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
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.
2002-2003 Minnesota Vikings, Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Line,
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,
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
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
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
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
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
Quotes From O'Leary Press Conference
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
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
"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
"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
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."