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,
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.