5. Baseball makes its first NCAA Tournament in 14 years
This wasn’t a record-breaking or record-tying accomplishment, but it was a drought-ending milestone and one worthy of being on this list. The Tennessee Vols baseball program had been suffering dramatically for years.
After making the College World Series in 2005, they had failed to make the NCAA Tournament through 2018. Mike Hamilton fired Rod Delmonico in 2007 and replaced him with Todd Raleigh, who never won anything in four years. Then Dave Serrano was hired, and while he was qualified on paper, his style didn’t work in the SEC. So he resigned after six years.
That’s when John Currie made what turned out to be one of a few good moves in his short tenure as athletic director before the Greg Schiano fiasco and hired Tony Vitello, an assistant he found from the Arkansas Razorbacks. Vitello had a rough first year but shifted his focus to elite pitching.
It paid off, and this year, UT got off to its best start in school history.They finished the regular season with a 38-18 record. Then they got the invited to the NCAA Tournament, their first appearance since 2005.
That was a major accomplishment for a second-year head coach. Vitello did have a lot of pro talent on the roster, as it showed with all the guys who signed MLB contracts a month later, but breaking that drought was huge for Rocky Top. It was enough to be No. 5 on this list.