Vols Tony Vitello Named College Baseball Coach of the Year

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(utsports.com) PULLMAN, Wash. – Tennessee head baseball coach Tony Vitello has been named the 2021 National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Mike Martin National Coach of the Year, the organization announced on Friday.

Vitello becomes just the second head coach in program history to earn National Coach of the Year honors, joining legendary Vols’ skipper Rod Delmonico, who was named National Coach of the Year by Baseball America in 1995. Delmonico led Tennessee to three of its previous four trips to the College World Series (1995, 2001, 2005) and is the program’s career leader in wins with 699 during his time on Rocky Top.

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Vitello was also named National Coach of the Year by Perfect Game on Friday, making him the first coach in program history to earn coach of the year honors from two separate organizations.

With an 11-6 win over Georgia on March 19, Vitello became the fastest head coach in program history to win 100 career games with the Vols, overtaking Delmonico’s mark of 163 games. Vitello needed just 153 contests to accomplish the feat.

Vitello has guided Tennessee to one of its best seasons in program history, leading the Big Orange to a 50-16 record and their first College World Series appearance since 2005. The Vols’ 50 wins are the most in a season since a program-record 54 victories in 1995.

Under Vitello’s guidance, UT won its first SEC Eastern division title since 1997 after posting a 20-10 record in league play and winning eight of its 10 conference series, including all five series on the road. Tennessee also made its first appearance in the SEC Tournament Championship Game since 1995.

The Vols will begin their run in Omaha on Sunday afternoon against Virginia following a perfect 5-0 record in the NCAA Regionals and Super Regionals. UT hosted its first regional since 2005 and its first-ever super regional.

The NCBWA Coach of the Year Award, introduced in 2008, is voted on by the NCBWA Board of Directors, and chosen from a list that includes all Division I conference coaches of the year and the coaches of the eight NCAA College World Series teams.

In 2020, the NCBWA board of directors voted unanimously to name the annual award after Mike Martin, the winningest head coach in NCAA Division I baseball history after he retired at Florida State in 2019 with a 2,029-736-4 mark over 40 seasons in leading the FSU program from 1980-2019.

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Rick Nyman grew up in Anniston, Alabama and attended the University of Alabama. His television career started at WJSU-TV in Anniston where he had the opportunity to cover SEC football with Alabama and Auburn. Anniston is just 20 minutes from the Talladega Speedway, so NASCAR was a big part of his sports coverage. Due to this he was able to interview Davey Allison, Dale Earnhardt, Jeff Gordon, and several other top-name NASCAR drivers. Rick's next television job was in Savannah, Georgia, where he covered basketball player Kwame Brown (now with the Washington Wizards), who later became the first ever high school player selected as the top pick in the NBA draft. He covered the PGA Tour's annual swing thru Hilton Head and also had the opportunity of covering the Atlanta Falcons Super Bowl appearance in 1999 in Miami. Rick especially enjoys all the atmosphere, tradition and drama of college football. He also likes profiling sports personalities and learning what drives them both on and off the field. If he's not covering sports, he's either watching Seinfield or David Letterman, playing golf, reading, or working out. What he enjoys about Chattanooga is the passion people have for sports. The mountainous region of Chattanooga reminds him of his hometown of Anniston, which also has big, beautiful trees and plenty of hills. You can contact Rick at rnyman@wdef.com.