Only those who followed the sport closely knew better, that Tulane’s 45-31 AAC win only served to illustrate how far things have fallen in Orlando for head coach George O’Leary, who is only two years from routing Power-5 representative Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl. The Knights are 0-5 and now are staring at a 0-12 season. As it stands now, they only have a chance of being favored over UConn at home on Saturday and, frankly, UConn has played better. UCF has suffered embarrassing home losses to FIU and Furman, the latter being an FCS team.
That’s a penthouse-to-outhouse fall unrivaled in college football and probably means the end is near for O’Leary, 69, who has had an accomplished career but age has caught up to him. In addition, he’s had some bad luck. The Knights have played most of their first four games without their starting quarterback, center, best receiver and two best running backs. In all, eight potential offensive starters didn’t play in Saturday’s game against Tulane or the week prior against South Carolina.
UCF’s problems not only stem from injuries, but from O’Leary’s job situation. O’Leary was named UCF’s interim athletic director in June and there are rumors — but no announcement yet — that he will retire from coaching to become the full-time AD after the season. So the appearance is that O’Leary is mailing in the coaching part of his job. Even worse for UCF is that the coach has no experience as an athletic administrator and his possible future involvement as an AD probably will not help his presumably handpicked successor get off on the right foot.
When UCF beat Baylor, plenty of people were talking about the Knights as a possible selection for a Power 5 conference. Now nobody is, and the blame has to go to an aging coach who apparently has lost any enthusiasm for the coaching part of his job.