O'Leary Named New Football Coach

UCF's new football coach George O'Leary

ORLANDO - George O'Leary, the two-time ACC Coach of the Year and 2000 National Coach of the Year, was named UCF's new football coach Monday by athletics director Steve Orsini.

The former Georgia Tech head coach and current Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator, O'Leary, 57, signed a five-year and becomes the eighth coach in the school's 25-year history. He replaces Alan Gooch who coached the team on an interim basis the final two games of 2003 after Mike Kruczek was relieved of his coaching duties Nov. 10.

"After searching the nation I identified my number one candidate and we got him," Orsini said. "He is the best person for this job. He has a proven track record of building an entire football program to a championship level."

O'Leary, will continue to fulfill his commitment to the NFC North-leading Minnesota Vikings in the upcoming weeks while preparing to turn his full attention to the UCF job.

"I see the University of Central Florida as a sleeping giant," O'Leary said. "I think this is a great opportunity and the potential is outstanding. I was greatly impressed with the people I spoke to about this job and the commitment to not only athletics, but to the students and graduation."

O'Leary was the head coach at Georgia Tech from 1994-2001 and compiled a 52-33 record while leading the Yellow Jackets to Bowl appearances the last five seasons. He was named the winner of the 2000 Bobby Dodd Award as the National Coach of the Year and was named the ACC's top coach in 1998 and 2000. Over his final four seasons in Atlanta he led the team to a 34-14 record (.708), including two runner-up finishes and a tie for the ACC title in 1998.

He was named defensive line coach of the Vikings in 2002 and was elevated to defensive coordinator in 2003. O'Leary's first stint at Georgia Tech came from 1987-91 as the defensive coordinator/defensive line coach. The team finished 11-0-1 in 1990 and won the National Championship. O'Leary then served as the defensive line coach for the San Diego Chargers in 1992 and '93.

He returned to Georgia Tech in 1994 as the team's defensive coordinator and took over responsibilities as the head coach for the final three games of the season.

UCF, which plays football in the Mid-American Conference, is scheduled to begin play in Conference USA in the fall of 2005.


George O'Leary Bio

Known around the nation as one of the most innovative defensive coaches in football, George O'Leary has been named the eighth football coach in UCF history. A veteran of 35 years in coaching at the professional, collegiate and high school levels, O'Leary served as head coach at Georgia Tech from 1994-2001, serving as interim head coach for the final three games of the 1994 season.

The 2000 Bobby Dodd National Coach of the Year at Georgia Tech, O'Leary was twice named ACC Coach of the Year for the Yellow Jackets in 1998 and 2000.

During his seven-year stint at Georgia Tech, O'Leary guided the Yellow Jackets to a 52-33 (.612) record including five bowl appearances. From 1995-2001, Georgia Tech recorded five winning seasons in six years, including the 1998 ACC Co-Championship and an appearance in the Toyota Gator Bowl New Year's Day.

O'Leary's Georgia Tech teams won at least seven games four times during his tenure, including a 10-win season in 1998 and a nine-win campaign in 2000.

For the past two seasons, O'Leary has served on the coaching staff of the Minnesota Vikings in the NFL. Prior to his departure for UCF, O'Leary served as the defensive coordinator for the Vikings in 2003.

In his first season with the Vikings in 2002, O'Leary guided the Vikings defensive line into becoming the strength of the Vikings defense. As assistant head coach, he was a sounding board for first year head coach Mike Tice for such things as practice planning and team issues among others.

Under O'Leary's direction, defensive tackle Chris Hovan emerged as one of the top players in the game at his position. He finished the season with a team-high 36 quarterback hurries and was selected to the Sports Illustrated All-Pro team. The Vikings rushing defense moved up to 10th in the NFL (was 30th in 2001) behind the strong play of Kenny Mixon, who finished the season with a defensive line-high 82 tackles.

One trademark of O'Leary's tenure as a head coach has been the quality and experience has had on his coaching staffs. While at Georgia Tech, O'Leary had three assistants work under him that later garnered head coaching jobs. Ralph Friedgen (Maryland), Randy Edsall (Connecticut) and Ted Roof (Duke) all served under O'Leary at Tech.

