On Saturday afternoon, the pregame pandemonium stirring around Neyland Stadium in anticipation of Tennessee's football game with Alabama was in its early stages. Inside Pratt Pavilion, meanwhile, Austin Nichols was sitting in on an intense, inspirited basketball practice.
Cuonzo Martin was Cuonzo Martin. He paced. Gnawed on a whistle. Directed traffic. Clapped. Scowled.
It was business as usual.
On the sidelines, Nichols, Martin's top target for a lone remaining scholarship next season, watched on with his family.
Prior to the official visit, Mark Nichols, Austin's father, told the News Sentinel, "I don't know if (UT) would be a good fit for him, you know because Tennessee has a grind-out style type of play and I think a more open offense would be more conducive to Austin now."
A weekend sales pitch was aimed at this notion.
The UT staff put together a video production mapping out how Nichols' game correlates to Martin's motion offense. The Vols think they're a match.
But it doesn't matter what the Vols think.
In the end, the 6-foot-9 power forward ranked as the No. 26 prospect in the Class of 2013 by 247Sports, will choose between the Vols, Memphis, Vanderbilt, Duke, Virginia and Auburn.
Martin and the Vols pulled out all the stops to assure his favor.
"It was a great visit, man," Mark Nichols said. "Tennessee did a great job. The basketball staff just did a wonderful job. It was awesome."
During his 48-hour visit to Knoxville, Nichols attended football coach Derek Dooley's pregame locker room speech before kickoff against No. 1 Alabama. He was in the tunnel when the Vols ran through the "T." He toured the athletic department's deluxe facilities. He watched Martin conduct two days of practices.
"They didn't miss any opportunities to impress us," Mark Nichols said.
Then came a handshake with the Vols' most famous alum.
On the way from Saturday's basketball practice at Pratt Pavilion to the UT locker room in Thompson-Boling Arena, Nichols recognized a familiar face. Outside the arena, Peyton Manning was tailgating with teammates from UT's 1997 SEC championship team.
Nichols took advantage of the opportunity, but missed a crucial task.
Awash in shock, he forgot to snap a picture with the legend.
"He was just shocked that that was Peyton Manning," Mark Nichols said.
A memorable handshake would have to suffice.
More important than any encounter with UT royalty, though, was the Vols' Xs and Os proposal.
A blossoming all-around game makes Austin Nichols an ideal inside-outside power forward at the college level. And he's getting better.
No current player on the UT roster offers a similar skill set.
That's where the videos came in.
"We got a little insight and he'd probably be OK (at UT), but I still don't really know," Mark Nichols said. "It just depends — depends on where he plays and how good he is. And a lot of it depends on Austin."
Mark Nichols added that he came away impressed by the UT practices.
"I thought it was good," he said. "Cuonzo tells them what to do and they do it. He's not into the cussing or any of that."
After visiting Auburn next week, Austin Nichols will announce his future home in early November.
Brendan F. Quinn covers Tennessee men's basketball. Follow him at Twitter.com/BFQuinn