When George O'Leary called it a career on Sunday, he left a void at a coaching job much bigger than some realize. UCF lies in a recruiting hotbed, the stadium is nice, the weather is great, Orlando's the kind of place coaches wouldn't mind bringing their families, the school has cash and could even wind up in a power conference one of these days.
Lest we forget, the Knights claimed a Fiesta Bowl win two years ago and shared the AAC crown just last season. O'Leary stayed on 11 years, never apt to move up owing to his age and status as damaged goods from the Notre Dame resume scandal. We'll see just how attractive this job is soon enough.
That said, lots of names get thrown out for any coaching job, mostly by columnists trying to fill out "Top XX" lists (not that I can relate). Today, we'll help you whittle those lists down a bit.
If I'm Central Florida's athletic director, these seven don't get far.
when you slide into the Dms and get rejected... pic.twitter.com/aItrhj1mIp— Allik (@allikanchondo14) March 27, 2014
DISCLAIMER: No, these aren't literally the seven worst candidates. We're not scouring the globe for a schizophrenic, a hardened criminal or Hal Mumme. All of these dudes know football better than you or I, they just don't fit the high profile and $1 million-plus salary for top dog at UCF. And yes, all have been mentioned for the gig in some corner of Internet land.
Muschamp was barely done at Florida before his name re-entered the rumor mill. He got mentions for the then-open Houston job and, even weirder, for a defensive coordinator/head coach in waiting gig at South Carolina. In that second scenario he'd have gone barely half a season before becoming an SEC head coach again.
A quick Google image search tells you everything about his time in Gainesville. Is there any reason to think he'd do better in Orlando? Unless uncontrollable sideline rage can win football games, the answer is no.
Fans who missed driving all the way to Tampa to watch a losing team could do it much closer with Schiano at the helm. Sure, he engineered a turnaround at historic doormat Rutgers, but even that took half a decade. Schiano went 3-24 his first four seasons in Piscataway. If that happens here, UCF will miss out on five round of conference realignment and end up champions of the Atlantic 10.
Schiano's previous experience is mostly in the NFL and/or in the northeast, with an 18-month stint as Miami defensive coordinator his only local college job.
Even his own Wikipedia page hates on Schiano:
Schiano's mere 68-67 record at Rutgers received less scrutiny at the time, as high-profile, upset victories had enhanced media/popular perceptions of Schiano's effectiveness.
Schiano's also getting love from Miami fans. UCF needs somebody excited about them, not somebody wishing they were another couple hours south.
This is a tricky one. Davis built up a solid Miami program when it was truly "The U" and had North Carolina firing on all cylinders just a few years back. There are convenient parallels with O'Leary: Older coach, damaged goods, lots of wins.
Yea, he's angling for the Miami job, but there's only one of those and UCF could be a nice Plan B.
If anything, Davis would turn UCF into a bad parody of the Miami program, riding coattails of past success with scandal an ever-present dark backdrop. The dude's shadier than a circus tent in the desert. He reportedly left Miami the first time just days after telling a recruit he'd be there "until I retire."
Butch Davis lied like a Watergate co-conspirator. This guy shouldn't be able to turn a corner in a hallway; his nose ought to be getting places 10 minutes ahead of him.
Davis later slithered back to the college game following an unsuccessful NFL stint, and left again in the wake of an academic scandal at UNC. Which of those are we looking for at Central Florida?
Kiffin could be a hit in Orlando owing to his vaguely beachy vibe and resemblance to Daniel Tosh. Recruits like him and maybe a few years under Nick Saban have ironed out the wrinkles.
Here's a take on Kiffin from our own Chas Short:
With his reputation, former Oakland Raiders head coach, Vols head coach, and Trojans head coach Lane Kiffin inevitably will be a name tossed out there by the commentariat. But hiring Kiffin (or any other candidate who would obviously view the job as a stepping stone) seems inconsistent with the UCF approach.
Before we get to him stepping from UCF to another head coaching job, let's remember he's had three of them already. Sure it'd be fun to hear him talk about singing the fight song all night after beating UConn, but how many mulligans does one man get before we count the strokes?
This one drips with intrigue. Leavitt wasn't afraid to take jabs at his cross-state rival during a decade at USF. He once led the Bulls to a No. 2 national ranking, a level of success they've obviously not seen since he left. Imagine Leavitt doing the same at UCF at the expense of his former employer. There could be a bit of a Favre-returns-to-Green-Bay-this-is-crazy vibe.
Really though, it'd mostly be awkward, not least because Leavitt struck a player and interfered with USF's investigation of the incident last time around.
Hey, he's interested.