UCF’s O’Leary is one of the best

George O'Leary's time was short at ND.

George O’Leary’s time was short at ND.

George O’Leary was the best coach in Notre Dame history who lasted only five days on the job. We’ll never know if he would have been the best who lasted 500 days or 5,000 days, but nothing in his coaching history suggests he would not have been.
When the Irish hired O’Leary, then 55, in December of 2001, I thought they were getting a terrific coach.
I still do.
Heck, if he had not fudged his resume, he might still be there. He’s THAT good of a coach.
Notre Dame had to fire him (technically, he resigned), because that’s what they did in those days to people who got jobs off fake resumes.
To me, though, the guy did not commit a crime. He didn’t stick up a bank, kill or molest someone. Embellishing his resume did not change the fact that he was an accomplished head coach at Georgia Tech and probably would have been an accomplished head coach at Notre Dame.

O'Leary's downfall is when he said he played at UNH but no one there could remember him.

O’Leary’s downfall came when he said he played at UNH but no one there could remember him.

We’ll never know that, but those Temple fans not sickened to the pit of their stomachs by seeing the numbers 1-8 next to the word Temple in the papers will see at least one well-coached team when the Black Knights come to Lincoln Financial Field on Saturday at noon. Other Temple fans have already checked out.

Can’t blame them. They were hoping for better than the 4-7 Daz gave them last year. Those hopes were dashed a long time ago, buried under the rubble of disgraceful losses to Fordham and Idaho.

O’Leary dots the I’s and crosses the T’s on every game plan. If he’s beaten, it’s because the talent on the other side of the ball is better. He’s not afraid to use the quarterback sneak on fourth-and-inches. He’s probably afraid NOT to, it’s such a high-percentage call. O’Leary watches the film, picks out an opponents’ weakness, and attacks that weakness. If O’Leary was playing, say, a FCS team with a 247-pound-average defensive line, he would probably use his 305-pound-average OL to pound that FCS team into submission via the run game. If O’Leary was playing the 125th-ranked rushing defense in the FBS, dome or no dome, he probably would commit a game plan heavily laden in all kinds of running plays and probably save the eleven overthrown 50-yard bombs for another day.

That’s the kind of advantage a seasoned head coach gives the team he’s coaching and the school he works for.

If you get the feeling that Temple coaches NEVER watch the film of opponents or check their tendencies, this season has provided enough evidence to convict on all counts.

After Al Golden left Temple, I thought the Owls should go after someone who fit the O’Leary profile: A proven success as a head coach, a guy on the rise, not a recycled has-been like Dennis Franchione or Larry Coker.
Golden was perfect for his time because, at THAT time, Temple needed a young guy with the boundless energy to roll up his sleeves and build a program brick by brick.
After Al left, the foundation was already solid.
It did not need to be taken down and rebuilt again and that’s why someone who fit the O’Leary profile, say a MAC head coach who did nothing but win, was just the right person who could take Temple to the next level. For Temple, a perfectly nice brick house has been knocked down for no good reason.

Fortunately for fans in Orlando, O’Leary became available to UCF and he’s done nothing but win down there.
Notre Dame’s loss is Central Florida’s gain and ask any of their fans who make the trip North if they care one wit whether or not he fudged his resume.
All that matters to them is winning. Temple’s administration and fans should demand no less.



22 thoughts on “UCF’s O’Leary is one of the best

  1. 0-11 in first year in Orlando, in what clearly must have been the most taleng-laden year in MAC history. Ask any UCF fan who makes the trip this weekend if they are glad administration was patient with him.

    • “Patience” would have never had to been asked if they hired a guy “like” O’Leary (i.e., Lembo, Cristobal, Campbell, Clawson). Any one of those guys would have turned a 4-8 team with 16 starters back into a 6-6 team and set up a launching pad for an 8-4 season next year. This guy waved his magic wand and turned a 4-7 team into a 1-8 team with the first- and second-most embarrassing losses in the long history of Temple embarrassing losses. Truly a remarkable accomplishment.

  2. SU, a couple of points with O’Leary at UCF, first he had a track record as a winning HC coming off of 5 straight winning seasons at Ga Tech and 4 bowl appearances before taking the UCF job. As for all of the talent on the UCF team they were 3-9 the season before and the only NFL player that jumps out at you from that roster is Brandon Marshall, but that was only a quick glance at the roster. Since Rhule is going to be here as the HC next season there is going to be patience, I think what is the problem is the unrealistic level that Rhule supporters expect. Barring injuries to key players, anything less than Temple being bowl eligible next season and patience with Rhule should end. O’Leary went from 0-11 to 8-5 and a bowl game his second season. You don’t have to go beyond current or future AAC teams to see the level of patience that the admin should afford Rhule. Louisville, had 15 wins in the 3 seasons prior to Charlie Strong becoming HC, 4 years since their last bowl appearance. His first year taking over a team that was on a losing trend and Strong went 7-6 and in a bowl. Tulane, coming in the AAC next season, where Curtis Johnson took over a team that had won 9 games in the 3 prior seasons, 2-10 his first season, this year Tulane is bowl eligible for the first time since 2002. UConn, hired Paul Pasqualoni, successful HC at Syracuse and 1/4 of the way into his 3rd season no longer was patient after 2 5-7 seasons and the start of this years debacle. So I think the administration should not have patience with a 2,3 or even 4 win season for 2014.

