Earlier this month, FOXSports.com‘s Bruce Feldman, about as reliable as it gets when it comes to college football news, reported that George O’Leary was giving strong consideration to stepping down as UCF’s head coach this season, perhaps as soon as immediately after the Knights’ opener against Penn State in Ireland Saturday.
The 68-year-old O’Leary immediately and vehemently denied the report, saying “I don’t have any idea what that’s about.”
With the opener just three days away, O’Leary again addressed the speculation. And again refuted it.
From the Orlando Sentinel‘s Mike Bianchi:
“You know me better than that. As good or bad as it gets, I’m going to finish what I started.”
“If you know my history, I’m not one to start something and not finish it,” O’Leary said then. “Unless somebody knows something I don’t, I don’t plan on (stepping down after the Penn State game). I don’t know where that came from. I don’t know who the sources are (for the Fox story) and I don’t really care. The only source I worry about is my source – me! I have every intention of coaching 13 games this year.”
O’Leary’s boss’s boss also forcefully refuted the report. Well, at least the after-one-game aspect of the report.
“Coach O’Leary would never quit after one game in a season,” UCF president John Hitt told the Sentinel. “Whoever wrote that doesn’t know George O’Leary. George will retire when he retires. We hope his health stays great. He’s often said when he has two straight days when he goes to work and doesn’t have fun then he’ll retire. We think and hope it will be a good, long while before that happens.”
O’Leary has been at UCF since 2004, the first year which produced the worst season in the football program’s history: 0-11. Since then, however, the Knights have won 10-plus games four times, the only times that’s happened in school history.
There have been rumors that Brent Key, promoted to assistant head coach earlier this offseason, is essentially the head-coach-in-waiting, with the offensive line coach set to take over the program when O’Leary hangs up his coaching whistle.
Whether that’s this weekend, after this season or a couple/few years down the road remains to be seen.