Similar to all those winding country roads with rickety guard rails and uneven pavement, this particular route is also a bold one to take.

It's a path that confidently and repeatedly promotes a finished masterpiece. That after two years of renovating, remodeling and chiseling away at a declining product, all involved can proudly sit back and reap the benefits in year three.

For the third time in less than two years, yet another Tennessee head coach has selected this road for travel, each one leaning heavily on a particular item to get them home safely.

After consecutive 5-7 campaigns, former UT football coach Derek Dooley constructed a seemingly-impeccable offense and hit the trail.

After two straight whiffs at the Big Dance, Vols' basketball head man Cuonzo Martin implemented a "tougher breed" and started the hike.

And now, after back-to-back losing seasons that produced just eight conference wins apiece, UT baseball coach Dave Serrano will embark on that same well-traveled path, an inordinate amount of confidence permeating from his knapsack.

"I really feel for the first time that Tennessee baseball will be relevant again in the SEC," Serrano said at Monday's press luncheon.

Those comments alone don't do Serrano's assertive offseason demeanor enough justice. On numerous occasions, the Diamond Vols' head man has strongly suggested that a reasonable conclusion for 2014 is a deep postseason run.

Like NCAA tournament deep. Like playing in mid-June deep.

Like Omaha's College World Series deep.

"I really believe that this program is ready to start talking about Omaha and the process of getting there because we have the ability to do that," Serrano said on Jan. 26.

But back up.

Dooley crashed and burned with his third-season-is-different approach. And while Martin's year-three journey may still produce an NCAA tourney berth, it's undoubtedly been a much rockier trek than expected.

That's 0-for-2, which begs this question along with many others: Why might Serrano's similar excursion end any different?

Why is a coach so confident in a program that hasn't produced a winning season in four years?

Why is a coach advocating Omaha for a program that hasn't even stumbled upon Hoover, Ala., – the SEC tournament host city – since 2007?

"I've been to the postseason, and (my staff and I) know the road how to get there." Serrano said on Jan. 26. "I've been doing this business for a long time, and I know when I see good ability."

It's without a doubt that Serrano's 2014 version does include a bevy of talented individuals.

On paper, sluggers Scott Price, Christin Stewart and Vincent Jackson will anchor a potent offensive lineup, while infielders A.J. Simcox and Will Maddox should provide defensive stability up the middle.

And pitching staff newcomers like Hunter Martin, Kyle Serrano and Andrew Lee – coupled with noteworthy returning hurlers Drake Owenby and Nick Williams – headline a staff that could provide the depth UT's head man has been so desperately searching for.

"I definitely believe," Serrano said Monday, "that the talent level is where it needs to be."

But what happens if the offense sputters and returns to a flavor seen just last year?

In 2013, UT scored less than three runs in 31 percent of its games.

And what about the arms? In each of Serrano's first two seasons, his pitching staff ended the year with an ERA above 4.50.

What is said if the streak starts heading towards a third?

Then there's the schedule.

With road trips to nationally-ranked Arizona State, South Carolina, LSU, Mississippi State and many other tough matchups sandwiched in between, what's the response if UT's rigorous spring lineup becomes much too overwhelming?

Buzzwords like "relevant," "postseason" and "Omaha" certainly won't be thrown around like they have in recent weeks.

With his audacious third-season forecast, Serrano has chosen a treacherous path – one that isn't guaranteed to end negatively, but has proved futile for fellow UT coaches.

And you can bet it's now looking for a third orange and white victim.

Dargan Southard is a junior in journalism and electronic media. He can be reached at