Tennessee Hires UCF's Josh Heupel As Next Head Coach

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Tennessee has hired UCF's Josh Heupel as its next head coach, the school announced Wednesday morning.

The hiring will reunite Heupel with his former athletic director, Danny White, who the Volunteers announced as their new AD last week.

"We looked at a number of potential candidates," White said in a statement. "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." 

Other Vols head-coaching candidates included Clemson offensive coordinator Tony Elliott, Penn State coach James Franklin and Buffalo's Lance Leipold.

Tennessee's fast athletic director and head coach searches were important given the turmoil around the program. AD Phillip Fulmer announced his plans to retire Jan. 18, the same day head football coach Jeremy Pruitt was fired for cause amid allegations of recruiting violations. The newly hired White was tasked with finding a head coach while being uncertain of how severe the program's NCAA sanctions could be.

Heupel arrives in Knoxville after amassing a 28–8 record in three seasons as UCF's head coach. He led the program to a 12–1 record and New Year's Six bowl game in his first season in 2018. Before joining the Knights, he gained SEC experience as Missouri's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach from 2016 to '17. Heupel also served as Utah State's assistant head coach and offensive coordinator in 2015 and worked on Bob Stoops's coaching staff at Oklahoma from '06 to '14. During his time with the Sooners, he helped develop Heisman Trophy winners Sam Bradford and Jason White. 

According to Yahoo Sports' Pete Thamel, Heupel is expected to earn an annual salary of $4 million at Tennessee. His buyout is around $3.45 million, and the Vols paid an estimated $2.5 million buyout for White's buyout, giving UCF nearly $6 million to aid its AD and head coach searches.