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.
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.