Wow, what a ride it’s been. The success UCF had this season was a dream come true and you’re to thank for that. Nobody thought when you took over this 0-12 program that we would be 13-0 just two seasons later. Success like this feels so good and that’s why we’re all so sad to see you go. It also doesn’t help that you’re such a damn likeable guy.
I’m sure you’ve read through your mentions on Twitter a time or two throughout this process. A lot of fans were hurt by your decision to leave UCF and I’m sure they said some things they shouldn’t have. No matter what was said in the heat of the moment, there’s not a single one of us who isn’t grateful for what you did for our university.
I respect your decision to return home. You were born in Nebraska, you played for Nebraska... you are Nebraska. There’s no real playbook on how to handle a situation like that and I think you did the best job possible. Even with our success in 2013, nobody ever came calling for O’Leary and fans didn’t know what it was like to lose a coach to another program.
It’s easy to turn your back on a program when they’re not having success (look at FSU). It’s also easy to leave a program after the season and have them fend for themselves in their bowl game (look at SMU). You didn’t take the easy way out. Despite having two full-time jobs and a newborn at home, you never lost your commitment to this program.
From the first day of bowl practice to the on-field celebration after the game, you were with us every step of the way. We can’t thank you enough for finishing the mission and bringing home the trophy. Although we all wish you would be returning to Orlando next year, we know you’ll be rooting for us from Lincoln.
I know this wasn’t an easy decision for you. I saw the emotion in your eyes during every press conference. Just know that you’ll always have a home in Orlando and you’ll always be a UCF Knight at heart. Thanks for the memories, coach.
Best of luck,