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Fences mending doesn’t mean Vols coach Josh Heupel would leave Tennessee

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There seems to discussion brewing as explosive as fireworks, well, on the Fourth of July. To no one’s surprise, the conversation revolves around Tennessee football. After all, the most popular sport in the south has no calendar bounds when it comes to taking over a family get together.

The latest discussion has to do with Tennessee coach Josh Heupel and the concern by some UT fans that just won’t go away, that the Vols’ most beloved, adopted son might bolt one day just like Lane Kiffin did. Well, let’s lay that all to rest. While no one should completely trust any high-profile coach, nor most rich people in general, there is absolutely zero reason to think that Heupel might head home to Oklahoma, where he was a standout quarterback. Still have doubts? Here are two reasons in financial form:

$51.6-million

That’s what Oklahoma would owe head coach Brent Venables if they fired him without cause today. Yes, that’s an obscene number. No, Oklahoma shouldn’t have signed him to such a one-sided contract. No matter. That’s good for Tennessee if Venables is ultimately successful or not. At least he’s tied to Oklahoma for the foreseeable future. More importantly, Oklahoma is tied to him for the majority of the decade. Eeesh. Have fun with all that.

$9-million

That’s what Heupel is making per season, which is also obscene. Heupel is one of the top paid coaches in the country and doesn’t have even a major conference championship on his resume yet. His only conference title in six years as a head coach is the American Athletic Conference (AAC) championship his first year with the UCF Knights, when he took over a team that went undefeated the year before under Scott Frost. It’s safe to say that’s not a major conference title.

Ah, well, the money isn’t mine. Moreover, it keeps Heupel at Tennessee that much longer, which is good for anyone covering or following the Vols. For some reference, Georgia head coach Kirby Smart is the highest paid coach in the country at $13-million. He also has two national titles to his credit.

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In case you wondering, the whole conversation about Heupel potentially returning to coach one day came from a conversation had between ESPN’s Paul Finebaum and Berry Tramel, who has covered Oklahoma for 46 years and worked for the Tulsa World since 1991. So, suffice to say, he knows Oklahoma.

Tramel also surely knows how Heupel was cast aside in 2014 when head coach Bob Stoops was on the hot seat and decided to discard Heupel as opposed to firing his own brother, then defensive coordinator Mike Stoops. That had to hurt. 

That’s why it was certainly newsworthy when Tramel said publicly that “fences are mending” between the Sooners and Heupel and there could even be some recognition of his time as a player there in the works. I’m glad Heupel is getting recognized, but every Tennessee fan worth his orange-colored glasses should hope Heupel loathes Oklahoma with all of his being for the rest of his life, considering he does have such strong ties there. Nothing personal. Just business.

For those that don’t want to cheer for hate, how about just cheering for Venables? If he has success at Oklahoma, which is still very questionable, the Sooners will never go looking for another coach, even though it looks like they let the best one slip away. Oklahoma can honor Heupel as a player. Tennessee would like to keep the coaching part to itself.

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