New Tennessee athletic director Danny White didn’t have to look far to land his head football coach. White on Wednesday named Josh Heppel of UCF as the Vols’ next head coach.
White previously hired Huppel when White was UCF athletic director.
“We saw a number of potential candidates,” White said in a statement. “Josh Hoopel, who I had the privilege of working with for three years, is everything we were looking for: a win with integrity, a history of championships and an architect of explosive offenses. He’s a players coach and that kind of The person is there. Student-athletes go for the extra mile. I saw that first hand, and you can see that in your coaching record. “
White announced Thursday as Tennessee’s new AD, working fast to find a replacement for Jeremy Pruitt, who was fired for Jan. 18, following an investigation stating that the university’s Chancellor Donde Plowman called it “a serious violation of NCAA rules”. White cast a wide net through the Parker executive search firm and interviewed a number of candidates, including James Franklin of Penn State, Luke Fickel of Cincinnati, Sunny Dykes of SMU, PJ Fleck of Minnesota, and offensive coordinator Tony Elliott of Clemson, and / or reached.
Sources told ESPN that in the past few days, Elliott had held serious discussions about the job but turned down part of Tennessee and chose to stay at Clemson.
Huppel, 42, has been the head coach of UCF the past three seasons after taking over Scott Frost, who guided UCF to an unbeaten 13–0 record in 2017. Hoopel is 28-8 with the Knights, including their 12–1 record. First season in 2018. He finished the previous season at 6-4. Huppel will pay UCF a $ 3.4 million purchase according to its contract.
“I’m thrilled to come to Tennessee,” Hoopel said in a Tennessee statement. “I understand that Volunteer fans are hungry for a return to the top that they are so rich, and it is my goal and commitment to bring back a championship for Rocky Top.”
UCF has ranked in the top eight nationally and has scored at least 42.2 points per game in its three seasons in Orlando.
A Heisman Trophy runner-up as a quarterback on Oklahoma’s national championship team in 2000, Hoopel has SEC coaching experience. He was Missouri’s offensive coordinator / quarterback coach prior to UCF’s head-coaching job in 2016-17. Heppel was also the co-offensive coordinator / quarterback coach under Bob Stopes in Oklahoma for four seasons, but was fired after the 2014 season, when the Sunnis won 8-5.
Huppel will be the sixth different head coach to go to Philip Fulmer, who was fired at the end of the 2008 season. Fulmer retired the same day as athletic director in Tennessee, announcing that it was taking Pruitt out for the cause.