Why Tony Vitello went on passionate rant after Tennessee baseball reached 2024 CWS (2024)

Tennessee baseball coach Tony Vitello celebrated another College World Series berth Sunday at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.

He then unleashed a seven-minute opening statement in his postgame press conference to address his viewpoint on success. Vitello's spiel followed a question following UT's 10-8 loss to Evansville on Saturday that posed whether Tennessee's success this season would be decided in Game 3 of the Knoxville Super Regional.

Vitello stated the question bothered first baseman Blake Burke, who was seated at the press conference with Vitello.

Here is what Vitello said after the Vols won 12-1 to return to Omaha:

"Congrats to our fans, for sure. I mean, cheering pickoffs and definitely the loudest that it's ever been in here. Congrats to our players. They've obviously worked hard like anybody that's left at this stage in the season. And obviously a huge congrats to Evansville. Didn't really know how to say it or show it or even hear to describe how much respect we have for their program and really this team in particular.

"So I'll leave it at that. And then speaking of their program, coach (Wes) Carroll has stayed in an awful lot of hotels as a recruiting guy and I have, too. So you guys made the mistake of giving me the mic. So I'll add to my opening statement really picking up where we left off (Saturday) where somebody asked me a question that bothered one of my players. So I'll have his back.But again, if you've got to cut me off, cut me off. But I've stayed in an awful lot of hotels to be in this position alone and running around and watching games and we've done it, I think, from the ground up here. While I'm at it, anybody that's thinking about visiting our place that we're recruiting and you think this is a place you can come and have your hand out and see how much money we can give you, don't waste our time and don't waste your time either.

"But the question was posed basically about our season and if we lose (Sunday), it's all for naught, andBlake Burke wasn't too happy about it. Blake Burke's got a lot invested in this particular program. If I was Blake, back in that day, I was a little too wild. I would've said, 'B, you wasn't with me shooting in a gym or something similar to that.' But he kept his composure. Clearly, you've seen me in action. I don't have great composure, so I'll speak on it for a sec because it started out as we were No. 1 for most of the season. That's an incorrect statement. It's not a fact. I don't know who was No. 1 preseason because I don't look at it. It's a very difficult sport to predict what's going to happen. Nobody predicted Evansvilleto be here, but they were. And then also we were not No. 1 majority of the season. As a matter of fact, when we first took over, I was astonished Kentuckywas winning our league, which you guys write up —it's one of the most, if not the most competitive league. And they were No. 1 in the division. But somehow we were number one on writers' polls. But we weren't for most of the season we had to work to get to that point. No question.

"But then again, the word success to me is very important in this room. We make these guys write down what success is for them and teach them that they need to define what a successful at-bat is or what a successful outing is. Whatever. Noah, it's Noah Webster— Webster's Dictionary. It says success is a degree or measure of achievement or if you read in another deal online, degree or measure of succeeding. So those two words right there, and I definitely ain't the smartest fellow and measure means you get to pick. You get to pick what success is, which is pretty awesome. So Noah probably doesn't know how to define it with these guys where you got to sweat, you got to be in the weight room together. You got to trust the guy. If you give up a ground ball, can (he) make the play for you? Or if you give up a run, the other guy will go to work for you. He wasn't that, but he was a thinker. And the big thing Noah was, he loved his country. Big-time patriot. Which is kind of a lost art around here. So I don't know the guy, but I got a lot of respect for him and I liked the way he wrote that whole deal up as far as degree or measure.

"For me, I get a pick. I was around my dad a lot. He can't tell me what to do. I don't consider myself — I work for people here, but I'm my own boss when I come here. And for me, success is part-group. When our group has success, I consider myself a teammate to these guys.It means I have a level of success. But then there's also the part where I got a job to do and I got to make decisions. And if you were to put all my decisions in a bucket for the weekend, I had more wrong decisions than correct decisions. For instance,Dalton Bargo probably should have pinch hit yesterday. He showed me that with some attitude and some success today. And I'm not so sure he doesn't do it yesterday too if we pinch hit him against (Shane) Harris because he wants to go home and he's going home (to Omaha). But you know what Bargs? Success for me is being a good teammate. AndCal Stark is my guy. That's my guy. For a lot of reasons, no doubt. So success for me is what I get to judge. If you're talking about success for this team, the one thing I stated after last season, because I'm in a bathroom crying with just a lot of emotions after we're able to beat Clemsonlast year, was to show up at work every day and get out of my car excited. And to have fun and to be around people that want to be here and be in an environment that you're excited to get to every day. 100% success. Omaha is real fun to go to. If you don't play that well, it ain't that fun. But I don't really give a damn to be honest with you. As a matter of fact, we kind of can pick up where Evansville left off. We're not supposed to win because the No. 1 never wins. So house money. So I'm going to consider this even more of a success this year, but definitely because of that group in particular being the way they are.

"And then I think 2022 was brought up. We could have won 30 games in 2022. Jared Dickey, who had a phenomenal post on social media today, transformed his entire body after quitting baseball as a part of one of the best teams and was a success as an individual among many other great things that happened about it, hey, you didn't like the team? So what? They got you talking about college baseball? I can tell you that. To me, that team was a success.

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"And the one thing I definitely wanna say about Evansville, Mr. Rumsey, Ty, I believe. I apologize if I got your first name wrong. Last out of the game. Not rubbing it in, not pointing fingers, all right? Be told you never got to play in Omaha. You know what, Rumsey can get on a plane and go to Omaha anytime he wants. Alright? That's easy to do. You know what's not easy to do? To run face first into a wall full blast, get stitches, injure your shoulder, and then on top of that, to play in today's game. I've seen that guy, that guy made me nervous. I've seen a bunch of catches that guy made when we watch video. He made me nervous. So Omaha or not, who gives a damn? That guy's an absolute success. And when he is older, he'll be able to look everybody in the eye and say, 'when I played, I don't know what the hell his batting average is. I was a warrior. Warrior period. And a part of one of the best Evansville teams ever. And no one will ever be able to take that away from him. And every time he sees one of his teammates or goes back to that facility at Evansville, they'll say, 'Hell yeah, there's that guy right there.' "

Mike Wilsoncovers University of Tennessee athletics.Email him at michael.wilson@knoxnews.comand follow him on Twitter@ByMikeWilson.If you enjoy Mike’s coverage,consider adigital subscriptionthat will allow you access to all of it.

Why Tony Vitello went on passionate rant after Tennessee baseball reached 2024 CWS (2024)
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