UCF Athletic Director Danny White went for an off-the-radar pick again. After a search in which names like former Texas A&M Head Coach Kevin Sumlin, UCF offensive coordinator Troy Walters, and Toledo Head Coach Jason Candle were discussed, Josh Heupel is now the Knights’ 11th head coach. Heupel is a first time HC.
Heupel was Missouri’s offensive coordinator and his hire signals a continued offensive focus. He should be able to maintain the frenzied pace and scoring that makes #UCFast. Mizzou averaged 511.5 yards and 39.3 points per game this year. And because we love our advanced stats here, a summary from our colleagues at Rock M Nation:
Heupel inherited a destitute offense that had ranked just 120th in Off. S&P+ in 2015, before his arrival, and had averaged eight points per game over its last seven contests. In 2016, the Tigers battled predictable inconsistency but still improved to 42nd in Off. S&P+ and 48th in scoring offense. Over the last half of 2017, his vision came to fruition. Even with some early-season difficulties, Mizzou currently ranks 10th in Off. S&P+, 12th in scoring offense, and seventh in yards per game. That the offense would frequently succeed or fail quickly sometimes put the defense into a tricky position, but among other things, UCF has proven you can still win a lot of games taking that risk.
The parallels to UCF’s previous hire – Scott Frost – go beyond the stealthy nature of White’s hire and the fact that both hires reflect an obvious offensive focus. Like Frost, Heupel played quarterback in college and carried his team (the Oklahoma Sooners) to a national title in 2000.
Lest you immediately start worrying about the if-he-has-success-will-we-lose-him-to-nostalgia factor: Heupel has already worked for his alma mater as an offensive coordinator. They fired him after the Sooners went 8-5 in the 2014 season.
As a player, Heupel learned under Mike Leach, who was the Sooners’ OC (though Heupel’s offense looks more Art Briles than it does Mike Leach).
Heupel brings in Randy Shannon as defensive coordinator. That’s a stellar hire. Shannon is a former head coach at the University of Miami and was most recently the defensive coordinator and interim head coach at the University of Flower. Aside from his impressive DC credentials, Shannon is a tremendous recruiter, especially in talent-rich Miami. And his strength of character and perseverance are incredible (read this – please). He is a profoundly impressive part of the coaching staff.