What Tennessee football's Josh Heupel said about Oklahoma, Texas joining the SEC
Josh Heupel couldn't have predicted that one day Tennessee football would face his alma mater as a conference foe when he was hired in January.
But that's exactly what has happened for the Vols coach as Texas and Oklahoma, where he played and coached, will join the SEC.
“You want to coach and play in this league because you get a chance to compete against the best every single day and every single week," Heupel said Tuesday. "This league continues to strengthen itself inside the landscape of college football."
Oklahoma and Texas are joining the SEC effective July 1, 2025, the SEC announced July 29, with athletic competition set to begin in the 2025-26 academic year.
The vote was unanimous by the SEC presidents. Oklahoma and Texas accepted the invitations Friday. Both sides have indicated the programs will honor the current Big 12 grants of media rights contract, which concludes in 2025. The schools could reach a buyout agreement with the Big 12 to leave prior to that deal's expiration.
"I think if you look back 20 years ago, I am not sure any of us would have guessed what the landscape would look like now before the original shift of realignment," Heupel said. "Once that happened, people thought that at different moments in time, there was the possibility of realignment. I’m excited about what our league continues to do.”
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Heupel was Heisman Trophy runner-up in 2000 as the Oklahoma quarterback. He led the Sooners to an undefeated season and a national championship with a win against Florida State in the Orange Bowl. He finished behind FSU quarterback Chris Weinke, who coached at Tennessee for three seasons under former coach Jeremy Pruitt.
Heupel completed 64.6% of his passes for 3,606 yards and 20 touchdowns. He also rushed for seven touchdowns.
Heupel threw for 7,066 yards and 50 touchdowns in 24 games at Oklahoma.
Heupel coached at Oklahoma under Bob Stoops from 2006-14. He was quarterbacks coach from 2006-10 before adding a co-offensive coordinator role. Heupel and Jay Norvell, who is now Nevada's coach, spent four seasons as Oklahoma's co-offensive coordinators before Stoops fired them.
Tennessee and Oklahoma announced a home-and-home series in April 2017.
The Vols were scheduled to play in Norman, Oklahoma, on Sept. 12, 2020. The SEC went to an all-conference schedule due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the game did not take place as planned.
Oklahoma is scheduled to play at Neyland Stadium on Sept. 7, 2024, which could change or become a conference game if OU and Texas join the SEC sooner.
UT and Oklahoma completed a home-and-home series in 2014-15. The Vols traveled to OU in 2014, losing 34-10. UT hosted Oklahoma in 2015 when the Sooners rallied from a 17-point deficit to beat UT 31-24 in double overtime.
UT's record against Oklahoma is 1-3 in a series that dates back to 1938.
UT is 1-2 against Texas. The Vols and Longhorns have not played since 1969.
Mike Wilson covers University of Tennessee athletics. Email him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @ByMikeWilson. If you enjoy Mike’s coverage, consider a digital subscription that will allow you access to all of it.