Spending more than a decade as the offensive coordinator of the Oklahoma Sooners, his beloved alma mater, Josh Heupel was fired by the team. Despite the grim reality that usually comes with losing a job, Heupel’s response was quite unique.
In an interview done by Mike Bianchi, a reporter for the Orlando Sentinel, Heupel said, “Thank God it happened!” as he prepared his undefeated UCF Knights for Saturday’s showdown with Memphis.
“It’s worked out great for me. If I had stayed there, I wouldn’t be here.”
After Heupel’s termination, he had brief stints at Utah State and Missouri before being named head coach of the UCF Knights on December 5, 2017, replacing Scott Frost.
When Bianchi asked if the firing has motivated him to prove Oklahoma wrong by showing them he is a great coordinator, Heupel says never had he doubted his ability as an offensive play-caller and quarterbacks coach.
“It forced me and gave me the ability to reset and decide what do I want to do and what do I want to be about as an offensive coach? What is my philosophy? It allowed me to get back to some of the things I wanted to do.
“In those last two years at Oklahoma, we changed for two reasons. No. 1, because of the philosophy of the head coach and what he wanted to do. And No. 2, because of injuries. We played five quarterbacks in those last two years because of injuries. When you do that, you’re going to change your philosophy to fit what the quarterbacks can do at that point in their development.”
The results of the UFC Knights reflects on the confidence Heupel has in his coaching skills. Ever since Heupel was in charge his team ranked third in the country, averaging slightly more points (48.6) per game than it did during last year’s undefeated season.
Heupel claims that the opportunities that were present at Oklahoma helped him confirmed things and gave him the clarity to the new things he wants to do with his team.
He says, “I’m a better coach today because I left Oklahoma.”
The Knights are currently ranked No. 10 in the nation and are traveling to Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 13 for their meeting with Memphis. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2 and ABC.