Stability has been hard to come by within the Tennessee football program. It seems that the Vols have finally found their answer: Josh Heupel and Danny White.
The duo from UCF has brought a calm to Knoxville that hasn’t been felt in over a decade.
Growing up in Knoxville, Tennessee football tight end Jacob Warren has watched the disarray that has occurred within the Vols’ football program.
“It seems like it’s become the norm, for a coach to kind of do his time, a couple of years, and then it seems like people are calling for him to get out if he’s not quite good,” Warren told Off The Hook Sports.
Tennessee’s raises for both White and Heupel solidify that the university likes the current trajectory and hopes to have consistency in the future.
“The fact that that the university and that our athletic department and everyone, even coach Heupel, is willing to make that deal and lock them in for that, that amount of time,” Warren said. “It just shows kind of who he is and what he means to this program and kind of just the support that he has from everybody.”
White makes sure he doesn’t seem like he is above the athletes at Tennessee, of any sport. Warren said you can often find White eating with the players in the athletics buildings or walking with them in the hallways.
“He’s just very personable,” Warren said. “Obviously travels with us to some of some games and just always super supportive and always wants to make sure that he emphasizes that he’s around and that he’s available and that he cares about us.
“I think that obviously kind of shows how everybody’s doing right, how all the programs are succeeding.”
Tennessee currently has three sports within the top 10, football, basketball and baseball.
Tennessee football in particular has come a long way since the days of Dereck Dooley, Butch Jones, and Jeremy Pruitt. The stability of the Vols’ football program has put them back on the national stage.
Heupel’s raise to $9 million includes a clause that makes it very tough for him to leave. In an age where college coaches, like Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh, entertain NFL offers, Heupel’s contract shows that he is in Knoxville for the long run.
Warren, who has seen Tennessee’s previous dysfunction firsthand, is relieved at the sight of continuity within the program.
“He truly does care and he wants to be here and he’s choosing actively choosing to be here,” Warren said. “Also saying: ‘you know it’s going to be very hard for me to to be enticed to leave,’ and so yeah, obviously, that that reassures us.”
Any rumors swirling about Heupel planning to leave Tennessee football for the NFL can be put to bed, Warren said.
“Any speculation that you may see on the internet about job offers or when I heard he was leaning towards doing this,” Warren said. “Obviously that stuff’s all over social media, and so now it’s easier for us to just be like, whatever you read that take it with a grain of salt and just kind of move on because we know that he’s committed and he shows that. Then, obviously, the deal that he signs.”