Report: Tennessee Hiring UCF's Josh Heupel as HC; Contract Details Unknown

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistJanuary 27, 2021

Central Florida head coach Josh Heupel watches play against Cincinnati during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
John Raoux/Associated Press

The University of Tennessee is reportedly set to announce Josh Heupel as its new head football coach.

ESPN's Chris Low reported Wednesday new Volunteers athletic director Danny White, who was hired last week, selected Heupel after they spent the last three years together at UCF. Contract details weren't immediately released.

White worked with the Parker Search Firm to quickly sort through several candidates, led by Penn State's James Franklin, Cincinnati's Luke Fickell, SMU's Sonny Dykes, Minnesota's P.J. Fleck and Clemson's Tony Elliott, per Low.

Heupel will replace Jeremy Pruitt, who was fired for cause after an investigation revealed evidence of multiple Level I and Level II NCAA recruiting rules violations, which also led to the dismissal of assistant coaches Brian Niedermeyer and Shelton Felton as well as seven recruiting staffers.

"Your failure to promote and maintain an atmosphere of compliance and to monitor the activities of the coaches and staff members that report, directly or indirectly, to you has led to the current NCAA investigation and is bringing and will likely continue to bring the University into considerable public disrepute, embarrassment, contempt, scandal, and/or ridicule," the school said in a letter to Pruitt.

Heupel was hired by White as UCF's head coach in 2018. He guided the Knights to a 28-8 record across three seasons, including a 12-1 mark in his debut season that saw the team reach No. 7 in the AP poll.

The 42-year-old South Dakota native was an assistant at Oklahoma, Arizona, Utah State and Missouri before getting his first chance to become a head coach at UCF.

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During his playing days, he finished second to Chris Weinke in voting for the 2000 Heisman Trophy while throwing 20 touchdowns and rushing for seven more as a member of the Sooners.

Meanwhile, Tennessee is coming off a 3-7 season during the third and final year of Pruitt's tenure.

The Vols haven't reached double-digit wins since 2007 and last won a national championship in 1998.