BRISTOL, TN – More football is set to be played inside the Last Great Colosseum. After a 13-year hiatus, ETSU football is set to make its return to the Southern Conference as the Buccaneers host Western Carolina this Saturday, Sept. 17 at Bristol Motor Speedway. Kickoff is set for 1:30 p.m.
In preparation for this weekend’s SoCon opener, a press conference was held at Bristol Motor Speedway on Wednesday as Executive Vice President and General Manager at Bristol Motor Speedway Jerry Caldwell, Food City president and CEO Steve Smith, ETSU football head coach Carl Torbush, ETSU Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Dr. Richard Sander and Western Carolina Assistant Athletic Director for Media Relations Daniel Hooker met the media to talk about this historic event.
During the press conference, it was announced the winning team will receive two commemorative trophies – the first being a replica version of the Food City 300 trophy which features a football at the peak, the Food City “Bucs at Bristol” logo in the center and both teams’ logos at the base. The second trophy has a unique touch to the Speedway as it’s a tire used from the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race back in August. The tire is painted half blue and half purple with the Bucs at Bristol and SoCon logos lacquered on it. To go along with the trophies, logos were being painted on the turf on Wednesday as the “E” will be displayed at the 50-yard line, while
Caldwell is pleased the stars aligned perfectly to make this game become a reality for ETSU.
“We are very excited for this weekend’s Bucs at Bristol game,” said Caldwell. “I want to thank Food City for its support. We are excited to have them be a proud sponsor of this game and tickets will be available in Food City stores today. We were fortunate the stars aligned perfectly for this game. This is great matchup with the proximity of ETSU and Western Carolina, and there’s no better way to have the Bucs’ return to the SoCon here at Bristol Motor Speedway.”
Smith talked about the important role ETSU plays in the region and how exciting it is to have Buccaneer football back in the community.
“We were proud to play a role in the Battle at Bristol and we are even more excited to be part of round two this weekend,” said Smith. “ETSU plays an important role in the region with the strong academic programs led by Dr. Noland, but also bringing football back to campus. It’s exciting to see ETSU open its SoCon schedule at the site where ESPN Gameday was last weekend. It’s a great opportunity for both programs and the conference to play here at Bristol.”
Coach Torbush is challenging fans across the region to come out and enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
“Saturday will be a historic event for both ETSU, Western Carolina, the Southern Conference and the region,” said Torbush, whose Buccaneers are coming off a 20-17 double-overtime win at Kennesaw State on Sept. 3. “We need a great crowd for this game. I want to challenge everyone from East Tennessee, Western North Carolina and Southwest Virginia to come out and be part of this experience. It’s our first SoCon game in 13 years. There’s no better way to renew this rivalry than playing at Bristol Motor Speedway. This will be the place to be on Saturday at 1:30 p.m.”
Bristol Motor Speedway and Food City have been proud supporters of ETSU and Dr. Sander acknowledges the key role they play for Buccaneer athletics.
“Our return to the SoCon at Bristol Motor Speedway will be remembered for a long time,” said Sander. “Jerry Caldwell and his staff put on a remarkable show last weekend with the Battle at Bristol game. To hear the buzz around the game was a tremendous opportunity to expose everyone across the country to our region. We are truly blessed to have BMS be strong supporters of ETSU since the return of football was announced. We are also excited to have Food City be the sponsor of this game. Food City has made a tremendous impact in our region and they do a lot of big things for us throughout the year.”