Tennessee’s Tony Vitello Voted SEC Coach Of The Year

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The conference’s head coaches voted Tennessee’s Tony Vitello the SEC Coach of the Year, the conference announced Monday afternoon.

Vitello’s program followed up its first trip to the College World Series since 2005 with its best regular season in school history. Tennessee jumped out to the best start in SEC history, winning its first 12 conference games on its way to posting a 49-7 (25-5 SEC) record.

The 49 regular season wins is the most and the seven losses is the least in program history, marking just the second time Tennessee finished the regular season with single-digit losses.

The Vols lost an abundance of talent off of last season’s team including infielders Max Ferguson, Jake Rucker, Liam Spence and Connor Pavolony as well as weekend starters Chad Dallas and Will Heflin.

The SEC’s coaches picked Tennessee to finish fourth in the SEC East this preseason, behind Vanderbilt, Florida and Georgia. Instead, the Vols didn’t just repeat as SEC East champions but won the program’s first regular-season SEC Championship in 27 years.

Tennessee’s 25-5 conference record marks the second best in SEC history behind the 2013 Vanderbilt Commodores (26-3).

The SEC Coach of the Year honor is Vitello’s first as Tennessee’s head coach. Despite winning a number of national coach of the year honors a season ago, Arkansas head coach — and Vitello’s former boss — Dave Van Horn earned 2021 SEC Coach of the Year honors after the Razorbacks became the second SEC team to ever win all 10 conference series.

Tennessee looks to continue its fantastic season this week at the SEC Tournament in Hoover. The Vols are looking for their first SEC Tournament title since 1995. Vitello’s fifth Tennessee team came up just a game short of the 2021 tournament title, falling to the Razorbacks in the championship game.

Tennessee opens up SEC Tournament play on Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. ET against the winner of Tuesday’s Vanderbilt versus Ole Miss game. The Big Orange swept both the Commodores and Rebels on the road in the regular season.

Ryan Schumpert is a senior at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville who has covered University of Tennessee athletics since the moment he stepped on campus. He just completed a three-year stint with the Daily Beacon, the last two of which as the Sports Editor. Ryan also spent last three years at Volquest providing strong Tennessee baseball coverage of Tony Vitello's resurgent program. While the bulk of Ryan's responsibilities involved beat coverage and writing, he also recorded podcasts for both the Beacon and Volquest. Did we leave out the part about Ryan interning for the Smokies? Ryan's work ethic, versatility, and strong writing skills are but three of the reasons why Vol Nation will be hearing from Ryan for years to come.