Vitello, comparing Van Horn to his father, was introduced to the media Tuesday morning at Baum Stadium. Among the tidbits that were produced is that UA hoops assistant Matt Zimmerman campaigned for Vitello to Van Horn as soon as Mike Anderson's staff arrived from Missouri.
"I told Matt that I already knew of Tony and had a high regard for him," Van Horn said. "He was already on my list. I've been watching Tony for five years -- and he works so hard. He's kept up the pace and I saw him as a guy who was in demand as an assistant coach."
Vitello said, "I'm real close to Coach Zimmerman and I heard from him about what they thought of this place when they got here. I saw how they did it at Missouri and I was close to that whole staff."
Van Horn said his list has been ready the last several years as Van Horn expected Todd Butler, now head coach at Wichita State, to find a head coaching job at any time.
Vitello made an impression on Van Horn as a "try hard" guy at Missouri. In fact, Vitello said he has distinct memories of Van Horn, as Nebraska head coach, yelling at him when he leaned into a pitch in an attempt to reach base.
"He was on me for getting hit," Vitello said. "I still remember that."
Van Horn replied, "Back then I called it cheating, now I call it trying to win!"
And it's something Van Horn said will have to return to the Arkansas batting order to be successful in the era of modified bats.
"That went away the last couple of years," Van Horn said. "We didn't get hit enough. I thought we had some guys that didn't want to do that last year. I can remember Brian Anderson getting hit a lot as a freshman, but not as much this year. We've all got to do what we can to score runs."
Isaac Hellbusch and Jean Ramirez have both left the Arkansas baseball program. Headed to junior college. Jake Wise doing well, ahead of schedule, in rehab from elbow surgery. Blake Baxendale now throwing and is on schedule to be full speed in his recovery from elbow surgery. He'll be ready to handle all catching duties in fall practice. Wise might play some first base in the fall and early in the spring as he rehabs.
Junior college transfer from Arkansas City, Kan., still has to pass some summer school work before he can come to Akansas. At this point, it might be 50-50 if he makes it. Also, could still sign a pro contract.
Van Horn said he's interviewing as many as six candidates to replace departed volunteer assistant Brian Walker. He said the next guy will help with hitting and catchers, something he sees on all of the resumes that have appointments to see Van Horn.
"I'm happy for Brian," Van Horn said. "He and I talked a lot about what would happen here when Todd left. I told him he might be back here sometime, but he needs to go prove he can recruit. He'll do that. But we needed a veteran recruiter.
Van Horn said it's good that Butler left this season and not next when the UA head coach will spend the summer as Team USA head coach.
"I told him it couldn't be next summer that he had to go now," Van Horn said. "It couldn't happen when I was traveling around the country with the national team. So it worked out great. I've had great conversations with Todd. He probably wasn't ready to be a head coach (eight years ago) when he got here. But he is now."
Van Horn said the approach at the plate may change a little with Butler's departure and Vitello's arrival.
"Maybe we weren't on the same page the last two or three years as far as offense," Van Horn said. "It's not going to be so much about hitting as it is approach and scoring runs -- doing whatever it takes to score runs, getting flatter swings and hitting ground balls.
"I know Tony and I are on the same page there. He'll work with hitters, but we are going to do the offense as a staff, all of us together.
"The good thing is that our players, a lot of them, know Tony. They were recruited by Tony. Our 2014 commitments were recruited by Tony. I've got some amazing texts about how excited they are, both recruits and our players. Tony was on all of those guys."
Van Horn said Vitello expressed a desire to help with the offense, something that may not have happened at TCU.
"He wanted to be more hands-on with the offense," Van Horn said. "He had that his first year at TCU. But we aren't calling it that. It's going to be about drawing walks, getting hit by pitches, stealing bases and scoring runs. That's what it's about now in this game. You saw that in the College World Series."
Vitello is hitting the ground running. He's been all over Texas in the days since he was hired last week. He'll join Van Horn on a recruiting trip to Atlanta in the next few days. He doesn't plan to get a place to live in Fayetteville until August because he won't be here. He'll live in hotels.
"First thing, we are going to go see what we've got signed," Van Horn said. "I want Tony to see them all. We have some decisions to make on how to fill in the last pieces to the puzzle."
Vitello said, "I understand there is a little (scholarship) money left and we'll make decisions on how to spend that, on some that are still out there or with players that are already here. That's how it always works this time of year."
When Vitello does get back to Fayetteville, he may see something taking shape that will be his ace in the back pocket for recruiting -- the outline of a new indoor baseball/track facility.
"I think the fence outline will be up in three weeks," Van Horn said. "Construction might begin in the fall. I don't know that it will be finished by the start of our January practices, but we may have some of it ready to be used sometime next year.
"What I do know is that the 2014 guys are going to be in it. That should excited all of them. It's going to change the way we practice even on the good days. We can do in two hours what it once took three hours or longer. You can have two practices going at once and get so much more done.
"It's going to be something that takes away the nerves. We used to spend the night and the morning wondering if we were going to get to practice. We won't worry anymore. Those nerves are going to go away."
Vitello said his nerves are still tingling. He said he'd been to Baum Stadium before to look at recruits in high school and summer league tournaments. He said it always did two things, got him excited about baseball and made him worry if he was recruiting against the Hogs.
"I knew that July 1 (as he started at Arkansas), I'm going to baseball paradise," he said. "It's a huge recruiting tool. It's one of the best sites for baseball there is anywhere.
"I know about this program. I know the foundation that Todd Butler and the coaches here have put down. That's why I could hit the ground running."
He'll spend a lot of time in Texas, but also in Missouri where he said Arkansas beat him for players when he was at Missouri. Ryne Stanek was a big target that Butler won in a battle with Vitello. He'll recruit the St. Louis area where father Greg Vitellom -- his hero -- is a legendary baseball/soccer coach at DeSmet Jesuuit for the last 47 years.
Asked if growing up in St. Louis made him a Cardinal baseball fan, Vitello said he was a mix. His father's heritage is with the Cubs.
"So I'm both, I love the Cubs and Wrigley, but I love the Cardinals, too," he said. "I am a Cardinals fan."