The University of Tennessee announced its new football coach Wednesday — in another poaching from the University of Central Florida.
Josh Heupel was hired by his former boss Danny White, who was announced as UT’s new athletic director last week. The sudden shifts in the department come after the recent firing of Coach Jeremy Pruitt and nine others from the football program for violating NCAA recruiting rules.
Since December, more than a dozen Vols have entered the transfer portal, but Heupel had a message for those players in his first public address as coach.
“At the end of a day, a family to me is defined — when push comes to shove — that family stays together,” he said. “Let’s stay a family.”
Heupel says he will not recruit players from his former team, though he isn’t ruling out more staff from Central Florida.
Heupul inherits a program vastly different than when he took over at UCF following an undefeated 13-0 season. Tennessee already had its issues before the staff changes, and many fans lamented the news on social media. Many pointed out that UCF’s record got progressively worse under Heupel’s leadership and that things have been tense with his players.
Welcome to Rocky Top, @coachjoshheupel!
— Tennessee Football (@Vol_Football) January 27, 2021
Before his time at UCF, Heupel was an Oklahoma quarterback who led his team to the national title, then a coach at his alma mater, rising to co-offensive coordinator. During his time there, Oklahoma won several conference championships.