Tennessee To Hire UCF’s Josh Heupel As New Football Coach

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It sounds like Tennessee has decided upon its next coach. Various sources are reporting Wednesday morning that the program is hiring UCF’s Josh Heupel for the head coaching position.

New AD Danny White promised a quick hire after the program fired Jeremy Pruitt for cause back on January 18th, and now just nine days later, he’s got Heupel coming in to be the next voice of the program.

The program wanted to get a new voice in quickly to distance themselves from Pruitt, who after an investigation was found to have committed “serious violations of NCAA rules.”

White has called for a 9:30 a.m. EST team meeting on Wednesday according to ESPN.

Though the organization eventually selected Heupel, White spoke to a number of possible candidates including Penn State’s James Franklin, Cincinnati’s Luke Fickell, SMU’s Sonny Dykes and Minnesota’s P.J. Fleck.

Heupel will be the sixth head coach at Tennessee since 2008, but he brings SEC coaching experience. He served as Missouri’s offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach in 2016-17. He was also a Heisman Trophy runner-up back in 2000 when he was the quarterback at Oklahoma.

The 42-year-old has spent the last three seasons as the head coach at UCF, where he led the Knights to an impressive 28-8 record.

UCF went 12-1 in Heupel’s first season as coach, and in 2020 went 6-4. Reports say he would have to pay back a $3.4 million dollar buyout to go to Tennessee, which the Vols will likely cover.

Written by Matt Loede

Matt has been a part of the Cleveland Sports landscape working in the media since 1994 when he graduated from broadcasting school. His coverage beats include the Cleveland Indians, Cleveland Browns and Cleveland Cavaliers. He's written three books, and won the "2020 AP Sports Stringer Lifetime Service Award."


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  1. Guy is all the volunteers could get. Heupel took an undefeated, loaded UCF team and regressed. Who would want to walk into the Volunteer mess anyway? Guy will be gone within two, three years. Won’t be able to recruit in the SEC.

  2. I think he is now the second weakest coach in the SEC, mike leach and lane kiffin were great adds last year, just shows me the Tennessee and Vandy are being overwhelmingly content with mediocrity

    • A couple points: I am not a Tennessee fan but the comparison to Vandy is not accurate. Vandy is more comparable to Kansas or Maryland. At least Tennessee competes for bowls most seasons, albeit at 6-6 or 7-5. Second, Vandy has that woman kicker so they are by no means mediocre, this makes the Commodores heroes. If you buy the last point, I’ve got some ocean front property in Arizona…

  3. “Those whom Gods destroy…” Tennessee continues to spiral down. This hire is a “Meh” at best, and indicative of the state of Vols Football. As Winston Taylor says above, “He’s all they could get.” Why would any Coach that has promise leap into the hungry maw of that woodchipper? The athletes aren’t there, half the Alumni base wants you dead the moment you sign the contract, and after getting the crap kicked out of you for two years they’ll fire you and try to stiff you on the remainder of your contract.
    The Tennessee people have made their Head Coach position a thing to avoid. A move of Certain Doom. No wonder they are left with money-whipping guys like Josh Heupel.
    Oh, and Josh, get a good lawyer.

  4. Well, here we go again. If anyone feels confident in their current team let UT be a strong warning of what a single dumb decision can do to destroy a great program. Everyone is one idiot away from being in this same situation. Ask Nebraska and USC. FSU is still in denial, but ask them in a couple years.

  5. From reports back in 2017 could have had Leach several years ago – does anyone think Heupel is better than Leach? All this thanks to Fulmer. Ultimately will be Fulmer’s legacy, although I’m sure they will be wheeling him out to celebrate the ’98 team for another 20 years. As I’ve mentioned before, if not for Peyton Manning things would have fallen apart in the 90’s; he kept the program relevant into the early 2000’s. We need to embrace basketball. Nobody can expect this team to compete with their rivals with the current state of the program and how much better off teams in their recruiting footprint have become.

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