  3. Had to laugh reading the Daily News story today about the Owls. Apparently, Bill Cosby asked Coach Ruhle how he was doing and after Coach Rhule said, “Great.” When he repeated his response Cosby asked him what pill he was on. The sad fact is that because of the administration, Rhule has every right to feel great because nothing will be done by the administration as a result of his failure to provide coaching commensurate with his salary, position as a D-1 coach, and the level of talent on this team. Some may argue with that last statement concerning the level of talent but I would just point out that sixteen starters from a team that went 4-8 returned this year. Clearly, at least four of the losses (Houston, Fordham, Idaho, and Rutgers) cannot be blamed on the lack of talent but rather on a lack of competent coaching and game planning. I realize that this horse has been beaten to death but I also think that a coach who’s decisions both on the field and in the selection of his staff led to these losses shouldn’t feel great. At a minimum, out of concern for the feelings of the few fans left, he shouldn’t be announcing it.

    • ….but I would just point out that sixteen starters from a team that went 4-8 returned this year…..

      John, as you said this defense wasn’t as bereft of experience as some would like you to believe. I get that the 2012 defense wasn’t great by any stretch but there seems to have been enough talent ‘left’ for a good coordinator to put together a serviceable D, especially considering the younger players who gained experience last year. 6 players returned who started 6 or more games and another 5 who played in 6 or more games in 2012. The top tacklers were back, leading interceptor and 3 of the the top 4 pass rushers back. From the 2012 defense Nate D. Smith, Levi Brown and Tyler Matekevich made an all Big East Team list. Anthony Robey and Matekevich were on a couple of all AAC pre-season lists for 2013. Should a great defense have been the expectation for 2012, no but I also don’t think a defense that is on track to finish worse off in almost all defensive categories over 2012 should be acceptable either.

  4. “I would just point out that sixteen starters from a team that went 4-8 returned this year. Clearly, at least four of the losses (Houston, Fordham, Idaho, and Rutgers) cannot be blamed on the lack of talent but rather on a lack of competent coaching and game planning.”

    Only the most blind of the most blind Rhule Apologists would disagree with that statement.

  5. I didn’t get in the first 639 references but I do now — you feel Rhule was a bad choice and his in-game decisions are evidence. Thanks. There may be others out there even more dense than me so please keep pounding it home.

    • SU, how about approaching this from another direction. What qualifications, experience, body of work, etc. do you feel Matt Rhule brings to the table that warrants giving him say 4 years ad HC if this team continues to have a losing record after next season?

    • Hey let’s give him 6 years to kill the program!

      Why not?

      Obviously, apathy is cool on North Broad

      • Apathy for some and for others just totally out of touch with the reality of big time college football today. I read one post on the rivals.com board where the poster stated, “I think Rhule will get us near the top of the AAC within 5 years”. Don’t know if that will kill the program as you say Jay but at best you’ll have a totally irrelevant program in a “have not” conference.

  6. So JD, you appear to be saying that TU should just end the program today because even if it’s successful, it’ll be irrelevant. If that’s the case, let’s kill it now rather than putter along with an inept coaching staff for the five years it’ll take to kill the program. that’ll save a lot of money and a lot of angst.

    • John, misread my point, not saying that at all, was focusing on what Jay said about the “RhuleAid” drinkers giving him 6 years to kill the program and how there are some on the other boards saying the “in 5 years he will have the team NEAR the top of the AAC. It seems too many people are happy to have this team be unsuccessful for the next couple of years. Maybe you think a 4-8 team in 2015/16 version of the AAC will be relevant in the bigger D1 picture, I don’t. I think it will be lumped with the likes of Idaho, New Mexico State, Eastern Michigan, etc. This isn’t a power conference, so the only relevance you’ll have at the bottom will be everyone’s homecoming game. If you had read my posts here I’m firmly in the camp that what this program needs is coaching that knows how to win, if not a new HC at least a new DC. To me this team should be at least bowl eligible next season and in the upper echelon by 2015. So if you want to be following a 2,3,4 win team over the next 4 years or so that’s cool, it’s your time and money. I had enough of those games at the Vet during the Dickerson/Berndt/Wallace “Legion of Doom” coaching reign to waste my time sitting through it again.

