Lane Kiffin, who left for USC after only one season as the head coach at Tennessee, lobbied hard for the game. But the Volunteers turned down the offer stating that they couldn’t make the game work with their schedule.
It’s no secret that there is some bad blood between the two schools. Kiffin’s hasty departure in January left the Vols without a head coach during prime recruiting season.
Tennessee’s 2011 football schedule is full, with non-conference games at home against North Texas (09/03), Cincinnati (09/10) and Middle Tennessee (11/05) and a road game at North Carolina (09/24). The North Texas game would have to be bought out (reports indicate $200,000) in order for Tennessee to play in the 2011 Kickoff game.
Moreover, a game against USC would make UT’s 2011 schedule possibly the nation’s toughest. In addition to the previously mentioned non-conference games, the Vols face a daunting SEC slate consisting of home games against Georgia, LSU, South Carolina and Vanderbilt and road games at Alabama, Arkansas, Florida and Kentucky.
For the Trojans, they would have had to move or buy out their September 3 game against Minnesota. But a chance to play in the 2011 Chick-fil-A College Kickoff would have provided Lane Kiffin and USC with a high-profile matchup. The Trojans were recently placed on probation and were hit with a two-year bowl ban and a loss of 30 scholarships over three years.
Tennessee and USC do have a verbal agreement for a home-and-home football series in 2021 and 2022. However, the contract has not been signed yet.