Don’t forget what Paul Finebaum was like when Tennessee football first hired Josh Heupel back in January of 2021. Finebaum didn’t attack Heupel personally, but he called the hire “underwhelming” and referred to it as a swing and a miss, according to reports then.
Finebaum even went as far as to use the hire as evidence that UT isn’t a good job anymore, as reported here on Saturday Down South. He added that he didn’t see any “great success” in the near future. Does 20 months later count as the near future?
Well, whether or not it does, Finebaum seems to have warmed up to Tennessee football. He touted the Vols as the team everybody should be paying attention to, and on ESPN’s Keyshawn, JWill and Max Tuesday, he laid out perfectly the great job Heupel has done.
It’s worth noting everything that he said was right. Heupel’s job was amazing. Vol fans everywhere aren’t going to complain about how they looked at the end of the game. They beat Florida, and the Gators are clearly a much better team than their 2-2 record indicates.
Keyshawn Johnson has also taken notice, as he is clearly high on Hendon Hooker, and he should be. Although he struggles with accuracy at times, Hooker may be the best decision maker in college football, and his athleticism adds to that.
However, when it comes to Finebaum, this is clearly a near-180 from where he was when Tennessee football hired Heupel in 2021. To be fair, he wasn’t alone. Many analysts associated with UT thought it was an underwhelming hire.
Remember, he was hired a week after the athletic director who hired him to the UCF Knights, Danny White, was hired by the Vols. That created a level of suspicion among fans that you have to admit was somewhat justified. However, Finebaum used it as a major indictment against UT.
That seemed like a huge shot. Now, to be so gung ho the other way truly speaks to how much of a chance has happened on Rocky Top in less than two years. Heupel has indeed done an amazing job, but it’s hard to overstate just how amazing that job is.
As a UT graduate, Finebaum would naturally seem like somebody who is going to be bias toward the Vols, but that hasn’t always been the case. He’s not alone either. Vol fans had been burned too much to be that invested in Heupel by the time he was hired.
Now, though, enthusiasm is through the roof, and Finebaum seems to be following in the lead of every Tennessee football fan. In reality, he’s just reflective of what everybody on Rocky Top has been clamoring for. Will it last? That remains to be seen.