Tennessee football signed head coach Josh Heupel to a contract extension through the 2028 season that will pay him $9 million annually, plus incentives, the university announced Tuesday afternoon.
“The results over Josh’s first two seasons speak for themselves,” Tennessee director of athletics Danny White said. “He and his staff have energized both our football program and our fanbase with an aggressive brand of football, a competitive culture that creates leaders and a relentless approach to raising the bar every single day. Despite a brief period of dormancy, Tennessee never surrendered its status as a college football powerhouse. We just needed an innovative leader like Josh Heupel to reignite the spark. It’s been fun to crash the party, but as Josh said after our Orange Bowl triumph, the best is yet to come.”
Tennessee signed Heupel to a deal that paid him $4 million annually when they hired him away from Central Florida two years ago before giving him a raise to $5 million annually after his debut season.
Heupel has rejuvenated the Tennessee football program in his two seasons as head coach. Taking over in a cloud of uncertainty with NCAA violations dating to Jeremy Pruitt’s tenure and an abundance of players fleeing the program, Heupel’s led the Vols to a 17-9 (10-6 SEC) record in his two seasons as head coach.
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After an overachieving first season saw the Vols earn moderate success, Heupel’s program took off to another level in his second season. Tennessee went 11-2 (6-2 SEC) with defining wins over SEC foes Florida, Alabama and LSU.
The win over Florida was the program’s first since 2016 and the win over Alabama was the first since 2006. Tennessee’s 10-2 regular season set the stage for the Orange Bowl victory over Clemson and the program’s first 11-win season since 2001.
“I am grateful to President Boyd, Chancellor Plowman, Danny White and of Vol Nation for their tremendous support,” Heupel said. “Our staff takes great pride in representing the Power T, and it’s something we never take for granted. We will continue to work tirelessly to build a championship program that all of Vol Nation and all VFLs can be proud of.
“Most importantly, our players are the people who deserve all of the credit for our resurgence on Rocky Top. Over the last two years, they believed in us and poured their energy into every single day with hard work, leadership, cohesiveness and consistent habits. I am proud to be their coach.”
Despite inheriting a depleted roster, Heupel and his staff have had success by developing previously unproductive players and adding stars in the transfer portal including Hendon Hooker.
With Hooker and Heupel at the helm of Tennessee’s offense, the Vols’ production has exploded. Tennessee ranked first nationally in nearly every offensive statistic in 2022 including points per game. The Vols also broke 13 offensive program records during their resurgent 2022 season.
Heupel and his staff are starting to parlay success on the field to success on the recruiting trail. The Vols signed a top 10 class in the 2023 recruiting cycle and are off to a promising start to the 2024 recruiting cycle.
Tennessee and Heupel will look for even more success in 2023 despite Hooker’s departure to the NFL. The Vols open their season against Virginia in Nashville and also have home matchups against Texas A&M and UTSA in addition to yearly matchups against Florida, Alabama and Georgia.