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Josh Heupel: 8 things to know about Tennessee’s new coach

Published: Jan. 27, 2021 at 11:23 PM EST
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - It depends who you ask, but most fans were - at least somewhat - surprised Tuesday evening when news broke that UCF’s Josh Heupel was Danny White’s front runner to take over as Tennessee’s next head football coach.

Who exactly is the new guy on campus? Here are eight things to know about Josh Heupel:

1. SECOND UT COACH BORN IN SOUTH DAKOTA

Heupel and Doug Dickey are the only two UT head coaches from the Mount Rushmore State. Heupel hails from Aberdeen, while Dickey was born four hours south in Vermillion.

2. SON OF A COACH

Heupel’s father Ken was a head football coach at Northern State University, a Division II school in South Dakota. According to an interview Heupel gave to Sports Illustrated in 2000, he used to watch game film with his father.

3. WON THE BCS NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP AT OKLAHOMA AS A PLAYER

Heupel started his playing career at FCS Weber State before transferring to nearby Snow College. From there, Heupel chose to finish his playing days in Norman with Bob Stoops. Heupel was a starter and team captain his senior season, leading the Sooners to a BCS National Championship by beating Bobby Bowden’s Florida State Seminoles 13-2 in the Orange Bowl.

4. HEUPEL FINISHED SECOND IN HEISMAN VOTING IN 2000

Current Tennessee quarterbacks coach Chris Weinke took home the hardware for his 33 touchdown season, but Heupel finished a close second in Heisman voting. The senior signal caller threw for 305 completions in 472 attempts (64.62%), 3606 yards, 20 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. Heupel finished ahead of Purdue’s Drew Brees, TCU’s LaDainian Tomlinson, Virginia Tech’s Michael Vick, Miami’s Santana Moss, and Auburn’s Rudi Johnson.

5. HEUPEL STILL SITS ATOP SOME STATISTICAL CATEGORIES AT OKLAHOMA

Despite transferring to Norman for his final two years of college, Heupel is still listed in the top three in Oklahoma history for passing yards, completions, and touchdown passes.

6. HEUPEL COACHED TWO HEISMAN TROPHY-WINNING QUARTERBACKS AT OKLAHOMA

The now 42-year old was a graduate assistant when Jason White (2003) was on campus. Heupel was the quarterbacks coach when Sam Bradford took home the award in 2008.

7. HEUPEL CALLED PLAYS OPPOSITE BUTCH JONES IN HIS LAST GAME AT TENNESSEE

Heupel was let go from his position at Oklahoma before landing in Columbia. He served as the offensive coordinator for Barry Odom’s Missouri Tigers in 2016 and 2017. Missouri beat Tennessee 50-17 in November 2017 - Butch Jones’ last game as the head coach of the Vols.

8. DANNY WHITE GAVE HEUPEL HIS FIRST HEAD COACHING GIG

Heupel came to UCF after serving as the OC and quarterbacks coach with Missouri from 2016-2017. Before he took over the offense, Missouri ranked 124th in the nation in total offense. In 2016, the Tigers led the SEC and were ranked No. 13 in the nation, averaging 500.5 yards per game. In 2017, Mizzou ranked No. 7 in the nation in total offense and 10th in scoring at 39.3 points per game.

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