ESPN and SEC Network host Paul Finebaum wasn’t shy about his thoughts toward Tennessee head coach Josh Heupel coming out of the first week of the season.
During a recent appearance on The Matt Berrie Show, Finebaum and host Matt Berrie quickly discussed their reaction to Tennessee’s dominant win in the first game. Finebaum directed his attention to head coach Josh Heupel and delivered a definitive compliment on the way he has rebuilt the Tennessee program.
“Matt, it’s a cliche, ‘Oh he’s a player’s coach,'” Finebaum said. “I don’t know if I’ve ever seen more of a player’s coach than Josh Heupel. I mean, he just relates to those guys. He’s so unconventional and, you know, a lot of young coaches are still connected to their past but he represents – it’s been 20 years, a little more than 20 years – but he could be like kind of the guy that showed up for college at 40. I mean, he could fit in that locker room as a player as well as the head coach.”
Finebaum’s statement tracks along with what the media has heard throughout Heupel’s time in Knoxville and especially in the lead-up to the 2023 season.
“Josh Heupel, this decade’s Van Wilder,” Berrie responded with a laugh, to which Finebaum agreed.
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Finebaum mentioned Heupel’s connectivity to the locker room as one of the reasons why he is buying stock in Tennessee. Berrie, on the other, pointed at the Vols’ quarterback as a reason to start taking Tennessee seriously.
“Heupel, if he keeps recruiting, and if [Joe] Milton stays anywhere near what he’s capable of, you have got to take Tennessee seriously,” Berrie said. “Because that kid is as athletic as a player and a quarterback that we have in the game.”
No. 9 Tennessee (1-0) and Josh Heupel will host Austin Peay (0-1) this Saturday evening at 5:00 p.m. ET in Knoxville’s Neyland Stadium. The game will be broadcasted on ESPN+.
Check out the full back-and-forth between Matt Berrie and Paul Finebaum on The Matt Berrie Show with the video below.