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UCF interim head football coach addresses the media for the first time Oct. 26 Video by Jarrod Heil, Central Florida Future

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UCF interim head football coach Danny Barrett may be taking on a new task as he replaces the man who put the Knights’ football program on the map, George O’Leary, but he’s certainly not in an unfamiliar position.

Spending seven years as the head coach of the Saskatchewan Rough Riders of the Canadian Football League (2000-06), the Boynton Beach, Florida, native is the most qualified of anyone on UCF’s coaching staff to handle the position. In fact, he is the only person on the coaching staff that has experience as a head coach.

Although he said O’Leary’s retirement was not exciting news for anybody that has been involved with the UCF football program, he is looking forward to making the best of the opportunity to lead the Knights.

“I had a sincere conversation with coach O’Leary. Obviously this is not something he wanted to do, but at the same time he did wish me well and said, ‘Go get ‘em,’” Barrett said. “I want to personally thank coach O’Leary for giving me the opportunity to come here and be a part of this program five years ago. He’s done a tremendous job of putting this university on the map.”

O’Leary brought Barrett onto the coaching staff in 2011 as the running backs coach. He spent four years in that role before being moved to the quarterbacks coach prior to the 2015 season. He will remain there for the rest of the season.

“Coach Barrett has always been a very organized guy, and he’s always been pinpoint accurate with the things that he does and makes sure that everybody is on point,” said redshirt senior H-back Cedric Thompson, who is in his fifth year with Barrett. “Now he has more of a voice over the team, and he’s just letting us know how things are going to be.

“It’s not like he’s taking over and just completely shifting everything around, he’s still staying consistent with the foundation that’s been laid here.”

Barrett, spent 15 years as a quarterback in the CFL, where he compiled 133 touchdowns and 23,419 passing yards on 53.8 percent passing during 163 games.

After his tenure, he held various coaching positions in the CFL from 1997-06. He then moved to the University at Buffalo, where he spent 2007-09 as the assistant head coach and quarterbacks coach. He also spent 2010 as the quarterbacks coach at Bethune-Cookman.

He was a quarterback at the University of Cincinnati from 1979-82 and will spend his first game at helm of the UCF football program facing his alma mater.

“It is a bittersweet moment,” Barrett said. “This will be the first time since I left that university, playing a game there in that stadium since 1982, and so I’m excited about that.”

But he will not let that fact prevent him from reaching his goal: leading UCF to its first win of the season Saturday at noon.

“My daughter’s 13th birthday is Saturday, so she’s already asked for a birthday gift so you know the pressure’s on,” Barret said. “This is a winning program and we’re going to continue to try to get back on track.”

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Jarrod Heil is the Sports Editor for the Central Florida Future. Follow him on Twitter at @JarrodHeil or email him at JarrodH@CentralFloridaFuture.com.

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