Home losses to Milwaukee, Presbyterian and Appalachian State gives you an idea how disappointing Tennessee's 2011 baseball season was.

The Diamond Vols closed out the year with a dramatic, walk-off win over Auburn on May 21 to finish 25-29 (7-23 SEC).

But as the record indicates, that season-ending 4-3 victory was one of just a few highlights on the year.

The low point might have been the three-game sweep at the hands of in-state rival Vanderbilt. The Commodores defeated UT by a combined score of 39-5 in the weekend series from April 29 through May 1.

The result?

Coach Todd Raleigh was fired on May 23.

The unsurprising move came after four lackluster seasons for the program under Raleigh, who was hired in 2007 to replace longtime coach Rod Delmonico.

During his tenure, Raleigh's Vols had an overall record of 108-113, including 42-78 in SEC play.

UT never made it to Hoover, Ala., the site of the SEC Tournament, under Raleigh, which features the league's top eight teams each year.

The lack of success under Raleigh begs the question: What caused the program-which reached Omaha, Neb. and the College World Series, the pinnacle in college baseball-just six years ago in 2005 under Delmonico, to fall to one that has finished among the bottom four teams in its league in each of the past four seasons?

Raleigh took over a program facing scholarship reductions due to scores in previous years below 925 in the NCAA's Academic Progress Rate (APR), which measures student-athletes' progress towards graduation.

Not having the full allotment of scholarships was a hindrance, especially in a sport like baseball where scholarships are often divided among players.

But, nevertheless, the program under Raleigh hit rock bottom.

Given recent upgrades to Lindsey Nelson Stadium-which include a new team locker room and a plaza along the right field line-the Vols play in a top-of-the-line college stadium.

The resources UT provides the baseball program-and all sports on campus for that matter-should allow the school's athletic teams to compete for championships.

The baseball team hasn't come close to competing for any kind of championship since Raleigh's arrival, leading to his termination.

The search for Raleigh's replacement is currently ongoing.

With the NCAA Tournament beginning this weekend, some potential candidates are still coaching their respective teams.

It's been widely reported that the top two names on UT's wish list are Cal State Fullerton coach Dave Serrano and South Carolina associate head coach Chad Holbrook.

Serrano was an assistant coach at UT from 1995-96, and the head coach for three seasons at UC Irvine. He is currently in his fourth season as skipper of the Titans, who will host a regional this weekend in the NCAA Tournament.

Holbrook is in his third season with the Gamecocks, and also serves as the team's recruiting coordinator. He previously spent 15 years with North Carolina's baseball program before heading south to Columbia, S.C. in 2008. He has no experience as a head coach, but is regarded as one of the top assistants in college baseball.

A wildcard candidate is former Vol Chris Burke. Burke is the best player in UT baseball history not named Todd Helton. A middle infielder from 99-01, he was a three-time All-American before being the 10th overall selection in the 2001 MLB

Draft by the Houston Astros. He spent parts of six seasons in the Major Leagues. Burke has little coaching experience, but has been campaigning for the job recently. He spent the past season working with Louisville's baseball program as a graduate assistant.

Hiring Serrano or Holbrook would be a safe move, and either would most likely rebuild the program into one that makes the SEC and NCAA tournaments more years than not.

But hiring Burke-though extremely risky-would seemingly interject life into a program seemingly on life support.

Given baseball is, at best, the fourth sport at UT, in terms of importance and popularity-behind football and men's and women's basketball-taking a chance on a "UT guy" might be worth it. (Can the program get any worse?)

Regardless of whom is the next baseball coach, the challenge he'll face in rebuilding the program is the same: get UT back to Hoover-and possibly Omaha-consistently.

But that starts by beating the likes of Milwaukee, Presbyterian and Appalachian State.

- Matt Dixon is a senior in journalism and electronic media. He can be reached at mdixon3@utk.edu and followed on Twitter at @MattDixon3.