Mike Strange: Vanderbilt a baseball program worth copycatting for Dave Serrano

Mike Strange

Dave Serrano isn’t comfortable watching NCAA postseason baseball on TV. His preferred vantage point is a dugout.

Tennessee fans, however, have grown accustomed to watching on TV. And if they watch at all, they’re watching some other team.

Teams like Vanderbilt, for heaven’s sake.

Serrano was introduced Thursday as Tennessee’s new coach. The buzz that I picked up at the Lindsey Nelson Stadium ceremony was that UT hit a home run.

“Maybe,’’ proposed one longtime fan, “a grand-slam home run.’’

Vanderbilt hit a grand-slam when it hired Tim Corbin in 2003. The Commodores have emerged from obscurity to achieve national prominence.

Virginia hit a grand-slam when it hired Brian O’Connor in 2004. The Cavaliers, like Vandy, were a baseball afterthought before he arrived.

This week they’re at the College World Series, marking their seventh consecutive NCAA tournament appearance.

Kentucky hit at least a three-run homer when it hired John Cohen in 2004. He took the mediocre program to an SEC title and two NCAA tournaments in five seasons before leaving for greener diamonds.

All of the above are considered cold-weather schools. So is Oregon State, which won back-to-back College World Series titles in 2006-07.

But the right coach can heat up success. Big-time success.

There lies Serrano’s challenge.

The past four years, UT baseball languished on Todd Raleigh’s watch. The Vols couldn’t make the SEC tournament, much less the NCAA bracket.

Across the border to the northeast, Virginia was winning big on the field and at the turnstile, averaging 3,148 at home in 2010.

More annoying to UT diehards has been rival Vanderbilt’s 21st Century stature.

What’s Vandy got that Tennessee doesn’t? Corbin is the most obvious answer.

“I have a lot of respect for Coach Corbin and that program,’’ Serrano said. “But I think a lot of people have a lot of respect for the University of Tennessee, too.

“I think people are dying for this program to start being more consistent year in and year out. That’s why I was brought here and that’s why I came.’’

Serrano obviously believed he can overcome any obstacles. He left a great job at Cal State Fullerton for one that is depleted at a juncture when three SEC East rivals muscled their way into the College World Series.

“I don’t see any reason right now (UT can’t win big),’’ Serrano said, “and I don’t see myself making any excuse down the line.’’


“That’s where the indoor facilities come into play,’’ he said. “We can still develop good baseball players because we have the resources and the facilities to do that.’’

UT, in fact, has the resources to do about anything.

“I heard it loud and clear,’’ said Serrano, “in talking with the search committee: We want to help you be successful here.’’

If success comes, it will not be overnight. The Vols are down. Serrano admitted he’s not averse to “copycat a little” to catch his rivals.

There’s a sign in the Vols’ clubhouse advising that it’s 921 miles to Omaha, annual host of the College World Series. Serrano said he might take it down, the better to focus on more realistic goals in the short term.

I’d suggest Hoover, Ala., annual host of the SEC tournament. It’s 269 miles from Lindsey Nelson.

Or, for starters, how about the 181 miles to Vanderbilt? There’s a program worth copycatting.

Mike Strange may be reached at strangem@knoxnews.com. Follow him at http://twitter.com/strangemike44 and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/strange.

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Comments » 20

RockyToptoNeyland writes:

no, were UT, we got class

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

You never answered my question the other day. Does the name Bodeane come from your mom or dad? I'm guessing your mom.... Our pitching was actually pretty good this year at times. However the management of the pitching continually sucked under Raleigh. Our pitching will be phenomenal under Serrano. He was our pitching coach in 95-96, and was pitching coach in most if not all of his assistant positions.

thetrollhunter writes:

in response to BodeaneVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)


Also, he's using the "royal" were idiot.

thetrollhunter writes:

I'm gonna be the first to predict CSS tries to make up for his and his stupid school's insecurities by mumbling harble garble.

SummittsCourt writes:

This just goes to show you how far the baseball program has fallen under hammy and toddy's watch when we look up to vandy as a program to model after.

Go Vols!

arkyvol writes:

i've got an even better idea: vanderbilt is a university worth copycatting by the university of tennessee.

skm writes:

copycatting? dave serrano has been to 4 CWSs. vandy is going to their first.

OrangePride writes:

Serrano comes into this position with his eyes open, all the right tools, and a GREAT attitude. Climer and a lot of posters (almost all trolls) have been talking junk about "nobody of quality wanting to come to a program in this kind of condition and with all these question marks." Baloney. If you are a coach, who would you rather follow, Robert Neyland or Lane Kiffin? For Coach Serrano and Tennessee, this is a golden opportunity as well as a kind of coming home party. It IS a homerun and we will do much better next year. I look for us to be relevant in the SEC race very soon! WELCOME COACH AND GO VOLS!

