After Lincoln Riley shocked the college football world last week by leaving Oklahoma for Southern California, Tennessee fans' attention shifted to the thought of Josh Heupel potentially leaving for his alma mater, where he won a national championship as a quarterback, then served as a coach under Bob Stoops.
Last week, Heupel came out and addressed any speculation at the time.
"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 during a radio appearance on 99.1 The Sports Animal in Knoxville. "Just for myself and my family, we absolutely love Knoxville, and we came to Tennessee because of the power of the T. Believed in the power of the fan base and the opportunity to build something extremely special. It is a program that is top-ten in the history of college football in wins, first-round draft picks and have been through some uncertainty in recent times, but we love being in Knoxville. That is home for us. Love being in the building with our staff, and I know I feel stronger today than ten months ago when I first took the job about what we are going to be able to do and how quickly we are going to be able to get there. I know we are building a championship-caliber football team and program, and I am excited to continue on that venture with our current players and staff."
Now, Tennessee fans can breathe easy as it appears Oklahoma has settled on their next head coach in Brent Venables.
The Sooners administration is reportedly on their way to Clemson to finalize the deal with the elite defensive coordinator.
A source close to the Oklahoma program told Volunteer Country earlier in the week that Venables was the guy from the start, but the plan was to give him time to get his staff in place, which involves making a strong push for Ole Miss offensive Coordinator Jeff Lebby and Troy defensive coordinator Brandon Hall. All three have previous experience at Oklahoma, including time as a player.
Sources have indicated that Heupel was never going to be a serious candidate at Oklahoma due to the severely strained relationship between the two parties related to Heupel being fired by Bob Stoops and Joe Castligone several years back. Still, the fact there were concerns from the Big Orange Faithful shows just how successful Heupel was in year one.
Tennessee now awaits their bowl destination, which will be announced later this afternoon.