Jacksonville Sports Day

Missouri OC Josh Heupel Becomes UCF’s 11th Head Football Coach

ORLANDO – Josh Heupel is the 11th head coach in the history of UCF Football. UCF Vice President and Director of Athletics Dr. Daniel J. White announced the hire Tuesday morning.

“I’m extremely excited about the opportunity to represent UCF. What makes this opportunity so unique is the vision of the leadership from President John Hitt, Provost Dale Whitaker and Director of Athletics Danny White,” Heupel said. “Their vision for this becoming one of the premier programs in the country makes this an exciting opportunity. That vision, the amazing campus, along with the recruiting base not only allows you to have immediate success but sustained success. I’m very excited to get a staff together and get to work with our wonderful student-athletes.”

Heupel comes to UCF after serving as offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach at Missouri for the past two seasons.

In 2015, prior to Heupel’s arrival, Missouri ranked 124th in the nation in total offense (280.9). In 2016, the Tigers led the Southeastern Conference and were ranked No. 13 in the nation, averaging 500.5 yards per game. In 2017, Mizzou is currently ranked No. 7 in the nation in total offense, averaging 511.5 yards per game. The Tigers are currently No. 10 in the nation in scoring at 39.3 points per game.

Missouri quarterback Drew Lock blossomed under Heupel’s tutelage. Lock led the SEC in passing as a sophomore, throwing for 3,399 yards and 23 touchdowns. He followed that up with an even stronger junior campaign in 2017, passing for 3,695 yards and an SEC-record 43 touchdown tosses, with a bowl game left to play.

Heupel served as assistant head coach/offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach at Utah State in 2015. Despite the loss of their starting quarterback to injury, Heupel’s unit improved from 81st nationally to 60th in scoring offense.

“I’m thrilled to welcome Josh and his family to UCF. I believe we’ve identified one of the brightest offensive minds in college football. His offensive system is very similar to what we’ve been running,” White added. “I know he’s going to utilize all the great talent on our roster and continue to add to it. He’s no stranger to success, winning a national championship as a quarterback and leading a number of extremely high-powered offensive teams. Coach Heupel is in coaching for the right reasons. He cares about his student-athletes and that’s one of the most important attributes I look for in a coach.”

Heupel announced that Randy Shannon would join the Knights’ staff as the team’s defensive coordinator.

“Randy is someone who I have always had a great deal of respect for throughout the years,” Heupel said. “Seeing what he’s been able to do with defenses, in addition to his ability to recruit this state, it’s extremely special and will be invaluable to our staff.”

With over 25 years of coaching experience, Shannon comes to Orlando following three seasons at Florida that included time as the Gators’ defensive coordinator and most recently interim head coach. Shannon was the head coach at Miami from 2007-10 and was the Hurricanes’ defensive coordinator for six seasons from 2001-06. The former linebacker at Miami has won three national championships as a coach and a player.

Shannon’s defense in Gainesville ranked fifth in the nation in total defense in 2016, allowing just 293.0 yards per game. His squad was also the second best pass defense in the country, allowing opponents to just 148.5 yards per game.

Heupel started his coaching career as a graduate assistant at his alma mater. He was on a coaching staff that took part in back-to-back national championship games following the 2003 and 2004 seasons. Heupel helped mentor Jason White to the Heisman Trophy in 2003. He spent the 2005 season at Arizona before heading back to OU as a full-time assistant.

He returned to his alma mater for the 2006 season and coached the quarterbacks for five seasons. Heupel coached Sam Bradford to the Heisman Trophy, Davey O’Brien and Sammy Baugh Awards in 2008. Bradford led the nation in passing efficiency that season and the Sooners tallied an NCAA record five straight 60-point games.

Heupel was promoted to offensive coordinator in 2011 and served in that role for four seasons. His 2011 offense ranked fourth in the nation in total offense and passing offense. The 2012 unit ranked fifth in the nation in passing and 12th in total offense. In 2013, OU led the Big 12 in rushing and total offense. In his final season with OU, the Sooners led the nation in fewest sacks and led the Big 12 and ranked 10th in the nation in rushing, as well as finishing 20th in the nation in scoring and 23rd in total offense.

Heupel was a national-championship winning quarterback at Oklahoma. He was runner-up for the Heisman Trophy in 2000 while leading the Sooners to a victory over Florida State in the 2001 Orange Bowl, sealing the national title for OU. In 2001, Heupel was the Associated Press Player of the Year, Walter Camp Award winner, Archie Grifin Award winner and a consensus All-America performer.

The Knights sold their entire ticket allotment for the matchup with seventh-ranked Auburn in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. UCF will be making its first trip to the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, while Auburn will make its sixth appearance. Auburn currently holds a 4-1 record in the game, with its last appearance resulting in a 43-24 victory over Virginia in 2011.

UCF officials confirmed the block of 12,500 tickets marks the largest initial ticket allotment ever sold for a bowl game, and also the fastest sellout in school history. The Knights are now the only Group of Five team to sell through their entire ticket block in the College Football Playoff era.

“I’m not surprised that we sold out of our ticket allotment in record time,” White said. “I told Gary Stokan that Knight Nation would support their team and support the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl if we were fortunate enough to be invited and our fans did just that. We can’t wait to get to Atlanta and celebrate this amazing team and this magical season with our great fans. There will be a lot of black and gold in Atlanta over the holidays. We know it’s going to be a great week for our team and for Knight Nation!”

The 50th annual Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl will be played on New Year’s Day at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta and will be nationally televised by ESPN. Game time is set for 12:30 p.m. ET leading into the College Football Playoff Semifinals. This marks the third time the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl has been played on New Year’s Day and the first time the game has ever been played in the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *