New Tennessee athletic director Danny White hired his former employee at UCF, Josh Heupel, to be the Vols’ 27th head football coach this week. Heupel was introduced to the media and fans on Wednesday afternoon inside of Neyland Stadium.
According to Tennessee, Heupel’s contract will run through Jan. 31, 2027 and he will make $4 million annually to start out. His contract will run through Jan. 31, 2028 if Tennessee receives a postseason ban or reduction in scholarships of eight or more.
Tennessee will have to pay the entirety of Heupel’s remaining salary if he is fired before Dec. 15, 2023. The Vols will then owe just 75% of his salary if he is let go before Dec. 15, 2025. It drops to 50% after that date.
Heupel would owe $8 million if he chooses to leave on his own before Dec. 15, 2022. It drops to $6 million until Dec. 15, 2023, and then $4 million on Dec. 15, 2024, before dropping to just a million each year after that.
Heupel was 28-8 in three seasons as UCF’s head coach. He went 12-1 in the first season after Scott Frost left for Nebraska in 2018, guiding the Knights to a Fiesta Bowl appearance against LSU. Heupel followed up his debut season in Orlando by going 10-3 in year two, ending 2019 with a bowl game win. This past season, UCF went 6-4 and lost in the Boca Raton Bowl.
The 42-year old was a star quarterback at Oklahoma, where he led the Sooners to a National Championship after transferring from Weber State. Heupel was the Heisman Trophy runner-up in 2000. He was also an All-American, the AP Player of the Year, and a Walter Camp Award winner. Heupel led the Sooners to an undefeated season and a national championship with a victory over Florida State in the 2001 Orange Bowl.
Heupel was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the sixth round of the 2001 NFL Draft but retired after dealing with shoulder tendinitis in his throwing arm. He returned to Oklahoma following his playing career, where he served as a graduate assistant under Bob Stoops. Heupel was an assistant under Stoops at Oklahoma from 2006-2014 after serving as Arizona’s tight ends coach in 2005.
Following his time as offensive coordinator at Oklahoma, where he was fired after the 2014 season, Heupel made his way to Utah State, where he served as assistant head coach, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach during the 2015 season. He then made his way to Missouri to serve under Barry Odom as offensive coordinator in 2016 and 2017, which got him the job at UCF.
White was hired by Tennessee last Thursday after Phillip Fulmer retired in the wake of Jeremy Pruitt being fired for cause under his watch.