Tennessee turns down chance to play USC in 2011

Tennessee has turned down a chance to face Southern California

and coach Lane Kiffin in the 2011 Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game.

Volunteers athletic director Mike Hamilton said Wednesday he’s

been approached several times by Chick-fil-A Bowl president Gary

Stokan about a potential 2011 matchup in Atlanta. Hamilton said it

would be too much for the Vols’ schedule, which already includes

meetings with Cincinnati and North Carolina in addition to the

regular Southeastern Conference schedule.

“We’ve got plenty to keep us busy in 2011 already,” Hamilton

said. “We’re building our program back, and our schedule is tough

enough as it is. The reality of it is if it was Texas or UCLA in

the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game, we just couldn’t do it in 2011.”

Tennessee is scheduled to face North Carolina State in the 2012

Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game, and Stokan first asked Hamilton about his

interest in playing in the 2011 game a few months ago against one

of several possible teams. Stokan has approached Hamilton twice

more since then, and Hamilton declined each time.

Hamilton indicated that the decision wasn’t related to any hard

feelings toward Kiffin, who left Tennessee abruptly in January

after one season as head coach to take the USC job. The two schools

have a verbal agreement to play each other in Los Angeles in 2021

and Knoxville in 2011.

“I know that sounds like a long time off, but we’re awaiting a

contract from them,” he said.

The report of the Vols’ decision not to play the Trojans follows

an announcement earlier this week by sophomore defensive end Malik

Jackson that he would transfer from Southern California to

Tennessee for the 2010 season.

“Malik informed us of his intent to transfer to Tennessee in

search of more playing time. We wish him the best of luck,” Kiffin

said in a statement.