After six long years away the LSU Tigers are finally back home in Omaha, Nebraska. And of course the first opponent is a team that has caused us plenty of headaches in those six years away.
The Tennessee Volunteers have gotten really good at baseball during that time. You’ve probably heard their fans talk about it. Luckily, one of those fans is Rocky Top Talk’s Nick Carner who was gracious enough to answer burning questions we still have about the Vols. Not about their lineup or pitching staff, we already know LSU is better. We’re playing dirty today.
1. Hey look at us! We both finally made it back to Omaha. Do Tennessee fans know the city has existed for 270 years or do they think it was named after Peyton Manning’s audible call?
What is this word you use there — “city?” We know hills, mountains, hollers and valleys. But this “city,” of which you speak is unfamiliar to us. Regardless of the origin and/ or meaning, maybe one day Joe Burrow will do something that gives some meaning to an otherwise rather mundane person/ place/thing. Or, instead, maybe, we’ll just keep getting TikToks of a mediocre gymnast showing off her, um, flexibility to keep up that seven-figure NIL deal while she uses AI to do her homework for her. Who knows?
2. Vols Twitter seemed pretty upset they had to go to Hattiesburg to play the Super Regionals, but the team showed excellent grit and resilience by winning a series on the road. How was the team able to pull out the win despite not hearing Rocky Top played at least every half inning?
Vol Twitter? Upset? Never! Okay — listen, I know the idea behind this string of questions, but I got nothing here. Vol Twitter, as a whole, likely disgusts me more than it does other fanbases. We are absolutely intolerable. But, when your team is one of 12 teams to make the postseason in football, basketball and baseball, adding on the dumpster fire that has been Tennessee athletics over the last two decades, well, that’s a recipe for anonymous idiots on in the internet to run wild. I lay no claim, but I lay no blame, either.
And nobody needs to hear Rocky Top. Everybody already knows the words. You’re thinking them right now and you didn’t even realize it.
3. When we chatted before the football game last October you laughed at us because our men’s basketball coach got in trouble for his, let’s say overcommitment to recruiting. Then what happened? Your precious Mafia Don Tony got suspended for recruiting violations.
You might think a weekend suspension is nothing compared to our men’s basketball coach getting fired, but that’s where you’re wrong buddy boy. We don’t care about men’s basketball here! And the basketball team we DO care about talked shit all the way to a national championship and is now raiding the transfer portal!
Okay I got a little sidetracked there. My point is: Tony V is just baseball Will Wade. Talks a lot of shit, breaks the rules and never actually wins anything meaningful in the postseason. Tell me why I’m wrong.
Aside from the blatant misalignment surrounding the circumstances of the two situations, this is simple. Will Wade coached at LSU, and Tony Vitello coaches at Tennessee. That’s it. That’s the difference. Will Wade = LSU coach = sleazebag. Tony Vitello = Tennessee coach = paragon of compliance in this dark river of NIL money that’s flowing through college campuses.
Well, that, and then the fact that one guy is, uhh, doing something, probably, somewhere, maybe, while the other is coaching in the College World Series. That, too.
I think maybe you’re looking at this the wrong way. Wade was just simply a man ahead of his time. I mean, sure, he was dumb enough to get caught on tape talking about paying a player before it was, “legal,” but it’s not so dissimilar to what happened with Jeremy Pruitt here at Tennessee.
Rule No. 1 for cheating: always have a fall man, or woman, lined up. But no — Wade made the “strong-ass offer,” himself, kinda like how Pruitt’s wife helped he staff had out cash to recruits. Dumb is dumb, no matter the colors on the windbreakers.
While there’s no direct tie to Nick Saban, his time at LSU and Will Wade — there is *definitely* a tie to Pruitt and Saban. So perhaps we can play enough mental gymnastics to just blame the whole thing for both sides on The Devil Himself.
And finally — good for you. You hired the women’s college basketball version of Dabo Swinney and won your first title. Let me know when you hang seven more of those banners and we’ll chat.
4. Despite having what I believe is college football’s best shade of orange (which says a lot because there are plenty to choose from) the baseball team insists on wearing dark gray and even black uniforms. Why does the team do this? Are they supposed to represent the cold, empty shell where Tony Vitello’s heart should be? The weird rock on y’all’s campus? Or is it lingering residue from all that cigar smoke in Neyland Stadium last October?
I don’t know if y’all have access to much internet down there in the swamp, so you may not have seen it but the football team played in its traditional uniforms, black uniforms and gray uniforms last season while going 11-2 and finishing sixth in the country. Wait.. hold on — Matter of fact, those gray uniforms should trigger a repressed memory of the traumatic 40-13 dismantling the Vols handed the Tigers in the famed, and on that day, aptly named, Death Valley.
I would put our classic Orange and White up against most uniforms in college football as far as aesthetics go, but we’ve also decided to move into modern times and understand that players like alternate uniforms. LSU’s purple tops and yellow pants are probably the best look out there, so there’s that, but I can’t help but wonder if somewhere Saban’s influence of “tradition over everything,” still hangs over Baton Rouge the same way the smell of stale beer and puke linger year-round, too.
But being arguably the most talented team in the country, y’all know baseball people are weirdly superstitious. So Tennessee wore black, it won, and it kept wearing black. Pretty simple. Though I hope we show up in Omaha in the the off-white uniforms with the “Vols,” across the chest in script, that way we can at least look pretty when Paul Skenes strikes out 15 batters and we go down in flames, again.
5. Okay that last one put me in a good mood. Let’s be friends for a minute. How fucking great was it beating Alabama on the last play of the game? Awesome right? Ours was awesome. I don’t get why other football teams don’t do it more often.
Listen — I don’t have kids, and I’m not married, so the happiest moments of my life are either directly related to sports or at the very least sports-adjacent. Watching that field goal go through the uprights is, as of now, the second best memory I have.
Not that you asked, but No. 1 on my list is my first memory of Tennessee football: Tee Martin hitting Peerless Price, who was streaking down the far sideline with two Florida State DBs on his back hip, for the 79-yard, game-sealing touchdown in 1998 BCS Championship.
Beating Alabama is and always will be glorious, but there’s gotta be a little extra flavor in there for y’all, considering the history there. I think we can both also revel in the fact that the SEC just gave Saban and Bama the high-hard one with the recent schedule release. The Tide get all their swing games at home, but what does the offense look like with a QB who can’t throw? I think we’ll both get to enjoy seeing Bama take a couple perhaps unexpected games on the chin, and that’s a win for us and the rest of college football, too.