Sports Outside the Beltway

Central Florida fires Basketball coach Kirk Speraw

The Knights last made the NCAA tournament in 2005. From AP-

Kirk Speraw is out after 17 years as Central Florida’s coach.Kirk Speraw

UCF announced Monday that Speraw would not be retained after a disappointing 15-17 season, ending one of the longest active tenures in the nation. Associate head coach Mike Jaskulski will serve as interim coach.

UCF athletics director Keith Tribble said in a statement that it “was not an easy decision, but one we felt will serve in the best interest of our program’s direction.”

Speraw finished as the school’s winningest coach with a 279-233 record.

UCF has always been a lesser college basketball in Florida. If the goal of the school is to upgrade the basketball program, the firing of Speraw makes sense. I just don’t think the Knights will be more than the 4th best school in the states for at least a few more years.


Are you ready for some bowling? II

No I’m not talking about some middle aged man propelling a ball at some objects at the end of a lane, but the games that climax every college football season. Bowl season officially starts this afternoon, here are the matchups for all the college football fanatics out there.

Note- I gave the shortened name version of all the upcoming games. Also I listed what broadcast network would be televising the game and what time they would be coming on the air. All times are Eastern Standard.

Dec 19

New Mexico- Fresno State vs. Wyoming 4:30 p.m. ESPN
St. Petersburg- Central Florida vs. Rutgers 8 p.m. ESPN

Dec 20

R+L Carriers New Orleans- Southern Miss vs. Middle Tennessee 8:30 p.m. ESPN

Dec 22

MAACO Las Vegas- Oregon State vs. BYU 8 p.m. ESPN

Dec 23

Poinsettia- Utah vs. Cal 8 p.m. ESPN

Dec 24

Sheraton Hawaii- Nevada vs. SMU 8 p.m. ESPN
Dec 26

Little Caesars- Marshall vs. Ohio 1 p.m. ESPN
Meineke- Pitt vs. North Carolina 4:30 p.m. ESPN
Emerald- Boston College vs. USC 8 p.m. ESPN

Dec 27

Music City- Kentucky vs. Clemson 8:30 p.m. ESPN

Dec 28

Independence- Texas A&M vs. Georgia 5 p.m. ESPN2

Dec 29

EagleBank- UCLA vs. Temple 4:30 p.m. ESPN
Champs Sports- Miami vs. Wisconsin 8 p.m. ESPN

Dec 30

Humanitarian- Bowling Green vs. Idaho 4:30 p.m. ESPN
Holiday- Arizona vs. Nebraska 8 p.m. ESPN

Dec 31

Armed Forces- Houston vs. Air Force Noon ESPN
Sun- Oklahoma vs. Stanford 2 p.m. CBS
Texas- Navy vs. Missouri 3:30 p.m. ESPN
Minnesota vs. Iowa State 6 p.m. NFL Network
Chick-fil-A- Virginia Tech vs. Tennessee 7:30 p.m. ESPN

Jan 1

Outback- Northwestern vs. Auburn 11 a.m. ESPN
Capital One- Penn State vs. LSU 1 p.m. ABC
Gator- West Virginia vs. Florida State 1 p.m. CBS
Rose Bowl- Ohio State vs. Oregon 4:30 p.m. ABC
Sugar- Cincinnati vs. Florida 8:30 p.m. FOX

Jan 2

International- South Florida vs. Northern Illinois Noon ESPN2 South Carolina vs. UConn 2 p.m. ESPN
Cotton- Oklahoma State vs. Ole Miss 2 p.m. FOX
Liberty- Arkansas vs. East Carolina 5:30 p.m. ESPN
Valero Alamo- Michigan State vs. Texas Tech 9 p.m. ESPN

Jan 4

Fiesta- Boise State vs. TCU 8 p.m. FOX

Jan 5

FedEx Orange- Iowa vs. Georgia Tech 8 p.m. FOX

Jan 6th

GMAC- Central Michigan vs. Troy 7 p.m. ESPN

Jan 7th

BCS National Championship Game- Texas vs. Alabama Jan. 7 8 p.m.

