Coaching changes jump-start offseason
Published: Monday, January 2, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, January 3, 2012 12:01
A disappointing 2011 campaign has left the UCF Knights looking for answers.
One place those answers have been sought out is in coaching changes, an avenue head coach George O'Leary pursued vigorously immediately following the conclusion of the season and throughout the winter break.
Within days of the Knights' victory over UTEP to close out the season, O'Leary fired defensive coordinator John Skladany, linebackers coach Al Seamonson and director of player personnel Albert Boone. This was in addition to the loss of former-wide receivers coach David Kelly, who resigned amid the release of the NCAA violations that also resulted in the resignation of then-athletic director Keith Tribble.
UCF had some hiring to do. With recruiting season in full swing, the Knights made their new hires and the direction of the program has become a bit clearer.
UCF hired Auburn's Ted Roof as its new defensive coordinator. Roof had held the same position at Auburn for three years, including the 2010 season when the Tigers won the national championship.
Despite the defensive unit's success in his first two seasons with the program, Auburn's defense experienced a significant drop-off in 2011. Roof was heavily criticized, and his job was rumored to be in jeopardy.
Roof served under O'Leary at Georgia Tech from 1998-2001.
"It's a wonderful opportunity to come to a great place. It's just as important to come work for a coach who I have tremendous respect for," Roof said. "He gave me my first break as a coordinator in football, and I think it says a lot about how I feel about coach [O'Leary]."
O'Leary hopes that a new direction with the defensive unit will shore up some problems he had see in 2011, including tackling problems and an inability to get key stops in important situations.
The Knights' most recent hire was at linebackers coach, where former-Akron defensive coordinator Jim Fleming was hired on to replace Seamonson.
UCF hired another candidate with SEC experience when the Knights took on Alabama graduate assistant Derrick Ansley as defensive backs coach. Ansley had worked with the Crimson Tide's secondary for two seasons and played football at Troy University.
Sean Beckton, who coached the defensive backs in 2011 but had previously served as UCF's wide receivers coach, was again moved to that position to take Kelly's place.
The Knights' third hire from the state of Alabama was former-Crimson Tide graduate assistant Drew Hughes, who will join UCF's staff as director of player personnel. To round out the hirings, former Knight Paul Carrington was added as the program's operations assistant.
The staff changes will bolster a program that underachieved in 2011 and has only one remaining season in Conference USA before jumping to the Big East in 2013.
Questions have surrounded how long O'Leary would coach the program before choosing to retire or finishing out his contract, and at the school's formal press conference announcing its addition to the Big East, O'Leary confirmed he intended to oversee the Knights' transition to automatic qualifying-status conference.
"My chance of being here in 2013? I have a contract, and I'll honor my contract," O'Leary said. "And I'm sure the university will honor their part of it. So I intend on being here through the Big East. … So 2013, you'll see this old, gray-haired guy on that field."