Much of that anxiety comes from going through it before.
Heupel was a Heisman Trophy runner-up quarterback and led Oklahoma to the 2000 national championship.
TOPPMEYER: Who's left for LSU to hire now that Lincoln Riley is off the board?
COMING BACK: Tennessee offensive lineman Jerome Carvin will return in 2022
ADAMS: Josh Heupel got the most from Vols talent. That's a change.
But there’s a big difference between the two scenarios — one decimal point, to be specific.
If Heupel left, he would owe UT a buyout of $8 million. When Kiffin left UT on Jan. 12, 2010, he paid UT only $800,000, ESPN reported.
That shows how much contractual terms have changed after more than a decade of a busy coaching carousel. Having been burned by Kiffin, UT knows that better than any program.
But $8 million is still a huge buyout. By comparison, Oklahoma gets $4.5 million from Riley's buyout, and Louisville got $4.375 million when Charlie Strong went to Texas in 2014.
If Heupel left, Oklahoma presumably would pay that $8 million buyout. If he is a candidate, that could give pause to the Sooners. After all, Heupel had a good debut season at UT with a 7-5 record. But he might not be proven enough for Oklahoma to pay such a big buyout.
Heupel would owe UT $8 million if he left before Dec. 15, 2022. It drops to $6 million until Dec. 15, 2023, $4 million until Dec. 2024, $3 million until Dec. 15, 2024, $2 million until Dec. 15, 2025, and nothing after that.
Heupel's contract runs through Jan. 31, 2027.
Reach Adam Sparks at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @AdamSparks.
This article originally appeared on Knoxville News Sentinel: Josh Heupel's buyout at Tennessee compared to Lane Kiffin in 2010 is stunningInternet Explorer Channel Network