HEAD COACH • SIXTH YEAR AT UCF • NEW HAMPSHIRE, 1969 In only ﬁve years at UCF, George O’Leary has helped the Knights achieve dozens winner in 2006. of historic ﬁrsts including games in front of sellout crowds on campus, individual accolades for student-athletes, a conference championship and a trip to a pres�- Guiding the Knights Toward Prominence gious bowl game. For O’Leary, it has been business as usual. The 2006 season featured several memorable moments for the Knights as they ﬁnished their Since taking over the program in 2004, O’Leary has made sure that the Knights ﬁnal campaign at the Florida Citrus Bowl. Wide have reached new heights. On and oﬀ of the ﬁeld, the veteran head coach has receiver Mike Walker had a record-breaking seamolded his program into a consistent winner. son. The Orlando na�ve broke the single-season school record for recep�ons with 90 and hauled in 1,178 receiving yards just a year His hard work contributed to the construc�on of Bright House Networks Stadium. removed from an ACL injury. He earned All-C-USA First Team honors and was one Interest in the program has never been higher. His student-athletes are enjoy- of ﬁve Knights recognized for their strong play by the league oﬃce. ing record success in the classroom, and the Knights are winning on the football ﬁeld. In 2005, O’Leary’s second season at UCF, he engineered one of the top turnarounds in the history of college football. Just one year removed from an 0-11 In 2007, O’Leary guided the Knights to arguably the ﬁnest campaign in program campaign, he guided the Knights to a historic season, complete with the program’s history. UCF won 10 contests, claimed the Conference USA Championship and par- ﬁrst bowl appearance. �cipated in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl in front of a na�onally-televised audience on ESPN. O’Leary led UCF to the fourth-best turnaround in NCAA history with a record of 8-5. The Knights went 7-1 in C-USA and claimed the league’s east division �tle. The There was li�le suspense as to who would garner C-USA Coach of the Year honors. squad became just the sixth team in NCAA history to go to a bowl game a year O’Leary was recognized with the award for the second �me in three campaigns. a�er going winless as the Knights par�cipated in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl. For the Knights and their fans, 2007 was truly a year to remember. For the college football world, the season was more evidence that O’Leary has built the Knights The college football world took no�ce of into a powerful program. the turnaround. O’Leary was named the C-USA Coach of the Year. Both Helping UCF Arrive on the Na�onal Scene CBSsports.com and SportsIllusO’Leary has already le� his stamp on the Knights’ program. When he arrived in trated.com named him the naOrlando in 2004, UCF was not a factor on the regional or na�onal scenes. �onal coach of the year. O’Leary rebuilt the program from the ground up. He lobbied for new facili�es, toured the state to gain publicity, restocked the Knights with top recruits and made sure his student-athletes excelled in their studies. The growth of the program was no more evident than in 2007. UCF posted a school-record seven-game winning streak during the season. The conference championship was the ﬁrst in program history. The 10 wins during the year established a program record at the Football Bowl Subdivision level. Na�onally, only 19 teams won at least 10 contests during the year. O’Leary helped tailback Kevin Smith post one of the most dominant single-season rushing performances. The junior rushed for 2,567 yards, good for second all-�me in NCAA history, and 29 touchdowns. He became the only rusher in the state of Florida and the 12th all-�me in the NCAA FBS to eclipse the 2,000-year mark in a season. The 2008 season saw Joe Burne� also earn ﬁrst-team All-America honors as he sha�ered the school and C-USA punt return records and graduated ranked 19th in NCAA history in career punt return yards. Excellence oﬀ the Field O’Leary has reshaped the UCF program in every facet, including improved results in the classroom. The Knights turned in a successful eﬀort in the classroom during the 2008 campaign, registering the highest in-season gradepoint-average in program history at 2.782. A total of 55 student-athletes recorded a GPA of least 3.0 during the fall 2008 semester. Defensive lineman Keith Shologan became the ﬁrst player in school history to receive ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America First Team honors in 2007. Both Shologan and defensive back Sha’reﬀ Rashad were selected to the C-USA Football All-Academic Team.
In 2008, Rashad was named to the league all-academic squad for the second-consecu�ve year. In 2007, he was named the UCF Male Scholar Athlete of the Year, becoming the second-straight football player to earn the honor. Rashad was twice named to the Na�onal Football Founda�on and College Hall of Fame’s Hampshire Honors Society. Oﬀensive lineman Dan Veenstra was the award
Facing an 11-game schedule with just four home games, his squad became just the fourth team in NCAA history to earn a bowl berth
while playing seven road contests. Even more remarkable, the turnaround was made with a team of mostly underclassmen. Pipeline to the Pros O’Leary has experience coaching on the professional level and, as a result, has helped several Knights move on to the NFL. Six Knights who played under O’Leary have been selected in the NFL Dra�. Burne� was a ﬁ�h-round pick of the Pi�sburgh Steelers in 2009. Smith was one of three UCF players taken in the 2008 dra�. He was the ﬁrst pick of the third round by Detroit. Oﬀensive lineman Josh Si�on went to Green Bay in the fourth round and Kansas City selected �ght end Mike Merri� with its seventh-round pick.
