We answer your best questions about Tennessee athletics and anything else in our weekly mailbag, Insider Mailing.
“How did the message boards and Vols pay sites whiff so bad on Vitello?” – @neylandmafia
“How could all of the media have this baseball hire so wrong? Was the business exposed?” – Scott Compton
“I have one… Who the heck is Tony Vitello??!?” – Tim Smith
Nathanael: If you haven’t read our introduction piece on him, that should answer some questions about him. But as for how people whiffed so badly on him: I’m not entirely sure. But if this hire is any indication of how Currie is going to operate as AD, then it’s going to be fun trying to guess what he’s going to do in other sports.
Will: Vitello fits the criteria I expected for Tennessee’s next baseball coach: He’s a young, up and coming assistant who can recruit the Southeastern Conference. So many websites whiffed on this move because we’re learning how John Currie does business. He’s keeping things pretty close to the chest. Plus, with how vocal and active he is on Twitter, he’s content with breaking news himself instead of leaking it to a trusted source. Tennessee fans will like Vitello. He’s had a hand in developing some amazing young stars.
“How many times will we hear
#StoopsToTheHill during the 2017 season?” – Lain
Nathanael: As soon as Butch messes up or makes a decision that backfires and fans get angry about, you’ll see it. So it just depends on how long that takes before we start hearing it. And once it happens once, it will start happening over and over again.
Will: Way too many times. At least it’s better than #GrudenToTheHill, but then again what isn’t? He’ll have a nice career as an advisor, and maybe someday, athletic director, at Oklahoma. I’d be surprised to see him coaching again, but he could pull an Urban Meyer and go from one major program to another. He may get into retirement for a few years and realize how much he misses being a head coach.
“Do you think that if something happens and CBJ leaves/gets fired this season that Currie would actually make a strong push for Chip Kelly?” – Nathan Hayes
Nathanael: I would say the chances on this are murky at best right now. It’s hard to gauge how this would play out right now in June, but I do know Kelly would be a fan favorite if Jones was no longer the head coach at Tennessee.
Will: It’s June and we already have a Chip Kelly question. Let’s pace ourselves, guys.
I think he’d (hypothetically) certainly make a push. Currie will make a push for any big name who has remote interest. Currie conducted a national search for his baseball coach, and I’d expect him to follow a similar strategy for any future hire he makes.
“Heard this on Swain’s show this morning: who has better potential, Kongbo or Kyle Phillips?” – @AngryButchJones
Nathanael: I think the two are extremely close when it comes to potential and how they project as Vols. But if I had to choose which one has higher potential, I’m only barely taking Kongbo, and it’s because of all his physical tools and freakish ability. I think Phillips has him beat when it comes to depth of understanding on the defensive side of the ball and the playbook, but Kongbo has more raw talent in my opinion. We’ll see come this fall, though.
Will: Kongbo. He’s more versatile. He’s displayed amazing speed of the edge, but learned how to hold his own on the interior of the line. He was rated slightly higher out of high school than Phillips as well. I just think his quickness sets him apart. I think he has the potential to get to a double digit sack total this season. Kongbo and Phillips will both benefit from Brady Hoke’s direction this summer.
“Who is the greatest 2 sport athlete of all time?” – Caleb Webb
Nathanael: It’s hands down Bo Jackson for me. There are a few who are truly great, but nobody did it like Bo in my opinion. He was an MLB All-Star who hit 141 career home runs and also for nearly 3,000 career yards and 16 touchdowns in the NFL. His NFL career could’ve been even better if not for a career-ending injury that cut it short.
Will: Bo Jackson. He was a powerhouse running back and sensational hitter. Not to mention he was also an overall impressive guy with different marketing ventures off the field. Jackson’s stardom and Nike deal paved the way for Michael Jordan to become a star for that company.
“Can TNs 2017 OL match up with our 2013 line? Been getting a lot of back lash saying they could be top 2-3 in SEC this yr. Am I crazy?” – Eric Quisenberry
Nathanael: I wouldn’t say you’re crazy, but that is a bit of a bold take considering just how sloppy the O-line was at times last year. This group has experience galore, especially compared to just about every other unit on the roster, but experience doesn’t always equal quality. I don’t personally think this offensive line will be top two or three in the conference, but that doesn’t mean they won’t. There are a lot of solid players along the line for the Vols this season, but it’s a matter of them gelling together and finding a chemistry they didn’t have for a large portion of last season.
Will: Eric, you are not crazy. This offensive line may not perform up to that level, but the potential is certainly there. One key factor: how much will UT’s first year quarterback impact the perceived play of the line. If a QB holds the ball too long, the offensive line won’t look near as good as they may be playing. The numbers may be deceptively poor for this group, but it should undoubtedly be the strength of the offense all year long.