Tennessee hires UCF’s Josh Heupel as head coach

Orange and White Nation

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Tennessee has made University of Central Florida’s Josh Heupel the 27th head football coach in program history, the school confirmed Wednesday.

The University of Tennessee confirmed just before 9 a.m. Wednesday that UCF’s Josh Heupel will become the new head coach of the Volunteers, replacing Jeremy Pruitt after he was fired amid an investigation into NCAA violations.

An introductory press conference has been scheduled for 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 27.

It would be the first major hire for newly-appointed Director of Athletics Danny White, who originally hired Heupel during his tenure leading the UCF athletics department.

“We looked at a number of potential candidates,” White said. “Josh Heupel, who I had the privilege of working with for three years, is everything we were looking for: winning with integrity, a history of championships and the architect of explosive offenses. He is a players’ coach and the kind of person the student-athletes go the extra mile for. I saw that first-hand, and you can see it in his coaching record.” 

Heupel has a career record of 28-8 at UCF. He led the Knights to a 12-0 regular season record in 2018 and an appearance in the Fiesta Bowl, becoming just the third coach in history to lead a team to an undefeated regular season in his first year coaching.

“I am thrilled to be coming to Tennessee,” Heupel said. “I understand that Volunteer fans are hungry for a return to the top that they so richly deserve, and it is my goal and commitment to bring a championship back to Rocky Top.”

In his second year as coach, the Knights finished with a 10-3 record and a win over Marshall in the Gasparilla Bowl. The UCF ranked 2nd in the nation in total offense in 2019 and was the only team in the country to rank among the top five in the country in total offense each of the last three years.

The Knights finished the 2020 season with a 6-4 record.

While serving as Missouri offensive coordinator in 2017, the Tigers ranked first in the SEC for total offense and eighth overall in the nation.

As a quarterback at Oklahoma, Heupel led the Sooners to a BCS National Championship title in 2000 under head coach Bob Stoops and finished as a runner-up to Chris Weinke for the Heisman Trophy. As a quarterbacks coach at his alma mater, he helped quarterback Sam Bradford win the 2008 Heisman Trophy and become the first overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft.

“We brought Danny White in to hire a talented coach who can be here for a long time and build a championship program,” UT Knoxville Chancellor Donde Plowman said. “Coach Heupel has compiled an impressive record, and I think Vols fans can look forward to a bright and exciting future. We are delighted to welcome him and his family to Tennessee.” 

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