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Oklahoma Sooners Football Hot Links: Josh Heupel hired at Tennessee

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Oklahoma’s former national championship QB (and less successful OC) is now the head coach at Tennessee.

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NCAA Football: Central Florida at East Carolina James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Hump Day, friends and fans!

Former Oklahoma Sooners BCS National Championship winning QB and ex-offensive coordinator Josh Heupel has officially been hired as the head coach of the Tennessee Volunteers.

First off, this is a major career move for Heupel, and certainly figures to be his greatest challenge to date. For all the history and tradition on Rocky Top, the Tennessee football program has long been stuck in mediocrity. It’s a heck of a task for Heupel’s second head coaching gig, but since leaving Oklahoma, his career has seen a steady rise in its trajectory.

Speaking of Heupel as a Sooner, as a player, he will forever be remembered as one of the key contributors who helped a young Bob Stoops restore the glory at OU. As a coach, his legacy is quite a bit different. After serving well as OU’s quarterbacks coach from 2006-2010, he was promoted to co-offensive coordinator and play caller. Over the four years he held that role, the team saw a gradual decline in its offensive efficiency and production. By the end of the 2014 season, Stoops made the decision to move on from his former star QB and assistant (while sparing his brother).

As a result of Heupel’s firing, his relationship with Stoops and Oklahoma took a significant hit and remains divided to this day. In fact, as of late 2019, the two apparently had not communicated in five years.

Meanwhile on the prairie, who became Heupel’s replacement? A relatively unheralded coach named Lincoln Riley out of East Carolina. Looking at the two of them today, things seem to have worked out well for both parties, all things considered.

Now onto today’s Hot Links! A key defender is expected to return for one more season, several Sooners check in at this year’s Senior Bowl, Kobe and Gigi are honored with plaza dedication in Italy and more!

OU Links

  • On Monday, Oklahoma officially finalized their 2021 non-conference schedule. This fall, OU will kick off its season in New Orleans versus Tulane on Sept. 4, followed by the home opener against Western Carolina on Sept. 11 before hosting a highly-anticipated reunion with the Nebraska Cornhuskers on Sept. 18.
  • Ticket purchasing information for OU’s non-conference portion of its 2021 slate can be found here or in the tweet below. Hopefully by the time the season kicks off, stadiums are allowed to admit a higher percentage of fan attendance with the ongoing emergence of a COVID-19 vaccine.
  • The Athletic’s Jason Kersey is reporting that senior D-lineman LaRon Stokes is planning to take advantage of his extra year of eligibility and will return to OU for the 2021 season.
  • On Tuesday, Tre Brown, Adrian Ealy, Creed Humphrey, Tre Norwood and Rhamondre Stevenson checked in at the 2021 Reese’s Senior Bowl and received their official height and weight figures. You can check them all out here.
  • Speaking of Humphrey, the three seasons he played at OU as a whole add up as one of the more impressive and consistent careers of any lineman entering the upcoming NFL Draft.
  • What about Tre Brown. Well, he’s been making quite an impression thus far, and he even got the best of Sam Ehlinger again.
  • The Tulsa World’s Guerin Emig recently wrote about how Lincoln Riley and his staff have effectively utilized the NCAA Transfer Portal while also not totally agreeing with its concept.
  • The Alex Grinch effect is real and it’s exciting. Looking at the team’s defensive statistics since 2018, Oklahoma’s DC has improved the play and production on that side of ball by virtually every significant measure. Now going into his third season at OU, the expectations for his group are as high as they’ve been in Norman in quite some time.
  • OU Softball has checked in at No. 4 in the nation according to preseason polls from USA Today, NFCA, ESPN and USA Softball.
  • In case you missed it, the Sooners picked up former Tennessee Volunteers safety Key Lawrence via the transfer portal on Monday. After suiting up for the Vols in 2020, he’s now bringing his talents to Norman with practically a full career’s worth of eligibility remaining. Speaking of which, the Sooners don’t appear to be done poaching from the Vols, so stay tuned.

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