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Josh Heupel gets big raise, contract extension


Alabama v Tennessee Photo by Donald Page/Getty Images

Following an 11-2 season in year two at Tennessee, Josh Heupel has received a much-deserved raise. As a reward for his quick transformation in Knoxville, Heupel will now make $9 million per year as Tennessee’s head coach — a hefty raise from the $5 million he made last year (via VolQuest).

Tennessee confirmed the news this afternoon.

Heupel is now in the top ten nationally in terms of salary, and fifth in the SEC. He now trails only Nick Saban, Kirby Smart, Brian Kelly and Jimbo Fisher in the conference.

“The results over Josh’s first two seasons speak for themselves,” Tennessee AD Danny White said via release. “He and his staff have energized both our football program and our fanbase with an aggressive brand of football, a competitive culture that creates leaders and a relentless approach to raising the bar every single day. Despite a brief period of dormancy, Tennessee never surrendered its status as a college football powerhouse. We just needed an innovative leader like Josh Heupel to reignite the spark. It’s been fun to crash the party, but as Josh said after our Orange Bowl triumph, the best is yet to come.”

Heupel took a program that was in a really bad spot following the firing of Jeremy Pruitt, and almost instantly turned them competitive. You could see the light come on for the program somewhere in the middle of that 2021 season, as Hendon Hooker really emerged as one of the best quarterbacks in the country.

Tennessee built on that success in 2022, climbing all the way to the No. 1 spot in the initial College Football Playoff rankings after an 8-0 start. Heupel finished the year with an 11-2 mark, and a convincing win over Clemson in the Orange Bowl.

“I am grateful to President Boyd, Chancellor Plowman, Danny White and of Vol Nation for their tremendous support,” Heupel said in the release. “Our staff takes great pride in representing the Power T, and it’s something we never take for granted. We will continue to work tirelessly to build a championship program that all of Vol Nation and all VFLs can be proud of.

“Most importantly, our players are the people who deserve all of the credit for our resurgence on Rocky Top. Over the last two years, they believed in us and poured their energy into every single day with hard work, leadership, cohesiveness and consistent habits. I am proud to be their coach.”

Some details of the contract, via Volquest, are a $50,000 bonus if Tennessee finishes inside of the top 25, $100,000 if they finish top ten, and $150,000 if they finish top five. He would receive $100,000 for making a bowl game, and $1 million for winning a national title.

Heupel now has a buyout that would see him receive 100 percent of his contract if fired before December of 2025. That number goes down to 75 percent through December 2027, then moves to 50 percent through 2029, when the contract expires.

Heupel holds an 18-8 overall record through two seasons on Rocky Top. His attack finished first in total offense in 2022, just two seasons removed from finishing 2020 as one of the worst offensive teams in the country. He was brought here by Danny White for a specific reason, and he delivered quickly.

Today, he gets rewarded.