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Josh Heupel


Tennessee head football coach Josh Heupel throws an orange in the air after the Orange Bowl game between the Tennessee Vols and Clemson Tigers at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla. on Friday, Dec. 30, 2022. Tennessee defeated Clemson 31-14.

Josh Heupel is entering his third year as Tennessee football’s head coach in 2023.

The former national champion and Heisman runner-up at Oklahoma in 2000 is quickly rising in the ranks of the most brilliant offensive minds in the game. The Vols’ offense could be best described as hapless before Heupel arrived in 2021, but now it is one of the best in the sport, if not the best.

His backstory goes so much deeper than that, though. Heupel began his college journey at Weber State in Ogden, Utah. He ended up transferring to Snow College in Ephraim, Utah, and was given a scholarship offer to Utah State, but decided to play for Bob Stoops and Mike Leach at Oklahoma instead. From there, Heupel had a brief stint in the NFL before entering the coaching world.

His first gig was at Oklahoma as a graduate assistant. He made a brief stop at Arizona before returning to Norman in various roles until 2014, when Utah State hired Heupel as its offensive coordinator. Missouri offered the same position the following year and Heupel accepted, staying with the Tigers for 2 seasons.

That’s when his head coaching career began. Heupel took over for Scott Frost at UCF in 2018 and remained the Knights’ head coach for 3 years until he ended up at Tennessee. And Heupel has already shown that he is capable of so much more than just being an offensive mastermind.

It’s already been noted that the Vols were dreadful offensively before Heupel arrived, putting up some of the worst numbers in the SEC in 2020 before Jeremy Pruitt was fired. When the 2021 spring game came around and Heupel showed off his uptempo spread offense, people in Knoxville were elated. It was apparent quickly that either Tennessee would drastically improve offensively or at least be fun to watch as a nice change of pace. As it turned out, both could be true.

Heupel’s first season doesn’t look incredible on paper, but was a sight for sore eyes in East Tennessee. Tennessee finished 7-6 with a controversial bowl loss to Purdue and was a QB change away from a win at Pitt. Really, Heupel’s only major blunder in Year 1 was opting for Joe Milton III over Hendon Hooker to start the year. The defense needed some work, too. But all in all, the seeds for a successful football team in Knoxville had been planted.

Perhaps Heupel’s best season (so far) as a head coach came in 2022. With Hendon Hooker under center, Heupel’s offensive system flourished. Tennessee broke several offensive records on the way to a 11-2 finish, Tennessee’s best since 2007. Heupel and offensive coordinator Alex Golesh’s offense was firing on all cylinders, but Tennessee was better than average on defense as well.

Every offense Heupel touches turns to gold. Missouri and Drew Lock played well with Heupel as OC, UCF was one of the most exciting smaller schools in the country and Tennessee has been a top 5 offense in the sport since his arrival in 2021.

And he’s just getting started.

Josh Heupel’s Coaching Experience

Head Coaching Record

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