Four days after Nebraska found its new head coach at UCF’s expense, the Knights have found a replacement — and an experienced voice to help the first-year boss for good measure.
The football program announced Tuesday morning that Josh Heupel has been hired as its 11th head coach. Heupel had spent the 2017 season as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Missouri.
Heupel will be officially introduced at a 2 p.m. ET press conference this afternoon.
“I’m thrilled to welcome Josh and his family to UCF,” UCF athletic director Danny White said in a statement. “I believe we’ve identified one of the brightest offensive minds in college football. His offensive system is very similar to what we’ve been running. I know he’s going to utilize all the great talent on our roster and continue to add to it. He’s no stranger to success, winning a national championship as a quarterback and leading a number of extremely high-powered offensive teams. Coach Heupel is in coaching for the right reasons. He cares about his student-athletes and that’s one of the most important attributes I look for in a coach.”
Heupel, who finished up his collegiate playing career at Oklahoma, spent the 2015 season as coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Utah State after he was fired by his alma mater in January 2015. From 2006-14, he was an assistant on Bob Stoops‘ Sooners coaching staff, the first four years as quarterbacks coach and the last four as co-coordinator.
Heupel replaces Scott Frost, who spent two seasons with the Knights and led them to an unbeaten regular season that included a conference championship before leaving for the Cornhuskers this past weekend.
This will mark Heupel’s first-ever job as a head coach at any level.
“I’m extremely excited about the opportunity to represent UCF, Heupel’s statement began. “What makes this opportunity so unique is the vision of the leadership from President John Hitt, Provost Dale Whitaker and Director of Athletics Danny White. Their vision for this becoming one of the premier programs in the country makes this an exciting opportunity. That vision, the amazing campus, along with the recruiting base not only allows you to have immediate success but sustained success. I’m very excited to get a staff together and get to work with our wonderful student-athletes.”
Not long after Heupel’s announcement, the program also confirmed that Randy Shannon has been hired as the Knights’ defensive coordinator. Shannon was promoted to defensive coordinator at Florida in January of this year, then became interim head coach when Jim McElwain was fired.
Shannon comes to UCF with a coaching pedigree almost exclusively tied to the state of Florida.
A linebacker for the Hurricanes, Shannon’s first coaching job came at The U as a graduate assistant in 1991. He then spent 12 of the next 15 years as an assistant at his alma mater — he was on the Miami Dolphins staff from 1998-2000 — the last five in the role of defensive coordinator before being promoted to head coach in 2007. Fired in 2010, Shannon spent 2012 at TCU and 2013-14 at Arkansas — he was linebackers coach at each stop — prior to his move to Florida in 2015 as co-coordinator and linebackers coach.
“Randy is someone who I have always had a great deal of respect for throughout the years,” Heupel said. “Seeing what he’s been able to do with defenses, in addition to his ability to recruit this state, it’s extremely special and will be invaluable to our staff.”