

“We have a lot of fans and alumni living in the Charlotte area, and this is another outstanding game in close proximity that our fans can travel to easily,” said WVU athletics director Oliver Luck.

Tennessee head coach Butch Jones, a former West Virginia assistant, is aiming to revive a proud program that suffered late in Phillip Fulmer’s tenure and throughout Derek Dooley’s three-year stint.

“Playing in this venue and in a key recruiting footprint was very appealing to us,” said Tennessee AD Dave Hart. “The respective fan bases will create an electric atmosphere.”

Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium, which opened in 1996, seats 73,778.

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  • Joel

    Oliver Luck.
    In Him We Trust.

    Bringing WVU Football back to prominence.

  • WVU grad in central MD

    Did anybody see where "the Man in Black" said WVU's days of rolling thru the Big East and playing in a BCS game are over? I feel, once again, he has no respect for WVU and what we have accomplished on the field. Anybody else feel dissed, or am I being overly sensitive? Can't wait for this guy to leave, even if we go 12-0.

  • FL Truk

    Great news for the State of West Virginia and WVU! I'll travel from Florida for this one.

  • Shadow

    Did anyone ask the students where they wanted the opening game? It is a six-hour drive from Morgantown to Charlotte and would make for an expensive long day. I would think that an occasion opening game should be played at home but this is two in a row for neutral fields.

    • Joe

      yeah, and you're probably another "head in the sand" fan who thinks that the move to the Big 12 was a bad move. Wake up, and move out of the shadows, Shadow. The Big 12 and National recognition for WVU and ALL of its teams, men's and women's, is here to stay ! Now, cheer on the Mountaineers, wherever they play, whether an "inconvenient" road trip for you or not.

      • Shadow

        Somehow, I had the mistaken idea that the students were to be part of the audience and quite often pay mandatory fees to the Athletic Dept. Students at WVU pay them:

        Will they get a refund when the game is played at a neutral field and some distance away? I doubt it! If WVU was fair about their fees, this fee would be optional for those students that are sports fans and for those that don't give a durn, nothing.

    • Mark

      Poor baby!

  • OaklandEER

    William is just upset that no matter what transpires at that dump of a stadium in Huntington nobody cares......nobody buys tickets....nobody watches on tv........and nobody will give them any credance even if they go 12-0. Not likely though....they always fall on their sword somehow. Oh well William......don't worry. If Marshall sucks again this year nobody will notice or be there to witness it!

  • Protechcpa

    Two opposing viewpoints could be taken regarding games like this one. These high profile neural site games seem to preclude a seventh home game like we used to enjoy. They hurt Morgantown businesses that could benefit from an additional home game. The cost of attending is considerably higher than a home game unless you live near the neutral site. And if you happen to be a season ticket holder with good seats, you will likely have a much less desirable vantage point unless you pay big bucks to a ticket broker or watch from home. On the other hand, these games are usually against a high profile opponent, bring more publicity to the program, help recruiting overall and particularly near the neutral site, generally result in prime time TV coverage, offer the fan base in that area a rare opportunity and always bring in lots of money. As an added bonus and a hedge against more dismal W/L records, "here's your bowl game". The climate certainly will be warm in NC that time of the year. Book the trip, spend the money and take your beach towel. You can watch other teams play on TV in January.

    • rekterx

      Back when there were 11 games in a season it was not unheard of to have only 5 home games.

    • Shea Watt

      Beach towel? You do know that Charlotte's nowhere near a beach don't you? Five to six hours to a NC beach and close to four for Myrtle. Just 2 1/2 from Bluefield though!

      • Matt

        Good point Shea, but you are a little off on your travel times there . It would be 5-6 hours from Charlotte if you were going to the Outer Banks, but there are several beaches near wilmington, NC hat are only 3 - 3 1/2 hours away.

      • Protechcpa

        Yes, I have been to and through Charlotte many times but in my household there always has to be a "beach" element on a trip south, according to "the boss", regardless of how far out of the way it is. I am just conditioned. One time we were headed south to Jane Lew (from Bridgeport) and I got the comment "let's just swing by the Outlet Mall at Sutton, since we are headed that way". Starting to get the picture?

  • Harpers Ferry

    Remember the days when we played big opening games, like Ohio State, at Mountaineer Field? It's cool though, I like being asked to pay more money a year so that the non-conference games are played at neutral sites and the Towsons and Georgia States of the world are played at home.

    • Billy

      Yeah what year was that Ohio St game? 10 plus years ago? Sure you have been complaining about early season matchups since then....

    • In da stickes

      Perhaps he is like the carpet bagger running for the second district congressional seat: A Marylander.

    • F. Leghorn

      Boy, I say boy.....focus on the donut and not the hole.....ingrate!

      • Aaron

        I was going to call him William but that things taken.


    Count me there. BofA stadium a great venue for a football game. Should be a lot of fun! Thanks, Ollie!!!

  • william

    Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby comment yesterday -
    What a joker this guy is, no wonder the Big 12 will fall apart soon!

    • Tom

      Why will the Big XII "fall apart"? Making statements like this without giving any reason or presenting any evidence is absurd.

  • william

    Dana "The Man in Black" won't be head coach at WVU for this game!
    He will be long gone.

    • Matt

      so I guess you hate Huggins too b/c he only wears black..... god your an idoit

  • Aaron

    Tennessee is very similar to WV in that they are a national program that has enjoyed success in the past despite falling on hard times lately. It is a cyclical movement that touches all programs at one time or another and even though these teams may fall, they have the national name recognition and conference affiliation to return to winning seasons.

    I'm not sure if either team will be there next year but if recruiting continues as it has this year and the coaches can make adjustments, I have no doubt that WVU's football program will return to national prominence. Playing these type of games, win or lose only does good in getting WVU football back to where it belongs.

  • Greg

    Shouldn't be a problem selling this one out.

  • FNP

    It's about time!

  • Excited

    This is great news. Playing a team to start the season like this is great for long term success and growth. Tennessee had a top ten class recently and those kids will be seniors for this game.The mountaineers should also have a very deep and experienced o & d line to go with Crest as the QB with loads of experience.