I know, I know, it’s not baseball season. And it still won’t be for about another 7 months. But right now, football is on everyone’s minds for the wrong reasons. We’re one week into the season, and nearly everyone has already reached the level of disappointment that normally doesn’t come until after the first several SEC games. Georgia State came in and smacked us in the mouth, and a lot of the fanbase is just tired. But as the baseball guy, I’m here to remind you that this athletic year doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. And judging by the progress of the last couple of seasons, it’ll likely be just the opposite.
As Vol fans, the main complaint we’ve had for the last several seasons has been player development. Football has been a mixed bag, and isn’t looking too hot as of right now. But at Lindsey-Nelson Stadium, a different situation is unfolding. While we’ve been hoping for results with football, baseball has been delivering them. And at a quick rate.
I mean, just look at these numbers:
- Overall Record: (2018) 29-27 (2019) 40-21
- SEC Record: (2018) 12-18 (t-6th) (2019) 14-16 (3rd)
- Postseason: (2018) None (2019) NCAA Regional Runner-Up
- Winning streak of 15 games at one point in the season
- 6 players drafted
Under Tony Vitello, the Vols have made MASSIVE strides over the last two seasons. I don’t think you can talk about that third stat enough, honestly. To take a team that was young and competitive in its first year, but still missed the conference tournament, and mold them into a NCAA Tournament Regional Runner-Up, is awesome. Making that kind of improvement in one season, should put the entire country on notice. We knew Vitello had the reputation and ability to coach kids up when he was hired. But, unlike Vol football fans have seen the last 10 years, this coach actually did it. He knew what was expected of him immediately, and has exceeded those expectations by a lot so far. And that’s not a shot at any other coach, (except you Butch – it’s a direct shot at you), it’s just a fact. Tony Vitello has been worth every penny, and looks like he’ll do the same with his new deal as well.
Now I know what you’re thinking as a Tennessee fan. Even the baseball team will come out this year and suck, because we’re cursed. And with the football team, that’s the only explanation I can come up with. Someone has a spell on our football team, and won’t let it go. But with the BaseVols, it doesn’t look like that’s going to be the case. This program looks like it’s built to stay, and for a long time. They’ve got to continue to back it up, but with the hunger that Vitello’s teams have played with so far, I don’t think that will be an issue. Add this in with great recruiting by Vitello and his staff, and you’ve got a great situation.
Again, I’m not trying to make you stop caring about Tennessee football. Mainly because I can’t. I wait all year for that first fall Saturday when Rocky Top can be heard playing all over the state. Vol Football kills me a little more every year, and that’s all I’ve ever known. I was born the year we won our last natty, and too young to remember the early 2000’s when Fulmer still had the boys dominating. So all I know and associate Tennessee football with is pain. Yet I still tune in every time. I don’t know why I do, but I do. I swear that I’m done caring, and then I find myself glued to the TV every time we take the field. So don’t stop caring about football. All I’m trying to say is there’s a fun team on campus that can provide you with the hope and follow-through that you’ve been seeking.
And they’re developing into a powerhouse.
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