ARTICLE OF THE DAY

Taking Advantage
of a Second Chance

by Brian North
10/27/05


George O'Leary is still fodder for the late-night talk show jokesters. The former Georgia Tech head man infamously embellished his resume when he was a young and upcoming coach. O'Leary claimed to have a master's degree in education and to have played college football for three years at his alma mater New Hampshire. In 2002, a reporter discovered the errors when he was researching a feature story on the Long Island native after he was hired at his dream school Notre Dame. O'Leary resigned five days after being hired by the Fighting Irish. He released a statement at the time which read: "Due to a selfish and thoughtless act many years ago, I have personally embarrassed Notre Dame, its alumni and fans."

O'Leary didn't commit a crime, he was never arrested, but he certainly paid for his mistake. One of the best defensive minds in football, he was ostracized in college football circles, his credibility shot. So he went to the NFL to rehabilitate his image. Two years of leading a strong Minnesota Vikings defensive unit finally opened up the door. George O'Leary got a second chance.

The University of Central Florida decided to make a commitment to its football program. The Knights moved to division I-A in 1996 and had four winning seasons in 9 years. But the school wanted better results, so
starting in 2005 it relaxed its entrance requirements for football players, and decided to pay George O'Leary and his staff more money than any other program in the state of Florida.

O'Leary and the Knights struggled in their inaugural season going winless in 11 games. But the pieces are starting to fall into place this year. UCF (4-3) has won three of its last four games, and they are doing it with a youth movement. Twenty-three freshmen or sophomores have started this year, and seven true freshmen start for Central Florida. The future certainly looks bright for the school in the middle of the Sunshine State.

George O'Leary still has a long way to go to rehabilitate his image nationwide. But he is getting a second chance and making the most of it. If the Knights build a winner under O'Leary, he won't ever need to embellish his resume, his legacy will be written in stone.

Brian North
bnorth@wcti12.com