The O'Leary Saga, One Man's View

A line has been drawn in the sand for UCF fans. Some have stepped on the side that supports George O'Leary and others have bolted to the "get a new coach" camp. Before you permanently chose a side though, I think everything needs to be taken into consideration.

What I gathered from Coach O'Leary's press conference on Tuesday was that he is here to stay and will not let one bad season prevent him from turning UCF into a big time program.

Now, for those of you who have threatened to stop going to games or have called for O'Leary's head, let me say this; I understand your frustration but is the program better without O'Leary? I really don't think it is.

The common arguments for why O'Leary should be fired go something like this; "He has a sub .500 record with UCF," or "he hasn't won against big name teams yet." Others talk about how he hasn't developed a quarterback yet or hasn't brought in top flight recruits. Let me defend that right now.

Yes he has a 26-36 record as the Knights' head coach, but can you realistically count the first year? There weren't any of his players on the roster and the team was marred by injuries and inconsistent play. So if you disregard that dreadful first year then he is a more realistic 26-25.

And yes, O'Leary hasn't had that signature win yet, something he is all too aware of. Let's face it though, it's not like the Knights are going against Texas and getting their butts handed to them, the team is close. An untimely turnover here and there have contributed to their big game struggles.

In regards to recruiting, O'Leary has put together a fantastic group of recruiters. The Knights are beating out dozens of BCS teams in terms of recruiting and had the second best class in the conference last year and will be right up there again this year.

Another complaint I see is inconsistency from one season to another, and O'Leary touched on this.

"I think it goes in cycles," said O'Leary. "Our cycle looks like we play young kids early and they're the same guys who play the year that is the up year, then they graduate."

The Knights have just recently accumulated enough talent to red shirt top recruits such as Vance King and Steven Robinson, something that the Knights could never do prior to the O'Leary era. That is something that will undoubtedly pay dividends down the road and help with the up and down talent levels.

I would be remised as well if I didn't mention this 4-8 season. The offense was historically bad, no question about that, but look at what the team lost, and the following wasn't to graduation; Two starting running backs, four starting linemen, an All-Conference Freshman first teamer at defensive end and a senior leader on each side of the ball. So, to criticize O'Leary and demand for him to lose his job because of all these factors he couldn't control is ludicrous.

Throw in a conference championship and two division titles along with playing a major role in bringing in an on campus stadium and I think that O'Leary has done enough with a young UCF program to warrant leaving at his own digression.

There would also be potential ramifications off the field if O'Leary left. First, he has done wonders for the team academically and potentially saved a team that was on the cusp of being in trouble with the NCAA. Secondly, the Knights would risk losing key components of what could be a very special recruiting class.

So while fans are begging to see change, I don't think it should be O'Leary that pays for a down year. He has done too much over a short period of time and still has yet to get all his pieces in play. The best is yet to come Knight fans and please trust me when I say O'Leary is the one that can get the program there.


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