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Why Tony Vitello fits the mode of what Tennessee Vols AD Danny White is looking to fill

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Tony Vitello is the exact type of coach that Tennessee athletic director Danny White loves to hire: young, energetic and offensive minded. However, here’s the kicker.

White didn’t hire Vitello, who was on campus for three seasons before White was hired as the Vols’ athletic director. That means White didn’t even have to hire the coach that might get him his first championship at Tennessee. White also didn’t get to hire the coach that perfectly embodies his brazen, yet fundamentally sound, approach to sports management.

The Vitello hire, even though White didn’t make it, was a savvy one that has helped the Diamond Vols transform from respectable during its best baseball seasons to a championship contender even when things aren’t exactly going to plan. That comes with a young, up-and-coming coach like Vitello, football coach Josh Heupel or, more recently, women’s basketball coach Kim Caldwell.

“I don’t know that I pigeonholed myself into that end result,” White said during an interview with Jimmy Hyams. “I guess hearing you say it, I probably have hired more up and comers. I think that it’s about fit and where we are as a program. I think who they are as a person; character matters a ton”

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So does offense, at least seemingly so. Caldwell is expected to continue with a tradition of the Vols showcasing aggressive game plans when they have the ball.

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“I’m a sports marketer,” White said with a smile. “I think that I’ve said before, two touchdowns are better than the absence of touchdowns. I’ll say the same thing about three point shots and dunks and home runs. And, we got pretty exciting style of play across the board. Some of that’s been intentional.”

Some of that has been luck. And White freely admits that.

“Tony Vitello was in year four when I got here with his program,” White said. “And I don’t know that there’s a more exciting baseball team to watch than what he’s doing on the field. Our fans celebrate that. I think that makes it more fun for our student athletes and coaches to want to deliver an exciting brand of whatever their sport is.”

Luck, astute hiring, whatever the reason, Tennessee has the perfect White-style hire even though he never even interviewed one of his star employees.

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