The No. 1 overall seeded Tennessee Volunteers were knocked out of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday. Tony Vitello’s team lost their Knoxville Super Regional to Notre Dame by dropping Game 1 and Game 3 of the series. The Vols finish the year 57-9 but continue the trend of no top seed winning the College World Series since 1999.
Paul Finebaum put Tennessee’s season in perspective on Monday on his radio show. While they were a thrilling team all season long, Finebaum says the upset loss was a disaster. Furthermore, he spoke on the role that Tony Vitello’s personality had on what was the end for Tennessee.
“I think ultimately this is a complete meltdown,” he said. “Tony Vitello was here a week ago talking about all the things that people don’t like about him. Let’s be honest. He comes off brash and a know it all.”
As SEC Coach of the Year, Vitello was a huge part of leading the Vols to their best season in program history. Coming up short of Omaha after making an appearance last season, though, is not how he envisioned their run ending.
Vitello helped inspire a certain swagger with his team this season. Tennessee showed passion and a love for the moment, regardless of who they upset along the way. Getting his team to play such inspired baseball is what Finebaum says makes him such a fan favorite on Rocky Top. On the flip side, though, the extra antics helped put a target on the Volunteer’s backs.
“That’s what made him so popular in Knoxville. That’s (also) what has made him such a villain and vilified today,” said Finebaum.
The Fighting Irish will move on to Omaha to play No. 9 Texas on Friday at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN. Meanwhile, Vitello will regroup and try to keep as much of this record-breaking roster together as he can.