With Gus Malzahn reportedly taking over the UCF Knights, we have to wonder if the Tennessee football program missed out on hiring a better coach over Josh Heupel.Former Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn is expected to become the next head coach at UCF. While he was going to spend 2021 out of football, the Group of 5 power out of The American may have been too good of a job to pass up. He replaces Josh Heupel, who left Orlando to be the next head coach of the Tennessee football program. Did Tennessee make a huge mistake once again?For as much as everybody loved the hiring of Danny White as the new Tennessee athletic director, pundits were largely lukewarm on Heupel replacing Jeremy Pruitt as the next Vols head coach. Heupel followed White from UCF with the hopes that a strong previous working relationship can fix one of the worst situations in the Power 5. Tennessee had been scraping along at rock bottom.Vols fans may hate it, but Gus Malzahn was not coming to Knoxville in 2021Had White hired Malzahn to be the next Volunteers head coach, Tennessee would be well on its way to becoming Auburn of the SEC East. All things equal, Tennessee should be the No. 3 program in the SEC East annually behind the Florida Gators and the Georgia Bulldogs due to them having better in-state recruiting and fewer neighboring states to poach away some of their top talent.Gus Malzahn is a good hire for UCF, but he would have been a bad hire for Tennessee.— SEC Mike (@MichaelWBratton) February 15, 2021Gus Malzahn would have made 100 times more sense at Tennessee than Josh Heupel, instead ends up replacing Heupel and UCF upgrades— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) February 15, 2021Do not get it twisted, Gus Malzahn is an upgrade over anyone UCF has had as head coach. Sure he has his warts as a coach but Tennessee hired the wrong guy as well.— Stephen Beam (@sbeam2011) February 15, 2021In eight years at Auburn, Malzahn beat rivals Alabama and Georgia often enough to get an extension and nearly coach down on The Plains for a decade. However, he is not the dynamic coaching presence that can shift the paradigm in the SEC East upon his arrival. There would have been a limited ceiling with Malzahn going to Tennessee, especially now with sanctions coming.Tennessee hiring Josh Huepel only for UCF to hire Gus Malzahn to replace him is so deliciously tragic.— Nathan Chester (@NathanChester24) February 15, 2021@DRVawl UCF hiring Gus Malzahn is the most Tennessee thing to ever happen😂😂😂— Chase Smith, GCS (@Turfgrass_94) February 15, 2021Honestly, UCF getting to hire Gus Malzahn after Tennessee hired away Josh Heupel feels a lot like Washington getting to hire Chris Peterson after USC hired away Sarkhttps://t.co/PnhKfwk8GN— Adam Bradford (@Adam_Bradford14) February 15, 2021So let me get this straight. Tennessee is paying UCF money to buyout Josh Heupel so he can be the HC at Tennessee then UCF goes and hires Gus Malzahn, who is a much better coach and better recruiter. Gotta love Tennessee— Sam (@SamHilding) February 15, 2021But most importantly, Malzahn was not going to come to a program in as dire of straits as Tennessee. If the program were in a better shape, surely, he would entertain the opportunity to come to Knoxville. However, it will be a while before the Vols can get back to being the third-best program in the SEC East, as Kentucky and Missouri seem to have the right head coaches for now.Gus Malzahn would be a great hire for UCF. Tennessee should've hired him instead of Heupel.— 12th man stan account (@12th_man_stan) February 15, 2021Not positive here but I bet if you told a UCF fan a month ago they'd go into 2021 with Gus Malzahn as their HBC they'd be thrilled.Conversely, if you told a Tennessee fan Josh Heupel would be their coach they'd be….lukewarm?— Eli Marger (@Eli_Marger) February 15, 2021Gus Malzahn wouldn’t have taken the Tennessee job, there is zero reason to think about it now as we have out coach.— Couple having Civil War themed gender reveal (@normie_macdonal) February 15, 2021So did Tennessee miss the boat on hiring Malzahn? No, because there was no boat to hire Malzahn. Look. If he really wanted to become the next head coach of the Vols, Malzahn would have found a way to swim upstream in the frigid Tennessee River to do so. However, it was just not in the cards this offseason cycle. While UCF clearly wins here, Tennessee had already lost.While Malzahn can have success at another Power 5 blue-blood, it will not happen at Tennessee.For more NCAA football news, analysis, opinion and unique coverage by FanSided, including Heisman Trophy and College Football Playoff rankings, be sure to bookmark these pages.
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