Some random notes on the above 34 games

*- 19 of the 34 games are not scheduled till Dec. 31st or later. I guess college football fanatics are expected to flip channels very quickly on those 3 days(Dec 31-Jan 2) when 15 games are being aired.
*- What a downer must it be for Oregon State players and fans. A few weeks ago they were one win from a Rose Bowl trip. Instead they lost to Oregon and are playing in a minor bowl before Christmas.
*- The NFL network televises a college football game. I guess that’s the cable sports equivalent of the Sci-Fi channel showing wrestling….
*- The bowls are now set where now certain conference finishers are locked into the same bowl games every year. I understand why the current system is done, but I prefer the day when bowl games would have greater variance from year to year. The Peach bowl would usually invite a ACC or SEC school but they could be creative, like when they invited Army and Illinois. Wouldn’t a SEC team against BYU or Wyoming be nice for a change?
*- Bobby Bowden’s farewell game is against the same school(West Virginia) that he left before coming to Florida State. I do know FSU and WV have played at least twice previously in bowls during the Bowden-Florida State era.


Founding UCF Basketball Coach Eugene ‘Torchy’ Clark dead at 80

He took the University of Central Florida to the Division II Final Four in 1978. RIP.

The founding father of UCF basketball, Eugene “Torchy” Clark, died at 80 on Wednesday.

Clark was responsible for starting the men’s basketball program in 1969. He served many additional years in the university’s College of Education.

Clark’s first team in 1969-70 played its first game before the squad even had a nickname. He would go on to extend his career through the 1983 season, compiling a record of 274-89 (.754). Clark guided UCF to the Division II Final Four in 1978.


Former NFL and NCAA Coach Lou Saban dead at 87

Saban, who was a distant relative of Nick Saban, had a history of never liking to stay long at University or pro team he worked for. Ask the University of Cincinnati, where Saban was AD for 19 days before taking the Miami Hurricane head coaching job.

I remember him mainly for his two year tenure at the University of Miami. Army was looking for a new head coach and wanted to talk to one of Saban’s assistants. Instead Saban said he was interested in the job. His abrupt departure from Coral Gables had some local sportswriters predicting doom for the Hurricanes.(Saban was 3-8 and 6-5 in his two years at Miami) Four years later, Howard Schnellenberger took the Hurricanes to a National Championship, where as Saban would spend the rest of his coaching days at places like Peru State and the Arena Football league. RIP Lou.


UCF Baseball Coach fired because of his alleged harassment of equipment mgr.

Jay Bergman was an institution at UCF where he had been baseball coach for 28 years. From the Orlando Sentinel-

The University of Central Florida fired baseball coach Jay Bergman because he was accused of sexually harassing a team equipment manager, a university source has confirmed.

Bergman used a bat to simulate raping equipment manager Chris Rhyce in early March, said the university source and two other sources with knowledge of the allegation. The university source asked for anonymity because he is not authorized to speak for UCF.

The three sources said Rhyce told the university in a written complaint that he was held down on the field, fully clothed, by a baseball staff member before a March 7 game while the players watched. Bergman was said to have grabbed a bat and shoved it toward Rhyce’s buttocks.

Bergman coached for almost 26 years at UCF.

File this under embarrassing ways to taint or destroy a long career. The UCF Baseball field is named for Bergman.

I’m inclined to believe the allegations. Bergman was suspended for one game in 2006 for inappropriate behavior towards one of his players. The lawyer for Bergman is denying what happened (of course), and the school is clamming up. (of course) Go to the link and read the Orlando Sentinel article to form your own opinion.


Did the University of Central Florida practice a football player to death?

Players and coaches are telling entirely different stories as to how Ereck Plancher died last month. From the Orlando Sentinel-

Ereck Plancher, a 19-year-old receiver from Naples, was taken to a hospital March 18 and was pronounced dead about an hour after the workout, known as a “mat drill.”

A preliminary autopsy was inconclusive. Further tests are under way to determine the cause of Plancher’s death.

The UCF players, who asked for anonymity because they fear retribution from football coaches, said Plancher’s final practice was more intense than the basic-conditioning workout described by UCF officials.

Students on scholarship have a great deal to lose by speaking up. Whereas government officials want annonymity for a myriad of reasons when they leak which is often done for their egos, I’m more inclined to believe these students.

In an interview with the Sentinel, UCF coach George O’Leary and his football staff disputed the four players’ account of Plancher’s final practice.

“I did not see him struggle on the field,” O’Leary said of the morning Plancher died. “From my professional opinion, what should have been done for his care was being done.”

O’Leary’s professional opinion included puffing up his resume which when discovered caused him to resign as head coach of Notre Dame. This coach has lied when its suited his purposes in the past. Is he lying now?

The next part of the article is interesting.