O'Leary served as the defensive line coach for the San Diego Chargers in 1992 and 1993. In 1992, the defense had 51 sacks, which at the time was the fourth best in team history. The Chargers won the AFC West in 1992 with an 11-5 record.

O'Leary's first stint at Georgia Tech came from 1987-91 as the defensive coordinator/defensive line coach. The team finished 11-0-1 in 1990 and won the National Championship.

O'Leary received his first coaching job at the collegiate level at Syracuse (1980-86). He coached the defensive line and also was the assistant head coach his final two seasons.

O'Leary started his coaching career at the high school level. From 1968-76 he coached at Central Islip (NY) High School (1975-76 as head coach) before taking over as the head coach at Liverpool High School (NY). He posted 37-8-1 record in five seasons including a perfect 10-0 season in 1979.

George Joseph O'Leary was born in Central Islip, N.Y. and attended Central Islip High School. He attended the University of New Hampshire and earned his degree in physical education. George and his wife, Sharon, have two daughters, Chris and Trish, and two sons, Tim and Marty.


The George O'Leary File
Full Name: George O'Leary
Birthdate: August 17, 1946
Hometown: Central Islip, N.Y.

Coaching Experience:
2002-2003 Minnesota Vikings, Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Line, 2002;
Defensive Coordinator 2003
1994-2001 Georgia Tech, Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Line, 1994;
Interim Head Coach 1994; Head Coach 1995-2001
1992-1993 San Diego Chargers, Defensive Line
1987-1991 Georgia Tech, Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Line
1980-1986 Syracuse University, Defensive Line, 1980-84;
Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Line, 1985-86
1977-1979 Liverpool (N.Y.) High School, Head Coach
1968-1976 Central Islip (N.Y.) High School, Assistant Head Coach, 1968-74;
Head Coach, 1975-76

Honors: 2000 Bobby Dodd National Coach of the Year Award
2000 Atlantic Coast Conference Coach of the Year
1998 Atlantic Coast Conference Coach of the Year
1998 Region I Coach of the Year (AFCA)
1998 Finalist for Eddie Robinson National Coach of the Year Award (FWAA)

 


What they are saying about George O'Leary
"George O'Leary is one of the most outstanding college coaches out there. He is a proven winner, extremely organized and a great motivator. UCF made a great choice when it decided to hire Coach O'Leary."

Maryland Head Coach Ralph Friedgen


"I'm happy for Coach O'Leary and for UCF. George brings a strong tradition of coaching success to the job and I'm proud for the school to be able to get a quality coach to help move the program into the future. I see good things on the horizon for Coach O'Leary and UCF."

Former UCF All-American and current Viking Quarterback Daunte Culpepper


"Coach O'Leary is definitely that big-time coach that UCF needs to take the next step as a program. His knowledge and experience will help move UCF forward as an overall program. George is a great teacher and a great man. Just look at what he has done with the Vikings. We played Georgia Tech twice and you could see that he had a strong program there. We are lucky to get him in Orlando."

Former UCF wide receiver and current Viking Kenny Clark


"I am glad to see George O'Leary get this opportunity to be head coach. He did a good job at Georgia Tech and is a great hire for UCF."

Beano Cook, ESPN College Football Analyst


"He is an outstanding football coach. From a defensive stand point, he is very bright and innovative as anyone. What he did at Georgia Tech and every place he has been, there has been a step in the right direction. To me, it's a great hire for UCF. He is able to go nationwide to recruit players.

Mel Kiper, Jr., ESPN Analyst

 

 
Selected Quotes From O'Leary Press Conference
 

UCF Athletics Director Steve Orsini Opening Statement

"Thanks everyone for being here today. It is another historic day in UCF athletics. Earlier in the fall we announced a conference affiliation change to Conference USA and this is another important step.

I came to UCF to achieve Dr. [John] Hitt's goal of moving the athletic department to a new level, one in which it can compete on a national level. I believe that at the Division I-A level, the football program must lead the entire athletic department to the level in which it seeks to attain. Today we are here to take that next step—that next dynamic step in naming our new head football coach.

