Skip to main content

Josh Heupel, Rick Barnes, Danny White, and Peyton Manning react to Tennessee's National Championship Victory

4A3DA472-0F39-4C89-9987-5851509375C0by:Matt Ray06/24/24


Tennessee defeated Texas A&M 6-5 in a winner-take-all Game 3 of the 2024 College World Series on Monday Night. Tony Vitello’s team prevailed in Charles Schwab Stadium in front of some Tennessee royalty, as Peyton Manning, Rick Barnes, and Josh Heupel cheered on in support. Volquest’s Eric Cain caught up with all of them and Athletics Director Danny White following the victory.

Heupel wrapped up official visits and a busy month of June on Saturday evening, and on the first day of the football dead period, he wasted little time in getting to Omaha to support the Vols.

“It was unbelievable fan base with the environment here in Omaha,” Heupel told Volquest in the post-game. “To see them compete the way they did tonight, throughout the tournament, and all season long, it was really special to be here and watch it in person. What Tony has built over his seven years, the amount of energy, the effort, and the group of competitors they have is a representation of Tennessee. This is an athletic department with coaches who care about each other. It is fun for me and Coach Barnes to be here tonight.”

Barnes enjoyed the victory but like many others looking on admitted he was ready for it to come to a close as the Aggies did their best to scrape out a win.

“Nerve-wracking,” Barnes told Volquest of watching the game unfold and being there in support of Vitello’s program. “When we got in those last two innings, just ready to get this thing over. I’d rather be down here because up there, what can you do, right? I am just elated for Tony. What he has done to put this team in this position is a great tribute to him. I think this University, too, giving him the support. Happy for his players. They have set themselves apart and continue to raise the bar for us at Tennessee. Just a great night to be here.”

For Danny White, the night was special, and he believes it is just the start of many more great days to come on Rocky Top.

“So excited,” White told Volquest of this. “We plan to win a boatload of national championships at Tennessee. You have to start somewhere, though, and this was so much fun to see this group to get to the pinnacle moment.

“I think he is a great baseball coach, we have figured that out,” White added on Vitello. “More importantly, he is a great ambassador for our programs. He is so supportive of all of the head coaches here. We have a really good thing going. I think we are a growth stock. The best is yet to come.”

Manning, who was in Omaha to watch the start of the College World Series, returned on Monday night, and he was thrilled to be there to support his friend Vitello, and the University he has been an ambassador of for many years.

“It was a real honor,” Manning told Volquest of being in Omaha to watch the Vols capture the crown. “I am honored to be here. I have followed them all season. I came for the Florida State game last week. Tony has been a good friend. He keeps up with my dad, which I appreciate as a son. They have been fighting and been right there at the door. We have had our hearts ripped out, and look, I lived that as a player. What do you? Do you give up or keep fighting? We kept fighting, and a lot of guys have been a part of that. Not just this year, but the guys Tony brought in to create this culture. It is truly a family victory and a great night to be a Tennessee Vol.”

Interviews completed by Volquest’s Eric Cain

You may also like