Josh Heupel Compares the Differences Between Tennessee and UCF

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    Heupel Tennessee UCF

    Tennessee HC Josh Heupel at SEC Media Days in Birmingham, AL on July 20, 2021.

    When Josh Heupel accepted the Tennessee Football head coach role in 2021, Heupel knew that it would be completely different from his start at UCF. How could it not be? Tennessee finished the year 3-7 in 2020. Whereas in 2018, Heupel took over a UCF team that just finished going 13-0 under Scott Frost.

    “I think every job is different,” Coach Heupel stated at SEC Media Days 2021. “The players are different, but the recruiting landscape is different. The conference is different, as is the city that you reside in.”

    To say every job is different may just be an understatement. However, in Heupel’s case, there are almost no similarities between the team’s previous years.

    “Everything is so different,” Heupel continued on to say. “You look at the differences in wins and losses over the two programs that I took over. And, I think the other major difference in taking this program over is when we took it over. You know, I got there in January, our staff was there in the middle of February. You condensed seven months of work into five months of work really quickly by the time you get to June in recruiting.”

    University of Tennessee head coach Josh Heupel speaks to the media during the 2021 SEC Football Kickoff Media Days on July 20, 2021 at the Wynfrey Hotel, Hoover, Alabama. (Jimmie Mitchell/SEC)

    When Heupel took the Tennessee job, former UCF Director of Athletics Danny White had just accepted the same role at Tennessee. Heupel and White, during their time at UCF, were successful. Although, the definition of success to some may be somewhat fluid.

    Heupel spent three years at UCF. In his first year with the Knights, Heupel went 12-1. Then, his next year in 2019, UCF finished 10-3. In his final year at UCF in 2020, Heupel went just 6-4.

    However, Heupel’s experiences at other places, including a smaller football school like UCF, should create a very intelligent locker room at Tennessee.

    “Our staff worked really hard,” Heupel said. “I think we’ve pushed forward in creating real relationships with our players that are going to pay dividends this season. But also, as we move forward, it’s allowed us to be real on and off the field.”

    Josh Heupel’s comparison between Tennessee and UCF is ultimately just a launch point to where the Tennessee program could rise to with consistent leadership.

    Ric Butler is a Knoxville based sports media personality who has covered University of Tennessee athletics since 2017. Most recently, he served as the lead writer for the website of a local radio station. Ric also helped create and host a daily radio show called “The Blitz." Ric’s passion for sports, smooth vocal, and infectious personality have made him popular with both his peers and Vol Nation. Originally from Dallas, Ric didn’t grow up riding horses to school. But he did dream of the big city lights. When not chasing down the latest Tennessee story, Ric can be found watching the WWE, often attempting their moves in an embarrassing fashion.