After searching the nation, I identified my number one candidate—and we got him. He has a proven track record of building an entire football program to a championship level. He has improved graduation rates of his student-athletes. He has coached student-athletes to be successful on a national level where he has been and he is a tough and fair disciplinarian. He is the winner of the 2000 Bobby Dodd Award as the National Coach of the Year, a two-time winner of the ACC's Coach of the Year. He is the best man for this job.

I know him. I've worked with him. I trust him. I can't wait to work with him again. Please welcome the new football coach of the UCF Golden Knights, a man who will take this football program from promise to national prominence, George O'Leary."

"I do know coach very well. I was at Georgia Tech when he decided to take the job at Notre, so I am very familiar with Coach….I really admired him as a football coach then. As we set out on our task here at UCF, I was looking for someone who could build a program. As you recall, George took over Georgia Tech when they were really down. Both on and off the field, they were down. George took the program and turned it around really quick and took it to the highest level in the nation as far as being competitive. That's what we needed to do here."

"It was important that I looked at the student-athlete and saw how George was developing them both as a student and as an athlete. That was what really mattered the most to me."

"I used George as a reference. UCF called George about me. Isn't that ironic?"

I've always respected George as a coach and as a leader of young men. His record stands for itself. What he has done as a coach at a great institution like Georgia Tech, he'll do it here at this great institution as well. I firmly believe that. He is the best man for this job."

"He has built a program to the national level. He is a true disciplinarian. He is a great teacher and coach of football at the highest level of the nation. I was also really intrigued by the quality of staff he mentioned to me that he would like to talk to and bring in here. I think that's important. I do feel that a head football coach at the Division I-A level is similar to the CEO of a corporation. You can't do it all yourself. It is important that you get quality assistants. George really impressed me with the quality of assistants that he has worked with and the network that he has. I'm sure that we will be able to attract some of those here to UCF so that our student-athletes can benefit from that kind of leadership."

George O'Leary Opening Statement
"I am very excited about the opportunity to be at the University of Central Florida. I think you take a job for two reasons. The reasons I'm here are really two-fold. I was greatly impressed that I spoke to regarding this job, the commitment to not only athletics but the students and graduation. Second is what I looked at as far as UCF's is concerned is an opportunity and great potential beyond where you're at now."

"I think my past is very well-documented both nationally in the media, television and radio. I don't think there is a paper that missed it, but I do think this: I made a terrible, terrible mistake as a youngster. I paid dear price for it. I was on national television. I admitted I was wrong to the nation. I am truly sorry for that, for the trouble I presented to my family, to friends, to the colleges that I worked. I always lived the quote that I can't do anything about setbacks except move on. That is basically what I intend to do with this job. The past is my past. I won't field any questions regarding it. If you want to know anything about it, it is well-documented. There are volumes on it, but read the good part, too."

"I am here because I believe in the direction the school wants to head and now we'll talk about the future. I see the University of Central Florida as a sleep giant. I like programs that have direction, want direction and more important, people in the building that are willing to work to get to that direction. The student-athlete is important to me, graduation is very important to me. More important are the people that I am going to work with. I've been around long enough – 35 years in coaching – to understand the people you are going to work with are the probably the most important thing you have in the program."

"I promise to do what I can do basically to get the football program where it needs to be, the right way, the NCAA way while we're still graduating our athletes, which is a major concern to me. I have four children, all out of college. Their mom was very intelligent and that carried over. It's very important to me that we bring in athletes of great character, great drive in wanting to get an education because I think that carries over onto the athletic field."

"I will finish my commitment to the Vikings, which is I think what you should do. We have a shot at the playoffs. I will do everything possible to make sure we get there, but this is my job right now and I will work on this job, too. There are 24 hours in a day and I guess I'll be using most of them."

"To be honest I never asked what the problems were here. I didn't ask. I knew that there was an interim coach in place. I didn't know what transpired with my job. I know there were some suspensions. The only thing I can do is lay the law down and move on. I have my own philosophy on how the program should be run and it's really important for [the players] to understand what I think than what they think. I think you win because you have accountability and responsibility in your program and the players understand what it is."

"I like coaching, period. I like working with the college age athletes. I actually enjoy some phases of recruiting. I don't enjoy all of it, but I enjoy some phases of it. I enjoy pro ball. Again, I am here because I enjoyed people I met, I enjoyed the locale. I think you have a chance to be as good as you want to be."
 


 

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