Tennessee head coach Josh Heupel’s name has been thrown around in regards to the Oklahoma job opening in the last few days. However, without the usual routine of his Monday press conference, there hasn’t really been an update from Heupel himself… until now.
On Tuesday morning, Vols head coach Josh Heupel was a guest on 99.1 The Sports Animal and spoke directly about the job at Oklahoma.
“As you build a successful program with your staff and players, certainly, your name has an opportunity to come up for different openings,” Heupel said on The Erik Ainge Show when asked what was going on with the Oklahoma job. “For myself and my family, we absolutely love Knoxville. We came to Tennessee because of the power of the T. Believed in the power of the fanbase, and the opportunity to build something extremely special. It’s a program that is top ten in the history of college football in wins, first-round draft picks. Had been through some uncertainty in recent times, but we love being in Knoxville. That’s home for us. I love being in the building with our staff and our players. I know and feel stronger today than I did ten months ago when I took the job, about what we’re going to be able to do and how quickly we’re going to be able to get there. I know we are building a championship-caliber team and program, and excited to continue on that venture with our current players and staff.”
The conductor of the interview and host of the show, Erik Ainge, followed up by asking Heupel about his direct plans for next season.
“So what I heard you say is that you’re staying at Tennessee and coaching football, yeah? For this year, for now?”
“Yeah, we absolutely love Tennessee and believe in what we are going to be building here,” Heupel responded. “Can’t be happier and more excited about what we’re going to be able to do next year and in the coming years.”
Judging from his comments on Tuesday morning, it does sound like Tennessee head coach Josh Heupel is planning on continuing to coach Tennessee, regardless of the Oklahoma coaching search. That being said, though, college football is a crazy world filled with crazy events. On the night before Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley left for USC, Riley doubled down on his position as the Oklahoma head coach, saying that he would not be going to LSU.
Following the interview, Ainge gave some extra information in regards to Heupel’s motivation behind doing the radio spot.
“He wanted to do the interview,” Ainge said on Twitter while referring to Heupel. “I don’t ever ask for people. Not my thing. He wanted to calm nerves. But I get your point. Important to know that he wanted to do it. I didn’t ask.”
Even before Heupel made these comments on The Erik Ainge show Tuesday, though, the feeling around town was that Heupel didn’t have any plans to bolt to Norman. Throughout the season, Heupel has gained the support, trust, and respect of the Tennessee fanbase, who is continually showering him in praise.
In his inaugural season as the head coach of Tennessee, Heupel led the Vols to a 7-5 regular-season record. The Vols will also be participating in a bowl game this postseason for only the second time in five years.