Vols football coach Josh Heupel gets pay raise, contract extension

Tennessee Athletics photo / Tennessee football coach Josh Heupel tosses an orange following the 31-14 victory over Clemson in the Orange Bowl on Dec. 30.

Heupel, meet bank.

After guiding the Tennessee Volunteers to an 11-2 football season that included a 52-49 win over longtime rival Alabama and a 31-14 downing of Clemson in the Orange Bowl, coach Josh Heupel has received a raise to $9 million annually.

Heupel was hired in January 2021 at $4 million per year and had that bumped to $5 million after a 7-6 debut season that followed a three-win debacle in 2020 under predecessor Jeremy Pruitt.

"The results over Josh's first two seasons speak for themselves," Tennessee athletic director Danny White said Tuesday in a statement. "He and his staff have energized both our football program and our fan base 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 has already had a profitable few weeks, earning $350,000 worth of incentives for reaching a New Year's Six bowl ($200,000), being named Southeastern Conference coach of the year by the Associated Press ($50,000), and for guiding the Vols to a top-10 finish ($100,000).

His two-year mark of 18-8 includes seven victories over ranked teams. The new contract runs through January of 2029.

"Our staff takes great pride in representing the 'Power T,' and it's something we never take for granted," Heupel said. "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."

When Tennessee ascended to the top spot in the College Football Playoff rankings before its 27-13 loss at eventual national champion Georgia on Nov. 5, Heupel became the fourth Vols football coach ever to take a team to No. 1, joining Robert Neyland, Bowden Wyatt and Phillip Fulmer.

Before Tuesday's announcement, Heupel ranked 12th among the SEC's 14 head coaches in salary, ahead of only Vanderbilt's Clark Lea ($3.75 million) and new Mississippi State coach Zach Arnett ($3 million). Heupel is now tied for fifth with Kentucky's Mark Stoops and with Lane Kiffin of Ole Miss, trailing Alabama's Nick Saban ($11.7 million), Georgia's Kirby Smart ($11.25 million), LSU's Brian Kelly ($9.5 million) and Texas A&M's Jimbo Fisher ($9.5 million).

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com.