After leading his squad to the 2007 Conference USA Championship and a berth in the 2007 AutoZone Liberty Bowl, UCF head coach George O’Leary has been named the C-USA Coach of the Year, as selected by the league’s 12 head coaches. The C-USA Championship highlights a year that has featured O’Leary leading the Knights to a 10-3 overall record and an East Division title for the second time in three campaigns in the league.
UCF’s 10 wins on the year are the most since the program moved to the Football Bowl Subdivision in 1996. O’Leary’s Knights have now won seven-consecutive contests, a program record, and secured their first conference championship in school history.
His team has posted a six-game improvement in 2007 and O’Leary also directed UCF’s historic turnaround in 2005 when he led his team to the second-best turnaround in NCAA history.
O’Leary, a two-time national coach of the year, has his team poised to make just its second bowl appearance in program history. After advancing to the Sheraton Hawai’i Bowl in 2005, the Knights are set to meet Mississippi State in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl Saturday, December 29 in Memphis, Tenn.
Under O’Leary’s guidance, nine UCF players earned All-Conference USA recognition by the league’s coaches, including five first-team selections.
Defensive back Joe Burnett was named to the first-team at both DB and punt returner. Also included in the selections is the nation’s leading rusher, Kevin Smith. Smith leads the country in rushing with an incredible 188.1 yards-per-game average. He set a new all-time NCAA FBS record for rushing attempts with 415 and enters the AutoZone Liberty Bowl with 2,448 yards, second in FBS history and 181 yards shy of breaking Barry Sanders all-time mark.