Will O'Leary be Proven Right?

Amid the controversy that has ensued following a report about the benching, and the actual benching, of injured starters Brett Hodges of Brynn Harvey, fans have lost sight of something extremely important; the Knights are entering the final stretch of the 2009 regular season and are still in a position to win their division.

After an 0-2 start in conference play, UCF has won three straight C-USA games to enter the picture for the East Division crown. UCF would have to beat nationally ranked Houston at home this weekend and would have to then beat UAB and Tulane. The Knights would also need Southern Miss to lose one more conference game and for ECU to lose two but the point is that UCF still has a chance and for some reason that is being overlooked.

This past weekend the team fell, 35-3 to third-ranked Texas. The score itself wasn't a tremendous surprise but what was baffling was the presence of Brett Hodges and Brynn Harvey on the sideline. The starting quarterback and running back, along with starting guards Cliff McCray and Abre Leggins and defensive tackle Travis Timmons all missed the non-conference game and that has stirred up a nice amount of controversy in the UCF community.

Media members have indicated that George O'Leary sat his stars so that they could be rested for a big showdown against Houston. Fans have come right out and declared that they think O'Leary waived the white flag. The thought process goes something like this; if you're likely going to get decimated by arguably the best team in the nation in what's basically a meaningless game then save some of your best players for a conference game with year-end implications.

O'Leary has said that neither Harvey nor Hodges would have started even if it were a conference game. You can interpret that any way you want, that's not for me to decide. What I want to convey here is that instead of getting sucked into a should he/shouldn't he debate, everyone needs to take a step back and look at what's about to happen.

UCF will still get a chance to beat its first nationally ranked opponent in school history this weekend when the Cougars roll in for homecoming. More noteworthy is the fact that UCF will be eligible for a bowl game with the win and would then have to face two teams with a combined 7-11 record to finish 5-2 in conference play.

In the past weeks I've heard fans complain about a vanilla offense and a coach who doesn't care. I've witnessed UCF play in a half-filled stadium for too many games this season and I watched with amusement as fans poured out of Bright House Networks Stadium right before the Knights stormed back to defeat Marshall two weekends ago. This past week's benching of players will only add fuel to the fire and maybe fans have a right to be aggravated. That being said, the bottom line is that UCF is about to embark on a three week span that will make or break their season and that is what UCF fans should be concentrating on.


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