Tennessee, Virginia Tech set to net $4 million apiece for Battle at Bristol


We know why neutral site non-conference games have proliferated as much as they have over the last eight years: money.  The dollar signs have climbed to a point where the teams involved will make more to play elsewhere than they’d net by staying at home.

Case in point: Saturday’s Battle at Bristol between Tennessee and Virginia Tech.

The neutral site game is set to draw more than 150,000 spectators — a college football record. The Hokies and Vols could also set a record as they are set to receive $4.3 million apiece simply for showing up, according to the Associated Press.

The $4 million payment was guaranteed for each team when its allotment of 40,000 tickets sold out and, according to the AP, each club could be in line for an extra $300,000 because the grandstands at Bristol sold out.

For a point of reference, the College Football Playoff paid $4 million for each team playing in a non-semifinal New Year’s Six bowl last year.

The number to shoot for is the 115,109 that showed up to watch Michigan beat Notre Dame under the lights in 2013.

“We jokingly say we’re a football stadium on steroids,” Bristol Motor Speedway general manager Jerry Caldwell said. “When you walk into the place, that’s what you see. That’s what it feels like. You walk in and you’re completely surrounded by stands just like you would be at a football stadium.”

Considering the fervor the Battle at Bristol was met with by both fan bases, Saturday’s game should be a win-win for all involved. Until one of the teams has to go home a loser, of course.

“It’s something that will live with these individuals for the rest of their lives,” Tennessee coach Butch Jones said.

Arizona State hires Beau Baldwin as offensive coordinator

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

TEMPE, Ariz. — Arizona State has hired former Cal Poly head coach Beau Baldwin as its next offensive coordinator.

The school announced Baldwin’s hiring of new coach Kenny Dillingham‘s staff a week after he resigned at Cal Poly.

The 50-year-old Baldwin spent three seasons as the Mustangs’ head coach, going 4-21.

Baldwin previously served as California’s offensive coordinator for three years after a nine-year stint as Eastern Washington’s head coach. He went 85-32 at Eastern Washington and won the 2010 national championship with three trips to the FCS semifinals.

Baldwin also served as Central Washington’s head coach in 2007.

Stanford QB Tanner McKee declares for NFL draft

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

STANFORD, Calif. – Stanford quarterback Tanner McKee is leaving school to enter the NFL draft.

McKee announced his decision on Thursday after a disappointing junior season on an overmatched Stanford team.

McKee completed 62% of his passes for 2,947 yards, 13 touchdowns and eight interceptions this season as Stanford went 3-9 for a second straight year.

Stanford will undergoing an overhaul with coach David Shaw stepping down after 12 seasons and several players expected to transfer.