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The Tennessee head coaching vacancy was the last domino to fall among the high-profile gigs still available across the country. Jeremy Pruitt was fired for cause by the school after internal investigations discovered recruiting improprieties, which also resulted in the dismissal of nine other members of the Volunteer staff.
Pruitt landed on his feet this week, securing a new role as a defensive assistant with the New York Giants, reuniting with Joe Judge, whom he worked with under Nick Saban at Alabama from 2009-11. The two assistants that were fired along with Pruitt found new employment as well.
But today’s top tidbits beginning with Tennessee finding Pruitt’s replacement.
Heupel Hired on Rocky Top
Danny White took over for the retired Philip Fulmer as the Volunteers' new Athletic Director, and in his first big move in the chair, he brings a familiar face to Knoxville. White, the former AD at UCF, hired Josh Heupel away from the Knights to join him at Tennessee as the new head coach.
Heupel compiled a 28-8 record as head coach at Central Florida over his three-year tenure. His most successful campaign was his first with the school when he led the Knights to an undefeated season before the team lost its bowl game. Heupel became just the third head coach in NCAA history to guide a squad to an undefeated season during their first year coaching.
"Josh Heupel, who I had the privilege of working with for three years, is everything we were looking for: winning with integrity, a history of championships, and the architect of explosive offenses,” White said. “He is a players' coach and the kind of person the student-athletes go the extra mile for. I saw that firsthand, and you can see it in his coaching record.”
Northwestern Locks Up Fitzgerald
Despite a growing courtship from the NFL, Pat Fitzgerald remains committed to Northwestern, signing a 10-year extension on Wednesday to keep him in Evansville until 2030. Fitzgerald, a former linebacker at Northwestern who won national Defensive Player of the Year honors twice, is the winningest coach in program history with a 106-81 record across 15 seasons.
Since 2015, Fitzgerald has guided the Wildcats to two 10-win seasons. Northwestern also has won four consecutive bowl games and claimed two Big Ten West Division titles in the past five years.
The 46-year-old was named Bobby Dodd National Coach of the Year in 2020 and earned Big Ten Coach of the Year honors in 2018.
"From the moment I stepped on campus as an undergraduate, I have believed this is the finest university in the country, with the potential to offer an unmatched student-athlete experience," Fitzgerald said in a statement. "Stacy, Jack, Ryan, Brendan, and I have always been grateful to call Northwestern our home, and be part of the Wildcats family.
"... We have built the foundation to compete for championships in tandem with the best academic and personal development opportunity anywhere in college football. We all have a lot to be proud of, but our best is yet to come."