Under O’Leary’s direc�on, defensive tackle Chris Hovan emerged as one of the top players in the game at his posi�on. He ﬁnished the season with a team-high 36 quarterback hurries and was selected to the Sports Illustrated All-Pro squad. The Vikings’ defense ranked 10th in the NFL in 2003. Prior to his s�nt with the Vikings, O’Leary le� Georgia Tech and was named head coach at Notre Dame in December of 2001. O’Leary served as the defensive line coach for San Diego from 1992-93. In 1992, the defense had 51 sacks as the Chargers won the AFC West with an 11-5 record.
A�er his incredible senior season in 2006, Walker was selected by Jacksonville in the third round. In the previous year’s dra�, wide receiver Brandon Marshall was Denver’s fourth-round selec�on.
Moving Up the Ranks O’Leary had the ﬁrst of two s�nts at Georgia Tech from 1987-91. He served as the defensive coordinator/defensive line coach. The team ﬁnished 11-0-1 in 1990 and won the na�onal championship, defea�ng Nebraska in the Florida Citrus Bowl.
Other former Knights who played under O’Leary, including defensive lineman Paul Carrington, tailback Alex Haynes, �ght end Darcy Johnson and kicker Ma� Prater, have also spent �me in the NFL.
A Long Island na�ve, O’Leary received his ﬁrst coaching job at the collegiate level at Syracuse (1980-86). He coached the defensive line and was also the assistant head coach his ﬁnal two seasons.
Success at Georgia Tech O’Leary was the head coach at Georgia Tech from 1994-01 a�er taking over as interim head coach for the ﬁnal three games of the 1994 season. During his sevenyear s�nt at Georgia Tech, O’Leary guided the Yellow Jackets to a 52-33 record. The squad made ﬁve bowl appearances under O’Leary.
He started his coaching career at the high school level. From 1968-76, he coached at Central Islip (N.Y.) High School. O’Leary was the head coach at the school from 1975-76, before taking over as the head coach at Liverpool High School. He posted a 37-8-1 record in ﬁve seasons as a prep head coach, including a perfect 10-0 campaign in 1979.
From 1995-01, Georgia Tech recorded ﬁve winning seasons in six years. His 1998 squad won the Atlan�c Coast Conference Championship and played in the Gator Bowl on New Year’s Day. O’Leary’s Georgia Tech teams won at least seven games on four occasions , including a 10-win campaign in 1998 and nine victories in 2000. The 2000 Bobby Dodd Na�onal Coach of the Year, O’Leary was named the ACC Coach of the Year in 1998 and 2000.
O’Leary was born in Central Islip, N.Y., and a�ended Central Islip High School. He a�ended the University of New Hampshire and earned his degree in physical educa�on. O’Leary and his wife, Sharon, have two daughters, Chris and Trish, and two sons, Tim and Marty. The O’Leary’s welcomed their ﬁrst grandchild in 2006 as Tim and his wife Jennifer gave birth to a son named Tate. The couple had a second son, Cullen, in 2008.
One trademark of O’Leary’s tenure as a head coach has been the quality of his coaching staﬀs. While at Georgia Tech, he had three assistants who later garnered head coaching jobs. Ralph Friedgen (Maryland), Randy Edsall (Connec�cut) and Ted Roof (Duke) all served under O’Leary. Both Friedgen and Edsall have led their schools to BCS conference �tles. NFL Experience Prior to coming to UCF, O’Leary served on Minnesota’s NFL coaching staﬀ for two seasons. In 2003, he was the Vikings’ defensive coordinator. In his ﬁrst season with the team in 2002, he guided the defensive line into becoming the strength of the Minnesota defense. He also served as the squad’s assistant head coach.
