Tennessee hires Josh Heupel from UCF



Central Florida coach Josh Heupel is making a deal to become Tennessee’s next coach, sources told Yahoo Sports. A deal is expected to be announced on Wednesday.

Tennessee’s decision to hire Heupel will reunite him with its former athletic director, Danny White, who became AD in Knoxville less than a week ago.

The decision culminates in a frenzied week for White, who came to UCF last week and ultimately decided to take his former coach with him after extensive research. Other names associated with Tennessee research include James Franklin of Penn State, Clemson offensive coordinator Tony Elliott and Lance Leipold of Buffalo.

Heupel is expected to make around $ 4 million per year, which will leave him with a large payroll for a renowned defensive coordinator and staff capable of recruiting the SEC’s footprint. Tennessee research has faced significant headwinds as the sports department is in the midst of a financial crisis, the program is under NCAA investigation, and White has been tasked with explaining to candidates that it could not quantify the severity of the inevitable NCAA sanctions.

Central Florida Head Coach Josh Heupel takes to the field with his players before the first half of an NCAA college football game against East Carolina on Saturday, October 19, 2019 in Orlando, in Florida (AP Photo / John Raoux)
Central Florida Head Coach Josh Heupel takes to the pitch with his players before the first half of an NCAA college football game against East Carolina on Saturday, October 19, 2019 in Orlando, in Florida (AP Photo / John Raoux)

Heupel brings a 28-8 record in three seasons as a head coach, SEC experience from his time in Missouri and a decade of coaching in Oklahoma which included four seasons as a co-offensive coordinator. Along the way, he’s developed a reputation for high-scoring offenses and quarterback development, two things that are widely lacking over the past two decades in Tennessee.

Heupel recruited future first-round pick Jordan Love from Utah, which was Love’s only scholarship offer. He also played a key role in the development of Drew Lock of Missouri, McKenzie Milton and Dillon Gabriel of UCF and coached Sam Bradford of Oklahoma during his Heisman Trophy season.

Heupel’s identity at UCF is a tempo-based spreading offense that scores in clusters. UCF finished in the top six nationally in offensive scoring in their first two seasons at UCF, averaging 43.2 points per game in a 2018 season that is remembered for a undefeated regular season and a Fiesta Bowl bid. UCF finished No.5 in attack in 2019, averaging 43.4 points per game on their way to a 10-3 season.

Heupel’s buyout amounts to nearly $ 3.45 million, or 50% of its remaining guaranteed contract. Considering that Tennessee paid around $ 2.5 million in buyout for White’s buyout, that means UCF will have nearly $ 6 million through these deals to help with his AD and coach research.

Josh Heupel was an American quarterback in Oklahoma who led the Sooners to a national title and finished No.2 in the Heisman Trophy vote. He finished behind current Tennessee quarterback coach Chris Weinke and ahead of former Purdue quarterback Drew Brees.

Heupel is the son of a South Dakota high school coach and began his college career at Weber State before making a detour to college and then Oklahoma, where he played for head coach Bob Stoops.

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