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Don’t Step on the Chalk: Climbing the Mountain


Don’t Step on the Chalk is a weekly look into Tennessee Baseball by Mark Shrum. 

R. A. Dickey just climbed Mount Kilimanjaro.

(side note: with the climb, Dickey raised over $100,000 for the Bombay Teen Challenge, an organization dedicated to rescuing young women from forced prostitution.)

Dickey was a former Tennessee Volunteer. His play not only helped Tennessee to consecutive SEC championships, but also garnered many awards.

That is all background (if you want more detail then google him) for my point:

Tennessee is going to have to climb a mountain in order to succeed this year.

Dave Serrano was just hired as the team’s sherpa, and while they don’t actually have to climb 19,000 feet, it will definitely seem like it with the amount of talent above them.  I found a poll taken for the pre-season rankings and here is what Tennessee is looking up at:
(rankings from most votes down, the number is what they are ranked in the poll)

1: Florida
2: South Carolina
5: Texas (1 game)
7: Rice (1 game)
8: Arkansas
12: LSU
18: Georgia
23: Vanderbilt
39: Florida International (1 game)
Miss. St.
Seton Hall (ranked 4 spots below UT)

All teams shown above are on UT’s schedule this season. 6 of the 10 SEC teams are in the Top-25, and the other four are ranked above UT. Even the non-conference schedule is tough, as they play two Top-10 teams and the 39th ranked team. And they play Seton Hall in a three game series.

I am not posting this to shatter any preconceived notions you all had, but rather to put the season in perspective. Tennessee got a steal with Serrano, he has already amassed a great first class and has a history of great success. That being said, he has one heckuva rebuilding project here. Tennessee could very well shock some people, but they could also play badly. It is basically a crap-shoot at this point. But know this, if Tennessee does come out and win and continue to win, Serrano deserves a big pay day.

My take:

As of now I haven’t seen them play and I don’t know too much about the squad. But I believe they will be like Tennessee’s basketball team. I expect them to be in most of the games, playing at a level that surprises you at times, both good and bad. But, I don’t see a great record. The opponents are too tough, and there is little to no break in the schedule. However, I like UT to make the SEC Tournament this year (in part to the expanded field) because I think Dave Serrano can coach talent, something our previous coach couldn’t seem to consistently do.

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