This Week in UT Sports History is a weekly column written by RTI contributor Lexie Little
Tennessee Baseball’s 8-7 win against Florida on Saturday secured a spot in the 2019 SEC Tournament. As history tends to repeat itself, the narrative remains nothing new in Tennessee’s books. Find a prior tournament berth courtesy of Florida and more in “This Week in UT Sports History.”
May 17-19, 2007
The Tennessee and Florida baseball rivalry took a turn for the bizarre during a wild weekend series in 2007. Tennessee narrowly earned a victory in the first game of the series, 6-5, in Gainesville. Fans thought they were in for a nail-biting weekend with close match-ups.
Florida trounced Tennessee by 18 runs in Game 2 with two grand slams sending the Gators around the bases. Four UT pitchers gave up 11 walks and hit five batters. With the second Gator grand slam coming in the third inning, Tennessee faced an eight run deficit. Florida took a lead of 10-2 on only three hits. The dismal defensive performance from Tennessee continued and allowed Florida’s Avery Barnes to record 10 RBI and a three-run home run in the game as a sophomore, giving the Gators a commanding 20-2 victory.
Three of the four pitchers for Tennessee hailed from Florida. Freshman closer Ryan Butner, who took the mound against an SEC team for the first time in this game, came to Tennessee from Davie, Florida. Danny Wiltz and starting pitcher Danny Lima are both from Miami. The pressure of returning to their home state proved too much, and the bizarre bullpen left Tennessee coaches perplexed as to who should start Game 3.
Enter former Farragut High School standout Craig Cobb.
The Knoxville native fared better than the Floridians and led Tennessee to an 11-7 win against the Gators to close out the final regular season series. Tennessee’s four home runs secured the 12th program bid for the SEC Tournament after the Vols jumped out to a 7-0 lead by the top of the third.
To combat the round of runs, Florida sent left-handed hurler David Hurst to the mound, but the Vols garnered two more home runs, extending the lead to 9-3 by the top of the sixth inning. Catcher J.P. Arencibia’s two-run homer bumped him up to a tie for fifth place on UT’s home run record list with 33 career home runs to that point. The 6-1 junior from Miami, Florida ranked third in total bases (381) and fourth in RBI (165).
May 16, 2006
A man who donned the orange and white half a century ago earned his way into the College Football Hall of Fame with an announcement in 2006. Chip Kell, who played for Tennessee from 1968 to 1970, became the 21st Vol inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. Kell started as a sophomore center in 1968, later transitioning to guard the following season. He excelled in both positions, earning All-American status twice and All-SEC recognition for three years.
The Decatur, Georgia, native helped the Vols to an SEC title in 1969 and a one-loss season in 1970. Kell’s senior class never lost a game on Shields-Watkins Field, though they did tie with Georgia 17-17 in the 1968 season opener. With such accolades under his belt, the Hall of Fame selection should not have come as a surprise to Kell.
“I was totally caught off guard when the Hall of Fame called,” Kell said in a statement via Tennessee Athletics. “It’s the most exciting thing that has ever happened in my athletic career. It’s nice when people remember you and appreciate what you did, the things you accomplished.”
Kell said he felt honored to have played for coaches Doug Dickey and Bill Battle.
“Chip Kell was one of the most powerful athletes that I had ever coached at the time,” said Dickey, who served as head coach from 1964-69 and athletic director from 1985-2002. “He was way ahead of his time in development by use of weight training, and he became a true leader on the football team.”
An article from Nov. 10, 1969’s issue of Sports Illustrated briefly detailed Kell’s proclivity for lifting:
“…Right Guard Chip Kell, can’t resist the weight room. Kell has been known to enter the locker room after a strenuous practice, examine his 6 foot, 245-pound frame and exclaim, ‘I’m getting too skinny,’ then walk to the weights. An hour and a half later he’ll emerge, smiling, content and breathing deeply.”
The San Diego Chargers drafted Kell in the 17th found of the 1971 NFL Draft. He later played for the Edmonton Eskimos in the Canadian Football League.
Other notable inductees in Kell’s class included former Dallas Cowboy running back Emmitt Smith (Florida, 1987-89) and the late flawed former Penn State coach Joe Paterno, whose coverup of former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky’s child sex abuse scandal vacated 111 of his record 409 wins in 2012, dropping him from first to 12th in career wins as an NCAA football coach. In 2015, the NCAA reversed its decision and restored the wins to Paterno’s record.
May 14, 2009
Tennessee Golf may not always earn recognition in mainstream media, but the program boasts impressive entries in record books with its fair share of victories, shake ups, and losses. Ten years ago, the Vols stood atop the NCAA Regional standings as then-freshman Darren Renwick shot an even-par 71 on Day 1 of the Division I Regional at New Jersey’s Galloway National Golf Club.
The Vols entered the round as the fourth seed, and a good outing on the greens gave them a single stroke lead over Wake Forest (Tennessee at 12-over-par, 296, and Wake Forest at 297).
Renwick, starting play on the back nine, opened with two birdies on the 11 and 12 holes, but a bogey at 13 and double bogey at 15 set him back three strokes. He played the remaining 12 holes in one under par.
“He doesn’t get flustered very easily,” former head coach Jim Kelson said at the time. “He just keeps plugging along and keeps battling. He is a very good competitor and is going to battle no matter what. Our entire team did a good job of that today.”
The Worthing, England, native earned All-SEC honors as a freshman in 2009. His efforts helped the Vols to the NCAA Championship round, where they placed 54th overall at Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio. He tied for third at the 2009 British Amateur and finished his Tennessee career at 10th overall (since 1994) in rounds played with 120. Later, Renwick participated in the 2013 PGA Europro Tour with his best finish coming in the Grant Property Investment Championship in 16th place.
Tennessee finished the NCAA Regional round second only to SEC rival Alabama, the No. 2 seed. Bama edged past Tennessee by four strokes to take the regional trophy.
The 2019 NCAA Men’s Golf Regionals kick off in Athens, Georgia, this week with the first rounds Monday, May 13. The regional round wraps up Wednesday.