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OPINION: The University of Tennessee Strikes Out Once Again

ORLANDO, FL - NOVEMBER 02: Head coach Josh Heupel of the UCF Knights is seen during an NCAA football game between the Houston Cougars and the UCF Knights at Spectrum Stadium on November 2, 2019 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Alex Menendez/Getty Images)

ORLANDO, FL – NOVEMBER 02: Head coach Josh Heupel of the UCF Knights is seen during an NCAA football game between the Houston Cougars and the UCF Knights at Spectrum Stadium on November 2, 2019, in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Alex Menendez/Getty Images)

As the coaching search comes to an end, it appears Tennessee AD Danny White has finally found his guy to replace Jeremy Pruitt.

The 27th Head Coach of the Tennessee Football program will be UCF Head Coach Josh Heupel.

For many Vol fans out there, this is not the big-name hire that they were hoping for.

Josh Heupel has been the HC for UCF for 3 seasons and has a record of 28-8.

Heupel started his HC career with a 12-1 record, however, his record has regressed each year, going 10-3 in 2019, and 6-4 in 2020.

Tennessee emphasized that they wanted an offensive-minded coach.

Well, we got that.

Offense

All of Heupel’s offenses in his 3 years at UCF have been ranked in the top 10:

  • 2018 Total Offense: Averaged 43.2 points a game (6th of 130)
  • 2019 Total Offense: Averaged 43.4 points a game (5th of 130)
  • 2020 Total Offense: Averaged 42.7 points a game (8th of 127)

Defense

That’s great, but here is the problem I have. Heupel’s defense has drastically has gotten worse and has not recruited well either during his time at UCF.

  • 2018 Total Defense: Allowed 22.7 points a game (36th of 130)
  • 2019 Total Defense: Allowed 23.0 points a game (42nd of 130)
  • 2020 Total Defense: Allowed 33.2 points a game (92nd of 127)

Recruiting

Another alarming stat is that none of Heupel’s recruiting classes were better than 60th:

  • 2018: National Rank: 62nd (AAC Rank: 2nd)
  • 2019: National Rank: 60th (AAC Rank: 1st)
  • 2020: National Rank: 75th (AAC Rank: 7th)
  • 2021: National Rank: 61st (AAC Rank: 4th)

I know it is not as easy to recruit at UCF as it is recruiting for Tennessee, but even Butch Jones’s Cincinnati recruiting classes were significantly ranked higher than Heupel’s:

  • 2010: National Rank: 56th (Big East Rank: 3rd)
  • 2011: National Rank: 47th (Big East Rank: 1st)
  • 2012: National Rank: 51st (Big East Rank: 1st)

It is important to remember that we are still currently being investigated by the NCAA and are likely to have several scholarships taken away and have a multi-year bowl ban.

But here is what I do not get with this hire, Tennessee hired a search firm a couple of weeks ago to help us find our next coach.

Why did we hire a search firm just for us to hire a Head Coach from the same place as our AD?

What was the point of spending thousands of dollars on a search firm just for Danny White to hire his buddy, Josh Heupel?

This was the most important coaching search in the program’s history.

Tennessee desperately needed a flashy hire, we needed a name that would excite the fanbase.

Hugh Freeze, Lane Kiffin, Jamey Chadwell were all coaches that wanted the job and would inject excitement back into this football program.

But instead, we end up with Josh Heupel.

Will Josh Heupel’s teams be more exciting to watch than Jeremy Pruitt’s?

Absolutely, we will see a high scoring offense.

But can he surround himself with an All-star staff and be able to recruit?

His track record doesn’t look promising at all.

I hope I am wrong and I hope that Josh Heupel will be the man to turn this thing around.

Maybe Josh Heupel will be the next Lincoln Riley.

But Tennessee struck out once again on this coaching search and more than likely will be looking for another Head Coach in 4 years.

 

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