The players said they decided to talk to Sentinel reporters because they were upset about the school’s portrayal of a “10-minute, 26-second” workout that included a “weights component” described by UCF Athletic Director Keith Tribble in a news conference the afternoon of Plancher’s death. UCF Executive Associate Athletic Director David Chambers a week later clarified Tribble’s statement, saying the workout lasted about 20 minutes. UCF spokesman Grant Heston said Thursday that officials were relaying what they thought was accurate information.

“We were acting on the best information we had available in the hours immediately after Ereck’s death,” Heston said. “Subsequently, we learned that the workout was lengthier than we originally believed.”

The school is backtracking already. UCF coaches had to know what drills were conducted. How or why misleading information was given out, I think we all can take a guess at that.

I’m putting the rest of the Sentinel article beneath the fold. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. George O’Leary may soon be out of work again. UCF gave this disgraced coach a second chance. If O”Leary is found to be lying, he should be fired. Football isn’t worth dying for.


Conference USA may not fill all its bowl tie-ins

Not enough teams may get the six wins needed for a bowl game berth. From the Orlando Sentinel-

The Conference USA bowl scenario is going to get interesting over the last three weeks of the regular season.

Entering the week, UCF is one of four C-USA teams now eligible for bowl berths.

While Knights Coach George O’Leary was safe not to say his club was definitely going bowling by just reaching the necessary six victories Saturday with its win over Marshall, there doesn’t appear to be any scenario in which UCF will be left out of the postseason. Especially with UCF’s remaining opponents boasting a combined 7-20 record.

But C-USA is actually in danger of not qualifying enough teams to fill its six tie-ins this season. UCF, East Carolina, Houston and Tulsa all have six wins. But it may come down to the wire to get two more teams there.

The East Division’s bubble teams are Southern Miss (5-4) and Memphis (4-5).

The West’s only remaining candidate is UTEP, which is 4-5.

The Golden Eagles should be safe to get one more win with remaining games against Memphis on Saturday, followed by a trip to UTEP and a finale against Arkansas State (4-5).

UTEP will be favored Saturday at Tulane (2-7) but will have to upset either Southern Miss or win at UCF to get its sixth win of the year.

Memphis has it a little easier, hosting UAB (2-7) and SMU (1-8) after traveling to Hattiesburg.

I think the moral of the story is- There are too many darn bowl games. Outside of Oklahoma and Oregon, Who would watch a Oregon St-Tulsa game?(I’m making up a bowl match up)Does a 6-6 deserve a trip? I can remember Florida State getting no bowl bid after going 8-3 in 1978.


UCF ties up O’Leary through 2015

From the Sarasota Herald-Tribune

ORLANDO, Fla. — The University of Central Florida extended football coach George O’Leary’s contract through 2015 Thursday, perhaps sewing up the 59-year-old until retirement.

In two years, O’Leary has helped transform UCF from one of the country’s worst NCAA Division I-A programs to one of its most promising. The Golden Knights carried the nation’s longest losing streak into last season, but ended up playing in the school’s first conference championship and bowl games on the way to an 8-5 record.

The deal delivers $1 million in the first year, with gradual increases to $1.55 million in 2015 and $500,000 in possible incentives each season. It also includes a buyout capped at $5 million, or $1 million for each remaining year on the contract, if O’Leary or UCF breaks it.

“Believe me, we have a lot of work to do. Every dollar will be surely worked,” O’Leary said.

O’Leary returned to college football at UCF in December 2003 after two years as defensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings. He made national headlines in 2001 after resigning the head coaching job at Notre Dame when it was discovered parts of his resume, compiled long ago, had been falsified.

O’Leary was head coach at Georgia Tech from 1994 to 2001, amassing a 52-33 record and earning 2000′s national coach of the year award. He was nominated for the award again after UCF’s finish last season.

Will the next headline be- University President arrested for kidnapping.

Good for O’Leary. He has redeemed himself from the Notre Dame/resume debacle. UCF had a short lived nobody college program and he’s brought them to two straight bowl games. That’s quite a turnaround.

I’ll say this- O’Leary will never finish this contract. UCF is deluding itself. The buyout clause is expensive, but these can be overcome. If O’Leary continues to be sucessful, other programs will get interested. O’Leary’s transgressions are minor in the world of college sports. Soon they will be all forgiven and a thing of the past.

I give O’Leary and UCF 3 years or less. Five is the worst scenario I see.


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