After the Tennessee baseball team and the Lindsey-Nelson crowd were blasted by LSU head coach Paul Mainieri on Thursday, Vols head coach Tony Vitello shared his thoughts on the atmosphere of the weekend and the fallout since.
“All is fair in love and war,” said coach Vitello in an interview with Russell Smith on The Drive. “I don’t follow social media stuff, but you would have to be living under a rock to not know [the situation] you’re talking about.”
In an interview with Off the Bench on Thursday, LSU head coach Mainieri had some strong words regarding the Tennessee team and their fans.
“Even though there wasn’t a huge crowd at Tennessee, it was an extremely hostile environment,” said Mainieri. “They were nasty fans. Nasty, nasty.”
Mainieri continued to talk about the Tigers’ weekend in Knoxville.
“It was a difficult situation with the umpiring,” said Mainieri. “There were a lot of calls that went against kids and they were having to deal with that. The other team (Tennessee) was not handling things with a lot of class quite frankly.”
Just a few hours after the Mainieri interview hit social media, Vitello joined Russell Smith on Fox Sports Knoxville to talk about the team. He also gave some insight into his thoughts on the weekend and surrounding fallout.
“I think sometimes things get blown up so I don’t know what the perspective is on any of that,” Vitello said on the afternoon radio show. “We’ve got a group of, maybe fraternity guys or just students, that come out and kind of raise hell. We’ve got to reign them in maybe just a little bit, but otherwise, all is fair in love and war. I don’t follow social media stuff, but you would have to be living under a rock to not know what you’re talking about. I think we basically did whatever we had to do this weekend.”
Vitello then went on to address a few specific moments from the weekend. However, he quickly followed up saying everything was handled in-house.
“But I can assure you this,” said Vitello. “There were a couple of guys on our team that had a back and forth with their Tennessee resident that’s on their roster. Those guys were reprimanded probably three or four different times by me and our other staff members. So anything we think is out of line, we will address it. But otherwise, like I said, if someone beats our butt then we need to do better. And if vice versa, then we will high-five each other in the outfield after the game.”
In case you have been living under the rock Vitello had mentioned, here is a recap of the last week in Tennessee baseball surrounding this story.
Tennessee swept LSU in the final weekend series of March. These wins included two walk-off wins on Sunday after Saturday’s matchup was postponed in the 11th inning. The crowd was packed on Friday as Tennessee opened up Lindsey-Nelson. The crowd was rambunctious for their first SEC game at home, especially with warm weather. And even as the weekend went on and rain began, the Vols still had an electric atmosphere.
The Tennessee team has certainly risen in the rankings throughout Vitello’s tenure. And the popularity and excitement around the team have run parallel with that trend. For the first time in a long time, fans feel they’re able to impact the game in a meaningful way. Similar to other stand-out SEC baseball programs.
In lamens terms, a home-field advantage.
If the LSU weekend series was any preview of what’s to come next, Knoxville still has plenty more good baseball and loud heckling in store for the season.
Tennessee’s next home game will be Tuesday, Apr. 6, against Eastern Kentucky at 6:30 pm.