The Tennessee Volunteers have been a shambles for several seasons, and the NCAA is hot on their tales anyway. But they’ve picked a direction, and that’s by former UCF athletic director Danny White hiring UCF head coach Josh Heupel to get things turned around in Knoxville.
Heupel was 28-8 in three years in Orlando, losing just the Fiesta Bowl in his first season of 2018. Since then the Knights failed to win a conference championship, and a 6-4 campaign in 2020 with the talented Dillon Gabriel at quarterback left many fans frustrated. But those are all Tennessee’s problems now, as the buyouts heading to Orlando for both White and Heupel combines for about $6 million for a program that needs cash.
Tennessee is under NCAA investigation for Level I violations, and head coach Jeremy Pruitt was fired for cause last week. The school hired White only five days ago, and he moved quickly to fill the position with someone with whom he was familiar.
This is a very unusual situation, as most sitting athletic directors don’t take their head coach with them to the new school. UCF will need to hire an AD quickly, and the second National Signing Day of this recruiting cycle is just one week away, which might be thrown into chaos now. Both teams need help in the transfer portal, and while Rocky Top will have a leader, the Knights are left holding the bag.
If he chooses to stay in Orlando, defensive coordinator Randy Shannon would seem to be an obvious choice to at least be the interim coach for the Knights.