FILE - Central Florida head coach Josh Heupel watches warmups before an NCAA college football game against Tulsa in Orlando, Fla., in this Saturday, Oct. 3, 2020, file photo. Josh Heupel is leaving UCF to become the next Tennessee coach, a person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press on Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack, File)

Josh Heupel Hired As Tennessee’s Head Coach

Tennessee athletic director, Danny White, has just named UCF’s Josh Heupel as the Vols’ next head coach. White mentioned Heupel as his top candidate based on his history of winning titles and being an innovator for football.

Josh Heupel as Head Coach

The decision comes after Tennessee fired Jeremy Pruitt for cause on Jan. 18 amid an investigation into alleged recruiting violations. Tennessee lost seven of its last eight games to finish the 2020 season with a 3-7 record. In total, Pruitt finished his three-year tenure with a 16-19 (10-16 SEC) mark. Tennessee’s last 10-win season came with Phillip Fulmer as head coach in 2007, which was the last year the Vols won the SEC East.

White then hired Heupel at UCF to replace Frost. Heupel, 42, led the Knights to a 28-8 record in three seasons. UCF finished fifth nationally in total offense in 2018, second in 2019 and second in 2020.

“To the current members of this football program on this roster, we need to be a family, we need to act like a family,” Heupel said. “Everyone has a different perspective based on their background of what a family is. When you sit in front of your team and there’s 100 guys in front of you, everyone has a little different perspective. But at the end of the day, a family is defined – when push comes so shove – that family stays together.”

Additionally, Tennessee’s leading rusher Erik Gray and leading tackler Henry To’o To’o have entered the transfer portal; they are among several players who have either already transferred or indicated their intentions to transfer by entering the portal.

A New Future for Tennessee

Alabama, Florida and Georgia are common annual opponents on the Vols’ schedule. Also in contention with Kentucky who has found steady success under Mark Stoops and a Missouri team that showed promise in 2020 under first-year coach Elijah Drinkwitz. The Vols aren’t the only program in the SEC East rebooting in 2021 as Vanderbilt’s Clark Lea and South Carolina’s Shane Beamer are also entering the division as first-time head coaches.

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