Josh Heupel Named Finalist For FWAA’s Steve Spurrier First Year Coach Award

NASHVILLE – On the eve of his Volunteers’ 2021 season finale in the TransPerfect Music City Bowl, Tennessee head coach Josh Heupel was recognized by the Football Writers Association of America as a finalist for the Steve Spurrier First Year Coach Award, which is presented annually to the best coach in his first year at a school.

Heupel is vying to become the first two-time winner of the Spurrier Award. He won it at UCF in 2018. The other finalists include South Carolina’s Shane Beamer and UCF’s Gus Malzahn.

Vols HC Josh Heupel / Credit: UT Athetics

Heupel has led the Volunteers to a national resurgence, posting the most victories of any first-year Power Five head coach this season. Coming off a 3-7 record a year ago, Tennessee was picked to finish fifth in the SEC East standings in his debut season. However, the Vols won three of their final four games, secured third place in the SEC East with a 4-4 mark and reached seven victories to secure a bowl berth while playing one of college football’s toughest schedules.

The 27th head coach in Tennessee history, Heupel is one of only five Vol head coaches in the last 80 years to win seven or more games in his first season. UT’s offense enjoyed a remarkable turnaround under his leadership as the Vols finish in the top 25 nationally in seven different offensive categories, including scoring offense (38.8 – 9th), total offense (459.0 – 16th), rushing offense (212.0 – 19th), yards per play (6.50 – 20th), passing efficiency (165.37 – 7th), third down offense (46.20% – 11th) and first down offense (23.8 – 19th). UT is just 18 points shy of tying the school record for points in a season set by the 1993 team with 484.

Heupel enters Thursday’s TransPerfect Music City Bowl with a 35-13 overall head coaching record. His .729 winning percentage ranks 11th among active FBS head coaches (minimum two seasons coached, all wins as a FBS head coach).

This will be the 20th consecutive year for the First Year Coach Award, although the first time with a namesake for the award, Steve Spurrier. The winner will be announced in January 2022. Spurrier, along with former player Chris Doering of Chris Doering Mortgage, is planning a February dinner to honor the winner. The site of the dinner in the state of Florida will be announced at a future time.

Kickoff for the Vols and Purdue is 2 p.m. CT Thursday live on ESPN. Limited tickets for the contest remain on sale at musiccitybowl.com.

Existing season ticket holders can renew their tickets for the 2022 season now by visiting AllVols.com. Fans wishing to purchase new season tickets for the 2022 campaign can submit a request by clicking HERE.

-UT Athletics

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