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Former UCF Football Coach George O'Leary To Be Honored With Statue

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George O'Leary, who coached the Knights from obscurity to success across multiple conferences, will be honored with a statue near Bright House Networks Stadium in 2017.

Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Appropriately enough, a guy I once compared to Shelley's "Ozymandias" is getting a statue. A statue of former head coach George O'Leary is expected to be installed in 2017, probably on or near Bright House Networks Stadium. As the Orlando Sentinel reports, the effort to install the statue was organized by a group of private donors and approved by the UCF Athletic Association.

No word yet on whether the statue will feature ecstatic ‘post-ECU in 2014 O'Leary' or ‘wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command O'Leary.'

O'Leary is a complicated figure, but undeniably worthy of a statute from a football perspective (despite the winless seasons that bookended his UCF tenure). The Knights' eighth head coach, O'Leary oversaw virtually every major achievement in program history. He coached UCF to the program's first bowl appearance and later to its first bowl win, a Liberty Bowl victory over Georgia in 2010.

The Knights won four conference titles with O'Leary at the helm: two in Conference USA and two in the American Athletic Conference. The inaugural AAC season in 2013 was the high point of both O'Leary's tenure and UCF's football history to date: the Knights went 11-1 in the regular season, won the AAC outright, and smashed Big 12 Champion Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl to end the season ranked #10.

O'Leary's emphasis on player discipline and academics was praiseworthy. There were few player arrests in his tenure and football players succeeded academically. UCF had a 90 percent graduation success rate in 2014: third among public universities, first in the state of Florida, and first in the AAC. And of course, O'Leary was instrumental in UCF getting the on-campus stadium where his statue will likely rest.

Other aspects of O'Leary's time at UCF were less than salubrious. A player's death in 2008 (arising from sickle cell trait complications) following conditioning drills led to extensive civil litigation. Though O'Leary was not a defendant in the case, he featured prominently in the litigation.