Danny White's been on the job as University of Tennessee athletics director for less than a week, but he's also made the move that likely will define White's tenure on Rocky Top.
And, as White told UT athletics department employees Wednesday morning in a department-wide email, White is there in charge to help as “we boldly lead this athletic department into the future.”
“It’s been a whirlwind several days,” White said in the email, “but I am energized and enthused to share with you the extraordinary news that I have reached an agreement with Josh Heupel to become our next head football coach.
“The official announcement will be made shortly, and we will welcome coach Heupel, his wife, Dawn, and their children, Hannah and Jace to Rocky Top during a live streamed press conference today at noon.”
Tennessee's will stream the introductory presser on its utsports.com home page.
Heupel was White's signature hire during White tenure atop the UCF athletics program; he snagged Heupel away from his post as Missouri's offensive coordinator after Scott Frost left UCF for Nebraska following the 2017 campaign.
Added White in the internal memo, "Let’s do all we can to help coach Heupel and his staff make a smooth transition to Knoxville in the days to come. I will be spending the coming weeks familiarizing myself with our department, and I can’t wait to meet all you. Thank you for everything you do on behalf of our amazing student-athletes. Go Vols!"
After the Vols, per sources with direct knowledge, “hit a wall” in their search midday Tuesday, White pivoted to secure Heupel, who won 28 games in three seasons at UCF.
Per sources involved in the search process on Rocky Top, Tennessee had discussed a minimum five-year guaranteed term for its next head coach to replace the fired Jeremy Pruitt, who was dismissed by the University of Tennessee with cause January 18.
Due to the specter of looming NCAA sanctions, both for Pruitt & Co. on an individual basis and also for the university's football program itself, Tennessee found itself with a vastly minimized candidate pool in this brief search. Multiple sitting head coaches, at both the Power-5 and Group of Five levels, declined to take calls or explore the Vols' opening.
Two different college football coaches texted FootballScoop Wednesday morning to note that, “The UCF job will get a lot of good candidates. That's a better job right now than Tennessee.”
Added another coach, “I know five or six guys who will go after that UCF job. It's a good job; you can win there.”