On3.com, a national college football media outlet, recently ranked all 14 SEC head coaches and it appears they don’t think very highly of Tennessee Vols head coach Josh Heupel.

Heupel comes in at No. 9 in their rankings, just behind Mississippi State’s Mike Leach and just ahead of South Carolina’s Shane Beamer.

From On3.com:

You could flip a coin between Heupel and Beamer after both went 7-6 in their first seasons in the SEC, but I gave the slight nod to Heupel since he beat Beamer heads-up in 2021 and also has a pair of double-digit win seasons at UCF. The former Oklahoma quarterback has brought the modern ‘Run ’N Shoot’ back to the SEC, and Tennessee broke all sorts of offensive records in Year 1. If Heupel can continue to flex a recruiting prowess he never demonstrated while in Orlando, then the Vols should be optimistic about their future.

Vols
Tennessee Head Coach hugs defensive back Alontae Taylor (2) during senior day ceremonies before the start of the NCAA college football game between the Tennesse Volunteers and Vanderbilt Commodores in Knoxville, Tenn. on Saturday, November 27, 2021.

I expected Heupel to be ranked a bit higher than No. 9, though I can somewhat understand why he’s that far down on the list.

If I’m being objective, then it’s easy to see why guys like Mark Stoops, Lane Kiffin, and even Sam Pittman are ranked higher than the Vols’ head coach. They have more SEC experience and they’ve all had seasons better than Tennessee’s 7-6 year under Heupel last season.

There’s an argument to be made for putting Heupel ahead of Leach, but I get that he has considerably more head coaching experience than Heupel.

Heupel is off to a great start at Tennessee — no one expected the Vols to go 7-6 last year in the aftermath of the disastrous Jeremy Pruitt era.

But at the same time, Heupel still has a lot to prove. If Tennessee continues to progress under Heupel, then he’ll rocket up lists like this one from On3.com.

Though I’m guessing Heupel doesn’t really care where he’s ranked. He just cares about the results on Saturdays. Fans might not care either, but they should. The more positive reviews the head coach gets from the national media, the better it is for UT recruiting.

Featured image via Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports