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Vols Josh Heupel Named to 2024 Dodd Trophy Watchlist

Josh Heupel, Vols head coach
© Brianna Paciorka/News Sentinel/USA TODAY NETWORK

Tennesse Volunteers coach Josh Heupel has made great strides for the Rocky Top football enthusiasts and is now receiving recognition for those efforts. Heupel’s first three seasons saw major improvements all around the program after years of mediocrity. The Dodd Trophy’s voting committee is convinced that Heupel, who was a terrific quarterback for the Oklahoma Sooners from 1999 through 2000, is one of the best coaches in college football today. He and 21 other coaches are on the recently released watchlist for the prestigious award named after legendary Georgia Tech coach Bobby Dodd.



Heupel’s Tennessee Highlights

Heupel is no stranger to success, boasting a 28-8 record while at the University of Central Florida and adding an American Athletic Conference championship along the way. Tennessee hired him to turn around a Volunteers program that had only managed 15 regular season wins over the previous three years. In his first year in orange and white, Heupel led the Vols to a 7-6 record and has only continued to improve upon that success. As he begins the 2024-25 campaign, Heupel’s record with Tennessee sits at 27-12. He and his staff look to improve on their 14-10 record in the rough and tumble Southeastern Conference.



The SEC is notorious for its difficult conference schedule but Heupel and the Vols are no strangers to overcoming difficult odds. They began the 2022 season unranked but quickly turned the odds in their favor, beating the Pitt Panthers, then ranked No. 17. The Vols then defeated their rival Florida on the third Saturday in September. Next, LSU found itself on the wrong end of a Vols beat down as Heupel and crew dominated the 2021 SEC West champions 40-13, their largest victory in that series since 1940. The Vols ended the 2022 season as the No. 6 team in the country, and Heupel was named the 2022 AP SEC Coach of the Year.


What is the Dodd Trophy?

Named after the renowned Georgia Tech coach, the Dodd Trophy was first presented in 1976 and is now one of college football’s most desired awards for coaches. The award is annually granted to the head coach who best produces success on the field while exemplifying leadership, integrity and scholarship.


Bobby Dodd, Georgia Tech
© Knoxville News Sentinel | USA TODAY NETWORK

Peach Bowl, Inc. manages the award. In placing coaches on its watchlist, it considers academic achievement, graduation rate, community service and charitable activities.


Unlike most other collegiate awards, the Dodd Trophy is presented to the winner on his campus in front of fans, friends and family. It is accompanied by a $10,000 check earmarked for the university's student-athlete scholarship fund.



Heupel’s Hopes

There is little question that Heupel is one of the top coaches in college football. Beginning with his stewardship of the UCF Knights from 2018 through 2020, the Heisman Trophy runner-up in 2000, has ascended to elite status in collegiate coaching.


To win the Dodd Trophy, Heupel will have to beat out an array of notable coaches, including Lane Kiffin, Ryan Day, Dabo Swinney, Lincoln Riley, Kyle Whittingham and Kirby Smart. Florida State's Mike Norvell received the award in 2023 and might take home the prize again.


Heupel and crew kick off the season at 12:45 p.m. EST, Saturday, Aug. 31 at home against Chatanooga. While their non-conference opponents should prove little resistance, it is the conference schedule that the Vols must navigate successfully to meet their team goals and help Heupel secure his place among the great coaches of today.





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