Tennessee Vols morning report: Jason Witten unretires, Rick Barnes up for COY

KNOXVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 09: Tennessee Volunteers fans cheer during the first half of the game against the Indiana State Sycamores at Neyland Stadium on September 9, 2017 in Knoxville, Tennessee. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
KNOXVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 09: Tennessee Volunteers fans cheer during the first half of the game against the Indiana State Sycamores at Neyland Stadium on September 9, 2017 in Knoxville, Tennessee. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

Former Tennessee Vols tight end Jason Witten’s return and Rick Barnes being up for Coach of the Year lead our Volunteers news for Friday, March 1, 2019.

Happy Friday, and Happy First Day of March! It’s the heart of the spring semester for Tennessee Vols athletics with all the key postseason events from the winter sports about to be in full swing and the spring sports hitting full swing as well.

But on this day, our leading story actually involves a former football player and the news he generated Thursday. It was some of the most shocking news of the day, even beyond Bryce Harper’s gigantic contract.

We also have, to be fair, awards finalist news on multiple fronts, and we have previews of weekend events in two separate sports. At the same time, we have recaps of two Lady Vols events, and some are not good. Let’s get started, though, with the football news.

Jason Witten comes out of retirementNick Eatman, DallasCowboysNews.com

Former Tennessee Vols tight end Jason Witten has come out of retirement after spending a year in the Monday Night Football booth. Here’s a bit of what he said in a statement.

"“The fire inside of me to compete and play this game is just burning too strong,” Witten said in a statement. “This team has a great group of rising young stars, and I want to help them make a run at a championship. This was completely my decision, and I am very comfortable with it. I’m looking forward to getting back in the dirt.”"

Rick Barnes a Coach of the Year Finalist – NaismithTrophy.com

Tennessee Vols men’s basketball head coach Rick Barnes is a finalist for the 2019 Werner Ladder Naismith Men’s College Coach of the Year. Barnes is on a list with 15 other candidates, but he’s the only SEC coach to make it.

"WERNER is the world leader in ladders and has a complete line of climbing products designed for working at heights. From ladders to fall protection, WERNER provides a full line of climbing equipment that’s engineered to provide maximum safety, durability and productivity at every height.2019 marks the 10th year that WERNER is the Official Ladder of NCAA® March Madness® and the 3rd year as the title sponsor of the Werner Ladder Naismith Coach of the Year Award."

Assistant AD Tom Satkowiak wins Bud Nangle Award – CoSIDA.com

Tennessee Vols Assistant Athletic Director Tom Satkowiak received the Bud Nangle Award Thursday from the College Sports Information Directors of America. The award recognizes ethics and integrity in tough situations. Satkowiak is the main contact for Tennessee men’s basketball, and he is in his 11th year on the job.

"A two-time Tennessee graduate, Satkowiak began his sports information career as a student assistant with the Vols in 2002 before becoming a graduate assistant. He was promoted to assistant director and associate director before being named the assistant athletics director for communications in 2016."

Women’s basketball loses to Vanderbilt – Maria Cornelius, GoVols247

The Tennessee Lady Vols basketball team suffered what may have been the worst regular season loss in program history Thursday night. Holly Warlick’s team fell at home for the first time ever to the Vanderbilt Commodores, who entered the game 6-21 and 1-13 in the SEC. With the Ole Miss Rebels, another losing team, their final regular season opponent, the Lady Vols are currently at 17-11 and 6-9 in the SEC, guaranteeing their first losing season in the conference ever.

"“You are not going to win on just talent,” Tennessee Coach Holly Warlick said. “You are not going to win just because you have Tennessee across your chest. You have to win because you have the passion, will and desire. You have to step up and say, ‘Dammit, I am not going to lose.’ That is when you are going to win.”"

Tennessee softball wins first two at Judi Garman Classic – The Maryville Daily Times

The Tennessee Lady Vols softball team defeated UT San Antonio 12-2 and Fresno State 4-2 Thursday to begin the Judi Garman Classic in Fullerton, Calif. to move to 15-2. Ranked No. 7 in the nation, they’ll face the New Mexico Lobos today at 6:45 p.m. and close out the event on Saturday with games against the Michigan Wolverines and Oregon Ducks.

"Sophomore Amanda Ayala went a combined 5-for-6 with 5 RBI and 2 runs scored in the two games. All five RBI came against UTSA. The last Lady Vol to notch five RBI in a game was Meghan Gregg against Boise State on Feb. 8, 2018."

Tennessee baseball to begin Cox Diamond Invitational – WVLT TV

The undefeated Tennessee Vols baseball team will be leaving home for the first time this weekend. They’ll be traveling to Pensacola, Fla. to participate in the Cox Diamond Invitational. They’ll begin at 3 p.m. Friday with a game against Louisiana Monroe and follow that up with a 4 p.m. game Saturday against North Florida. Finally, they’ll face Western Kentucky at 2 p.m. Sunday.

"UT is coming off back-to-back midweek wins over Liberty and Middle Tennessee. The Vols posted their sixth shutout of the season in Wednesday’s victory over the Blue Raiders, marking the most shutouts the program has had in a season since 2005 (six). At 9-0, UT is off to its best start since 2014 when the Vols began the season 12-0."

Men’s tennis to host Georgia – UTSports

The Tennessee Vols men’s tennis team will play host to the Georgia Bulldogs at 6 p.m. on Friday. Tennessee is 9-1 and ranked No. 15/19 in the nation while coming off a 6-1 home win over the MTSU Blue Raiders from this past Wednesday.

"The Vols have won seven-straight matches going into the SEC showdown, dating back to a 4-2 victory over 38th-ranked Texas Tech on January 27.A live results link will be provided on the utsports.com men’s tennis schedule page and on the Vols’ Twitter page (@Vol_Tennis)."