When Arkansas squares off against Tennessee in a top-five clash, the Diamond Hogs will be going against one of their own, Tony Vitello.
Vitello was an assistant coach for the Razorbacks baseball program from 2014-2017 and he says he loved his time in Fayetteville.
“I could not ask for a better environment to work in as an employee,” said Vitello. “The fans there are tremendous, the kids I got to be around were great. But I really felt like I had a lot of breathing room, there was no uncomfortable moments at work every day… I’ve tried to make sure I implement that up here.”
Vitello is now the head coach at Tennessee. And he says he owes a lot of that to Dave Van Horn.
“He and the staff (at Arkansas) believed in me and brought me into the league… And if I was not in the SEC, I never would have been a candidate for this job,” Vitello said. “I sit here now at a job that I love at a place that I love because of all that.”
Vitello’s work ethic and deep knowledge of the game took him the rest of the way after that. He has built the Vols into the 4th-ranked team in the nation and it’s because of the lessons he’s learned throughout each stop in his career.
“The last three jobs that I’ve had, the first two years I felt like life didn’t really exist. It was just, find a way to get the next thing done,” said Vitello. “But I think the grind, the work that has been put in has been enjoyable and the fans around (Tennessee) and the people are rewarding us the way the Arkansas people do.”
The grind isn’t stopping now. This matchup will be a battle between the top team in the SEC East and West. The series begins Friday at 5:30 p.m. (CST) and will be aired on SEC Network+.