The University of Tennessee has found its next head football coach and many fans seem to be disappointed.
Former UCF coach Josh Heupel was announced as the Vols' 27th head football coach in program history, the athletics department announced in a news release on its official website Wednesday (January 27.)
On Tuesday, hours before the hiring was officially announced, reports indicated that Heupel was the leading candidate to be hired by Vice Chancellor/Director of Athletics Danny White, who had been hired by the university the previous week after having also previously worked at UCF, where he hired Heupel as the Knights' head coach in 2018.
Numerous Vols fans expressed their disappointment over the coaching hire, having convinced themselves that several other candidates, including former Tennessee and current Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin were realistic options.
Several critics pointed out that Heupel's record at UCF was worse during each year after inheriting a 13-0 team from predecessor Scott Frost. Heupel went 12-1 (8-0 AAC) during his first season with the Knights, which included winning an AAC Conference title, before going 10-3 (6-2) in 2019 and 6-4 (5-3) in 2020.
Here are some of the responses Tennessee fans shared on Twitter Wednesday morning:
Former head coach Jeremy Pruitt, assistant coaches Brian Niedermeyer and Shelton Felton, and several other staff members were fired following an investigation into alleged NCAA violations committed by the football program during his tenure.
During Tuesday's (January 19) broadcast of 'The Dan Patrick Show,' host Dan Patrick said SEC sources indicated that the Tennessee coaching staff "put money into McDonald's bags and gave them to the recruits when they came on campus."
Last month, Tennessee's compliance department launched an investigation into improper recruiting practices within its football program, ESPN reports. Compliance department officials reportedly interviewed current players, recruits, assistant coaches, student volunteers and other members of the athletic department in relation to the accusations facing the football program, with interviews beginning in November.
Sources told ESPN that they weren't sure whether NCAA officials had interviewed student-athletes and coaches or whether information regarding possible violations was turned over to the NCAA at the time of the report.
Former Tennessee linebacker and veteran assistant coach Kevin Steele, who was hired as a defensive assistant earlier this month, was named acting head coach in Pruitt's absence.
Photo: Getty Images