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It was obviously going to come up when the Oklahoma job opened up this past weekend, but Josh Heupel made it clear on Tuesday that his focus was on coaching Tennessee and not anywhere else.
The Vols head coach isn’t going anywhere, but when a job you have ties to opens up, sometimes that can hurt you in recruiting. Opposing coaches will use it against you on the recruiting trail, even if you have zero interest in looking at the opening.
This was the case for Heupel for about 24 hours, though he hadn’t put himself in position for the Oklahoma job. Appearing on the Erik Ainge show Tuesday, Heupel made it clear once again that Tennessee is the job for him and that Knoxville is his home.
He is currently on the road recruiting, but he felt like he needed to take a few minutes to shoot down any rumors that linked him to the head coaching job in Norman.
“You know, as you build a successful program with your staff and players, certainly your name has an opportunity to come up for different openings,” Heupel said. “Just for myself and my family, we absolutely love Knoxville, and we came to Tennessee because of the power of the T. I believed in the power of the fan base and the opportunity to build something extremely special.
“It’s a program that’s top 10 in the history of college football in wins and first-round draft picks and has been through some uncertainty in recent times, but we love being in Knoxville. That’s home for us. I love being in the building with our staff and our players, and I now feel stronger today than I did 10 months ago when I first took the job about what we’re going to be able to do and how quickly we’re going to be able to get there.”
Heupel and his staff formed a solid bond with the players this season, which turned into a 7-5 record, exceeding expectations for his first year in Knoxville. So, as he continues to track down the talent needed to continue building the Tennessee program, fans can now rest easy.
“I know we’re building a championship-caliber football team and program, and excited to continue on that venture with our current players and staff.”