Fans should praise O’Leary, not call for his firing
Published: Saturday, November 19, 2011
Updated: Sunday, November 20, 2011 17:11
The calls for George O'Leary's head have been heard for years from the back of rooms and stadium. Though those voices were mysteriously quiet just last season, they are now back and more wrong than ever.
Despite back-to-back losses to conference rivals that have left the Knights slouched outside the bowling party, it is important not to succumb to the moment, and to look at the big picture.
But in the face of recent successes and the fact that UCF seems poised to join the Big East, some people are ready to ditch O'Leary faster than Kim Kardashian can divorce a New Jersey Nets power forward.
Whether or not you agree with O'Leary's two-quarterback system with Jeff Godfrey and Blake Bortles, his go-for-two call at the end of the Southern Miss game, or if you have loyally been non-loyal to him for years, O'Leary should not be fired.
I'm not saying he has done a perfect job this season. In fact, I have written columns questioning his play calling and judgment.
But there is a difference between questioning and demanding the firing of the -ball coach.
Those blockheads who want O'Leary fired need to face reality.
UCF, like it or not, is not a major football program. UCF is not an exception like Boise State, either.
Without a constant influx of four- and five-star recruits, the Knights are guaranteed to have some down years.
For now at least, UCF is a non-AQ program playing like a non-AQ program — up and down.
And that isn't O'Leary's fault. In fact, he has worked to change it. In the wake of recent NCAA violations, the Knights will be going to the Big East. Yes, not the comfiest conference, but an improvement non-the-less.
This should be a time to praise O'Leary, not fire him.
But it is sickening how some fans of this university have treated him.
Heck, if some students at Penn State will defend a guy who allegedly covered up a pedophile and rape, then O'Leary haters can at least have some patience for a coach who launched an unknown football program into the national conscience.
Since O'Leary's first season, when the team went 0-11, the head coach is 49-40 with two conference championships and four bowl appearances; the most recent being a win over Georgia in last season's Liberty Bowl.
O'Leary has also put an emphasis on academics among his student-athletes. UCF is consistently among the top in the nation in GPA and graduation rate.
O'Leary has helped bring a stadium to campus, garner national recognition and take the program to a major BCS conference.
He is the best coach the Knights can ask for, one of quality, experience and respect.
I say, let him coach out his contract, and then build a statue in his name outside Bright House Networks Stadium, aka "George O'Leary Field."