It was a disappointing outcome for Tennessee in the College World Series after such a magical season. The Vols dropped consecutive games to Virginia and Texas, making an early exit out of Omaha.
However, when you consider that Tony Vitello took over a dormant program just four years ago, it provides some perspective of what’s being built in Knoxville. The 42 year old is just getting started in the college baseball world, already boasting plenty of SEC experience and proving that he knows how to build a program.
Of course, that rapid rise hasn’t gone unnoticed. Vitello generated interest from Texas A&M earlier in the year, and now Tennessee will have to hold off LSU. The Tigers are replacing retiring coach Paul Mainieri, and Vitello’s name might just be the hottest in coaching circles right now.
Directly after the loss to Texas, Vitello was asked about the LSU opening and whether or not he’s had any contact to this point.
“No I’ve not, had zero,” Vitello said after the loss to Texas. “And I just made an idiot out of myself at least for all the masculine folks watching, by getting teary-eyed about these kids. That’s where my focus has been.
“I’m certainly not going to waste energy before a game or any other game having regrets that my mind wasn’t right or we weren’t prepared the right way to go into whatever game it might be.”
Vitello is obviously due for a significant raise, which he’ll get from Tennessee. But it goes deeper than that — it’s going to be about a financial commitment to the baseball program, centering around facility upgrades. Tennessee athletics director Danny White has been vocal about getting both of those things done this offseason.
LSU had been tied to Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco, but Bianco announced his intentions to stay put this week. That has ramped up the rumor mill on Vitello, putting the pressure on White to get things done quickly here.
Now we wait.