  7. I, and a lot of other people have as well and that’s why there’s no enthusiasm for a wait and see approach. That train has left the station and everyone is afraid that the administration, like those in the past, will take that approach so that at the end of four more wasted years, TU again has to start over and rebuild the program. I don’t have much faith in the administration, given it’s Indiana base, because Indiana football is always rebuilding. The difference is that no matter how bad Indiana is, it still gets Big Ten TV money.

    • That is exactly the point I was trying to make in response to Jay’s post. An even closer example of what you are saying about Big 10 money is Rutgers. They could surprise me but I think they are going to struggle for awhile moving up to the B10 level of competition but they will struggling in the big house with the big payday, tv exposure, etc. I agree with some opinions out there that the football realignment is probably not done yet, but that the next round will most likely be the last. When that happens the only way for Temple to cash in will to be at the top of the AAC, not losing to teams like Memphis, Tulane, Tulsa, etc. Thar’s what I mean about running the risk of becoming irrelevant. If the team has to start rebuilding in 4 years it will be 2 steps backwards, then 1 step forward. The worst part of this whole situation is every time I’ve asked a Rhule supporter their reasoning for this irrational faith that he will be a huge success, such as SUOwls82 here and folks on other boards, no one ever responds.

      • The usual response is that he’s a nice guy and can recruit. That’s all well and good but he wasn’t hired to be a university ambassador or football recruiter. I’d take a Frank Kush or Woddie Hayes over a nice guy because those guys could coach.

      • I agree completely JD with respect to being in a bad position for tv money that will be there. Something must change or its 1991-2005 all over again. But it looks like we are really a basketball school, and that is upsetting to me.

  8. John, the other thing is the whole bit about him sticking around for the long term, which ok I get the stability aspect but if Temple coaches are going to get hired away after 3 or 4 years I would generally think the team is doing pretty well on a consistent basis, So, I’m not as hung up on that whole stick around thing. As far as recruiting, I think you can only play the “you can play right away card” for a limited time. I also question how good his recruiting will be if Temple is still losing for the next couple of seasons and the program is competing with 3 Big 10 teams within a 3 hour drive and 3 ACC within a 6 hour drive from main campus.

  9. Good discussion. I know there’s an element out there that preaches patience but our fan base is way too fragile and has been asked for patience way too many times in the past to be asked for patience again. How did a 4-7 team with 16 starters back become a 1-8 team? Certainly not talent. The administration either recognizes that and does something or recognizes that and falls on the sword and gives up. Unfortunately, I think it’s going to go the Samurai route. I think BB picked Rhule against his instincts and with too many people (players, parents and Al Shrier) touting his value as a familiar face around the campus. I talked to Bill last year before the hiring and I got the distinct feeling he was leaning very heavily toward picking a HEAD coach with HEAD coaching experience before the Rhule people got in his ear.

    • Mike, that point about Matt Rhule being a familiar face and knowing the players is what infuriates me the most about his hire so far. With all of the “younger” players that he is forced to play, according to his supporters, why weren’t they starters right out of the gate and what happened to all of the players tweeting for his hire. I’m guessing a lot are the junior and senior players. If Rhule knew the team so well, shouldn’t he have had some idea as to whether or not they should be starting, and please I don’t want to hear the one excuse I saw posted either on the scout or rivals board, the upperclassmen just quit because it’s the 3rd system in 4 years…boohoo. As for the defense, why not either hire a DC or work closely with the one you have to put in a defense that plays to the teams strengths. As you said 16 starters back overall and on defense the following:
      1. 2 top tacklers who both made all Big East teams
      2. Leading tackler for losses (Nate D. Smith) who is suddenly too slow, too small, a defensive end, I don;t know what for this DC
      3. Number 2 sack man back, again Nate D.
      4. Even though the team didn’t get a lot last year, your top interceptor back in Tavon Young.

      I just don;t get a sense that Rhule’s supposed familiarity with the team has paid any dividends.

  10. True. Central Florida could put up 40 on Snow. It’s a modern offense and Snow is stuck in 1986. I hope not, but the matchups are not good. RU was primarily a run team with the shaky QB (who made a good play at the end). That was a better matchup for Temple. Only hope is a 41-40 game, but UCF’s defense is better than almost every team the Owls have played, with the possible exception of ND.
    Gotta take a long-term view here, but I don’t see TU doing better than 2-10. That sets the bar for the MRAs as 4-8 next year to say, “See, he’s improving. Give him a year or two and we might get to 6 wins. Yippee!!!”

    • The scary part about what you are saying is that I’ve seen posts either on the rivals or scout board talking about Rhule building this team to be something special in 2015, I guess that’s 6-6. I still don’t get this blind loyalty?

      • I don’t get the belief system. There is no basis in fact in it. In reality, he’s done more to question what he’s doing every week. The most head-scratching came last game by eschewing the QB sneak that would have been followed by 3 kneel downs. He makes this a lot harder on himself than it should be.

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