Friday, August 26, 2005
Smith revives Tech vs. Vols at speedway
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Maybe $20 million would make the University of Tennessee change its mind about turning down a chance to play Virginia Tech at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Bruton Smith, chairman and CEO of Speedway Motorsports, which owns the half-mile track with steep, stadium-style seating, says he will offer $20 million to both schools to play on turf he will install on the infield.
The idea of the game at the track, which is about 120 miles from both campuses, has been kicked around for many years because of the allure of drawing 160,000 or more fans that the track can hold.
But Tennessee athletic director Doug Dickey said no. Now Mike Hamilton, who succeeded Dickey in 2003, hasn't said never.
"Twenty million dollars is a bunch of cash," said Hamilton, who plans to attend this weekend's NASCAR races at Bristol. "If he's talking about $20 million, obviously, I'm listening."
Smith has said Virginia Tech officials support the idea, but they did not have an immediate comment on Thursday.
The idea seemed to dissipate when new buildings were added in turns three and four, but Smith said he'd just tear them down.
"We'll level the whole place. We'll put in the Astroturf, and we'll do it all," he said.
It is unclear when the game could be played. Tennessee has its schedule set through 2008, and the track hosts the Nextel Cup's Sharpie 500 every year in late August. Any renovations for the football game would have to be complete in time for a game by the end of November.
"They hold the keys to the whole thing," Smith said of Tennessee. "If they decide that they want to do it, Virginia (Tech) will be aboard. I can commit now."
FSU kicking chores up in the air
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- What's new? Florida State's opener against Miami is approaching and, like clockwork, the Seminoles are having kicker troubles.
Four different players worked out at two kicking positions during a light special teams workout Thursday morning. While Chris Hall has a firm grasp on punting duties, the kickoff and field goal chores are still up for grabs.
Sophomores Chase Goggans and Gary Cismesia and freshman Graham Gano -- also the No. 2 punter -- are the in the mix for the place-kicking job with the Sept. 5 season opener against the Hurricanes less than two weeks away. Only Cismesia has collegiate experience.
"The coaches have told us that the decision could come as late as right before the first game, so we will just have to wait and see," said Gano, who boasts the strongest leg of the three.
Thompson named OU QB
NORMAN, Okla. -- Experienced backup Paul Thompson beat out touted newcomer Rhett Bomar for the starting quarterback spot in Oklahoma's season opener against Texas Christian.
Thompson, a 6-foot-4 right-hander, bided his time behind Nate Hybl and Jason White to earn a spot as Oklahoma's top quarterback.
"We felt as a staff we're going to start Thompson," coach Bob Stoops said Thursday. "We feel that he has earned it to this point."
Thompson was the backup as Hybl guided the Sooners to the Rose Bowl, and played in 10 games during White's 2003 Heisman Trophy season. He redshirted last season as White returned for a sixth year with the Sooners.
Of the final two candidates, Thompson was more steady and less prone to mistakes than Bomar, a 6-4 redshirt freshman.
"I just felt overall that there was a little more, maybe, consistency there to some degree," Stoops said, "but it's still very close when you look at them overall."
In the Sooners' three open scrimmages, Thompson was 41-for-73 for 453 yards and two touchdowns and no interceptions. Bomar, 19½ months younger, was 30-for-61 for 359 yards with two touchdowns, but also five interceptions.
Michigan tackle out
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Michigan offensive tackle Jake Long has an ankle injury that could keep him out for "a significant amount of time," coach Lloyd Carr said Thursday
Speaking to Michigan fans and supporters at a kickoff luncheon, Carr didn't give specifics of the injury nor say how many games the sophomore could miss.
"Jake Long got rolled up in practice and will miss a significant amount of time," Carr said.
Long started Michigan's final 10 games last season and was slated to start again.
Mizzou, Illinois agree to series
ST. LOUIS -- Missouri and Illinois have agreed to a four-year deal to play each other in football at the Edwards Jones Dome in St. Louis starting in 2007.
Officials with the St. Louis Sports Commission and the St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission announced the deal Thursday. The universities have an option for a two-year extension.
-- Associated Press