Danny White made his first big move as Vols athletic director today, hiring his former UCF head coach Josh Heupel to lead Tennessee football. As has been a trend over the last few years for the program, reaction to the hire has been extremely mixed.
Heupel, who took over for Scott Frost after UCF's undefeated season, has a 28-8 record as head coach. He took over a peaking program however, while Tennessee has floundered for over a decade now. He also inherits alleged NCAA violations that led to Jeremy Pruitt being fired for cause. This is a very tough job to step into.
Still, many Vols fans had higher hopes for their hire than UCF's head coach. The fact that White, the former UCF AD, is bringing over his coach with him makes it seem like he didn't turn over every rock in finding Pruitt's replacement.
He responded to that negativity very directly during a press conference today. "Some of you are awesome," he said of fans engaging with the hire online. "Some of you are failing. How can you turn passion into such negativity?"
Right or wrong, this shouldn't be a huge shock for Danny White. Just a few years ago, Vols fans online effectively nuked the planned hire of Greg Schiano, leading to him going with Pruitt, an Alabama assistant, instead. The Josh Heupel hire by Tennessee football came together pretty quickly, so there hasn't been quite as much of a chance for fans to do the same here, but with the hire official, they've let everyone know how they feel today. Still, it may not be wise for White to call out Vols fans this directly, just days into his tenure at the school. Winning will cure everything if Heupel is up to the task, but the new administration really doesn't appear to be getting off on the right foot with its fans. [
#Vols AD Danny White on what he’s seen from #VolTwitter: Some of you are awesome. Some of you are failing. How can you turn passion into such negativity? How can you not be excited about the future of this place? They’re about to have a lot more fun as Vols fans.
— Wes Rucker (@wesrucker247) January 27, 2021