Fast Facts • Date of Birth: Aug. 17, 1946 • Hometown: Central Islip, N.Y. • Educa�on: New Hampshire, 1969 (B.S. in Physical Educa�on)
Year-by-Year Head Coaching Record Year School Record 1994 Georgia Tech 0-3 1995 Georgia Tech 6-5 1996 Georgia Tech 5-6 Coaching Experience 1997 Georgia Tech 7-5 • UCF, 2004-Present 1998 Georgia Tech 10-2 Head Coach 1999 Georgia Tech 8-4 • Minnesota Vikings, 2002-03 2000 Georgia Tech 9-3 Defensive Coordinator (2003), Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Line (2002) 2001 * Georgia Tech 7-5 • Georgia Tech, 1994-01 2004 UCF 0-11 Head Coach (1995-01), Interim Head Coach (1994), Defensive Coordinator/Defen2005 UCF 8-5 sive Line (1994) 2006 UCF 4-8 • San Diego Chargers, 1992-93 2007 UCF 10-4 Defensive Line 2008 UCF 4-8 • Georgia Tech, 1987-91 at UCF 26-36 Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Line Overall 78-69 • Syracuse, 1980-86 Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Line (1985-86), Defensive Line (1980-84) • Liverpool (N.Y.) High School, 1977-79 Head Coach • Central Islip (N.Y.) High School, 1968-76 Head Coach (1975-76), Assistant Head Coach (1968-74) Honors • 2007 Conference USA Coach of the Year • 2007 Atlanta Touchdown Club Conference USA Coach of the Year • 2005 Conference USA Coach of the Year • 2005 CBSSports.com Na�onal Coach of the Year • 2005 SportsIllustrated.com Na�onal Coach of the Year • 2005 Eddie Robinson Na�onal Coach of the Year ﬁnalist • 2005 Paul “Bear” Bryant Na�onal Coach of the Year ﬁnalist • 2000 Bobby Dodd Na�onal Coach of the Year • 2000 Atlan�c Coast Conference Coach of the Year • 1998 Atlan�c Coast Conference Coach of the Year • 1998 AFCA Region I Coach of the Year • 1998 Eddie Robinson Na�onal Coach of the Year ﬁnalist
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Bowl History Season Bowl 1985 Cherry 1991 Citrus 1991 Aloha 1997 Carquest 1998 Gator 1999 Gator 2000 Peach 2001* Sea�le 2005 Sheraton Hawaii 2007 AutoZone Liberty
Notes Interim head coach
Carquest Bowl Gator Bowl, ACC Co-Champs Gator Bowl Peach Bowl Sea�le Bowl Sheraton Hawaii Bowl AutoZone Liberty Bowl, C-USA Champs
Result Maryland 35, Syracuse 18 Georgia Tech 45, Nebraksa 21 Georgia Tech 18, Stanford 17 Georgia Tech 35, West Virginia Georgia Tech 35, Notre Dame 28 Miami 28, Georgia Tech 13 LSU 28, Georgia Tech 14 Georgia Tech 24, Stanford 14 Nevada 49, UCF 48 (OT) Mississippi State 10, UCF 3
(years as head coach in bold) * coached Georgia Tech for its ﬁrst 12 games of the 2001 season, but did not coach the Yellow Jackets in the Sea�le Bowl
UCF SUCCESS UNDER GEORGE O’LEARY
Conference Championship Appearances The Knights have played in a pair of Conference USA Championship Games since joining the 12-team league in 2005. UCF hosted the �tle contest in 2007, defea�ng Tulsa at Bright House Networks Stadium. The Knights also hosted Tulsa in 2005 at the Florida Citrus Bowl.
Bowl Trips UCF has made trips to two bowl games under O’Leary. A�er winning the C-USA �tle in 2007, the Knights faced Mississippi State in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tenn. The program also par�cipated in the 2005 Sheraton Hawaii Bowl, mee�ng Nevada.
Na�onal Award Winners Under O’Leary, UCF players have received several na�onal accolades. Most recently, Joe Burne� was an All-America pick in 2008 as a kick returner. The previous season, tailback Kevin Smith earned consensus All-America honors after his record-breaking 2007 campaign.
NFL Dra� Picks Six Knights have been selected in the Na�onal Football League Dra� since the 2005 campaign, including three in 2008. The list of UCF players who have been picked includes Joe Burne�, Brandon Marshall, Josh Si�on, Kevin Smith and Mike Walker.
Academic Excellence The Knights have also excelled oﬀ the ﬁeld during O’Leary’s tenure, se�ng team grade point average records on several occasions. A�er the 2008 season, safety Sha’reﬀ Rashad was awarded a Conference USA Postgraduate Scholarship. He earned academic all-district honors twice.
Na�onal Spotlight UCF has appeared on na�onal television 27 �mes since O’Leary took over the program before the start of the 2004 season. In 2008, seven of the team’s games were aired on na�onal television. Five of those games were shown on the ESPN family networks. 133
Published on Aug 30, 2009
O’Leary helped tailback Kevin Smith post one of the most dominant single-season rushing performances. The junior rushed for 2,567 yards, goo...