George O'Leary: your new UCF Interim Athletic Director. His first day on the (additional) job will be July 11. Wow.
I hope I'm not spoiling anything by telling you that we'll shortly be running an analysis discussing the hot seat (or, uh, cold seat) of each AAC head football coach. It's not surprising that O'Leary's seat is not hot, not even a little. My view is that O'Leary will be coaching football at UCF as long as he wants to, and that there is tremendous mutual loyalty and trust between the UCF administration and GOL.
What a clear demonstration of that loyalty and trust.
In UCF's press release, President John Hitt had this to say about the choice:
"George's leadership and knowledge of athletics -- which includes programs beyond football -- will keep UCF moving forward academically, competitively, and in the community [. . .] His national connections will also help us continue building the Knights' reputation around the country [. . . ] George believes, as do I, that our strong athletics and university staffs will ensure he is successful on and off the field."
O'Leary's on field accomplishments are easy to identify. He has coached the Knights to every major success and benchmark in the history of the football program: getting to their first bowl game, winning their first bowl game, winning the Fiesta Bowl, earning a top ten AP Poll ranking, and winning Conference Championships in both C-USA and the AAC.
There are good things to be said about his off-field achievements as well. O'Leary emphasizes academics, which has translated to an excellent graduation rate among UCF football players. That's part of a broader pattern at UCF, by the way. UCF has the highest Graduation Success Rate for student-athletes of any public NCAA Division I FBS school at 95%.
O'Leary will replace, at least through the end of 2015, AD Todd Stansbury who leaves to take the AD position at Oregon State.
The questions going forward will be interesting. Will GOL end up permanently occupying the position and being UCF's Barry Alvarez?
Does this lend credence to the notion that GOL will be retiring sooner, rather than later? UCF fans will remember the speculation that he would retire in 2014 after the Penn State game in Ireland (which, obviously, did not happen). But if O'Leary's performs well as Interim AD, won't it be easy to see him slotting into that role permanently at the end of 2015?
And wouldn't that nicely make way for heir apparent Brent Key, who was already taking on an expanded role this year as offensive coordinator, and who will no necessarily have to take an even greater role given that O'Leary will now have more on his plate?
And wouldn't that transition feel even more natural now that we are seeing UCF loyalty in action?
O'Leary called his appointment "another great adventure." There's no doubt: this is a really interesting move for UCF and it will be fascinating to see how all this plays out.