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Josh Heupel, Tennessee Agree to Contract Extension, $1M Per Year Raise

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 16, 2022

Josh Heupel (Jeffrey Vest/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The University of Tennessee and head football coach Josh Heupel reached an agreement in July on a one-year contract extension through January 2028 that includes a $1 million raise.

UT officials confirmed details of the updated contract, which includes a $5 million base salary, to ESPN's Chris Low on Friday. Word of the deal comes after the Volunteers opened the 2022 campaign 2-0 with wins over Ball State and 17th-ranked Pittsburgh.

Adam Sparks of the Knoxville News Sentinel reported that Heupel signed the extension paperwork July 24, but it didn't become public until Friday.

Tennessee hired Heupel in January 2021. It marked his second head coaching job after he spent the previous three years at UCF.

The former Heisman Trophy finalist—he finished second in the voting in 2000 as a quarterback for Oklahoma—compiled a 7-6 record, including a 4-4 mark in SEC, during his first season with the Vols.

Heupel went 28-8 with the Knights, including the 2018 season when UCF finished No. 11 in the final Associated Press poll after a 12-1 campaign.

The 44-year-old South Dakota native inherited a Volunteers program that recorded three losing seasons over the four years before his arrival.

UT has showcased steady progress under his guidance, and the 2-0 record this season is joined by a promising start to next year's recruiting class, which ranks 11th in the country, according to 247Sports' rankings.

The Vols jumped to No. 15 in the AP poll following last week's victory over Pitt.

"Man, it's a big win for our football team in just, to me, the steps that we took and the ability to compete as hard and as long as we possibly can," Heupel told reporters after the 34-27 overtime thriller.

Tennessee is a heavy favorite at home Saturday against Akron, which is coming off a 52-0 loss to Michigan State, but several major tests of the Volunteers' progress await.

Their group of opponents between now and early November includes No. 1 Georgia, No. 2 Alabama, No. 9 Kentucky and No. 18 Florida. That's life in the SEC in a nutshell.

The Vols are trending in the right direction, but that stretch will illustrate how much work remains to find themselves among the elite once again. UT last won a national title in 1998.

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