For the first time since 2005, the Tennessee Vols baseball team is back in the College World Series. Things were much different for the baseball program back then. Head coach Rod Delmonico was in his 16th year with the program and two years away from being fired by Mike Hamilton, which began the program’s downward slide.
At the time of the trip, the future seemed bright. It was UT’s first CWS trip in four years, but the team was young and everybody was coming back. Nothing came of that returning talent, however. Then came the dark years of the baseball program with Todd Raleigh and Dave Serrano.
Well, Tony Vitello has UT back in for the first time in 16 years, and the program looks drastically differently. Aside from Delmonico as head coach and Hamilton as athletic director, what else was happening related to the program at the time? Let’s break all of that down here. These are five ways Rocky Top was different the last time the Vols reached the College World Series.
5. Peyton Manning was still ringless.
Okay, so maybe this is an odd one, as Peyton Manning wasn’t playing for the Tennessee Vols at the time. However, he’s the program’s greatest legend beyond college, so his success is the football program’s success. As a result, where he was in his career is always going to be a relevant happening on Rocky Top.
At this point, Manning was coming off back to back regular season MVPs, sharing the 2003 one with Steve McNair. He also had just broken Dan Marino’s record for touchdown passes in a season with 49, a record later broken by Tom Brady which Manning would break again with 55 in 2013.
However, still with the Indianapolis Colts, he was also coming off back to back years in which is team was eliminated by Tom Brady’s New England Patriots. Little did Manning know, though, that he had suffered his last loss ever to Brady and the Pats in the playoffs. He’d win the Super Bowl two years later and continue a Hall-of-Fame career.