41_14gbo writes:

in response to bigorangegoon:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

As a UT grad (85) living in Nashville. Corbin is the real deal, good man, good coach and nationwide recruiter. Sometimes long ball, sometimes small ball but always talented pitching. Drawback–Not great in the big games / series.

RollTideJoe writes:

in response to wallandhiker:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Good post. And, no school can be the best in every sport and that includes Tennessee. Furthermore, any school can have a best program in some sports and that includes Vanderbilt. They have an excellent baseball team and should be proud of it. I hope they win the College World Series.

voloffaith writes:

in response to RollTideJoe:

Good post. And, no school can be the best in every sport and that includes Tennessee. Furthermore, any school can have a best program in some sports and that includes Vanderbilt. They have an excellent baseball team and should be proud of it. I hope they win the College World Series.

actually probably most proud of the bowling team a perennial powerhouse of the pins....

CommodoreCapital writes:

Good hire by the Vols and looking forward to a renewed rivalry in recruiting and on the field.

TennVol01 writes:

Vandy hired their coach in 2003. Eight years ago. Are you suggesting that UT needs to copy their program and in eight years we may be in the college world series? Lets copy Cal State Fullertons program that consistently is in the top ten of college baseball programs.

thetrollhunter writes:

in response to CantStandSaban:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Hahahaha Harble Garble all over the place! I'm psychic!

Also, my hometown isn't Knoxville.

Also, considering all the rude and snobby Vandy alumni that I met on my college visit there, I wouldn't include the word "class" without the "less" on the end when describing Vandy.

zman44 writes:

UT got a good coach. It is yet to be seen whether or not he will succeed. I read in this forum that Serrano has been to 4 CWS's and Vandy only one...while that is true, Corbin has also been to multiple CWS's. As a head coach Serrano has only 2...and both times he did it with another coach's talent. He could be great...he could also be Tubby Smith. You'll just have to wait and see.

In short, he had better be able to find talent. Farragut is a better team than UT right now. Serrano is a good coach who came into a good situation at Irvine, and then was lucky enough to inherit talent at Fullerton as well. Can he build a program from scratch? You'd better hope so because that is an unknown.

And while this may be Vandy's first CWS trip, they have been to 3 Super regionals in 7 years and been ranked #1 in the country for extended periods in both 2007 and 2011. They have had the #1 recruiting class twice in the last 5 years, and only once in that span had a recruiting class outside the Top 5. And next year's class is tentatively rated #1, though they will likely slide a few notches if their top 2 prospects turn pro. So, yeah, copying Vandy is a good start.

VolBy3 writes:

in response to FormerMarine:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Brilliant Marine! LMAO... He even forgot to make them a sentence. This means he roots for them but probably is not a vandy grad.

RollTideJoe writes:

in response to wallandhiker:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Yea, the pathetic man that did that to Toomer's Corner apparently is a warped as you are. Thankfully, Bama's real followers went and made restoration for the bum.

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

in response to CantStandSaban:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

That's not you. If it is, it just goes to show how ignorant you are. It's not wise to talk to people as if they are trash then let everyone know who you are. In other words, I'm calling your bluff. And while you spend the spring in Tampa, 4Months in Vegas, and the rest in Nashville, you spend about 10 hours a day 12 months a year on GVX.

thetrollhunter writes:

in response to CantStandSaban:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

There are two possibilities here.

The most likely possibility is that

- That is not you, which seems to be the likely option. A grown man would obviously have better things to do with his time than coming on to a UT sports page to troll. This just proves to us that you need to be put in a psyche ward with your internet cut off.

However if you are telling the truth, than that leaves the other option.

- You really are this person, which makes you ridiculously stupid. For a person who "apparently" has accomplished so much, you really don't understand how the world works. NEVER give personal info in the internet.

Also, you come off pretty arrogant with the "holier than thou" attitude, which further imposes the Vanderbilt stereotype.

dlobh writes:

in response to CantStandSaban:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

If this is seriously you (which I highly doubt), then this is without a doubt the most pathetic and hilarious thing I've ever seen on GVX. You're such a "powerful" and knowledgeable sports personality and you spend all your time on GVX, obsessed with your little 'dores measuring up to UT. Also, it's just unbelievable that you felt the need to give us all this info, especially about your bench prowess. BWAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

You know, if it weren't for you and all the other unfoundedly obnoxious Vandy fans here in Nashville, I'd be rooting for Vandy in the CWS. Maybe they'll finally win something . . . besides that great women's bowling trophy.

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