UCF welcomes Josh Heupel as new head football coach

Former Oklahoma QB replaces Scott Frost

ORLANDO, Fla. – After what University of Central Florida athletic director Danny White described as a "fast and furious" few days, the university announced Tuesday that it has hired Josh Heupel as the Knights' new head football coach.

Heupel, who played quarterback at the University of Oklahoma and was the offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach at Missouri for the past two seasons, is the 11th head coach in UCF's history.

White announced Saturday that Scott Frost stepped down from his position as head football coach with the Knights to be named the next head coach at Nebraska.

The Knights won the American Athletic Conference title Saturday and are 12-0. The team will play Auburn Jan. 1 in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl in Atlanta.

White described UCF's new head coach as one of the "brightest offense minds in the game."

Heupel was officially introduced by UCF President John Hitt and White at an afternoon news conference.

White said the speedy selection process started Sunday when he met with UCF football players to learn what they needed from a new head coach.

"They really wanted to continue the family atmosphere at UCF," White said. "A player's coach."

White said Heupel shares the same vision for UCF football program of building not only great athletes, but successful students. UCF has one of the highest student-athlete graduation success rates at 92 percent for football players.

In 2015, prior to Heupel’s arrival, Missouri ranked 124th in the nation in total offense. In 2016, the Tigers led the Southeastern Conference and were ranked No. 13 in the nation, averaging 500.5 yards per game. In 2017, Mizzou is currently ranked No. 7 in the nation in total offense, averaging 511.5 yards per game. The Tigers are currently No. 10 in the nation in scoring at 39.3 points per game.

"Looking at what his Missouri offense did this season, I can’t wait to see the scoreboard light up at Spectrum Stadium," Hitt said.

Heupel spoke at the news conference Tuesday about his vision for the Knights and called being selected "a fulfillment of a dream to be the head football coach of a university and to play for championships."

Heupel's wife, Dawn and their two children Hannah, 9, and Jace, 7, joined the new Knight's coach Tuesday in Orlando. Jace was already sporting a UCF Knights baseball cap.

"He's ready for the black and gold," Heupel said beaming.

Heupel spoke about instilling a competitive environment that he wants players to embrace.

"Our players can be champions for the rest of their lives," Heupel said. "Not just for the four years or between the white lines."

The son of a coach, Heupel said he started going to two-a-days and defense meetings at 5 years old.

Heupel started his coaching career as a graduate assistant at his alma mater. He was on a coaching staff that took part in back-to-back national championship games following the 2003 and 2004 seasons. Heupel helped mentor Jason White to the Heisman Trophy in 2003.

He spent the 2005 season at Arizona before heading back to OU as a full-time assistant.

He returned to his alma mater for the 2006 season and coached the quarterbacks for five seasons. Heupel coached Sam Bradford to the Heisman Trophy, Davey O’Brien and Sammy Baugh Awards in 2008.

As a player, Heupel was a national championship-winning quarterback at Oklahoma. He was runner-up for the Heisman Trophy in 2000 while leading the Sooners to a victory over Florida State in the 2001 Orange Bowl, sealing the national title for OU. In 2001, Heupel was the Associated Press Player of the Year, Walter Camp Award winner, Archie Griffin Award winner and a consensus All-America performer.

He was drafted in the sixth round of the 2001 NFL draft by the Miami Dolphins.

Heupel also has a degree in business and marketing, which he called a "backup plan" in case his lifelong dream of becoming a head coach did not work out.

"I didn't want to just be a head coach anywhere," Heupel said.

Heupel said the Knights' current coaching staff will be evaluated in the coming days.

UCF officials also announced Tuesday that Randy Shannon would be the new defensive coordinator. 

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