In a turn of events, UCF Knights have hired Missouri offensive coordinator Josh Heupel to be the next head coach of the program.
“This is an honor to be here and to be UCF’s coach,” Heupel said. “It’s a fulfillment of a lifelong dream.”
This came out of nowhere as the rumors were circulating about the possibility of former Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin was the leading candidate to take the job. Other names that were rumored according to sources were Tony Elliot, the offensive coordinator at Clemson, current UCF offensive coordinator Troy Walters and Toledo head coach Jason Candle.
But when you do some digging about this hire, Danny White, who’s the current AD for UCF, has a brother [Brian White] who works at Missouri as the Deputy Athletics Director so, that’s where the connection comes from regarding Heupel as a candidate.
As far as White’s perspective is concerned, he was very excited to have Heupel as the next football coach of UCF.
“I think we got a winner, someone that will lead our group as the rest of our head coaches do,” White said.
One of the questions about whoever UCF hired was about the offense and if UCF was going to keep the same type of offense. Heupel’s offense in Missouri was ranked seventh in the nation in total offense, and he comes from the SEC Conference.
“Josh absolutely killed the interview,” White said. “Like Dr. Hitt mentioned, his competitiveness, his fire, his passion for the game and obviously his knowledge. I think he’s one of the brightest offensive minds in the game and I’m pretty sure he’s got a good plan to figure out the defensive side out as well.”
Missouri’s offense runs almost the same pace type offense that UCF does that earned UCF the top offense in the Nation and Heupel wants to continue to run that same type fast pace offensively.
“If you watched us [Missouri’s offense] the last couple of years, we’re a no-huddle fast pace offense as well,” Heupel said. “That’s the style that they want. That’s the style that’s true to me. That’s how I want to play. It’s an exciting brand of football.”
It didn’t take long for Heupel to already get his first hire on his staff as he hired former University of Florida’s defensive coordinator Randy Shannon to the same position. Shannon and White have competed against each other as coaches in the SEC and are now joining forces in the American conference at UCF.
Also, Danny White’s brother, Mike White is the current head coach of UF’s basketball team so, that’s a connection there as well.
“Excited about having him [Shannon] as part of our staff,” Heupel said. “When I was first contacted about this opportunity, interviewing for the job here, you immediately start to go through and pull some guys that you want to have on staff.
“I think it was a no brain hire because he loves kids, he’s a great teacher. He’s going to run a 3-4 scheme that has the ability to move in a four-man front. He believes in creating in negative plays.”
As for the bowl game, the plan is to have the current staff that led UCF to 12-0 this season, to coaches the team in the bowl game. That means Scott Frost will lead the Knights for one more game before he leaves for Nebraska for good.
Heupel is excited about getting his first opportunity, and he’s ready to get to work and continue to build on what UCF was able to accomplish this past season into next season.