Few people can remember the last time NC State and the University of Tennessee played each other in football. However, that all changes Friday night when the two meet in Atlanta at the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game.
The last time the two played was in 1939 when Tennessee won 13-0. In 1911, NC State beat the Volunteers 16-0.
Two North Carolina families have been waiting a long time for this matchup.
Andy Smith ’02, is a fan of both teams. His father is an electrical engineering graduate from the University of Tennessee and Smith is a mechanical engineer from NC State. While growing up in the Raleigh area, Smith always pulled for both teams. “[My wife] tells me I have to pick one or the other,” says Smith.
Smith’s wife has elected to root for NC State in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game. Smith’s loyalties are going to be split. “I’m going to be a man divided,” he says.
Smith, his next door neighbors and nine family members will be sitting together at the game, some as Wolfpack fans and some as Volunteers fans. Though the family hasn’t placed any bets yet for the winning team, Smith believes they’ll have enough time in the car on Friday as they drive from Kernersville to Atlanta to do that.
Though Greg Coley’s, ’92, mother will be attending the Kickoff Game in a half red, half orange outfit, Coley will be wearing red. Coley’s mother and grandmother are from Knoxville, Tennessee, and he and his brother are both natives of Hickory, N.C., who went to NC State. Nine members of the Coley family will be sitting together at the game.
“I imagine there will be a little red and a little orange,” says Coley.
It’s a game they have been looking forward to for a long time. “We talked about it all the time,” he says.
To his Tennessee relatives who were sure their team would win such a matchup, Coley remembers telling them, “Let’s hope we get that opportunity one day and we’ll settle it on the field.”
It’s a game the Coleys are sad their grandmother won’t see. The Tennessee football season ticket holder died a few years ago. “She was the one lady…I could call and talk about [college football] recruiting,” Coley says. “I hate she’s not here to see it. It will be an emotional game.”
No matter the outcome, members of the Smith and Coley families expect to remain true to their respective teams.
“We’re [still going to be] a family confused instead of a family divided,” says Smith.
Coley, however, is sure that NC State will use the fact Tennessee is favored to win as motivation. “I think it’s going to be a good matchup,” he says.
Our stories from Atlanta this week were reported and written by Betsy Rhame-Minor, an Apex, N.C., native who grew up an NC State fan because her grandfather was an alumnus. She attended NC State for graduate school, earning a MA in English in 2006. Betsy is a writer and editor in Atlanta. When she’s back in Raleigh she enjoys seeing the Wolfpack women’s basketball team play in Reynolds Coliseum.