KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — The hiring of UT's head football coach Wednesday has sparked a lot of reactions among Vol fans.
It's hard to keep track of how many athletic directors and head coaches the University of Tennessee has had since Phillip Fulmer was dismissed in 2008, a decade after beating Florida State and winning a national championship.
Here's a sampling of some of the questions many fans have as the UT community looks to move forward into the Josh Heupel era.
1. What's Heupel's MOU say?
The bottom line: he'll get $275,000 in base pay plus $3.725 million in supplemental compensation.
The agreement runs through January 2027. But, there's a noteworthy caveat.
If during the term of the agreement, the NCAA imposes a two-year or longer post-season ban or strips away eight or more scholarships as a result of pre-existing violations, the agreement will be automatically extended another year.
Heupel also gets $35,000 in moving expenses, which is pretty standard, and a monthly vehicle allowance of $1,700 or the use of two vehicles "of a quality" provided to past head coaches.
He also has the option of a temporary housing allowance of no more than $10,000 a month through June or the month he and his wife Dawn sell their Florida house, whichever comes first.
Another perk: 12 season football tickets in the lower bowl at Neyland Stadium, and use of a suite at Neyland.
Heupel also had a buyout of about $3.6 million tied to his contract while at the University of Central Florida.
Fired coach Jeremy Pruitt made $3.8 million in 2020 and his pay was to increase to $4.2 million starting in 2021, according to UT.
2. What about the ongoing internal investigation from Pruitt's time and potential NCAA sanctions?
Heupel said he expects whatever comes from it will be only a "speed bump" in terms of the program's progress.
White said: "This is a short-term issue and we expect to put it in the rear-view mirror as soon as possible and continue to move forward."
3. What happens to Kevin Steele, who was just hired as defensive assistant coach Jan. 18, and the other coaches left from Jeremy Pruitt's time?
"I’m going to have a conversation with everybody that's on staff," Heupel said Wednesday at his introduction.
He also said players and fans should trust him and the leaders he decides to bring in.
"Give us a chance," he said.
Newly hired athletics director Danny White said staffing is up to Heupel. It's his program.
Side note: among those on staff now are hometown favorites Jay Graham and Tee Martin. Also on staff: Chris Weinke, who beat out Heupel in a close vote in 2000 for the Heisman Trophy.
4. What happens if Heupel doesn't work out this fall?
Odds of that likely are small, but in the event things crash within a year, here's what the Parker Executive Search firm, hired to offer candidates in the search, says in their contract with UT. That's assuming they had Heupel on their list:
"Therefore, should you hire one of the candidates for the position outlined in this Letter of Understanding, but then that individual, within one full calendar year of the starting date, resigns, is terminated, or is otherwise unable to perform the requirements of the position for any reason (other than illness or health related issues, injury caused by natural disaster or occurring through no fault of Parker Executive Search, organizational realignment, restructuring, a significant change in the role or work assignment or compensation, an abusive work environment, or the position was misrepresented), we shall, if requested, conduct a replacement search at no additional fee (billing only out-of-pocket expenses). Our work in replacing the person will be the extent of our liability with this respect as we cannot be liable for any consequential or other damage from the termination or resignation of the hired candidate."
5. Why bother to pay a search firm $120,000 to get a coach if AD White is just going to hire Heupel away from the place where White was just at?
White told reporters Wednesday he didn't enter the search with Heupel already in mind. He said he only zeroed in on Heupel after determining the qualities he wanted in a UT coach.
Heupel said that after White was announced Friday as UT's new athletic director, he wasn't thinking about possibly being a UT candidate.
"I wished him well. I didn't think about this opportunity in that way," Heupel said.
6. What's White's message to fans who may be poo-pooing the Heupel hire?
"Some of you are awesome, some of you are failing right now. Why would we be negative?"
Sounds like he may be fairly forthcoming in future comments to the media.
7. What did UT football players tell White when he asked them what they want in a new coach?
White said they told him a lot of things, much of which he'll keep confidential.
But, he said, they want to see "a little bit of confidence, a little bit of juice, a little bit of swagger."
The AD assured everyone Wednesday that's what they'll get in Heupel.
8. How tightly will White run the Athletics Department?
He observed Wednesday he'd only had a couple "leaks" in his career -- both in the last week. It was a "shame" that Heupel's hiring leaked out Tuesday night, he said.
White indicated he likes to keep a tight control in information in an effort to be fair to student athletes.
"We need to work on that here, we've got to figure that out," he said.