The hole isn't officially vacant yet.
But Tennessee appears to already have a candidate in line to fill the void left by cancelling its home-and-away series with North Carolina.
Athletic director Mike Hamilton confirmed plans on Tuesday morning to buy out of the two games with the Tar Heels slated to start next season with the Vols on the road, breaking up a potentially murderous stretch of games early in the season, allowing UT to add an eighth home game and lessen the degree of difficulty as coach Derek Dooley continues to build his program. The contracts aren't official at this point, but it appears that Mid-American Conference member Buffalo will slide into replace North Carolina.
"It's been verbal communication to this point and in these situations there still has to be formality to any contract, and so we've let Carolina know that we're going to go a different direction since they were not able to move the game and the series to a later date in the decade," Hamilton said. "Personally, it's kind of a downer for me because I was looking forward to playing Carolina as a North Carolina native, but without the ability to move it to later in the decade, we felt like we needed to break that six-game stretch up and put a non-BCS team in there.
"We'll buy out of the series and do that and move ahead."
More details later online and in Wednesday's News Sentinel.