BYU’s Much-Anticipated 2023 Game Against Tennessee Will Not Be Played

May 16, 2022, 1:07 PM | Updated: 1:59 pm
BYU Football, Tennessee Volunteers...
KNOXVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 7: Tennessee Volunteers wide receiver Jauan Jennings (15) being guarded by Brigham Young Cougars linebacker Chaz Ah You (3) catches a pass to tie up the game in overtime during a college football game between the Tennessee Volunteers and Brigham Young Cougars on September 7, 2019, at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, TN. (Photo by Bryan Lynn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
(Photo by Bryan Lynn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

PROVO, Utah – BYU football won’t be playing Tennessee in Provo to begin the 2023 season.

The Tennessee Volunteers announced they will kick off the 2023 campaign against Virginia in Nashville instead.

BYU/Tennessee in Provo is not happening

BYU and Tennessee were scheduled to meet on Saturday, September 2, at LaVell Edwards Stadium Provo. The game was going to complete a two-game series between the two schools. BYU defeated Tennessee in overtime in Knoxville during the 2019 season.

“Pivoting to play a marquee non-conference opponent in Nashville made sense for multiple reasons,” Tennessee Athletic Director Danny White said on Monday. “This is a more accessible game for our fanbase. I expect that we will have a much larger contingent of fans in Nashville than would have been able to travel to Utah. Our fans also have heard me talk about the importance of finding new revenue to grow our operating budget, and playing Virginia at Nissan Stadium is an opportunity for a net-positive revenue game. I appreciate Virginia AD Carla Williams and the Nashville Sports Council for working with us to make this attractive matchup happen.”

Tennessee opted out of the trip to Provo

BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe did not issue a statement on the schedule change. But a BYU spokesperson did confirm that Tennessee opted to buy out of the originally scheduled 2023 game in Provo.

The sudden schedule change leaves BYU with two non-conference games for the 2023 season, their first year as a Big 12 member. At a minimum, BYU will now need another non-conference game. Assuming the Big 12 Conference continues with a nine-game conference schedule.

With Tennessee opting out of the game to Provo, the Vols will pay BYU $2 million. Additionally, reports that portions of the ticket sales from Tennessee-Virginia will go to BYU to allow the Vols to “buy” out of the game.

Last week, BYU and Utah State announced a pause in the in-state rivalry after completing the 2022 game. Along with announcing the break, the two schools noted that they intend to schedule each other again in the future. Utah State already has three non-conference dates secured, including Sept. 2, 2023, at Iowa.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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