Dec. 9, 2013
UCF Athletics Social Media Directory
By Doug Richards
Coach O'Leary Media Availability Photo Gallery
ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFKnights.com) - With his Knights headed to a BCS bowl for the first time, UCF head coach George O'Leary met with the media Monday morning at the Wayne Densch Sports Center on campus to talk about the Jan. 1 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl matchup with Baylor.
On UCF going to the Fiesta Bowl to face Baylor:
I think it is great for the University of Central Florida. I think that a lot of hard work went into the program from a lot of people. I think it is great for the fanbase. They are getting some rewards. Getting to a BCS bowl is the ultimate [reward] as far as your season. The big thing right now is Baylor. I have seen them a couple of times on TV. They have a very explosive offense. They are representing the Big 12 as the champion and they are a very formidable team. The big thing right now is that it is still business. We have work to do. The players right now will have some time off. They are busy right now finishing finals. They will be back next Monday to start practice.
On building the program for 10 years, from an 0-11 season to this 11-1 campaign:
When we showed up 10 years ago, it was a low point. We did what you should do as a coach taking over a program - you build a foundation. Each year you put some furniture in the building. The big thing is that we have gotten better each year. We have had our ups and downs, but I think that the consistency of the program and the culture of the program is in place to move forward and to continue to get better each and every year.
On the key to his team's success this year:
Team chemistry. We don't have a lot of seniors. We have eight seniors on the team this year. That is hard because you have a lot of unknowns with your younger players who had to play this year. I thought that they did an outstanding job, not just on the field, but off the field making sure that the kids understood the UCF way: the way to do things the correct way. I met with the seniors last night and congratulated them about the season that they have had, but not on the field, off the field. I think they were a major impact on the success of the team. I have always said that recruiting is a business. Recruit players who fit in with the culture of your program. I think that the coaches have done a great job of doing that. There were a lot of kids that we could have taken that were not good fits for what we wanted to get done here as far as being student-athletes and socially doing the right thing. We have taken chances on some of them and they worked out to be great kids and I am very happy about that.
On the exposure that UCF will receive by playing in the Fiesta Bowl, and has received in its first year in the American Athletic Conference:
I think the big thing right now is that when we went to The American, the exposure that ESPN has given us, you cannot buy that exposure. It was good exposure. We did well. The brand of UCF is out there. That helps with recruiting and we are getting so much more interest right now from all over [the country], not just the state of Florida.
On what he will tell his players about media members calling UCF an underdog against Baylor:
I don't know about that. I'll have a chance to go and watch Baylor in depth. I am sure that they will do the same with us. Our players will compete. Our players are very excited about the game and are very excited about to get to Arizona and play. They are looking forward to the trip. They understand what we need to get done to go out and compete against a team like Baylor. We will represent The American to the best of our ability. It is a very good opponent. We have played those coaches before when they were in Conference USA (at Houston) and I am looking forward to that. Art (Briles) has done a great job with the program. I don't get involved in [point spreads]. That is for you talking heads.
On the importance of UCF fans making the trip to Arizona:
I understand the economy and all that. You only get to BCS bowls every so often. Anyway that we can get fans out there, we need them out there. I think knowing the fanbase and the talk that I hear, we will have a great contingent out there representing UCF. That is the great thing about a bowl game, it is an away game for everybody. We will have our fanbase there and they will be as loud as they have been at all of the games that we have played. We travel well and have had a good contingent at all of the away games that we have played this year. It is going to be a great trip. They do a great job with all of the festivities and keeping the interest of the fans. There are a lot of things to do. It is a great stadium that we are playing in and a great opponent. I think it is really going to be a fun time.