FILE - In this Dec. 5, 2017, file photo, Josh Heupel, right, is introduced as the new Central Florida head football coach by Danny White, UCF Athletic director, in Orlando, Fla. 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. Tennessee hired Danny White away from UCF as its athletic director last Thursday, and his first job was finding a new football coach to replace Jeremy Pruitt, who was fired Jan. 18.(Red Huber/Orlando Sentinel via AP, File)

UCF searches for new AD and head football coach

On Wednesday, Tennessee announced the hire of UCF’s Josh Heupel to be the football team’s next head coach. Heupel followed Athletic Director Danny White who was also hired from UCF last week.

Why White left?

UCF’s radio play-by-play announcer Marc Daniels sat down with Steve Russell to discuss UCF’s current position and where they go from here. Daniels starts off by saying he believes White was not looking to leave UCF and he was happy. In addition, White was the highest-paid Group of Five athletic director and built a strong program at UCF.

Prior to UCF, White was the AD at the University of Buffalo and held other positions at the University of Mississippi, Fresno State, Ohio University and Northern Illinois. His success helped provide UCF with national media attention towards their athletics programs and other areas of the school. Daniels noted that sometimes things “just align.”

Poaching Heupel

As soon as White was hired to Tennessee, the connection he had to Heupel was clear and present in that the Volunteers also needed a new head football coach. Still, Daniels believes Heupel was not White’s first choice. Instead, White had other candidates but denied the job because they were either not ready or they were uncertain about the program and the looming NCAA investigation.

Who will be the new hires?

UCF finds themselves in a very interesting position having to find a new athletic director and head coach. Daniels identifies Deputy AD Scott Carr as a potential replacement to White. He says this because Carr was the number two when it came to decision making and strategic communication. However, Daniels says a flaw in Carr is his lack of experience in hiring coaches.

When it comes to replacing Heupel, this could be a tough task for the school. One name that is particularly popular among UCF fans and in the UCF community is Jeff Lebby. Lebby was the quarterback coach for the Knights and helped guide McKenzie Milton to his best season. In addition, he was a big part of the recruitment and early development of Dillion Gabriel. Lebby is now the offensive coordinator at Ole Miss as a part of Lane Kiffin’s high-powered offense.

Daniels identified several other candidates that could fill the head coaching role from young assistants to established veterans. Regardless of who takes the jobs, Daniels says the appeal of them is no shortage due to the success of White and Heupel.

“There’s never going to be a shortage of candidates for this job in a way to complement Danny White and Josh Heupel,” Daniels said. “UCF has never been in the position that so many talented people want both jobs and it’s because the program has been successful.”

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